After understanding why we recommend data extensions over lists, you'll need some background on the importance of using the right process to populate your data extensions. Already understand the importance of Convergence Cloud? Get instructions for how to upload your data via the standard or custom upload options.
What Convergence Cloud is
Every person the university has a relationship with will, or should, have a record in CRM. Our goal is to then have that record in the CRM map directly to who that person is in Marketing Cloud. To do this, we need a unique key that identifies the person in both systems. That key is called their Salesforce ID. In Marketing Cloud, we use that Salesforce ID as the Subscriber Key inside of data extensions.
Chances are, you don’t already have the Salesforce ID for each person you want to email, and that’s where Convergence Cloud comes in. When we pass a record through Convergence Cloud, if there’s an existing record in CRM that matches the personal information you’ve given it (name, email address, for example), it matches the current record with it and returns the Salesforce ID associated with it. In cases where there is no record found, a new record is created in CRM and a new Salesforce ID is created. It is important to keep in mind that every Salesforce ID in CRM is a unique key. It is necessary for all the records in data extensions to have a Subscriber Key.
What data extensions are
A data extension not only contains the First Name, Last Name, Email Address, and Subscriber Key, but it can also include additional attributes. Think of a data extension as a spreadsheet in Marketing Cloud—you can add whatever fields you need. Having all these attributes means that this data can be used to create personalized sends and to segment/filter the data. Data extensions also ensure that there are no duplicate records present in them.
Why are we doing this? Why convert lists to data extensions?
Using Salesforce ID as Subscriber Key in Marketing Cloud is a relatively new convention. If you’ve been using Marketing Cloud for a while, chances are you have been creating your own Subscriber Keys via an Excel formula: emailaddress.MID (the number associated with your business unit). This old method has caused massive duplication of Marketing Cloud subscribers: every subscriber who is in multiple business units has been duplicated, because each MID is different. Therefore, you could have firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Having two subscriber keys means that there are two records for the same person in Marketing Cloud.
This duplication is an issue for a lot of reasons:
- Having many records for the same person means we don’t have insight into all of the communications each person receives, making analytics unusable
- Creating an arbitrary subscriber key that doesn’t map to anything means you don’t have any additional information about that person—unlike using Salesforce ID as Subscriber Key, which maps back to the person’s record in CRM with lots of additional information about them
Ready to add data to a data extension? Learn how using either the standard or custom upload option.