Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Field Notes - Contact Import Best Practices in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (Part 1)

Today’s guest blogger is Ryan Anderson, a Consultant at Sonoma Partners

With Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, contact importing is a tremendously convenient feature which you will want to take full advantage of. Granted that there is a firm plan in place and the right steps taken, this process is a huge administrative time savior (especially for those of you in the audience who are dealing with a large amount of contacts). This insider knowledge might guarantee you brownie-points and a number of ego-boosting complements from your Administrative Team and fellow colleagues alike.

Before we get going, a couple Public Service Announcements:

PSA 1 - This blog post is intended for guidance on MDM as a stand-alone product only.

PSA 2 - If your MDM org is new, it is suggested that the marketing “core team” takes the time to define the business and administrative process going forward. This should include determining what contact data your marketing team needs in MDM, how new marketing contact information will be gathered and distributed, and identifying the individual(s) to be in charge of validating and importing contact data to the system.

PSA 3 - Don’t forget to check back next week for Part 2 of this blog post.

Let’s get started!

Have one staff member be in charge of importing contacts

It’s likely some of your internal marketing users will need to create one-off marketing contacts, which is fine. Though when contacts need to be added in bulk, there should be an individual assigned to complete these tasks as the Import Admin. This will increase the likelihood of clean and consistent data going forward.

NOTE – If you need some extra control over who has the ability to import contacts, this can be managed with the “Import/Export Contacts” privilege in Contacts & Companies.


Clean up all data contained in the spreadsheet prior to importing

Who doesn’t enjoy getting things right the first time? This includes formatting, spelling mistakes, and any inconsistencies on data points that should match.

It may not seem like it at first but cleaning data prior to importing saves time on future imports. Additionally it avoids inevitable frustration if post-import mistakes are discovered in the system and need to be remedied though UI (user interface).

Ensure existing company names match on your import spreadsheet

If you are importing contacts that belong to a company already created in the system, ensure that the name of that company matches exactly with how it is spelled in MDM. If it does not match, it will create a brand new company record.

Match the “State/Province” and “Country/Region” fields to the applicable picklist options in the categories area

For example, “United States” instead of “US” or “USA” and “Illinois” instead of “IL.” These picklist options can be found in Settings > Categories.


Name the spreadsheet column headers the same as the field names in Dynamics Marketing OR write them in a way that makes sense to you.

On the second page in the import process, MDM will ask you to map the column names to the field names on a contact record. This will avoid confusion and most importantly reduce the likelihood of errors from data being mapped to the incorrect fields.

For your reference, all MDM contact import field names are listed below:

  • Email
  • Salutation
  • First & Last Name
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Company
  • Title
  • Phone 1 (Primary)
  • Territory
  • Leads
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Team
  • Lists
  • Role
  • Primary Address Type
  • Address 1 (Primary)
  • City
  • State/Province
  • Country/Region
  • Postal Code
  • Type
  • Belongs To
  • Phone 2 Category
  • Phone 2
  • Phone 3 Category
  • Phone 3
  • Email 2 Category
  • Email 2
  • Email 3 Category
  • Email 3
  • URL
  • Notes
  • Display Name
  • Client Folder
  • Vendor Folder
  • Staff Folder
  • Language
  • Lead Time
  • Time Zone
  • Create Date
  • Do Not Email
  • Do Not Call
  • Do Not Mail
  • Contact Preference
  • Message Format
  • External ID
  • Account Manager

Import Your Contacts as Leads!

Did my larger, and bolded text grab your attention? I hope so cause this is critical! (My apologizes in advance for all run-on sentences and overdoing the commas but I want to make sure that you understand)

As you may or may not know, before Sales knows to engage a lead, the lead needs to be scored and needs to hit a certain threshold in MDM for it to receive a “Sales Ready” state. For a marketing lead to reach this status, there needs to be a separate lead record associated with that contact so it can be scored and ultimately achieve that “Sales Ready” state.

Here’s the kicker – if a contact already exists in your MDM environment, the only way for a lead record to be automatically created and associated with a contact, is if they submit a Landing Page that has the “create lead or interaction” selection checked (more explanation below). If most of your marketing activities involve a Landing Page, than this might be sufficient enough for you and by all means feel free to stop reading here.

Though if you have other campaigns or activities that do not necessarily use a Landing Page, the only other way to create a lead record in MDM, is to create that lead record manually. So if you are dealing with hundreds of thousands of existing contacts, and you engage those existing contacts with your marketing activities, all leads that come from that need to have separate lead records, so they can be scored.

I can already hear you now, “Ryan, similar to importing contacts, you can also import leads. Why can’t I just import those leads to generate lead records?” My reply, “if you want to create lead records from a list of existing contacts, the lead import option is not possible because the import will skip over those records due to your site’s duplicate detection rules.” If MDM recognizes a lead found to be connected with an existing contact, it will be skipped over during the import process (check your duplicate detection rules under the Contact Options section in Settings > Site Settings).

Conversely and ideally, if you have a list of contacts that don’t already exist the system, when you import those as leads in MDM, the system will create three separate records: a contact record, a company record and a lead record. Therefore using this approach will result in every contact being newly created and linked to its respective imported lead.

Remember that there currently is no way to purge/delete data in MDM so for contacts already created in your system, you cannot use the above approach. Though not all hope is lost because for all new contacts you can!


Remember to stay tuned for Part 2 of the “Contact Importing: Best-Practices and Best “Gotcha’s” from the Field.

Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
Topics: Microsoft Dynamics Marketing