Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Field Notes - Contact Import Best Practices in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (Part 2)

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

Congratulations to you! If you are reading this post than you are well on your way to becoming an MDM importing specialist! In Part 1 of this blog series, we covered some basic importing best practices that you and your administrative team should take into immediate consideration before beginning any importing.

In Part 2, we will dive a bit deeper and discuss specifics on preparing your contact spreadsheet for import. No turning back now so let’s keep moving!

Create a contact import Template to use on all imports

Ideally there should only be one staff member who is in charge of importing contacts. Though for all those risk-takers out there, if you have multiple staff members involved in the process they should all use the same template going forward.

NOTE – A good starting point for creating this template is to export a view with all contact information your business captures. Head to the Marketing Contacts entity (Marketing Execution > Marketing Contacts). This takes you to your View. Customize the columns in your View by clicking the cog iconclip_image001. “Select All” or check the contact fields you want and click “OK.”


You will now notice that your View will refresh with the contact column fields you selected.

To export that View click on the Excel icon clip_image004. Open/Allow the exported file to be opened in Excel and the top row contains the column headers (field names).


Another time-saver suggestion – Copy that entire top row. Open a new Excel spreadsheet document and paste the top row from the exported spreadsheet, to the top row of the new spreadsheet document. Save As a .TXT or .CSV file with a name that identifies it is your contact import template!

Leave out the “First & Last Name” column on the Excel spreadsheet and mappings page in MDM to avoid confusion


The “First & Last Name” is technically the contact’s Display Name, which is a concatenation of the contact’s “First Name” and “Last Name.” Depending on your site setting, the Display Name can also include the contact’s Email or Company.


NOTE – This Display Name setting can be found under the Contact Options section in Settings > Site Settings.


Format the entire column for any data that could start with a Zero

What is the most likely use-case here, you said it – Postal Codes!

Our many U.S. friends on the East Coast and Northeast region have Postal Codes that begin with “0.” You will notice on an Excel spreadsheet, if you type in a Zip Code that begins with “0” (e.g. – 03901), the “0” will disappear once clicked away (e.g. – 3901). To prevent this, highlight the entire Zip/Postal Code column > right click in the gray highlighted area > select Format Cells > in the Number tab select “Text” as the category > click OK.


NOTE – Format the entire column first and then enter in the data.


If your import spreadsheet contains special characters, save it as a .TXT format

You may have contacts that have special characters in their name’s (e.x. – José). If this is the case, save the spreadsheet as a .TXT file and no additional cell formatting needs to take place.

If you’re unsure of which file format to save to, save as a .TXT file

.TXT formats are typically the best way to go because it is a plain-text file. Additionally it is better than .CSV if you require support for Unicode characters.


The current size limit on a contact import spreadsheet is 4MB (or 4000KB)

If your file is larger than this, don’t let that warning sign prevent you from achieving contact import greatness! The easy solution is simply splitting it into multiple files. Be sure to include the top row with the column headers for the mappings in each file. With my experience, if you only have the basic information contained in the spreadsheet (First Name, Last Name, Email, Company, Title, Phone, Address, City, State/Province, Country/Region, Zip/Postal Code), you should be able to fill in about 20,000-23,000 contacts per spreadsheet.

To find out how large your file is, browse to the location on your computer where the import file is saved and open the Properties by right clicking on the file. The size will be listed there. Be sure to save the file first and then check its properties.


NOTE – As a best practice, the file name for each split spreadsheet should be unique.


Remember to stay tuned for Part 3 of the “Contact Importing: Best-Practices and Best “Gotcha’s” from the Field!

Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
Topics: Microsoft Dynamics Marketing