Importing Contacts to Your SMS Platform

August 17, 2022 | By Sam Pelton
Importing Contacts to Your SMS Platform

So you’ve thought about how mass texting could be a great asset to your business or organization.

You know that people are on their phones. All. The. Time.

(In fact, texts have an open rate as high as 99%!)

Understanding that, you think SMS would be a great way to boost up your sales or connect with your group or audience.

But there’s a problem: What if you already have a list or a database of contacts who have agreed to receive texts?

You definitely don’t want to load hundreds or even thousands of contacts into an SMS marketing platform manually. That’s way too much time and effort!

What you need is a way to import multiple contacts directly into your SMS system.

With your SMS platform, you can easily go about importing contacts from an existing database.

Businessman sitting on steps with his smartphone

How to Import Contacts

First, Set Up an Account on an SMS Platform

The first step in getting contacts imported for mass SMS is to create an account with an SMS platform!

You’ll want to determine how many messages you may be sending on a monthly basis so that you can select the right plan.

Mobile Text Alert's pricing page

If you’re not quite ready to purchase or aren’t sure how many messages you might be sending, you can always get a free trial account set up to start off.

Once your account is up and running, there will be a couple different options for importing contacts for your mass SMS.

Import spreadsheets

Option 1: Import Contacts Via a Spreadsheet

Most databases will have some way that you can pull out your contact list and put it into a spreadsheet.

As long as the spreadsheet you’re able to pull has phone numbers listed vertically (from top to bottom), you’re able to import those phone numbers directly into your SMS platform.

You just have to make sure your spreadsheet has the appropriate header text at the top of each column. The only column that’s required would be a PhoneNumber column (or an Email column if you prefer to send emails) and it should look something like this:

Spreadsheet example

(The format of the phone numbers themselves doesn’t matter, unless you have phone numbers outside of the US and Canada, in which case you’ll need to make sure the country’s calling code is included at the beginning of the phone number.)

You can include optional information as well by inputting FirstName, LastName, GroupName, and Email fields:

Spreadsheet example

(Click here to read more about how groups work.)

Once your spreadsheet is ready, you can simply go to your SMS platform’s “import contacts” page, upload the file, and voila!

Your contact list will be loaded into your SMS marketing database and you can start sending them texts right away to help boost up your sales and revenue.

Zoom and Zapier and API integrations

Option 2: Import Automatically from Another Software

There are 3 ways you can automatically import contacts from another software without even needing a spreadsheet.

Integration Via Zapier.com

Depending on what software you use to store and manage your customer or contacts, you may be able to import them directly from your software into your SMS marketing platform using the integration site Zapier.com.

Zapier (rhymes with “happier”) allows you to easily connect thousands of supported services with your SMS marketing platform, saving you time and hassle.

Direct Integration

You can also directly integrate with a few platforms, including:

This is even smoother and easier than using a third party like Zapier! All you have to do is click the button to connect, and your contacts (or meeting/webinar registrants in some cases) can be loaded in automatically for you.

Integration Via API

If you have access to web developers, another option would be to load in contacts through API. This option allows you to set up your own integration without having to use a third party, so in that way it gives you greater flexibility.

Importing your contacts automatically via Zapier, via a direct integration, or via API offers you an even better experience than using a spreadsheet.

Woman managing her SMS contact list on her smartphone

Reasons for Importing Contacts

Adding New Contacts to Your SMS Database

The most common reason for using an “importing contacts” feature is to get new contacts loaded into your SMS database.

But adding new contacts isn’t the only use for an import function.

Updating Your SMS Database

Another reason you may import contacts is to update your current SMS database.

Some people’s information may have changed, and you can use imports to help you maintain up-to-date data.

Many people will even delete their entire SMS database and re-upload a new spreadsheet regularly to keep everything current.

(Just be careful not to accidentally delete things you wanted to keep!)

Adding Contacts to Groups

A third use for importing contacts is to add them to specific groups.

We mentioned “groups” only briefly earlier - groups are different segments you create for your contacts to help you keep your list organized.

Importing contacts allows you to add multiple people into these groups at once.

You’ll just designate the desired groups and watch them get loaded in!

Young businessman using SMS marketing on his smartphone

Pro Tips for Importing Contacts

Before you jump in and start loading contacts into your SMS platform, to help save some frustration and hassle, there are a few things you should know first.

Now this is important.

Although importing contacts is very easy and convenient, does that mean you can just load in any contact you’ve ever collected and send them texts?

Unfortunately, no.

You’ll first need to make sure you have permission from people to send them texts.

So when you’re importing new contacts, only import ones that have already agreed to receive texts from you. That way, people don’t interpret your texts as unsolicited spam and you don’t get into trouble.

If you don’t have permission from your contact list to send them texts, then you can use other tools for adding contacts such as “text to join” keywords to help give people options for automatically subscribing themselves.

Make Sure Your Spreadsheet is in the Right Format

If you’re importing contacts into your SMS platform via a spreadsheet, you’ll need to make sure that your spreadsheet is formatted correctly.

Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure that the column headers use the recognized wording:
    • PhoneNumber or Number for your column that lists all the phone numbers
    • FirstName or First Name for your (optional) column that lists your customers’ first names
    • LastNameor Last Name for your (optional) column that lists your customers’ last names
    • GroupName or Group for your (optional) column that lists the group within your SMS marketing platform to which you’d like to add a contact
    • Email for your (optional) column that lists your customers’ email addresses
  • Make sure the column headers are on the top line of the spreadsheet
  • Make sure there is only one “sheet” within your document
  • Make sure that your spreadsheet is saved as a .CSV, .XLS, .XLSX, or .ODS file type (not .NUMBERS - sorry, Apple lovers! You can check out this article on how to convert your “Numbers” file into a different file type.)

Here’s the screenshot example again that we shared earlier of what the spreadsheet should end up looking like (assuming you have all the optional fields filled out):

Spreadsheet example

Here’s What Else You Can Do After Importing Contacts

Once you have your contacts loaded into your SMS marketing database, there’s a lot you can do with them! Here are a few examples:

So now that you know how to import contacts and what you can do after they’re imported, you’re all ready to get started with mass SMS messaging!

Checklist for importing contacts

Here’s the Bottom Line: How Importing Contacts Can Help You and Your Business

You’re a busy person.

You don’t want to spend half of your day going through tedious things like manual data entry.

(Nor do you want to pay someone to do it for you, if you can avoid it!)

At the same time, you want to take advantage of the power of texting.

Being able to import contacts will help make your mass texting experience easier, smoother, and simpler.

This means less stress for you, less frustration, and more attention focused on actually doing the marketing or connecting with your audience!

So go ahead and free up your time for more important things.

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