Data Extensions

Types of Data Extensions in Salesforce Marketing Cloud

In Salesforce Marketing Cloud, data extensions are the tables that store our data. It can be from within Marketing Cloud, Sales Cloud, manually added/imported, or from any other source. One must store data into the data extensions first in order to further send emails to the data or perform any other action within Marketing Cloud like filtering out records. Data extensions in Marketing Cloud are just like excel sheets. 

There are three types of data extensions we have in Salesforce Marketing Cloud:

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  1. Standard Data Extension
  2. Filtered Data Extension
  3. Random Data Extension

Standard Data Extension

This is the type of data extension that we can create as per our own requirements. We can create custom fields and data types in the standard data extensions

We can create our own attributes in standard data extensions and there is a set of predefined data types which we can use with our attributes.

Steps to create:

  1. Navigate to Email Studio > Subscribers > Data Extension
  2. Click create on the top right corner of the screen.
  3. Select the type of the data extension you want to create, in this case, select Standard Data Extension
  4. Select creation method, skip the external key part, add the description if you want to then click Next
  5. Select the data retention settings(If there is a need to retain the data for a specific time period) on the second screen, if not, then keep it off.
  6. Add the attributes name along with the corresponding data type and click Create.

Points to remember: 

  1. Make sure to select a primary key and Subscriber key as per your data.
  2. If you are going to use the data extension for sending purposes then make sure you make the data extension sendable by checking the Sendable option.

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Filtered Data Extension

As the name suggests, we create a filtered data extension from another data extension. You need to define a source data extension in order to create a filtered data extension.

Steps to create:

  1. Navigate to Email Studio > Subscribers > Data Extension.
  2. Click create on the top right corner of the screen.
  3. Select the type of the data extension you want to create, in this case, select Filtered Data Extension
  4. Next, it will ask for the source data extension, select the data extension from which you want the data to be filtered out.
  5. Create the filter criteria as per the requirement and click Save and Build.
  6. You can also create a filtered data extension by clicking on the Filter icon on the data extension.
  7. One more way to create a filtered data extension is to navigate to data filters in Email Studio then create a filter by defining a source and filter criteria and then use that filter in Filter Activity in Automation Studio and select the created filter, this will automatically create a data extension in the folder where source data extension is.

Points to remember: 

  • The primary key and Subscriber key will be the same as the source data extension. You can change the subscriber key but you cannot change the primary key once it got defined at the time of creation.

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Random Data Extension

This data extension is required when you want to have random data from a source data extension. The main use case for Random Data extensions is for testing purposes, like when you want to test your send to random data from a source data extension.

Steps to create:

  1. Navigate to Email Studio > Subscribers > Data Extension.
  2. Click create on the top right corner of the screen.
  3. Select the type of data extension you want to create, in this case, select Random Data Extension.
  4. Next, it will ask for the source data extension, select the data extension from which you want the data to be filtered out randomly.
  5. Then define the amount of data you want to randomly fetch out and then click Save and Build.

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