Import your contacts and their data into your workspace

If you're just starting out with Gist but have been doing email marketing for a while, you'll likely want to bring over your contacts from your previous ESP (email service provider) or CRM (customer relationship management).

There are a few different ways to import contacts to Gist, but a CSV file upload is the most common method. The file import process has two parts:

First, you'll prepare your spreadsheet of contacts outside of Gist, and save it as a CSV file.

Next, you'll use our import tool to add your contacts to Gist.

Before you get started

Before you start an import, learn how to set up your import file to prevent any errors when importing your contacts into Gist.

Prepare for Import

To prepare your file for import, follow these steps.

  1. In a spreadsheet program like Excel or Google Sheets, open your blank worksheet.
  2. Create and label a column for Email Address.
  3. Next to your Email Address column, create and label additional columns for First Name, and Last Name.
    Email Address is the only property that we require, but you can repeat this step for any other contact properties, you want to include in Gist, like phone number, birthday, language, address, or country.
  4. Paste your contacts' information into the relevant fields in the spreadsheet.
  5. 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 Gist.

Note: 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.

Import to Gist

To import your contacts to Gist, follow these steps.

  1. Navigate to the Contacts page.
  2. Click the More drop-down and choose Import contacts.
  3. Drag and drop the CSV file the file or click choose a file link to browse and choose the file from your computer.
  4. We’ll automatically match some columns in your import file. For example, the column that contains email addresses will match the required Email Address property.
  5. To map a column to a different property, choose from the drop-down menu against each column name. To create a new property, click the drop-down menu and choose Create a new property.
  6. Repeat steps 5 for all unmatched columns. You must match or select "Don't import column" to complete your import.
  7. After you're finished matching, click Finish Mapping.
  8. Optional: If you want to assign tags to all of your imported contacts, on this next screen, choose the "Apply a tag" action and choose or create tags as needed. Feel free to add more actions to subscribe the imported contacts to a campaign, enroll into a workflow etc.
  9. Click Next to confirm your import settings.
  10. Give your import a name that you can remember and click the checkbox to confirm you have permission to send email communication to the imported contacts.
  11. Click Start Import.

After the import is finished, we'll send a notification to the email address associated with your username.

Update existing contacts

You may need to update your contacts’ data if they’ve been in your workspace for a while. Use our import tool to quickly update multiple contacts at once.

This option replaces existing contact property 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 properties in your Gist workspace. Blank fields DO NOT overwrite and erase existing contact data.
  • Imports won’t update the Email Subscription Status of contacts already in your Gist workspace.

Proceed with a regular file import, and follow the steps to upload your file and match your columns. On the Upload step of the import, check the box next to Only update existing contacts.

That's it! When you import, we'll handle the rest by scanning your contacts and updating their information.

See your Contact Import History

You can see your Contact Import history in your Settings > Import section of your Gist workspace.


1. If you have chosen the date format on the *Mapping*, make sure you've chosen the MM/DD/YYYY format for the date. 

Also, if the date format is chosen then all the rows in the CSV must have dates with the same format. If any of the columns have the date added in a different format, it will throw an error in the CSV with the row and column number.

2. Limit the # of Columns when importing. 7 is a good limit.

If you need to import data with a lot of columns, for example 21 columns, we suggest you split the CSV data into 7 columns and import 3 times. 

And if you have any column that is unwanted, it's better to remove that column before importing.

Note: It is mandatory to have the Email column while importing, each time. 

3. Do not add non-alphabetic characters to the CSV headers.  It should only have alphabets/underscores.

You will need to use Email instead of E-mail, Full_Name instead of Full Name.

Note: You can replace spaces or other characters with underscores.

4. Limit # of rows to 10,000 per import.

If you need to import more than 10,000 rows of data, upload multiple CSV files, with a limit of 10,000 rows per CSV.

5. If any of the imported contacts immediately match the criteria for a behavioral email or a campaign that you have live, they will get those emails right away.

Need Help?

If you have any further questions, please start a Live Chat. Just "Click" on the Chat Icon in the lower right corner to talk with our support team.

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