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How to import new contacts from a file

This article covers what kind of file formats you can import to your Emma account, provides useful information on importing lists, and gives you step-by-step instructions on how to import new contacts. 

In the Emma app, contacts can be added to your account individually, but if you want to add a number of contacts at the same time it's easiest to import them as a file.

Accepted file formats include:

  • .xls
  • .xlsx
  • .csv

You can import up to 65,000 contacts in a .xls or .xlsx file. To import more contacts, use the .csv file format.

Important things to know about importing lists BEFORE you begin

  • Spreadsheet settings — Spreadsheets containing multiple sheets cannot be processed. Make sure the file you're importing only has one sheet.
  • Format data correctly — If you're importing data to contact fields, be aware that some field types require the data to be formatted correctly for a successful import.
  • Duplicate email addresses — If your file contains duplicate email addresses, they will be deduplicated during the import process. For example, if bill@example[dot]com is listed twice on your spreadsheet, first as Bill Smith and further down the spreadsheet as William Smith, data from the last row imported is what will be used. So, in this case, the name saved for the contact would be William Smith.
  • Invalid email addresses — If your file contains improperly formatted email addresses, those contacts will be moved to an Error tab on your Contacts page so you can correct the formatting, then change the contact's status to Active.
  • Post-import contact total — If the number of contacts in your audience doesn't increase by the number of new contacts imported, it indicates that the file may have contained duplicate email addresses, and this will be noted in the Import Summary.
  • New contact fields for number values — If you're importing number values (e.g. ages, phone numbers, or membership IDs), do not choose the "Numeric answer" field type when creating a new contact field, instead, use the "Short answer" field type. Learn more.
Please note: Rented or purchased lists are not allowed. By importing contacts to your Emma account, you are asserting that you have permission to email them.

You must have proof that everyone on your list has either opted-in to receive emails from you, or that they have a clear relationship with your organization (e.g. as a customer, employee, or volunteer). Additionally, you need to have emailed these contacts within the last 12 months to retain permission.

How to import new contacts (or contact data) from a file

  1. Open the Audience section in your account, then click Imports on the left.
  2. Click Import contacts.
  3. Upload your file by dragging it from your desktop, or clicking Choose file to select it from your computer. Optional: Choose the source of your import, how you'd like to handle data being imported for existing contacts, or select the checkbox to trigger workflows based on the data imported. (See "Other import options" below.)
  4. Click Continue.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to map the contact data in your list to the contact fields in your account. You can also create new contact fields for the data you're importing.
  6. Either create a new group to add your contacts to, or select an existing group, then click Continue.
  7. After you've reviewed the Import Summary page, click Import.

* Import speed is dependent on the size of the file, as well as the import options selected.

Import Summary Overview

When you import a file, we automatically generate an Import Summary that shows how many contacts were added, updated, skipped due to duplication or error, and which groups were added to.

To view the Import Summary after an import has been completed, navigate to the Audience > Imports page, then click on the name of the file to view the summary.

Here's an overview of the status totals you'll see in the Import Summary:

  • Contacts added — How many new contacts were imported.
  • Contacts updated — Any existing contacts whose contact records were updated.
  • Error rows — Rows skipped because there was a formatting or mapping issue. Click Download to generate a .csv file of your error contacts. This export includes information about the fields that are in error for each contact. 
  • Duplicate rows — Rows containing the same email address.

Other import options

When importing a file, you'll see a couple of options on the file import page, as explained below.

Update existing contacts

You can use a file import to bulk-update data for existing contacts. For example, to add or replace details such as the person's role at a company, geographic location, or membership status. If this is your first file import, and there are no existing contacts in your account, it doesn't matter which option is selected.

There are two options for how to handle the data imported:

  • Update their records — Select this option if you want to update existing contact records with data from your file. This will overwrite contact field values in your account with any new, or changed data in your file. It will also import new contacts on the list.
  • Leave them alone — Select this option if you just want to add new contacts. Any data associated with an existing contact's email address will be ignored.
Please note: If you choose "Update their records" and a value is left empty in your imported file, it will overwrite any existing value stored in the contact field.

For example, let's say you update a contact's record, adding "Chicago" to the contact field for "City". If you later import a file containing that contact's email address, and the value for "City" is blank, this will overwrite what was previously recorded in your account.

Trigger a workflow

You can also use a file import to trigger automated emails. Read more about workflows triggered by contact field changes.