Import Subscribers

Importing subscribers is core to the experience of any good email platform.

While often you will want to have leads flow into your account that opt-in or purchase something from you, it's common to have an existing set of subscribers from another email system you'd like to import.

Note: Campaign Refinery strictly allows permission-based opt-in subscribers only. No cold or 3rd party data is allowed on the platform, any use this type of data will result in an immediate and permanent ban from the platform without refunds.

Step 1: Go to "Contacts" > "Import Contacts"

In the left-hand navigation, you'll see an option for "Contacts" with a sub-menu item of "Import Contacts"

Here you'll be able to select "Upload a .CSV File"

Step 2: Preparing Your CSV

You'll need to make sure your contacts are in the most common file format used by email platforms known as CSV (Comma Separated Values).

Each column can have data in it or even descriptions you'd like to use for tags within the system.

By default, every new Campaign Refinery account has fields for:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Email

If you'd like to import additional custom field, such as phone, address etc you'll need to prepare them in advance. You can read our instructions for custom fields here.

One great feature of Campaign Refinery is the ability to create and/or apply tags to contacts during import. This is especially useful for the process of converting from a prior email platform, regardless of if it used the idea of tags or lists.

Preparing For Tags

When you get your CSV from an existing email tool, it will likely look something like this:

You'll notice that under "Tags" (which may be "Lists" for you), there are multiple names with a comma.

Before you import into Campaign Refinery, you'll need to convert these into their own columns.

Select the column with the bulk data, then select "Text to Columns"

Next, Excel will walk you through a Wizard which is just a few clicks away.

Text to Columns Step 1

Leave the first step as "Delimited", click "Next>".

Text to Columns Step 2

By default, it will have tab selected and will show a preview below about how the data will be altered.

In this example, our data is separated by commas so we selected "Comma" and the preview reflects what we want the data to do.

Text to Columns Step 3

Leaving the defaults here is normally completely fine. Just make sure you don't have additional columns of data to the right of where you started or you may overwrite those fields with your new data set.

Click "Finish" and you'll now have a nicely formatted document ready for import.

You'll notice that the tags are now broken out into their own individual columns. This is how Campaign Refinery wants you to input it, so you should be all set!

Step 3: Choosing Your File

Now you can go back into Campaign Refinery and click the "Choose File" option to select your nicely formatted CSV.

After choosing the file, the file name should populate and then you can click "Continue >".

Step 4: Mapping Fields & Tags

Once your file has been selected you'll be presented with drop-down options allowing you to map data to existing fields, add the value as a tag or to skip the column completely.

If your file has what is known as headers (like we have in our example here), then you will want to tick the box "Ignore first row with headers" so you don't try to create a junk contact with the first row that is really just used for labeling.

If there is a column you don't want, you can leave it as the default "Do Not Import".

When it comes to the tagging feature, don't worry about if you have the same tag name on more than one contact or if they are in different columns from each other. Campaign Refinery is smart enough only add a tag with an exact name match into your account once, and to only apply it once per contact.

Step 5: Apply Tags To Entire Import (Optional)

A helpful option for managing a specific import later down the road is to apply a unique tag name to the import.

When you continue from Step 4 above, you'll get the option to apply a tag to all records in this particular data set.

Once you click "Start Importing" you'll be off to the races.

Checking Import Status

After you initiate your import, you monitor import progress and status be either clicking the link in the banner post upload, or go to Contacts > Import Contacts and select the "Import Progress" in the top right corner.

Note: It may take some time to run the import not only based on the raw number of contacts, but also that Campaign Refinery will clean your imports by default. If cleaning is in-progress the 'Last Message' area will say "Validating contacts (this may take a while)...". Generally, cleaning and importing should be done within 30 minutes or less. Smaller files will likely take seconds to several minutes.

Updating Custom Fields/Tags of Bulk Contacts

If you missed some custom field data, or have additional tags you want to apply to some large segments of your database later you have several options. One of them however, is to use a CSV with the existing contact emails on it and new information for the additional custom fields or tags, and selecting the "Update existing contacts with imported data".

By default this will be set to "Do not re-import existing contacts" as in the example below:

Updating existing contacts will NOT use additional cleaning contacts since the system identifies that the record previously existed and relies on that previous cleaning timestamp.