Adding or Updating Contacts Using Data Loader

You can use Data Loader to add new contacts or update data for existing contacts.

About this task

You can create a single import that will add and update contacts, or multiple imports that each serve a different function. As you configure the import you will:
  • Let the import know how to recognize which files on the FTP server should be imported.
  • Map the headers in your file to contact fields in Bronto so that data is categorized and stored correctly.
  • Configure General, Data Format, and Bronto-Specific settings in order to specify how you want your contact data to be managed.
Once configured, the import will automatically run based on the schedule you have set. You can see your contacts in Bronto by going to Contacts > Search. For more information see Search For Contacts In Your Account.

When you import a file, its contents are compared to existing data in Bronto. If a new record matches an existing record, Bronto will overwrite the existing record. This means if you import an update to a record that includes blank/null fields then the data stored in Bronto for the fields will be blank and/or null after the import. However, when you import contact data you can set Bronto to ignore blank and null data so existing contact data is not overwritten.

See step 12 c for more information.

Important: You cannot update a contact's system phone number when that contact already exists with an email address.


  1. Go to Settings > Data Loader.
  2. Click Create Import.
  3. Enter the relevant information in the Create Import Job window.
    1. Enter a name for the import in the Name box.
    2. Enter a description for the import in the Description box.

      The description is a good way to distinguish between similar imports.

    3. Select Add, Update Or Delete Contacts from the Type list.
    4. Click Create Import Job.
  4. Click the Upload Sample File To Begin Mapping button to map the categories in your file to contact fields in Bronto.

    This lets Bronto know how to appropriately manage your contact data as it is imported.

  5. In the Upload Sample File window, select the delimiter used in your file from the Delimiter list.
    The delimiter is the character that is used to offset, or indicate, unique pieces of information in your file. For example, if there is a comma between the fields in your file, then your file uses a comma as a delimiter. Data Loader supports the following characters:
    • Pipe (|)
    • Comma (,)
    • Semicolon (;)
    • Tab
  6. If you have not transferred your file to the server, upload the file as a sample file so you can use it to complete the import mapping:
    1. In the Upload Sample File window, select Upload a file.
    2. Click Choose File, and select your file.
    3. Click Open.
    4. Click Upload Sample File.

    If the file upload is successful, the mapping page will be displayed.

    Note: The file is not uploaded to the FTP server, nor imported to Bronto. To transfer the file and import to Bronto, you need to configure your Data Loader import.
  7. If you have transferred a file to the server that you want to map data for:
    1. In the Upload Sample File window, click Select one of the files in your account.
    2. Select your file from the Files list.
    3. Click Upload Sample File.

    If the file upload is successful, the mapping page will be displayed.

  8. Select the Bronto contact field from the Mapped to list that matches the data shown for the column.

    Mapping helps the platform understand how to manage data as it is imported. For example, in the image below you would select Email Address for Column #1 and First Name (text) for Column #2. This way, when your email addresses are imported they are formatted like an email address, etc.

    The first fields listed as available for mapping in Data Loader are Reserved fields. These fields are created by Bronto and are different from the custom contact fields that you can create.
    Table 1. Reserved Fields
    Field Description
    Email Address The email address stored for the contact. An email address is required in order to send emails. In some cases, you may not have an email address and may only have a mobile number or twitter handle.
    Mobile Number The mobile number stored for the contact. A mobile number is required in order to send SMS messages to a contact. In some cases, you may not have a mobile number for a contact (you may only have an email address or twitter handle).
    Note: If you import mobile numbers, you must have the country code.
    Status The current status of the contact.
    Tip: For more information on each type of contact status, see Contact Status.
    Consent IP The IP address that is associated with a consent record.
    Consent Date The date of the last change or addition to the consent log for the contact.

    The other contact fields available in this list are the contact fields you have created in Bronto. If you do not see a relevant field in the list, you can select Create New Field in Bronto and create a new contact field.

  9. Optional: If you need to create a new contact field:
    1. Select Create New Field in Bronto.
    2. Enter a name for the field in the Name box.
    3. Enter a name for the field in the External Name box, and select whether the new field is public.
    4. Select the contact field type from the Type list.

      The contact field type indicates the type of data that can be stored in the field. For more on the description and parameters for each field type see Contact Field Types.

    5. Click Create Field.
  10. When you have finished mapping your fields, click the Configuration tab to set up the import configuration.
  11. In the General area, configure the general settings for your import:
    1. Select Yes or No in the Skip First Row Header list.
    2. Select the method you want Bronto to use for file name matching from the Filename Matching Scheme list
      • Ends with will match files based on the extension specified for the Filename Matching Pattern. Only use Ends with when this your only import that uses this file type and you are only submitting one type of file for this import. If you have multiple Data Loader import jobs and want the file extension taken into consideration, Custom Glob is the best choice.

        For example, .csv would match contacts_import.csv and contacts_09_2017.csv.

      • Starts with will match files based on the characters specified for the Filename Matching Pattern starting with the first character. For example, if you have contact for the Filename Matching Pattern then all files on the FTP server that start with the word contact will attempt to be imported.

        For example, contacts would match contacts_import.csv, contacts_09_2017.csv, and contacts_export.txt.

      • Custom Glob will match files based on the characters and the extension specified for the Filename Matching Pattern. This allows you to use wild cards (an asterisk) in order to build more complex import queries.

        For example contact*.csv.

    3. Enter a full or partial file name in the Filename Matching Pattern box.

      This is used in conjunction with the Filename Matching Scheme to recognize what files on the FTP server should be imported using this import job. If you use the Custom Glob option for Filename Matching Scheme you can use wild cards (an asterisk).

      Make sure the information you include here is specific enough that the import job won't attempt to import files on your FTP server location that are intended for other import jobs you may have configured. But also keep the file name general enough that the import will be able to import multiple files with slightly different names if your import requires using multiple files.

    4. If you want to receive an email notification when your imports complete, enter an email address in the Confirmation Email box.

      The notification email contains high-level information about the import and provides instructions to download a run log that contains any errors the import may have.

    5. Select a job type from the Import Action list.

      If your files have a list of new and existing contacts you should choose Add or Update. Otherwise, choose Add to add new contacts, Update to change the information for existing contacts, and Delete to remove contacts.

    6. Select a contact status from the Add/Update Contacts With the Following Status list.

      If you are

      • Adding Contacts: you can choose to give new contacts onboarding, unconfirmed, or transactional status. Typically you would want to assign new contacts onboarding status so you can engage them in a welcome series where the contacts can opt-in to receiving your marketing emails.
      • Updating contacts: you can choose to give these contacts onboarding, unconfirmed, transactional, or unsubscribed status. But, unless changing the contact status is a primary reason for your import, typically best choice when updating contacts is Do Not Update.
      • Adding and Updating: when your import is both adding and updating contacts, the contact status you select is only applied to new contacts that are added. The status of updated contacts will not be changed.

      If contacts are given an unconfirmed or transactional status, these contacts will need to double opt-in before they can be sent marketing messages from Bronto. These contacts can still be sent transactional messages. For more information see Contact Status.

  12. In the Expected Data Format area, configure how you want the data in your file to be managed as it is imported:
    1. If you want to change the delimiter from what you selected when you created the import, select a new delimiter from the Delimiter list.
    2. If you plan to import date-based data, click the calendar icon under Date Format and fill in the options in the Date Format Builder window.

      You must map a date-based field before you can configure Date Format. In the Date Format Builder, select a date from the Example Date & Time list, click Go, then click on each number in the date to select whether it is a Day, Month, or Year, and then click Done.

      Note: Consent Date is a reserved field which only imports dates in the format yyyy-mm-dd, regardless of how you configure Date Format.
    3. Add the types of field data you want to be ignored during import to the Do Not Update Choices box.

      The options you can add here are null, blank, and 0. When you include these options in the Do Not Update Choices box, any existing data for these fields will not be overwritten. If you do not include one of these options here, then any field data previously in Bronto will be overwritten/erased.

  13. In the Bronto Settings area, configure any Bronto-specific settings.
    1. In Contact Custom Import Source provide the text representation of the contact's Source field.

      The Source field is found in the edit page for a given contact in your Bronto account. You can write whatever you want in the text box, as the setting helps you audit your imports in Bronto, and keeps you informed from where your contacts are coming from.

    2. If you want to subscribe contacts to an SMS Keyword as they are imported, enter the keyword in the Add Contacts to Specified SMS Keywords box.

      Please note that the file must have mobile numbers mapped in order for the contact to be subscribed to the SMS keyword.

    3. If you want to add contacts to a list as they are imported, enter the list name in the Add Contacts to Specified Lists box.
  14. When you have finished import configuration, click Save & Close.

    A window that asks you to confirm the legitimacy of the new contacts is displayed.

    1. Select the I Agree box.
    2. Click Continue.
  15. If you haven't already, Transfer Your Files to the FTP Server.
  16. Find the import you just configured and Perform a Test Run to ensure that the files are valid.

    Based on the results of the test run, fix any issues as necessary.

What to do next

After the import has run, you can Data Loader Reports to see details about your import.