Marketo Certification 101

How to prepare for and pass the ultimate marketing automation exam.

What is Marketo Certification?

Since 2013, Marketo has given power users the opportunity to achieve Marketo Certified Expert (MCE) status by passing the Marketo Certification Exam. Initially, the test was “a piece of cake” according to Solomon Solutions, a Marketo consulting agency. However, in recent years, the Marketo Certification Exam (now called Adobe Certified Expert - Marketo Engage Business Practitioner Exam) has evolved into a bonafide marketing operations right of passage.

As the difficulty of the exam increased over the years, it became necessary to split certification into two levels, associate and expert, with additional specialization assessments now available on top of the preliminary certifications.

For most marketers, outside of marketing operations, Marketo Certification is an unnecessary step. The cost, time, and attention required to complete the exam make it unique in the marketing industry. Unlike other superficial certification programs, Marketo Certification cannot be completed in a weekend. As a result, Marketo Certified Experts are in higher demand than most platform-specific specialists.

After Adobe officially acquired Marketo, it added another layer of credibility to the certified expert status. Today, passing the Marketo Exam* is table stakes for many large employers, giving MCEs access to more jobs, higher-paying roles, and more senior titles.

*Note that much of the study and preparation material refers to these exams and credentials as Marketo Certification Exam and Marketo Certified Expert respectively, however, both were renamed after Adobe acquired Marketo in 2019. Today, there are two levels of certification—Adobe Certified Professional and Adobe Certified Expert. Both levels of certification now have exams of the same name.

How do I become a Marketo Certified Expert (MCE)?

General Preparation

If you’re interested in pursuing Marketo Certified Expert or Marketo Certified Associate status you should know that it’s going to require significant effort. 

For starters, the Marketo Certification Exam isn’t even open to the public, you must be a current Marketo customer in order to take the exam. Once you’ve paid the $225 exam fee, you must achieve a 67% or higher to pass the exam. It’s not uncommon for people to take the exam multiple times before passing. However, failure can be costly—requiring participants to wait two to six weeks and pay an additional fee depending on the number of attempts.

If you’re determined to pass the exam, you’ll first want to decide which certification to prepare for. According to the Marketo Exam page, applicants preparing for the Associate-level certification should be able to:

  • Create basic email campaigns from day one
  • Set up marketing initiatives according to best practices
  • Report on the success of programs

Already have experience with Marketo? Maybe the Certified Experts exam is right for you. Marketo Certified Experts should be able to:

  • Demonstrate mastery over a wide breadth of Marketo topics
  • Showcase a knowledge of industry best practices

Each tier has specific recommendations for anyone considering taking the exam, but both required deliberate preparation.

How to prepare for the Marketo Certified Associate Exam**

**Now Called Adobe Certified Professional - Marketo Engage Business Practitioner Exam

The associate certification is geared towards more entry-level employees. This could even be completed while in school if the candidate’s internships qualify as 3-6 months of general marketing experience. In addition, Marketo recommends a minimum of 200-400 hours of hands-on experience developing and implementing marketing programs using Marketo.

Since this exam is more focused on setting up basic email programs, the questions focus less on high-level problem solving, and more on the foundations of the Marketo Engage platform. Some additional considerations before you dive into this certification include:

  • Length: 60 questions
  • Duration: 120 minutes
  • Passing Score: 76%
  • Cost: $95
  • Proctored: Yes (online, through Kryterion)

If you haven’t already, there’s no replacement for time spent in Marketo. Get the minimum, or even the maximum, amount of hours recommended with the product. Also, having practical marketing experience will give you better context for the situations in which you’d need to create marketing automation programs. Once you’ve gained the pre-requisite experience, there are a number of resources available, in addition to Marketo University’s on-demand training such as:

  • Marketo Core Concepts I Course - This instructor-led training course will help the novice quickly pick up the basics of Marketo and prepare for the associate exam. At $1,500, this course isn’t for the casual learner. If your employer isn’t helping with the cost of a course like this, then it might be worth checking out the top Marketo training on Udemy.

Once you’ve completed your preparation and feel ready for the exam, here’s a list of the topics the MCA exam will cover and what percentage of the test each makes up.

A breakdown of the different sections of the Marketo Certified Associate Exam.

How to prepare for the Marketo Certified Expert Exam***

***Now Called Adobe Certified Expert - Marketo Engage Business Practitioner Exam

If you’re serious about a career in marketing operations, there are few certifications more meaningful than completing the Marketo Certified Expert Exam. However, before you schedule the test, Marketo recommends at least one year of experience as a marketing automation professional, in addition to between 800 and 1,000 hours working directly with Marketo. Unlike the associate credential, this exam is meant for experienced marketing operations professionals looking to take their career to the next level. In addition to these considerations, the exam consists of: 

  • Length: 75 questions
  • Duration: 150 minutes
  • Cost: $225 per attempt
  • Passing Score: 67%
  • Proctored: Yes (in-person and online by Kryterion)

Rather than rush into the hot seat, take the time to prepare carefully for this exam. Each failing score will cost you several hundred dollars and multiple weeks of waiting. If you’re questioning your experience, here are some additional resources to help you prepare.

  • Instructor-led Online Exam Prep Course - This is one of the only ways to get verified answers to specific questions about Marketo from a trained professional. It’s a 3-hour online course that costs $375. Since this course is self-paced you can take as long as you’d like to complete it.

Now that you know what prepared looks like, and are planning on at least 1,000 hours using Marketo, you’ll be ready for exam day. Here’s a breakdown of the different sections of the final exam.

A breakdown of the different sections of the final Marketo Certified Expert Exam.

How much does Marketo certification cost and is it worth it?

If you’ve followed this entire article, then you’ve probably already come to a conclusion about whether or not the Marketo Certification Exam is worth the money for you. Completing all recommended training could easily set you back close to $4,000. That’s a significant sum for online training of an email marketing platform. But remember this isn’t just any email marketing platform. Marketo is the leading marketing automation platform for enterprise businesses. Completing your certification will open the door to a world of opportunities.

As soon as you pass your exam you’ll be invited to an exclusive LinkedIn Group for Adobe Certified - Marketo Engage Experts. You’ll also receive a print-ready certificate of completion and be automatically invited to annual in-person Marketo networking events. And last but not least, you’ll be eligible for Marketo Career Connect, the invite-only network for employers looking for Marketo expertise. This might seem mundane, but as of this writing, the platform boasts open employment opportunities with Amazon, Google, and JPMorgan Chase.

So Is Marketo Certification free? No, it’s not free, but it is a valuable long-term investment. According to Marketo research, “34% of Marketo Certified Experts typically make over 125K, compared to only 14% non-MCE Marketo users.“ If you’re looking for a professional opportunity that will help you reach the next level in your career. Marketo Certification might be exactly what you’ve been waiting for.

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