In the last few weeks, a few of you have approached me about learning Marketo to become Certified.
In the past 7 years, I have helped many of you learn Marketo and even some of you become Certified whether through the blog, live sessions, or working together. Marketo Certification is a great badge of honor to have, demonstrating your expertise and extended use of Marketo to do more than just send a lot of email.
But do you really need Marketo Certification to be in B2B demand generation?
Before you say “Yes,” consider a few questions:
- What is your goal as a marketing professional?
- Do you want to become a marketing operations professional?
- Would you like to become a marketing automation/operations consultant or expert?
- Do you want to become a brand or advertising expert?
- Do you enjoy running events and creating experiences for people?
- Do you like taking tests?
- Do you enjoy high volume data analysis?
- Do you like using tools like Google Analytics and advertising systems?
- Do you like doing keyword and SEO analysis?
The list can go on. Your answers will help you determine what you should do next.
In my experience, not everyone needs to become a Marketo Certified Expert because not everyone is going to become (or want to become) a Marketo Admin. What many people need, though, is to learn Marketo to do their job effectively day-to-day. If you learn Marketo well enough to pass the MCE, then that’s gravy.
For example, how many marketers are SFDC Certified? How many salespeople are planning to get SFDC Admin certification? Email certified? MS Office certified?
Right. You know the tool well enough to do your job effectively. And if not, you ask people for help…or even take an online course to fulfill a specific need. When you aren’t sure how to do a formula in MS Excel, you Google the question. You can do the same with Marketo.
Marketo (and other Marketing Automation Platforms) are such a part of the landscape now that it is common to have had some work experience with one of the tools.
Now, I do see many job descriptions for demand generation and campaign managers that list “Marketo Certified” as a preferred requirement, or even a requirement. The hiring manager does this in the hope that a Certified person will require less training and ramp up time to be effective in the job. I get it, I do. But I’d urge both marketers and hiring managers to consider the day-to-day role and if knowing the ins and outs of the Admin panel is necessary to be a successful event marketer.
Yes, know Marketo. Know it well enough to do your job faster.
Marketo Certification Tests
This past Spring, Marketo modified the testing options and the test itself to be more of a “practical” that tests your application of Marketo the tool to real Marketing Operations and Campaign scenarios. Instead of simple feature memorization, the questions tried to present scenarios like
- Someone asks you to help them setup a Webinar: what do you do?
- Data isn’t flowing over here, where should you look?
- How do you gate a Whitepaper?
After passing the Core test, you can then pass shorter specialization tests covering key topics for Marketing Operations and Marketo Admin level skills. The fact that Marketo went this route shows that not everyone needs to know the entirety of Marketo’s capabilities to be a successful Marketo user.
In the past, I’ve said most people need six to 12 months of daily Marketo use to be able to take the MCE with minimal study and pass. Marketo says about 1 year or 1000 hours of use is a good bar for preparing for the Exam. The new exam still covers key setup and Admin areas as well as basic Design Studio questions, so you may need to study the Docs.
Remember, the entire test is based on the Official Documentation. Memorization will help, but connecting the dots in your head through real life pointing and clicking is going to make this Exam much, much easier.
Phases of Learning Marketo and Marketing Operations
Quite a few readers have asked about becoming Marketo Certified through using my Marketo Guide, videos, or personal training. I’ve posted some thoughts on training in the past. Certification doesn’t happen overnight or in two days of live training. It does happen over time through diligent use, good questions, and reading what others have discussed on the Forums. So, if you are fairly new to Marketo and think, “I need to get Certified or no one will hire me!” Take a deep breath and plan out your path to Marketo Greatness.
- Learn more about Marketo and how it thinks of the Lead Lifecycle.
- Read some of the introduction docs.
- Consider an Introduction Course focused on tasks Marketers do with Marketo.
- When you get stuck, pose the question to the Nation Search Bar.
- No clear answers? Ask the Marketo Nation.
- Search Google and YouTube for Marketo specific questions.
- Do the work. (6 to 12 months).
- Prepare for the Exam.
Now, if you don’t have access to Marketo today, you may think learning Marketo is a bit harder. It all depends on how you learn. There’s also a catch with the MCE: you need to be a Marketo Customer or Partner. Previously, this was not a requirement. To me, this is limiting because there are freelancers, consultants, job seekers, and a few dedicated studiers who want/need to take the Exam without additional active user requirements.
For agencies who are hiring junior (read: cheaper) professionals in the hope of training them intensely to become MCE or Marketo Certified Consultants (MCC) in a short period, I recommend caution. I’ve come across people who were Certified but lacked a true understanding of Marketo, marketing, and how to think through the problem before pressing buttons. Doing rush training and testing in under 6 months isn’t right for every person.
Who does need Marketo Certification?
If you love figuring out process charts, workflows, data connections, and building out the infrastructure to support the Customer Experience, then becoming Marketo Certified may be worth it. Becoming Certified is a key step on the path to becoming a Marketo Admin and marketing operations professional.
For marketers not planning to go down the martech/mops route, an MCE is a helpful, third party validation of your abilities. It’s great to check that box if you want to.
But if you are just starting to learn tools like Marketo, Certification isn’t your first goal. Your first goal is to become proficient in using Marketo for your daily job. Demand gen campaign managers, event marketers, and creative developers do not need to know the whole system or become Certified quickly. On my team, I have several marketing automation specialists. Some are Certified, some are not. I don’t expect the page developer to become Marketo Certified because I know he understands how to make Guided Pages. Other specialists will become Certified–in due time–as they become comfortable with Marketo and grow in their roles.
The marketers I work with often know aspects of Marketo to do their jobs or some level of self service. They know when they need an expert’s help and their managers do not expect them to be Certified because it’s not their primary role to be a Marketo Expert. Hiring Managers – this is a message for you! Your event team doesn’t need MCEs to be successful. Yes, they should be able to run an event in Marketo and speak with your MOPS pro. They do not need to know the ins and outs of Multi-touch Program Status Success.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you.
Image Credit: flickr scubasteveo
Great post. Follow up question – do you think it’s necessary for people to get Marketo Certified every year? If you get certified once and are using Marketo every day as part of your job, is that enough?
Josh Hill says
The new 2017 MCE test is good for 2 years, so now there’s no need to do the exam every year. The old test was updated each year as Marketo added new tools, so it was somewhat necessary to take it once a year. With Specializations, those new features are optional to become certified in those areas.
Avinash VJ says
Great Post Josh!
Great clarification – thanks!
Jayanto sukul says
Thanks Josh giving the brief description. I am great follower of yours. I truly agree with your above points. I liked that you said the most important thing is that you must know how you can get most from these type of tools.