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In Journey Builder, I know it's possible to update a contact record on a DE linked through Contact Builder but is it possible to then use that updated data in a decision split later on in the Journey? The contact record is being updated on a DE that is not used for the Journey audience on the fire event.

Essentially, I want to split my contacts in three groups A, B, C right when they enter the journey. Then send each group down different paths using decision splits.

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Yes this is possible if you use Contact Data in your decision split.

Journey data preserves the state of a contact's data at the moment an entry event fires, facilitating the use of that data throughout a journey. Contact data captures the data values in the event source data extension at the time when Journey Builder evaluates it.

(Source: Journey and Contact Data)

Having the data stored in another data extension isn't a problem as long as the data extension is correctly linked in Contact Builder - Data Designer. If specific values need to be compared in order to retrieve the correct record, you can do this with the new Expression Builder that is live since the August '17 release.

Related documentation:

  • This was my understanding as well, but my Journey doesn't appear to be working in this way. However, looking deeper in the account (that I inherited) I notice the Contact Data in question is linked to the contact record through a Population DE. If the subscriber is not in that population DE at time of decision split evaluation, would that be causing the issue? – Daniel Sep 9 '17 at 17:10
  • Yes that would be a problem if you select the path to read from that population. Another problem with synchronized data extensions is the synchronization delay which requires you to have enough time in a wait activity between updating the contact or other object in salesforce sales/service cloud and using the data in a decision split. – Markus Slabina Sep 9 '17 at 17:13

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