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Video: Why Should You Import Your Data? (1:04)

A CRM is only as good as the data in it. In this video, you will learn about the importance of importing your existing data into HubSpot.

Hey, it’s Kyle from HubSpot Academy. If you’ve decided to start using HubSpot CRM--or even if you’re just trying to figure out whether you want to use it--you should definitely import as much data into it as you can.

Why? Because CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and HubSpot CRM is specifically designed to help sales reps build good relationships with their leads. They can’t do that if there aren’t any leads in there.

A CRM without any contacts in it is like a car with an empty gas tank. You can look at it, sit in it, and imagine what it might be like to drive--but you’ll never know if it’s a good car until you fill up the tank and take it out on the road. The same is true of a CRM--as long as it’s empty, it’s impossible for you to know if it’ll meet your needs.

So take the leap--take whatever historical data you have and import it into HubSpot CRM. Then you can stop sitting in a parked car and hit the road.
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Quiz: Why Should You Import Your Data?

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Video: How to Prepare Your Data for Importing (4:57)

Before you can import your data, you need to get it organized. This video lays out the best way to do this.

Hey, it’s Kyle from HubSpot Academy. Let’s talk about how to import your contacts into HubSpot. Contacts are the most fundamental part of any CRM. They’re your prospects and customers--the living, breathing human beings your business depends on. Everything you do inside HubSpot will revolve around your contacts, so you should start by importing them.

Before you get started, it’s important to make sure that you have all of your current contacts in a single spreadsheet. If your contacts are currently inside a CRM or some other system, you need to find a way to export them out into a file where you can see them all listed out together. Once you’ve done that, you can follow the instructions in this video to import your data into HubSpot CRM.

There are six steps you need to follow in order to make this go as smoothly as possible:

First, make a new spreadsheet.

You might be thinking, “I already have my data in a spreadsheet--why can’t I just import that?” Well, there are two main reasons: one is that your current spreadsheet probably isn’t formatted correctly, so if you try to import it, you’ll get a lot of errors. But even on the off chance that your spreadsheet is formatted correctly, this is a great opportunity to go through your data and make sure it’s accurate and organized.

So create a brand new spreadsheet, and give it a nice, clear name. If you’re importing all of your data, call it “First HubSpot Import.” If you’re just importing data from a particular source, name the spreadsheet after that source.

If you’re using a desktop spreadsheet program, such as Excel, be sure to save the spreadsheet as a .csv file. “CSV” stands for “comma-separated values,” and it’s the only kind of file you can import into HubSpot.

Now that you have your spreadsheet, the next step is to add a column for each property you want to include. Properties are where you store individual bits of information about a contact--their name, phone number, email, and so on. In your spreadsheet, each of these properties is going to get its own column.

Now, you might not know what properties you need, and that’s okay. The best way to figure this out is to go to the spreadsheet where you currently have all of your contacts listed out and find one that has a whole bunch of information. Take a minute to look it over and make sure it’s all data that you want to keep, and then go to your new spreadsheet and make a column for each piece of information.

To do this, use the top row of your new spreadsheet to list out the name of each property you want to include. These will function as headers so HubSpot CRM knows what information each column contains. As you create these columns, there are three best practices you should follow:

First, make sure each column only contains one piece of information. For example, in HubSpot CRM, first name and last name are separate properties. If your current spreadsheet has one column for name that has first and last name together, you’ll need to separate those out.

Now before you freak out on me, don’t worry--this is actually pretty easy to do. Just go into the spreadsheet that has all your contacts in it, highlight the Name column, and then use your spreadsheet program’s “Text to columns” option to divide it out. You’ll then have a first name column and a last name column.

Next, include a column for email address. HubSpot CRM uses email addresses to de-duplicate contacts, so it’s important to include an email address for as many of your contacts as you can. Even if you don’t know any of your contacts’ email addresses, you need to include a column for email in your spreadsheet, so be sure you add that in.

Finally, add a column for HubSpot Owner. As you add contacts to your new spreadsheet, you can put in either the name or email address of the person in your organization who the contact is assigned to. Then, when you import the data, the CRM will assign the contact to that person.

You should now have a spreadsheet that has a clear header in each column but is otherwise empty. Take a minute to look over the headers and make sure everything’s there--first name, last name, street address, industry--whatever information you want included on the contact record. Once you’re satisfied with the headers, you’re ready to start putting data into the spreadsheet.

Now before you go all hog wild on this, start by adding just one contact so you can do a test import and make sure it works. Remember that one contact you found on your old spreadsheet that had a whole bunch of information? Start by bringing over just that one contact. Copy their information over into the new spreadsheet, and then makes sure each piece of information gets its own column and that everything lines up correctly with your headers.
User Guide

Quick Answer: Sample Import Files for HubSpot CRM

This help doc provides sample CSV files to give you a starting point for your import.

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Video: How to do a Test Import (4:15)

Before you import all of your data, it's important to do a test to make sure your import works the way you want it to. This video shows you just how to do that.

You should now have a spreadsheet with two rows in it: one for your headers, the other for your contact. Make sure the contact’s information is all in a single row. Now go ahead and save the spreadsheet, and it’ll be ready to import.

If you’re using Google Sheets to create this spreadsheet, use the “Download as” option to save the spreadsheet as a CSV file on your computer. Then you’ll be able to import it.

Before you import this spreadsheet, be sure to turn on the auto-create companies setting. When this setting is turned on, HubSpot CRM will automatically create a company for any contact with a business email address. For example, if you import a contact with an @hubspot.com email address, the CRM will automatically create a company record for HubSpot and associate it to that contact. If all of your contacts have email addresses at their company’s domain, then you won’t have to import any company data for them if you have this setting turned on. It’s turned on by default, so it should be on already, but you’ll want to double check just to make sure.

Just so you know, you can import companies. If you want to make a nice tidy list of companies you work with and import that, you can. If you do this, though, make sure you have each company’s domain in the Company Domain property. The CRM uses this property to dedupe companies and associate them to contacts, so if you don’t fill it in, you’re most definitely going to wind up with duplicates. The simplest way to proceed is to just import your contacts and let the CRM create the company records for you.

Okay. You’re now ready to do a test import. Import the spreadsheet with just one contact and make sure it works. If your spreadsheet contains headers for properties that don’t exist in HubSpot CRM, you’ll be able to create custom properties to hold that information.

VERY IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: There are different types of custom properties. If you do need to create custom properties, be sure you select the appropriate field type!

Here’s a list of the most commonly used field types. A text field can hold any information you want to put in it. If you rush through the process of creating your custom properties, chances are you’ll end up with a bunch of text fields. For some properties, that’s fine, but there are lots of other useful field types as well:

A “Dropdown select” property is great if you have a set list of mutually exclusive options, like service tiers or sales territories.

A “Multiple checkboxes” property is similar to a “Dropdown select,” but it lets you choose multiple options. So if you want to keep track of products that your contacts are interested in or events they’ve attended, “Multiple checkboxes” is the way to go.

A “Single checkbox” property is basically a true-or-false field. This is great for things like account confirmation or beta opt-in.

If your custom property only contains numbers, make it a “Number” property. That way, the property will only accept numeric values, and you’ll also be able to search using things like “greater than” or “less than,” which is pretty handy. You can’t do that with a text field.

And finally, a “Date picker” property holds date values. Again, you could put a date into a text field, but then you’d only be able to search for exact matches. If you make it a “Date picker” field, then you’ll be able to search before, after, and between dates.

There are other types of properties as well, but these six are the big ones. At any rate, the moral of the story here is that you probably don’t want to make all of your properties text fields.

Got it? Okay. Don’t forget.

After you get your properties in order, you’ll be able to import your data. When the import finishes, go look at the new contact record and make sure everything looks the way you expected it to. If anything is wrong, make the necessary adjustments to your spreadsheet and try it again. If the contact you’re importing has an email address, the new information will overwrite the existing information, so then you’ll be able to look at the contact record again and see if it looks better.
In-App Tool

Tool: Do a Test Import

Now that you have a spreadsheet with just one contact in it, give importing a try and make sure it works!

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Video: How to Import Your Data into HubSpot (3:20)

Now that you've organized your data and tested the import process, you're ready to take the plunge and import all of your data. This video will show you how.

Once the import works the way you want it to for one contact, you’ll be ready to add the rest of your contacts to the spreadsheet. And this is the part where you’ll be happy you put your contacts into a spreadsheet in the first place--it makes copying the information SO much easier.

Here are four best practices to keep in mind as you copy the information to your new spreadsheet:

First, remember that in your new spreadsheet, you want one contact per row and one row per contact. When you import the spreadsheet, the CRM will interpret each row as a contact, so make sure your data is actually organized that way. If your old spreadsheet has contacts spread across multiple rows, or if multiple contacts share a single row, proceed with caution! Make sure each contact ends up on one row that it has all to itself. Similarly, if your old spreadsheet has any blank rows, don’t bring those over into the new spreadsheet.

Next, be sure you maintain your columns. As you copy information over, you might find it’s easier to transfer all of the first names and then all of the last names and then all of the email addresses and so on. This way, you don’t have to worry about information getting misaligned and winding up in the wrong property.

Third, look for opportunities to paste in bulk. If several of your contacts work at the same company, they might all have the same phone number or street address. You can copy this information just once in your old spreadsheet and paste it across several cells in your new spreadsheet. So if all of the contacts from one company are in adjacent rows, you can just highlight the phone number and street address columns for all those rows, paste once, and fill them all up.

Finally, fill in email addresses wherever possible. If your old spreadsheet doesn’t have email addresses for some of your contacts, dig through your emails and see if you can find them. This will ensure that contact data will be deduplicated, and it will enable the CRM to create company records for you. Also, if your team is using the HubSpot Sales email extension, then all of the emails your reps send to these contacts will be added to their records automatically, but if the data you're importing doesn’t include email addresses, the CRM will just create new records that won’t contain any of the information you’re now importing. So spending a little extra time to find as many email addresses as possible will be well worth the effort.

Once you have all of your contact data in the new spreadsheet, be sure to save it, and then you’ll be ready to import it into HubSpot CRM.

One final note before you get started on this: please, please, please only import contacts who are expecting to hear from you. Importing lists of contacts that you’ve purchased or scraped from the internet or gotten in any underhanded way is shady, illegal, and against HubSpot’s terms of service. Besides, nobody likes a spammer. Outdated spray-and-pray techniques are only going to hurt your company’s brand, so don’t do it.

Okay, you now know everything you need to about importing contacts into the CRM. So get your spreadsheet ready and go for it.
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Quiz: How to Import Your Data into HubSpot

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Video: Importing in Action (2:45)

See how Bob organizes and imports his data.

Let’s take a look at what the importing process looks like end-to-end. We’ll use the fictional example of Bob, a sales rep who works at a landscaping company called Groundskeeper, Inc. He sells landscaping services to small property management companies. Bob has been tracking his customer data in a spreadsheet, but now he wants to move his data over to HubSpot CRM.

He creates a blank spreadsheet and saves it as a .csv file. He then looks through his old spreadsheet to find a contact with an especially thorough record. He finds Hubert Graves, a loyal customer Bob has been working with for years.

Looking at Hubert’s record, Bob quickly adds columns to hold all of the information he needs. He also adds a column for HubSpot Owner and puts in the email address of Amy, Groundskeeper’s customer success manager.

Bob saves the spreadsheet and goes into HubSpot CRM. He double checks that the auto-create setting is turned on for companies, and then he goes through the import process with his new spreadsheet. He maps his columns to existing properties, and creates a new property for “Number of locations,” which is how Groundskeeper measures the size of their customers. He then certifies that he has acquired these contacts legitimately, and he tells the system to import the data.

The file imports successfully, so Bob goes to the contact record to make sure everything looks right. He notices that Hubert’s name looks a little strange. Looking back at his spreadsheet, he realizes that he had First Name and Last Name together in a single column. He adds a new column and uses his spreadsheet program’s “Text to column” option to separate first name from last name. He then updates the headers and tries the import again.

Hubert’s record now looks the way Bob hoped it would, so he goes back to his spreadsheet program and moves all of the contacts from his old spreadsheet into his new spreadsheet. He starts by transferring over individual columns to make sure the information lines up property. For contacts that work at the same company, he uses the company information to fill in blank cells. He pastes this information in bulk to save time. He then goes through and puts his own email address in the HubSpot Owner column for prospects and puts Amy’s email address in that column for customers. He also digs through his emails to fill in the few email addresses that are missing for contacts.

When he’s satisfied with his spreadsheet, Bob takes a deep breath and imports it into HubSpot CRM. The import goes off without a hitch, and Bob now has a CRM full of contacts and companies.

Nicely done, Bob!

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Tool Walk-Through: Importing Data into HubSpot CRM (3:04)

A brief demonstration of the importing process inside HubSpot.

You can get to the importer by going to Contacts and then clicking the Import button.

On this page, you’ll see a list of files you’ve imported previously. To get started with the import process, click the “Start a new import” button.

Next, choose what type of import this is. You can then either drag and drop your file onto this page or click the “Select a file” link and find it that way.

Once you’ve chosen your file, click the Upload button.

On this page, you can change the file’s name if you like. You will also need to select a lifecycle stage for the contacts in this import. If you are unsure how to proceed, click the tool tip to learn more about what lifecycle stages are.

This page also gives you the option to Import Contacts Without Email Addresses. By default, the system won’t import contacts unless they have an email address. If the file you’re importing has any contacts that don’t have an email address, you’ll need to turn this option on in order to import them.

Under the Advanced Options you can change how the importer interprets dates if there are any dates in your spreadsheet. In most cases, you won’t need to adjust this option.

The next step is to map your properties. The importer will do a lot of this automatically, but it’s always good to double check that everything is working the way you want it to. This table gives you a list of column headers from your spreadsheet, an example of the information stored in that column, and the HubSpot property it’s being mapped to. You can quickly go down the list and verify that they’ve been mapped correctly.

If anything is wrong, you can search for the correct property and change it here. If your spreadsheet includes columns that you don’t want imported, you can uncheck the box next to those fields and they won’t be imported.

Down below, you’ll see the properties that the system wasn’t able to map automatically. Select the appropriate properties from the dropdown menus.

If you’re importing information that the CRM doesn’t have a default property for, you can click “Create a property” to create a custom property.

The final step of the import process is to certify that you aren’t going to spam anybody. You should only upload contacts who are expecting to hear from you. Do not upload purchased lists and spam people. Once you certify that the contacts you’re uploading are legitimate records of people who want to hear from you, you’ll be able to finish the import.

Now you’re returned to the Import Status page. You can see the import listed here, and once it’s finished processing you’ll see how many contacts were imported and whether there were any errors. If there were errors, you’ll be able to download an error log that explains which contacts couldn’t be imported and why.

If you’re importing a large list of contacts, it might take a few moments to process. Feel free to leave this page and go about your work. Once the import is completed, you’ll receive an email informing you that your contacts are ready.
In-App Tool

Tool: Import Your Data

Time to do a full import!