SFMC Testing Environment (Sandbox) and Deployment Management

Alessia Mastroianni
6 min readAug 29, 2021

SFMC Testing Environment (Sandbox) and Deployment Management

This is one of the most popular questions we face as consultants when planning a Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) implementation.

And despite my enthusiasm on the 1st of April 2021, in front of someone tweet: “finally we can download an SFMC sandbox”, I am gutted to confirm that was an April’s fool and such a treasure does not exist.

Things have improved with the launch of Deployment Manager and Package Manager, however, we are nowhere near the tools and DevOps process available in Sales Cloud.

In this article, I will highlight some of the approaches available to you when faced with this challenge.

First of all, do you really need a testing environment?

If your need is to test assets, such as emails, dynamic blocks, SMS, push notification and landing pages and how they render then creating a testing environment is overkill.

In SFMC, you can test the majority of the assets using the preview and test functionality.
It is also available a testing functionality within journey builder that allows to test the different paths of the journey and send test emails to a pre-defined email address when using data extensions entry.

Journey Testing Summary — Salesforce credit

However, if there is a need to test complex functionality, keep testing data separate from production data, then you should consider one of the following options.

What options do you have if you need a testing environment?

As mentions in Salesforce Marketing Cloud the concept of Sandbox does not exist.

You have two options:
1. Enable a business unit as a testing environment
2. Purchase a separate instance of SFMC (consider the editions, you might be able to save by choosing a corporate edition VS enterprise depending on your needs)

Considerations:
- Both options result in additional costs
- Testing and Deployment cannot be fully automated and will require manual intervention and

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Alessia Mastroianni

Marketing Automation Architect working at Salesforce. 6x Salesforce certified. Salesforce #MarketingChampion 2020.