CRM: Importing Contacts

What is a CSV Import?

Instead of adding your Contacts manually or having them self-register, you can choose to bulk-add them via a CSV file import. CSV stands for "Comma Separated Values", and it's a very common method for importing/exporting data. It can be easily viewed as a standard spreadsheet. A CSV can be easily created using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets as they both have built-in methods to export a CSV.

Before you're ready to import your Contacts, you will need to do some thinking about how your data will be configured. Will you be using Custom Fields? Will you be operating in Company First Mode?

CLICK HERE to learn about Company First Mode

CLICK HERE to learn about Custom Fields

TIP: You'll need to have everything in order before Importing. It can be very time-consuming to remove imported data., as there is no "undo" mechanism.


How do I Prepare to Import my Contacts?

Before pulling the trigger on your Import, we highly encourage you to take some time to read through the sections below.

Column Header & Mapping

You can create a CSV file from scratch, or you can start with the sample CSV and then modify that it as needed. When you're viewing the CSV in a spreadsheet viewer (Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, Open Office, etc.), each row of the CSV (except Row 1) will be a Contact to be imported, and each column will be a data point associated with that Contact.

DOWNLOAD: Sample CSV Import File

Row 1 will serve as the Column Header where you will put the label for the data contained in that column. The values in Row 1 are not imported. Row 1 is used exclusively for identifying and mapping the columns.

How Role is Assigned

You have two options on how you will assign the Role to each of your imported Contacts.

Option 1

You can assign every imported Contact a specific role by choosing Lead, Prospect or Client from the first set of values in the Role selector.

In the example above, every Contact imported during this operation would be imported as a Lead, regardless of how the CSV is configured.

Option 2

Or, you can include a Role column in your CSV and select that column using the Role selector. In this case, each Contact will have the Role assigned based on the value assigned to their row in the Role column.

In this example, Art Venere will be given the role of Lead, while Simona Morasca will be given the role of Client.


How do I Import Companies?

You can create a Companies column in your CSV and import Companies just as you would Contacts.

Existing Companies

If you want to assign Contacts to an existing Company during import, the Company will need to already exist in your account. 

IMPORTANT: The Company name in the CSV will need to be an EXACT match the existing Company name in your account. That means if the Company name has capitalization, punctuation, or spacing, that should be carried over precisely to your "Company" column of your CSV.

New Companies

If you want to import a new Company and assign Contacts to that Company during the import, select the option to create new Companies if no exact match is found.

The import will look for Companies in the CRM Company column, and associate each Contact with the Company that exists in that column. So, in the below example, James Butt, Art Venere and Lenna Paprocki will all be imported and associated with "Primus Associates, Inc".


How do I Import Contacts while using Company First Mode?

When you are running your account in Company First Mode and want to Import Contacts and Companies at the same time, you'll need to designate which Contact will be set as the Primary Contact.

In your CSV file, set a column with a header like Is Primary Contact. You can input the accepted values yes or no, or you can leave the cell empty.

After uploading your CSV file , you will see a mapping selector for designating the Primary Contact.

If the row is read as yes, then that Contact will be set as the Primary Contact for the associated Company. If the row is read as no, then nothing will be set. If the row is empty, then nothing will be set.


How do I Import Custom Fields with my Contacts?

If you will be using Custom Fields with your Contacts, ensure that those Custom Fields have already been created in the platform before Importing. You will then configure your CSV with a column for each Custom Field.

During the Import steps, you'll map the columns in your CSV to the Custom Fields you've already created in your account.

If you hadn't added your Custom Fields beforehand, you have the option of adding them on the fly during the mapping phase of the Import.

Once you add a new Custom Field, you will be provided with a new field so that you can map it to the respective column in your CSV file.

DOWNLOAD: Sample CSV Import File

TIP: If you want to do an Import that includes data for Custom Fields already created in your account, the best way to get started is to Export data from your CRM Contacts list. That CSV will already have the appropriate column headers for all of your existing Custom Fields, so you can use it as a template to build your Import CSV.


How do I execute the Import?

Importing Contacts is a two-step process - uploading your CSV, then mapping the columns.

Step One

Get started by uploading your CSV. Please note that there is no commitment after this step - nothing will be Imported until after finishing Step Two.

Step Two

After your CSV is uploaded, you will be directed to a page where you can associate the various columns in your CSV with the standard fields in your account, as well as any Custom Fields.

On this page, the existing fields in your account will be listed in the dropdown menus. Use the dropdowns to select the desired column headers that match up with the corresponding existing fields.

You will also be able to assign an Event Template, Email Marketing List, Circle, and On-Boarding FLOW to all of the Imported Contacts.

CLICK HERE to learn about Event Templates

CLICK HERE to learn about Marketing Lists

CLICK HERE to learn about Circles

CLICK HERE to learn about On-Boarding FLOWs

You will have also have a few additional Import Options presented to you before you initiate the action by clicking Import.

Portal Access Invitation: If checked, all Prospects/Clients that are imported will immediately be invited to the Portal. If left unchecked, then they will all be given a "Not Invited" status, which means they will not receive this email until it is manually triggered by you.

Update existing Contacts: If checked, any rows in the CSV that match with existing Contacts in your CRM (by having the same email address) will automatically be marked as "existing", and they will not be imported as new Contacts. Instead, the existing Contact's data will be overwritten by the data provided from the CSV file.

This feature is useful if you would like to like to update your existing Contacts' data in bulk, rather than having to update each one individually.

IMPORTANT: If you are Updating existing Contacts and you leave a field blank for a data point where existing data was present, that existing data will be overwritten and the existing data will be lost.

Coordinator: By default, the user Importing the Contacts will automatically be assigned as the Coordinator for all Imported Contacts. You can choose a different user from the dropdown menu instead.


Tips for Importing

Here are a few things to understand as you prepare for your import.

Assigning by ID Number

If you are assigning Contacts to Event Templates or Email Marketing Lists during import, you should use the numerical "ID" of these items in your CSV file. The ID numbers of Event Templates and Email Marketing Lists can easily be found in the "ID" column of the tables in CRM > Events > Event Templates and Marketing > Lists respectively. You will need to enter only the numerical ID of the desired Template and/or List in your CSV, not the Name. Please see the example CSV attached to this post for an example.

Importing very large data sets

Smaller CSV files will be automatically imported and you will see a success message. However if the file is larger, you will see a message stating that the Import has been queued, and it will take a few minutes to be Imported.

Testing your CSV Import

There is no UNDO mechanism for importing, so it's a good practice to test with only one or two rows of data before making the full Import. By doing this, you can save yourself a great deal of time in the case the Import doesn't work as you expect. 

Import Logs: Understanding any errors

You can view the status of any Imports (pending and successful), as well as view specific errors related to problem Imports, by view the Import Logs.

Navigate to CRM > Contacts.

Click Import Logs in the top horizontal menu bar.

Download a Sample CSV

This CSV is not meant to be static, but rather a starting point for you to help understand the concepts. Every scenario is different, so you'll want to modify, add to, rearrange, etc., your CSV before Importing.

DOWNLOAD: Sample CSV Import File

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