Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Extensions: Easy Guide 101

• September 9th, 2020

UNDERSTANDING SALESFORCE MARKETING CLOUD DATA EXTENSIONS

In this post, we will look at how to work with Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Extensions. You will learn what Data Extensions are, the different types of Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Extensions available to you, and also some tips about how to make the most of data extensions.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Salesforce

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Cloud-based CRM has grown to a $250 billion dollar industry and Salesforce claims about 20% of the market share owing to the fact that this was the first company to offer a cloud-based CRM platform. If your business is building a complete digital transformation, then it’s no surprise that you’re already looking at Salesforce to help manage your customer and partner relationships. 

Salesforce has been dominant in its field while also pioneering new ways of using technology. The company offers a wide range of cloud-based services through its customer success platform, including:

  • Salesforce automation
  • Digital commerce
  • Community management
  • Analytics
  • Financial services cloud
  • Marketing cloud
  • Etc.

To begin with, let’s first look at the concept of a data extension.

What is a Data Extension?

A data extension is simply a table/relational database that contains all of your company information, for example, customer data like; Name, Address, Age, Gender, Email, City, etc. In practice, you can put anything in a data extension and keep track of that information, just like you can in an Excel Spreadsheet. As a matter of fact, a data extension is exactly like an Excel Spreadsheet except that the data is stored in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

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Different Types of Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Extensions

  • Standard
  • Filtered
  • Random

There are two places where you can interact with Salesforce data extensions. One is in the Salesforce Email Studio and the other one is in Contact Builder. After reading this post, you will be in a position to leverage both to create and purge data extensions.

Pre-requisites

To create data extensions, this guide assumes that you have:

  • A basic understanding of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud including navigating the UI.
  • Working knowledge of SQL.

1.  Working with Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Extensions in Email Studio

The first place you’ll want to go to find Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Extensions and create data extensions is in the Email Studio.

Step 1: Hover over Email Studio on the top left menu in Marketing Cloud and click Email.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

Step 2: Next, hover over Subscribers and click Data Extensions.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

Step 3: Navigate to the top right section of your screen and click Create.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

Step 4: You’ll get a popup and here you can specify the means by which the data extension will be built.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions
  • A Standard data extension allows you to create custom fields and data types in your table.
  • A Filtered data extension allows you to filter fields, measures, and filters for a sendable data extension from a source data extension. You have to have a Standard data extension to create a Filtered data extension.
  • A Random data extension allows you to randomly select subscribers from a source data extension. Just like with a Filtered data extension, you need a Standard data extension to derive a random data extension.

In this case, select a standard data extension and click OK

Step 5: Fill in the form choosing a name for your data extension. Skip the External Key field, add a description, and click Next.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

Step 6: Next choose your Data Retention settings.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

Step 7: Finally, type in the fields and data types for your data extension and click Create.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

You should include a Primary Key just as you would in a relational table. For example this can be an Email address or a phone number that uniquely identifies the customer.

2.  Working with Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Extensions in Contact Builder

The second place where you can create Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Extensions is in the Contact Builder.

Step 1: While you’re in Email Studio, hover over Email in the top left corner.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

Step 2: A drop down comes up. You should hover over Audience Builder and click on Contact Builder.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

Step 3: Now that you’re in Contact Builder, you can click Data Extensions on the Data Extensions tab.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

Step 4: Click create on the top right corner of the page.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

Step 5: Here you can create a new Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Extensions, clone one from an existing data extension, or from a template. Fill in the form choosing a name for your data extension. Skip the External Key field, add a description, and click Next.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

Step 6: Next choose your Data Retention settings based on compliance and regulatory constraints.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

Step 7: Finally, type in the fields and data types for your data extension and click Create. Be sure to include a Primary Key.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

Step 7: You can now import records from CSV files or Excel Spreadsheets with the same data structure as can be seen below.

salesforce marketing cloud data extensions

Hurray! You have successfully set up Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Extensions.

Conclusion

In summary, you learned how to navigate the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Extensions, create new ones, and set their data retention policy.

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