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Importing Contacts (with or without Accounts) into Pipeliner
Importing Contacts (with or without Accounts) into Pipeliner

Import your Contacts into Pipeliner using our drag & drop wizard

Updated over a week ago


Use the import wizard to import Contacts into Pipeliner from your prepared CSV file. If you have already imported your Account records (strongly recommended to avoid duplication of Account records), you can link your Contacts to those existing Accounts. If not, you can create Accounts at the same time as importing your Contacts ⤵

Creating the Contacts CSV file

You need to prepare a CSV file for your records.

To begin, you can download a sample file to use as a basic, default template or you can start from an existing spreadsheet and use the downloaded sample file as a guide.

Click on the “Import” button and then the "Download Sample File" button ⤵

Another useful tip is to Export from the Contacts menu. This will create a file with all of your fields in and you can use this as your “Custom” template.

Click on the “Export” button and then choose “Comma Separated Values (CSV)”.

Make sure you select to export First, Middle and Last Name separately as this is the format you will need to follow when preparing your data for import. You can leave the default enclosure and separator as is ⤵

Depending on which browser you’re using, you’ll then see the downloaded file. For example, in Chrome it will show in the download bar at the bottom of the screen.

Click to open it in Excel. You’ll also be able to access it from the Downloads folder on your machine.

NOTE: You might want to click on "File" and "Save As" and rename this file so that you can use it for your import file.

NOTE: The downloaded sample file only contains the default (out-of-the-box) Pipeliner fields. If you have added custom fields to your Pipeliner records, make sure to add those to the file as new columns, and, if you're not using any of the default fields, simply delete those columns. Just because a column is in the sample file doesn't mean you have to use it (unless it's a mandatory field)

NOTE: If you export from the Contacts menu, the file will contain all fields — both default and custom fields.

Whichever option you choose, you’ll need to prepare your data before you can import it.

Preparing your Data

Remember that importing is fundamentally the same as manually creating new records so all fields that are required in order to save if you click on the “Contacts” menu and then “Create New” are also required when importing. However, when importing, you also have to supply values that might auto-populate when creating manually such as Owner and Sales Unit ⤵

Key points to keep in mind are:

  • Every row in your data must have data for all mandatory/required fields.

  • Data formats must be valid — check your dates, make sure that all values are valid if you’re mapping to dropdown fields.

  • All Contacts must be assigned to an Owner and Sales Unit. If you don’t add columns for these to your data file, the importing user will be the Owner of all records and the Sales Unit will be the importing user’s default unit.

  • Make sure that your data does not contain duplicate records before you import. This is particularly important if you’re planning to import Accounts at the same time as Contacts — duplicate Accounts will be created if you have more than one row per company. If you’re importing multiple Contacts for each Account, you should import Accounts separately first and then import Contacts, linking them together.

As you build your data for import — whether or not you use the sample file as a starting point — keep checking your data quality. Ensure there are no spaces before and after values in any column, that email addresses are all valid (no "mailto:" in an email address, for example), that everything is in the right column and that your data meets all the mandatory field requirements.

Which fields are mandatory/required for Contacts?

Each type of record in Pipeliner (each entity) has a number of system fields that are required in order to create records ⤵

For Contacts, these default required fields are:

  • "First Name"

  • "Last Name"

  • "Owner" (note that, if your data doesn’t contain Sales Unit or Owner data, your imported Contacts will be owned by the current, importing user and the sales unit will be the importing user’s default unit)

  • "Sales Unit" (must exactly match an existing Sales Unit)

Formatting your data correctly

Contact First Name and Contact Last Name are text fields.

Owner is a user field. Every record in Pipeliner MUST be assigned to an Owner (and Sales Unit). The Owner must be a current, active Pipeliner user.

NOTE: When preparing your data to map to Owner, add a column named Owner and use the user's login email address rather than their name to guarantee a match when importing.

If a matching user login cannot be found, or you don’t map to the Owner field, imported Accounts and/or Contacts will be owned by the importing user.

Sales unit is a dropdown of the sales units that the Owner is assigned to. When mapping a Sales Unit, you need to be sure that the Owner you’re assigning to each record is also assigned to the Sales Unit you're mapping to.

For example, if your data contains a record where you're mapping to an Owner "" and a Sales Unit of "Northeast", Bill must be assigned to the Northeast Sales Unit or you'll get an error when importing.

Most data is fairly simple to work with if you stick to the requirements. If your data is a bit more complicated and contains many different types of fields, there are lots of tips in this article to help with preparing data for import.

NOTE: You don’t have to name the columns in your header row to match the field names in Pipeliner but it’s good practice to do this and it makes mapping much easier!

NOTE: If, as part of your Pipeliner setup, you have made any additional default or custom fields mandatory, every record in your CSV file will need to contain a value for those as well.

"Save" your file in CSV format when it's ready to import.

Selecting your CSV file

Importing is an easy step-by-step process using the Import Wizard. First, you select your CSV file and then you specify its properties and decide on deduplication settings, next you map the fields in your data to those in Pipeliner (and save it as a “Template” so you can re-use it easily), then you preview the records to be imported (which allows you to check that your mappings are correct and identifies any invalid records) and, finally, you accept the records which complete the import.

NOTE: Once you've selected Accept All, your records will be imported and, if you've made a mistake, you'll need to find and delete the imported records — there is no Undo option.

Click on the "Import" button ⤵

Next click on the “Click here to upload” link ⤵

Click on the “Upload a document” button or drag and drop the CSV file here ⤵

Locate and select the data file you've prepared ready for import. Click on "Open" ⤵

Once you’ve selected your file, click on Next to move to the next step ⤵

Import Settings

CSV File Settings

These settings define the properties of your CSV file. You can usually leave these on the default "Auto" and "Auto Detect" settings ⤵

Character encoding

Change this from “Auto” only if you selected a specific encoding — such as "Unicode (UTF-8)" — when saving your file to CSV format.

NOTE: If your data includes accented characters, it’s best to select “Western European (ISO)


You’ll only need to change this from “Auto detect” if you specifically chose a non-standard enclosure.

Multiple checkbox separator

If you’re mapping column(s) to multi-select checkbox fields in Pipeliner, choose the separator you used in your file. We advise you use the pipe | symbol as it’s extremely unlikely to have been used elsewhere in your data!

NOTE: When preparing your data, separate values by your chosen multiple checkbox separator and no spaces — e.g. “blue/green/red” where blue, green and red are options in your multi-select field in Pipeliner.


You should only need to change this from “Auto detect” if you specifically chose a non-standard separator.

Date Format

If your dates are in the format "dd-mm-yyyy", leave this on "Auto". If not, select an option from the list which matches your date format ⤵

NOTE: If the actual date format in your CSV file is, for example, "" or "dd/mm/yyyy", choosing "dd-mm-yyyy" will also work (the same principle applies to the other formats).

Column contains headers

Make sure this box is ticked if the first row of your CSV file contains header names for your columns.

Import Settings

Choose your options for auto-creating linked Account records and, very importantly, your deduplication field ⤵

Auto Create

Accounts — leave this enabled if you want new Accounts to be created if there is no match found to an existing Account record.

NOTE: this will not prevent duplicates from being created if you have the same company repeated in your data.


Choose from one of the options to select which field should be used to de-duplicate the data that you are importing ⤵

If you have more than one row in your file with the same value in the Deduplication field, the end result will be only one Contact record being created in Pipeliner. Data from the first instance of the Contact name will take priority over subsequent rows but, if a subsequent row contains data that the first row did not, those values will be added to the imported Contact record.

If a record with a matching value in the field you've selected for Deduplication already exists in Pipeliner, you'll be prompted to select your preferred action as described later in this article.

Auto — if you leave the default option “Auto” selected, your imported Contacts will be deduplicated based on Primary Email Address first and then, if not matching email address is found, by Name. What this means is that if you have more than one row in your file with the same email address (or, if not, "Name" (First name + Last Name)), the end result will be one Contact record being created in Pipeliner. Data from the first instance of the Contact name will take priority over subsequent rows but, if a subsequent row contains data that the first row did not, those values will be added to the Contact.

None — if you choose “None”, your data will not be deduplicated and every row in your CSV file will be imported as a separate Contact “as is”.

Select from the field list — if you select a specific field from the list of available fields, your imported data will be deduplicated based on a combination of the field you selected and the "Contact Name".

The available deduplication fields include the following system and default fields:

  • Auto

  • None

  • Contact ID

  • (Contact) Name

  • City

  • Contact Created Date

  • Country

  • Owner

  • Primary E-mail

  • Primary Phone

  • Sales Unit

  • State/Province

  • Street Address

  • Zip Code

And also, custom (user-defined) Contact fields of the following field types:

  • Single-Line Text

  • E-mail

  • Date

  • Date and Time

  • URL

  • Long text

  • Integer number

  • Float number

  • Phone

  • Base Currency

  • Radio

  • Dropdown

Why is my choice of deduplication field so important?

Let’s say you’re importing a file of new Contacts — i.e. your data contains one row per Contact. If you leave the deduplication as “Auto”, unless you are completely sure that your Contact Names are unique (which is not possible as your data might well contain more than one “Bob Smith”, say, and they are completely different people!!), you’ll end up with fewer Contacts imported than you have in your file as the duplicate names will be treated as a single Contact. For Contacts, you’d probably want to select “Primary E-mail” as that does uniquely identify a single individual.

Click on “Save” to confirm your settings.

Updating/replacing existing Contacts

You can also use the field you select as your Deduplication field to be the matching field to identify exactly which existing Contact should be updated (or replaced) by the data in your CSV file.

Whichever field you choose, you need to be sure that the data in that field in your CSV file is an exact and unique match to the data in the corresponding field in Pipeliner so that the right record is updated.

If you're ever exporting data from Pipeliner in order to clean or enrich it and then plan to reimport, make sure you include the ID field (i.e. Contact ID) in your export. When you're then reimporting the cleaned data, you would select Contact ID as your Deduplication field and this will match uniquely to the original record already in Pipeliner.

You'll also need to ensure that you have no blank cells in your file or you run the risk of updating all records without a value that currently exist in Pipeliner.

NOTE: there is no undo option for an update/replace operation that goes wrong!

Mapping Template

If you’ve done previous imports, you can choose a saved import template to re-use the same settings, deduplication and field mappings.

NOTE: Your file will need to be the exact same structure and format each time — don’t reorder the columns or insert new ones as you’ll need to redo all your mappings if you do. If you need to add a new column, make sure you put it at the end of your file.

This is an invaluable option when you’re regularly importing data from the same source — e.g. regular Contact uploads from a data provider.

If you haven’t saved any Templates, you’ll be able to select from “Empty” or “Default Contact Mapping Template”. You can save a new template on the "Field Mappings" screen ⤵

When you’ve chosen the "Settings" and "Template" you want to use, click "Next" to progress to the Field Mappings

Mapping CSV Fields

If you selected a template, your fields will already be mapped on the "Map CSV" fields screen ⤵

If you selected “Empty” then you’ll need to start by mapping each field.

Drag each column name from the right-hand panel to its corresponding field on the left. The left-hand side of the screen shows all the fields that are on the "Contact Form" that you’re importing into ⤵

NOTE: If you don’t see a field that you need to map to, you’ll need to cancel your import and adjust your Form from the Admin Module and then begin your import again. If this happens, map all the fields you can and then save them as a template before cancelling so you don’t have to repeat all your steps.

NOTE: This is where it’s a timesaver if you matched your column names in your data to your field names in Pipeliner but it’s not essential to have done that, as long as you know which column should map to which field.

NOTE: You do not have to map every field from your data file to a field in Pipeliner — just leave behind those you don't want to import.

Default Values

There are a number of system fields on the import form. If you don’t map a column from your file to these fields, they will be populated with default values.

These system fields include those in the "Contact Created Date" in the General Information section ⤵

Unless you map values to each of these fields, they will be auto-populated with default values — Date fields will default to Today’s date etc.

Also, if your data does not contain a valid user email address to map to the Owner field or the name of a Sales Unit to map to Sales Unit, you'll need to leave the option to "Use current user" as the Owner and "Use default value" in Sales Unit (the current user’s default Sales Unit) checked and all imported records will be owned by the importing user (and will be in the importing user's default Sales Unit).

Importing Contacts in detail

NOTE: Remember that what you see will depend on the set up of your own Pipeliner system so may differ from the fields shown here.

NOTE: Remember to format all dates in the same format in your file ideally "yyyy-mm-dd".

The fields in this section are the fields you see on your Contact Form when adding or editing a Contact. The core mandatory fields like "First Name" and "Last Name", "Owner" and "Sales Unit" live in this section as well as other default and user-defined fields that you are using.

You can also map a "Contact Created Date" from your data if you need to preserve when the Contact was originally created. If you don’t map to this field, the "Created Date" will be the date the record was imported ⤵

Linking to or Creating Accounts

Here’s where you link the Contacts you’re about to import to existing Accounts in Pipeliner or create new Accounts at the same time as importing your Contacts.

You can map "Account Name" and "Job Title" straight onto the import form ⤵

If there is a single existing Account already in Pipeliner (based on an exact match to Account Name) then the Contact will be linked to that Account.

If not, a new Account record will be created for every Contact (this is where the risk of duplicate Accounts is a significant factor).

NOTE: You can only create Accounts at the point of import if you have selected the options to Auto-create Accounts in your Import Settings.

If you have more field information — for example, website, address, switchboard number etc — click on the More Fields option to map the additional fields to the Account records that will be created ⤵

Fields that have already been mapped on the main import form are highlighted in dark blue whereas unmapped fields show in light blue in the right-hand panel. You can re-use any field you have already mapped and map it again to the new Account record that will be created by your import.

Saving an Import Template

You can save your settings and mappings as an Import Template by clicking on the three dots icon and choosing "Save As" or start a brand new Import Template by clicking on the "+" icon ⤵

Give your template a name and click on “Save” ⤵

Importing your Data

Click on the “Import” button ⤵

NOTE: if you haven’t already saved your mappings as a Template, you’ll be prompted to do so before continuing.

You’ll then see a preview of the records to be imported. You can click on any record in the preview to see the actual mappings in the right-hand panel. ⤵

Valid/Invalid Records

The preview will show you if any records are invalid for importing. The row will be highlighted in red in the preview ⤵

If you click on an invalid row you’ll be able to see where the problem is and resolve it ‘on the fly’ by correcting the data or adding missing information ⤵

NOTE: If you have lots of invalid records, check them over to see if there’s a pattern to the problem and then close the import (make sure you have saved your import template) and sort out the issue in your data or by modifying the set up of Pipeliner and then re-do the import.

You can also click on the Filter icon and just choose to see just Invalid records to make them easier to review and fix ⤵

Once you've corrected an individual record, you can click on Accept to import just that record immediately ⤵

If you are looking at a record and do not want to import it you can reject the record using the "Reject" button at the bottom of the record details. This will remove that particular record from the import list ⤵

If you've made a mistake in your mappings, you can use the "Change Mapping" button at the top to change the field mappings and this will return you to the “Map CSV fields” screen ⤵

If you have mapped more fields than the default display includes, then the import page may not show all fields at once.

To view more fields you can select the following button to show all field options ⤵

Accepting Records and Finishing the Import

You now need to select the records to be imported by clicking the checkboxes on the left (or select all by clicking the first checkbox in the upper left). Click on the "Accept Selected" button to finish the import of those records ⤵

As long as there are no duplicates in your data, the import will then complete and return you to the Contacts menu.

Import Options when duplicates are found

Pipeliner will then begin to import your records. As part of the import process, it will check the data that already exists in Pipeliner.

If any of the Contacts that you’re importing has the same Name or Primary E-mail as a record that already exists or the same value in your chosen Deduplication field, you’ll be able to choose what to do ⤵

  • Skip duplicates — duplicate records will not be imported and will remain in the import preview once the non-duplicates have been imported.

  • Create Duplicates — ignore the warning and go ahead and create duplicate records.

  • Update existing records — values on the existing matching record already in Pipeliner will be updated by the values in your data for those columns that you have mapped to fields in Pipeliner as part of your import profile

  • Replace existing records data on the duplicate records will be overwritten by the incoming data (be aware that when you select this option, unless your incoming data contains all fields, data might be lost from your existing records if the field is not mapped as part of this import).

  • "Cancel" allows you to cancel the import so you can check the data and decide what to do.

If needed, you can cancel the whole import. If you click on "Close" to abort your import while there are still records in the preview, you’ll be prompted by a message indicating that the import is not finished and checking that you really want to leave. Click on "Continue" to cancel the import and close the import screen ⤵

Once you’ve chosen your option from “Skip duplicates”, “Create duplicates”, “Update existing records” or “Replace Existing Records”, the import will complete and return you to the Contacts menu where you can then check out the newly imported records.

What if there’s a problem after the import is complete?

Rarely, but sometimes, despite all your data preparation and care, the imported data can be wrong. As long as you’re based on a user role that allows you to delete, you can remove records by clicking on the Contacts menu, switch to the List View and then select the records to be removed. You might need to set up a filter for this.

NOTE: If you don’t see the "Delete" button, it’s your user role that needs amending.

NOTE: You must be the record Owner in order to delete them. If you’re not, select your records and then click on the Ownership button to make yourself the Owner and, once that’s complete, you will then be able to delete them.

NOTE: If you can’t change the Owner of a record, you need to be assigned Manager rights in the Admin Module.

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