Looking for help with your list?
Mailchimp lists are now called audiences. They include the same data and functionality as before, along with valuable new insights about your contacts. As we introduce this change over time, you’ll notice fewer places where we still say list. Learn more about this change.
Our import feature allows you to add contacts to Mailchimp. You can also use this feature to auto-update multiple existing contacts at once.
In this article, you'll learn how to use our import tool to add and update contacts in Mailchimp.
Before You Start
Here are some things to know before you begin this process.
- This article covers how to import contacts with a file upload. To learn how to import contacts from another service, check out Import Contacts from Other Services.
- To get started, you'll need a blank sheet in a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, saved or exported as a comma separated value (CSV) file.
- In Mailchimp, you can categorize your contacts based on their status, like subscribed or unsubscribed. You can only import to one category at a time.
- If you’d like to send postcards to your contacts, check out our article on how to import mailing addresses.
- If your import brings your total contact count above the limit of your pricing tier, you'll be subject to an additional contact charge.
Import New Contacts
There are a few different ways to import contacts to Mailchimp, but a file upload is the most common method. The file import process has two parts: First, you'll prepare your spreadsheet of contacts outside of Mailchimp, and save it as a CSV file. Next, you'll use our import tool to add your contacts to Mailchimp.
Prepare for Import
To prepare your file for import, follow these steps.
- In a spreadsheet program like Excel or Google Sheets, open your blank worksheet.
- Create and label a column for Email Address.
- Next to your Email Address column, create and label additional columns for First Name, and Last Name.
Email Address is the only field that we require, but you can repeat this step for any other contact data fields you want to include in Mailchimp, like phone number, birthday, language, address, or country.
- Paste your contacts' information into the relevant fields in the spreadsheet.
- Save the file in CSV format. This option can usually be accessed from the File menu in your spreadsheet program, labeled as "Export as .CSV" or "Download as .CSV". Different spreadsheet programs will vary a little bit. If you use another file type, we won't be able to process the file.
Nice job! Now that you've prepared your CSV file, you're ready to import it to Mailchimp.
Need some help saving your spreadsheet file in CSV format before you import? Check out these CSV tips from Excel and Google Sheets. Or, download our sample CSV import file and replace the sample emails with your own data.
Certain fields, like birthday and date, must be formatted in a specific way. Read our format guidelines for more tips about special fields.
Import to Mailchimp
To import your contacts to Mailchimp, follow these steps.
- Navigate to the Audience tab.
- If you have more than one audience, click the Current audience drop-down and choose the one you want to work with.
- Click the Manage Audience drop-down and choose Import contacts.
- Choose CSV or tab-delimited text file.
If your last import was a CSV with the same columns, you can click Use settings from last import, which will allow you to skip steps 8-10.
- Click Continue To Setup.
- Click Browse and choose the file from your computer.
- Click Continue To Match to go to the next step and match the columns in your import file to the fields in your Mailchimp audience.
If your import file contains only an email column, we’ll skip you to Organize (step 13).
- We’ll automatically match some columns in your import file. For example, the column that contains email addresses will match the required Email Address field.
- Click Edit to choose a different field type from the drop-down menu. To create a new field, click the drop-down menu and choose Create a new field.
- Repeat steps 8 and 9 for all unmatched columns. You must match or skip all columns to complete your import.
- After you're finished matching, we'll display a success message.
- Click Continue To Organize.
- Optional: If you want to assign tags to all of your imported contacts, click the plus (+) icon in the Tag all contacts section and choose or create tags as needed.
- Optional: If you want to add your imported contacts to groups, navigate to the Add contacts to groups section and check the box next to each group that applies.
You’ll only see this option if you have groups in your audience.
- In the Choose status of these contacts section, click the drop-down menu to choose the type of contacts you’re about to import.
The available statuses for contacts are:
- In the Update existing contacts section, leave the box unchecked unless your import includes contacts who are already in your audience.
- Click Continue To Review to confirm your import settings
- Click Import.
After the import is finished, we'll send a notification to the email address associated with your username.
- Imported subscribers don't go through the signup process, so you'll need to verify that you have permission to email them.
- When you import contacts to an existing audience, we won’t include any duplicate, bounced, or unsubscribed addresses that are already stored in the audience.
- Because all audiences in Mailchimp are independent of each other, we can't detect duplicates, bounces, or unsubscribes across multiple audiences. If you have duplicate contacts in different audiences, you may find it helpful to combine your audiences into a master audience that uses groups or tags.
Update Existing Contacts
You may need to update your contacts’ data if they’ve been in your audience for a while. Use our import tool to quickly update multiple contacts at once.
This option replaces existing audience field information with new information from your import file. You’ll follow the same process to import new contacts, but there are a few extra things to consider.
- When you prepare your spreadsheet, verify that your column names in your import file match the fields in your Mailchimp audience, and that no columns are left blank. Blank fields overwrite and erase existing contact data.
- You can only update subscribed or non-subscribed contacts with this method.
- Imports won’t update the Email Marketing Status of contacts already in your Mailchimp account.
Proceed with a regular file import, and follow the steps to upload your file and match your columns. On the Organize step of the import, check the box next to Update existing contacts.
That's it! When you import, we'll handle the rest by scanning your contacts and updating their information.
Need some help with contact imports? Learn how to troubleshoot.
Want to reverse a contact import? Read on.
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