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Sending to Reports vs. Data Extensions vs. Campaigns

You're ready to send your email, but what type of audience list should you use? This wiki will help you understand the difference between reports, data extensions, and campaigns so you can target your audience correctly and remain CAN-SPAM complaint.

KEY TAKEAWAY When sending your email, you should be sending to either reports or data extensions. Never send to a campaign without consulting with your eComm Specialist as doing so can result in a CAN-SPAM violation.


If you're targeting everyone in your audience at their preferred email address, you'll likely be sending to a report. Reports always send to the preferred email field on the contact, and you'll know which report you should use based on the email preference subscription category with which it is associated. Learn more about how to choose the right report based on its name in our naming conventions wiki.

Some campuses convert all of their reports to data extensions, so if you're not sure what the process is on your campus, contact your eComm Specialist.

Data Extensions

If you're targeting everyone in your audience at their campus email address, you'll be sending to a data extension. Your data extension names should contain the same subscription information as your reports, so it will be simple to identify the right data extension to use for your send.


Since campaigns in Salesforce are structured differently than reports and data extensions, they don't contain any additional filters based on email preference subscriptions, email opt outs, or even contacts who are now deceased. For this reason, you should never send to a campaign without first contacting your eComm Specialist.

If you want to use a campaign as an exclusion in your send (for example, for a special event reminder in which you want to exclude contacts who have already registered), that is completely acceptable. Just be sure that a campaign is never targeted in your send without talking with your eComm Specialist first.