Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Field Notes - Contact Import Best Practices in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (Part 3)

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

Welcome back to the next and final chapter in our Contact Import Best Practices Blog series! 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 discussed how to best prepare your import spreadsheet.

In Part 3, we will go over some additional administrative best practices, “gotcha’s” and no blog series would truly be complete without voicing some cautionary tales. Lucky for you, you are here and won’t run in to those same issues I did. Let’s continue on to the homestretch!


Run a test contact import file to ensure mappings are connected properly

This truly is the best way to verify information is displaying the way you intended. Copy one or two contacts from the main import spreadsheet and paste them into a fresh import spreadsheet template. Save the spreadsheet and go through all the steps in MDM to get familiar with the process.

Page 1:

Page 2:

NOTE – MDM retains the mappings you select on page 2 for next time so this will come in handy when you import the main file.

Page 3:

When the import is complete, verify the data by opening a contact record from the import. If things look off, take a look back at the spreadsheet and mappings. Then start the process over with another one or two contacts. If it looks good and you feel comfortable with the process, feel free to load the main import file. Although, especially if it’s your first couple times doing this, I highly suggest running an additional import with another handful of contacts (around a dozen or so) before.

NOTE – Currently it is not possible to delete/purge any contact data in MDM (more on this in the next point below). If you load one or two contacts on the first import, it’s much easier to amend incorrect data on those records, rather than on hundreds or thousands. Trust me.


Although MDM only imports one spreadsheet at a time, you can queue up multiple spreadsheets so they can run one after another

To queue the spreadsheets, you would follow the exact same process as you would for any other contact import. Before you submit the spreadsheet, you’ll notice a note near the Submit button that says – “There are #__ imports pending. Your data will be available after your import has finished.”


NOTE – After each import has finished, an output file will generate and be sent to the email address associated to the contact who imported the file.



The delete import hyperlink doesn’t exactly “delete” the import

A common and potentially impactful misconception is that if you mess up a large import, you can always delete that import by clicking on the hyperlink contained in the output email and then start over. This is not the case.


If you click that hyperlink, it will actually place all those contact records in an inactive state. This is completely different from a purged/deleted state. While the contact is in an inactive state, the record is technically still in the system. So when you go back and try to import that contact spreadsheet again, MDM will skip over that contact. As we went over in Part 1, it skips based on your duplicate detection rules applied in your Site Settings.


Once you Close and make your final Save on the import spreadsheet – do not open the file back up in Excel

Any special cell formatting applied on the spreadsheet could potentially be lost if reopened again. If there is any worry about this at all, save the spreadsheet and keep it open during the import process. Once the import is complete, Close out.


Always have a backup staff member be familiar with the process in case the usual individual is out of office for an extend period of time

Vacations, babies, honeymoons, jury duty, recent lottery winners -- no one knows when someone might need to leave the office for an extended period of time. But you, now the seasoned expert who is always prepared, expect the best and prepare for the worst. Someone taking over this task without the proper knowledge can potentially delay or impact marketing activities by needing to be ramped-up or making critical mistakes. Better safe than sorry!

With that, I hope you enjoyed my contact import blog series! By now you should at the very least have a few best practices and takeaways to implement in your marketing activities.

I encourage you to post any remarks or questions you may have in the Comments area below. Be sure to check back for future updates and check out the rest of the Sonoma Partners Blog.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics Marketing