This post is a part of the Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Certification Tutorial Series
List-Based Data Model
Use the list model when:
- your lists contain 500,000 subscribers or less long term
- you prefer simplicity over performance
- you do not require fast import speed
- you plan to use a limited number of subscriber attributes
- you use the XML API
Data Extension-Based Data Model
Use the data extension model when:
- your lists are going to be greater than 500,000 subscribers
- you support multiple subscriber data sets, with separate definitions
- you send global messages
- you require fast import speeds
- you implement triggered sends
- you use the SOAP or REST APIs
- you prefer a flexible subscription model
- Suppression List: List used with guided, user-initiated, and triggered sends. It’s a list of subscribers you don’t want to receive your content (e.g. blacklisted)
- Exclusion List: Any list, group, or data extension you select to exclude from Send. E.g. duplicates in list A are excluded when sending to list B. Or, if sending to 2 data extensions that have duplicate subscribers in them, the exclusion list will remove one set from Send to ensure they are not sent the message twice.
Primary Key – a key in a relational database that is unique for each record. It is a unique identifier, and cannot contain null values. You can have more than 1 primary key, and it uniquely identifies a row in a data extension. It also ensures records are not overwritten when you create an import activity.
You cannot update data in a data extension unless it has a field that can be a Primary Key (i.e. has a Unique Identifier). If you create an Import Activity that tries to update fields on a data extension that does not have a Primary Key, the only option the activity can do is Overwrite the existing data
Subscriber Key – Contains a value that uniquely identifies a subscriber in your system. Can be populated with email address or any other unique value. It also allows for multiple people with the same email address (e.g. a family of 4 using their parent’s email address) in the system as each has their own Subscriber Key in the All Subscribers list.
Send Relationship – A Send Relationship defines a field in the Sendable data extension to map to Subscriber Key in All Subscribers when sending. E.G. a Data Extension may use Email Address to map to the Subscriber Key in the All Subscribers table, which houses the entire database in Marketing Cloud
If sending to a contact in a data extension that does not have a subscriber key, the system will add them to the All Subscribers list as active and add their email address and a subscriber key to their profile.
Sendable Data Extension – A Data extension that you can send emails to. You need to specify this by relating the field containing the Primary Key to the Subscriber Key. You will also need to check ‘Is Sendable’ when creating the DE.
Ways of Importing data
- Import Wizard – Step-by-step guide to import data. Import parameters must be defined. It is manually executed.
- Import Activity – Like the Import Wizard, but a definition that can be saved to be used again. It can be automated via Automation Studio
- Via API – Executes an import programmatically behind the scenes. Good for 3rd party integrations
- Marketing Cloud Connect – Connect to SFDC. Get instructions from Help and Training Portal
Check the other parts of the tutorial series – Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Certification Tutorial Series