How To Import Contacts To Mailchimp
In this article, I'm going to show you how to import contacts to MailChimp. It's is a simple process, a little technical and requires some know-how of the Mailchimp process.
A Quick Note Before We Begin:
Importing contacts to your MailChimp list without their explicit permission is not only poor business practice, professionally unethical and in violation of MailChimp’s Acceptable Use Policy, it also violates international privacy laws including GDPR. So if like me, these things are important to you and your business, then don’t it. Adding people to your email list just to get numbers is marketing at it’s worst and completely counterproductive. If you’re even remotely interested in building an audience that supports your business then you’ll care about ethical marketing.
Here’s some light reading for you on the subject;
So with that little detail out of the way, let's get cracking.
How You Build Your MailChimp List Ethically
The thing about building a strong email list is that there are no shortcuts. You have to be prepared to put in the work required to build your audience online. You can either do it by organic means through content creation, or you can pay for advertising. Sometimes both together work well.
But whatever traffic generation method you choose, you must take the time to understand the needs of your audience. Failing that you will waste countless days, months and even years going down the wrong road (like I did).
Start small, be humble and open-minded. Don’t rush it. Crawl, then walk, and when you begin to click with people, when what you’re doing seems to resonate, pick up the tempo.
The Bad News
The bad news is that this process could take quite a while – 2 years is not an unusual amount of time to build your email list to a reasonable level whereby it supports your business.
The interim is where you test and build out your offer. It’s in this place we remain relatively unknown. It's where we do the hard work. It may not be 2 years for you, it might be six months. If it is shorter than 2 years then that’s a bonus.
However, the interim period requires focus on the work for the work's sake. If we have our eyes on the prize so to speak, then we have our eyes off the work and quality will suffer.
So settle in, develop a process, and do the work.
The Good News
Play the long game, pursue quality, slow cooking so to speak, and your open rates on your email list will be high. An open rate under 16% is low. MailChimp reports an average open rate for their millions of users at 20.81%. Lower open rates are what you can expect from adding people to your list without their permission.
What you’re looking for is 30% or 40%, and you can achieve that if you play the long game. You might even be looking at 60% or 70% open rate on campaigns if you really focus on quality. Also, you don’t need a big list. A small list with high open rates is exactly what you're after.
In time your MailChimp list members will grow. They will admire and support your work. So for now, subscribe for weekly updates and follow what I’ll show you here. I’m on the slow and steady buzz and I won’t send you astray.
Now, down to business…
How To Import Contacts To Mailchimp
A couple of things before we start…
- Your contacts list will need to be in CSV file format. Find out more about CSV files here. I’m using Google Sheets to modify the CSV file for this demo. Where ever you happen to grab your contacts list from, make sure it is in .csv format. You can use Excel or Open Office to edit your CSV file.
- The list I will be importing is a MailChimp list I downloaded earlier from MailChimp. Yours may be from an email list held with Infusionsoft or Aweber if you’ve decided to move house. As noted above, I discourage you to add contacts from Gmail or LinkedIn who have not previously voluntarily joined your list.
- The MailChimp account I am using is a free account I use for demo purposes.
Firstly, log into your MailChimp account and click on lists
If you are a first time user you’ll see the following message in fig. 1.
Time to create a list
The following window will open inviting you to create a list. Add the details as shown in fig. 3.
- Add a list name that reflects your business
- Add a default from email address. This will show up in recipients' inboxes
- Add the default from name. This will show up in recipients' inboxes
- Customise the domain if it's available in your account. This helps verify your identity in the recipient's email client such as Gmail and Yahoo.
- Finally, add a piece of text that tells recipients why they are receiving the email from you.
On the same page, edit your contact information where necessary, confirm that your confirmation email is correct and check the relevant box to receive notifications when subscribers join your list. I'd advise leaving these unchecked, especially if you're receiving many signups per day.
When you’re happy, click Save and you’ll be brought to the following screen (fig 5.) inside your newly created list. Click on Import subscribers to add your contacts.
Next, click on Add contacts, then Import contacts.
On the next screen, you’ll be asked where you would like to import from. Choose CSV file. Hit next.
Although this next bit is not essential, for beginners I recommend you follow it. We’re going to leave the MailChimp window open and go to the Excel or Google CSV file that you intend to import.
To make things simpler for the next part we’re going to remove all unnecessary columns from the CSV file. Without doing this our job syncing details will be overcomplicated.
So, open the CSV file (I’m using Google Sheets).
Keep columns A, B & C (email address, First Name, Last Name). Delete all other columns with data you don’t need inside MailChimp.
When you are happy with the changes click; file, Download as, .csv current sheet to download to your computer.
Now, go back to MailChimp. The following window will be open from step #7 above. Now you’re ready to upload the CSV file.
Click browse and locate the file on your computer. Probably in your downloads folder.
When you’ve located your CSV file, click Next
In the next screen you see that MailChimp has seen and recognises the three columns from your CSV file; Email Address, First Name, Last Name.
This is what you want.
Had you left all other columns in place instead of deleting them, you would have had to match these to new columns in MailChimp, or choose not to import the data. Either way, it can be a bit confusing for beginners so that’s why I told you to delete them in step #8.
When MailChimp says “all columns are matched” you’re good to go. Click Next to proceed.
Next, you’ll need to choose how to categorise your contacts. Choose “Subscribed”
Happy days! Your list of contacts is now successfully imported to your MailChimp list.
Congratulations you’ve successfully added your contacts to your email list. I know I said it a few times in this post but I want to stress again…
Please don’t sacrifice your personal and professional reputation by adding people to your list who have not specifically requested it. It’s a really poor show to do this.
Take the time to entice people to join your list by offering them value. This is the foundation your business will be built on.
Don’t be a spam head – Stay in touch with new articles and tutorial videos here on ChimpTutorials to discover ethical and reliable ways to grow your email list.