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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?

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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? – Ajay Rohera Mar 15 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. – Gortonington Mar 15 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? – Ajay Rohera Mar 15 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. – Markus Slabina Mar 15 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 Based on the discussion above, list/group seems outdated, if so then 'suppression list' is also of no use as it can be used with list only? – Ajay Rohera Mar 15 at 16:49

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