Import marketing lists in Microsoft Dynamics CRM with custom import solution

By - December 22, 2014

We find ourselves being asked to import marketing lists into Microsoft Dynamics CRM on a regular basis.  Customers new to Microsoft Dynamics tend to be surprised that this is not a straight forward process.  There are ways around it.  You can import the list as contacts and then create a marketing list from the records based on the created by and created on dates.  This is a multiple step process and assumes a number of things.  One would be that the account already exists in the system.  It is also assumes that all the records imported should be contacts.

You could also import all the records into Dynamics CRM as leads with the duplicate detector on for both the lead and contact.  This would allow you to cleanly import all the records into the system as leads, but does not give you a view as to the leads and contacts you already have in the system when relating the new records to a marketing list, since those that were duplicates would not be in the system with a new created on and created by, thus not allowing you to tie these records to the marketing list.

We have solved this problem by creating a custom import solution that will take a spreadsheet and logically check to see if this new record is a duplicate.  If the record is not already a contact or lead, the record is added as a lead.  If the record already exists as lead or contact, the record is not added.  We do, however, create two marketing lists – one for leads and one for contacts, and relate the existing record to the appropriate typed marketing list.  For some customers, we have also expanded this logic to include accounts.

We use Scribe to facilitate this logic, since it is easier to expand the logic as additional fields are to be imported.  We can also use the Scribe feature to look for an Excel file in a specific directory and have that file run automatically, making it so end users do not have to get into Scribe to import files.  Another reason we use Scribe is so we are not limited by the size of the file imported.  The out of the box import limits us to 5 megabyte files, which when converted to xml, tends to only allow about 2,000 records.

Evaluate all the options as you determine what’s best for your organization.  Also consider reaching out to an experienced Dynamics CRM partner for their advice.  If you’d like to learn more about McGladrey, contact our professionals at 855.437.7202 or by email at

By: Bob Kanzler –

Principal of RSM's Dynamics 365 CE focused on our east coast clients and non profits.

Receive Posts by Email

Subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.