I have created a data extension and a group in marketing cloud but not sure what is the basic difference between them? Can we use group in journey builder as entry source?

1 Answer 1


To start at the basics, there are two types of data structures, which are data extensions and lists. And a group is a segment of a list.

As Journey Builder only works with data extensions, you cannot use a group as an entry source for a journey.

To better understand when to use which data structure, check out the documentation article "List versus Data Extension". Here are the most important facts:

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

Further documentation:

  • Thanks a lot Markus for your answer. We don't user XML/API/SOAP/REST. Fast import speed is also secondary for now. We mostly use journey builder to send the emails, as 'group' can't be entry point for a journey, how can group be used for lead nurturing? Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 10:42
  • Also of note, if you make a change to information inside of a list, it will update everywhere inside the list based model. All attributes are shared universally - not individually like data extensions. Also, AMPscript/SSJS mostly work with Data Extensions, not Lists. Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 12:15
  • Thanks Gortonington. So again, if we can't use lists in journey builder, why should one choose lists over DE barring the things mentioned above by Markus? Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 13:43
  • Some time ago lists were the only data structures available. Currently, I don't see any reason to use them anymore in new setups. Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 14:20
  • Thanks to both of you for clearing many doubts. Just one last query, hope you won't mind. Based on the discussion above, list/group seems outdated, if so then 'suppression list' is also of no use as it can be used with list only? Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 16:49

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