SMS contact imports are best used to update subscribed email contacts who are already in your Mailchimp audience. If your subscribed email contacts opt in to receive SMS marketing from you, add them to your existing Mailchimp audience as subscribed SMS contacts, then send them SMS messages.
In this article, you'll learn how to import SMS contacts to Mailchimp.
Before you start
Here are some things to know before you begin this process.
- This article covers how to import SMS contacts into your audience. To learn more about how SMS Marketing works, check out About SMS Marketing with Mailchimp.
- SMS Marketing is available as an add-on feature for customers in the United States with an Essentials plan or higher, a Legacy Monthly plan, or Mailchimp Pro. To change your plan type, visit the plans page in your account.
- You must be an account Owner, Admin, or Manager to import SMS contacts. Learn more about the different user levels in Mailchimp.
- Before you can import SMS contacts to your Mailchimp audience, you need to submit an application. You can import contacts while your application is processing.
- Certain audience fields must be formatted in a specific way. Make sure you're familiar with our format guidelines before you import your file.
- In Mailchimp, you can categorize your SMS contacts based on their subscription status, such as subscribed or unsubscribed. You can only import 1 status at a time.
- If you don’t yet have SMS marketing permission from your subscribed email contacts, check out Create and Promote an SMS Signup Form.
The first step to building a successful audience is to get consent from contacts who want to receive your SMS marketing messages. Consent is not only common courtesy, it's required by Mailchimp's SMS Terms.
Although people talk about consent in a variety of ways, it's something very specific when it comes to SMS marketing. Consent is expressed, verifiable permission by an individual to receive marketing communication from you.
When you use Mailchimp's SMS signup form, we track and record the date and time of the consent request and approval once provided by the individual, so you have a verified consent record. You must secure this consent before you send someone an SMS message with Mailchimp. Never assume you have permission, and when in doubt, get confirmation.
Any list of contacts obtained from a third-party source, no matter how reputable, violates our terms and puts you at risk.
Email consent is different from SMS consent. In order to send SMS messages, you need to acquire specific SMS consent from your contacts.
SMS phone number field
In a Mailchimp audience, the SMS phone number field is specific to Mailchimp’s SMS Marketing, and it’s different from the phone number field. Use the SMS phone number field to import SMS contacts who have opted into your SMS marketing. If a subscribed contact doesn’t have a value in the SMS phone number field, you won’t be able to send them SMS messages.
Since you can only send SMS messages to US contacts, the SMS phone number field is formatted accordingly by default. For your import, use (###) ###-#### to format your SMS contacts’ phone numbers.
You can view the subscription status of your SMS contacts in the SMS Marketing column on the contact table for your audience. A SMS contact’s subscription status is also stored in their contact profile.
Import SMS contacts from a file
The file import process has 3 steps. First, prepare a spreadsheet outside of Mailchimp of subscribed email contacts who opted in for your SMS marketing. Next, save your spreadsheet as a CSV or TXT file. Then, use our import tool to upload your file and update your subscribed email contacts with SMS marketing permission. The SMS phone number field and the email address field are required for SMS contacts.
Prepare for import
To prepare your import file, follow these steps.
- In a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, open a blank worksheet.
- Create and label 1 column for Email Address and 1 column for SMS Phone Number.
- Next to the 2 required columns, create and label additional columns for any other information you want to import or update. To learn how to format other types of data, check out Format Guidelines for Your Import File.
- Add your contacts' information into the relevant fields in the spreadsheet.
- Save the file in a CSV or TXT format. These options can usually be accessed from the File menu in your spreadsheet program, labeled as "Export as .CSV,” “Export as .TXT,” “Download as .CSV,” or “Download as .TXT.” Spreadsheet programs may vary.
Nice job! Now that you've prepared your import file, you're ready to import.
At this time, the only ways to import SMS contacts to your Mailchimp audience is with a comma separated value (CSV) file, an unformatted text (TXT) file, or by copy and paste.
Import your file into Mailchimp
When you import subscribed SMS contacts to your Mailchimp audience, they also import as subscribed email contacts. For this reason, the email address field and the SMS phone number field are required for SMS contacts. You need to ensure that you have both SMS marketing consent and email marketing consent from your contacts before you import them to Mailchimp. If you have subscribed email contacts who have also opted in for your SMS marketing, import them to your existing Mailchimp audience.
To import SMS contacts to Mailchimp, follow these steps.
- Click Campaigns, then click SMS.
In the Upload your contacts section, click Get started.
Click Upload a file, then click Continue.
Click Browse, then choose the CSV or TXT file from your computer.
- Click Continue to Organize.
Use the Select a status drop-down to choose the subscription status of the SMS contacts you're about to import, check the Update any existing contacts checkbox, then click Continue to Tag.
The available subscription statuses for SMS contacts are:
If you import subscribed contacts, be sure that you have consent to send them SMS marketing text messages.
If you want to assign tags to all of the SMS contacts in your import, click the Search for or create tags drop-down, then choose or create tags as needed. You can also choose from popular tags.
- When you're ready, click Continue to Match.
- Match the columns in your import file to the fields in your Mailchimp audience. We'll automatically match some columns for you. For example, the column that contains email addresses will match the required Email Address field.
- If needed, click the column headers to choose a different field type for a column or to create a new field. Repeat for all unmatched columns that you want to import. Any unmatched columns will not be imported.
- When you're ready, click Finalize Import.
- If you have SMS marketing consent from your contacts, click I acknowledge that the contacts in this import have provided explicit SMS marketing consent. If you don’t have SMS marketing consent from your contacts, click I am just uploading phone numbers and I will get consent later.
- Review your import summary, then click Complete Import. If you need to go back to step, click the corresponding header. If you want to cancel your import, click Cancel Import.
That's it! After the import is finished, we'll send a notification to the primary email address associated with your Mailchimp account.
- Imported subscribed contacts don't go through the signup process, so you'll need to verify that you have email and SMS consent to send them an SMS message.
- 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.
Now that you know how to import SMS contacts, here are some other ways to optimize your SMS Marketing experience.
Create and Promote an SMS Signup Form
Use an SMS signup form to add new subscribed contacts to your audience who want to receive SMS marketing from you.
About SMS Marketing Credits
Learn how SMS credits work and how to calculate the right amount for your marketing.
Create and Send an SMS Marketing Message
Learn how to create and send SMS marketing messages to your subscribed contacts.