Data Extension Setup

If you are new to using Data Extensions in Salesforce, be sure to reference the Salesforce Trailhead module when you're getting started.

After creating a data extension, you must remember to bind your data extension to the Salesforce Contact in order to be able to access the data extension data in your journey using the syntax {{Contact.Attribute.<Data-Extention-Name>.<attribute-name>}}.  

Below is just one example of a successful setup for a Data Extension. If your setup looks different and you are encountering trouble passing through data, please reach out to You can also contact your Salesforce Account Executive for help on finding out how to reference your specific dataset in the journey.


Create a New Data Extension

If you already have a Data Extension set up, skip to Step 3.

From your dashboard, navigate to Audience Builder > Contact Builder > Data Extensions and click Create:

Give your data extension a unique and relevant name, then check Is Sendable? AND Is Testable? Leave Creation Method set to "Create from New" and External Key blank - Description is optional.  

All Sendable data extensions map to a subscriber whereas non-sendable data extensions are meant for reference data(e.g. product tables) that does not map to a subscriber, but that you may want to pull into an email. 

Next, you'd typically set your data retention policy - for a test you can just leave the default, and continue on. 

Then create your fields. Make sure you include an identifier field and set it as the primary key (identifier can be any kind of customer ID, email, etc.). This is what you'll use to link the data extension to your Contact. Ensure you set the Send Relationship as "identifier relates to Subscriber Key" (see bottom left corner in image below). 

It is best practice to make sure the Subscriber Key is stored as text.

Click Complete to finish setting up your data extension. 


Add Records

Click into your new Data Extension, and navigate to the Records tab.Bulk import by clicking Import or manually add 2-3 records for test purposes by clicking Add Record.


Create an Attribute Group

Once you've created your Data Extension, navigate back to Data Designer to create an Attribute Group and link them together.

Click Create Attribute Group. Give it a different name from your Data Extension and pick whichever icon you'd want to represent it with. 


Link Attribute Group to Data Extension

Select Link Data Extensions and map the Contact Key from the Salesforce Contact to the identifier in your Data Extension.

Hit Save, and you can now use this Data Extension in your journey!

To access the data extension data in your journey using the syntax: {{Contact.Attribute.<Data-Extention-Name>.<attribute-name>}}

Important Things to Note

Data Extension Updates

Make sure you don't modify data extensions that are being used in an active journey. Modifications to data extensions used in active journeys are ignored by those active journeys. Learn more about the steps you should take if you wish to modify your data extension. 

Need help? Reach out at for assistance.