I am creating a journey in exact target. I need to understand where should I link the data extensions - in Contact Builder or in Data Relationships? Can someone please tell the difference between the 2?

Thanks, Richa

3 Answers 3


Contact Builder (more exactly Data Designer) basically is doing the same thing as Data Relationships, but those connections are used in different places. From the GUI perspective, Data Designer was created many years after Data Relationships, so building relationships in that module is a bit more convenient and look and feel of available controls is more pleasant.

If you want to use them in Journey Builder - then Contact Builder relationships are a way to go. They are present in whole Contact Builder and honoured in new modules (i.e. Journey Builder and Mobile Connect).

If you want to stick only to Email App and or plan to use Filter Activities in Automation Studio - then Data Relationships are used to connect that data.

In my opinion, Data Designer is the successor of the Data Relationships but in the older parts of the system, Data Relationships are still used.

  • This should be on the wiki. Nov 2, 2017 at 22:23
  • @CCarswell Which wiki you mean exactly? Nov 6, 2017 at 6:20
  • 1
    To clarify, I meant this in a congratulatory manner. Your definition is so superb that it should be included by Salesforce onto the official help documentation here. help.marketingcloud.com Nov 8, 2017 at 0:40
  • @CCarswell Oh, thank you :) At first I thought there is some Marketing Cloud wiki, that I am not aware of, that why I asked about it :) Sorry for the misunderstanding. Nov 9, 2017 at 14:15

Contact Builder is used for Journeys and cross Studio data. The Data Relationships are for Email Studio only.

Contact Builder relationships have no effect in Email Studio when creating Filters. Data Relationships will allow you to use the relationships in Email Studio filters.


For Journey Builder to work, you should have configured your data model using contact builder. Data relationships are not related to Journey builder.

Refer help documentation: http://help.marketingcloud.com/en/documentation/contact_builder/ for configuring contact builder.

In Contact builder, you should go for Populations (referred as Root relationships earlier) if you have new contacts entering the journey. Ideally, you should be rooting one data extension as Population and link other data extensions to the root data extension (population) using Attribute group based on your data model.

  • Mark my answer if it has solved your question Sep 21, 2016 at 14:01

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