How do I add new contacts and update existing contact data in the same file?

Account admins and program admins

Programs tab


New contacts can be created, and existing contact data updated, from the same CSV file. For more information on creating CSV files, click here.

The CSV file can be created from scratch, started from an export from your CRM or SIS (or other data source), or started from a contact data export from Message. It can be helpful to begin with an export, to start with all existing contact information in one file.


Creating the file 

If starting from an export, begin by deleting any contacts that don't need to be updated. If you'd like, delete any columns that you do not want to update, and that you do not want to populate for the new contacts.

You must leave the customer_id field, and whichever field(s) that you do want to update or populate for new contacts. Note that you can also leave unwanted columns present, and simply ignore them in the upload process - this is covered in the next section.

If creating the update file manually, add any contacts and columns that you would like to update. Again, the customer_id or signalvine_id must be present.

When adding new contacts to the file, be sure to include the following five fields: first_name, last_name, phone, group_list, and customer_id. If the timezone column is omitted, contacts will be assigned to your program's default timezone. However, you can also include the timezone column if contacts are located in different timezones and you have access to that data.

You can include as many additional custom fields as you would like, but be careful when leaving any column blank for existing contacts but not new contacts - for any cell left blank, if you choose to update it, the data will be cleared out.

Ensure that your column headers exactly match the variable names in Message (found on the Manage Fields page in the Programs tab). If a column in your file does not yet exist in Message, create the new custom field before you attempt to upload the file. Save the file as a CSV. 


Uploading the file

Start by clicking Import Contacts. Select the program at left, then click Import Contacts. Upload your CSV file, leave the Import new contacts box checked, and also check the Update existing contacts box.

A box will appear displaying the field headers in your file. Select any fields within the file that you would like to update (if there is a field in your file that you do not want to update for existing contacts, simply leave it unchecked and that data will be ignored).

Choose an error setting (the default option only runs the file if no errors are encountered; the first option runs the file regardless of errors, but gives detailed information on what rows were skipped and why).

Finally, click Start Import. Once the file runs, a summary will appear with the number of newly added contacts and the number of errors.


The column headers in our CSV are formatted to exactly match the profile fields in the program.

Image of correctly formatted CSV file


We've selected our file, and chosen to both Import new contacts and Update existing contacts. For existing contacts, all fields except customer_id will be updated as per the data in our file.

Image of Import Contacts Screen with Import New Contacts and Update Existing Contacts Selected


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