Create a CSV file

When you import contacts, it is required to use a CSV file. Thi s is a file that can be used to exchange data in different applications, and makes it very easy to export a list of contacts from your CRM and import it directly into your Flexmail account. 

This article will explain what a CSV file exactly is and how to create it, in order to correctly import your important contact data.

What is CSV

A CSV file, also known as comma-separated values file, is a file that saves the data in plain text format with a series of values separated by commas. This allows you to easily import large amounts of data at once in a relatively short time. CSV is fast and easy to process, unlimited by the program you use to do that editing. 

You can open and edit a CSV file by using any spreadsheet program like Excel for example. CSV files will not contain or store any filters, so make sure to keep this in mind when creating a CSV file from an Excel file. 

CSV files also need to have UTF-8 encoding, this is a unicode-based encoding which can support many languages. Especially for macOS it is important to select this when saving a CSV file. 

Create a CSV file

When you have an Excel file with contacts, you can simply save this file as a CSV file in order to use it for your import. But while creating your file, there are a few conditions that must be met regarding  interests or sources

When you want to add interests or sources to your contacts data, you can add them as followed to your file:

  1. As a header, enter the name Interests or Source, according to the data you want to add.
  2. In the field, sum up the interest labels or sources you want your contact to have, separated by a comma

Sources are mandatory! If you don't have a source in your file, the fallback source you chose while importing, will be added to the contact. 

Interests and sources are case sensitive. Upper and lowercase must be exactly the same in order to import the data correctly. 

You can also create a CSV file in Notepad, depending on what you prefer. 

For the import in Flexmail, your file must meet the following conditions:

  • The files must be smaller than 25MB
  • The file contains a maximum of 100.000 records

Save a CSV file

When you have an Excel file with all your contacts, you can easily save this as a CSV file. It is important to save the file with UTF-8 encoding. The way you do this, may vary according to the operating system and program you are using. 

Keep in mind that while saving your Excel file as a CSV file, only the first sheet is saved and imported into Flexmail.

Below you can find the most common methods:

Excel on Windows
  1. Open your Excel file on Windows.
  2. Go to File and select Save as
  3. Choose the extension CSV UTF-8 (Comma delimited) (*.csv) in the format type drop-down to store your file as a CSV file where the data from the columns will be separated by commas.

Support tip
If you can't find the option CSV UTF-8 (comma delimited) (*.csv) you will probably have another version of Excel. In this case you can use CSV (comma delimited) (*.csv).

Support tip
If the above method gives an error message during import, it means that Excel doesn’t save the file with correct UTF-8 encoding. In that case, you can use the following workaround.  
  1. Open the file in notepad. Then save the file as a CSV file, by adding the extension .csv behind the file name 
  2. Choose UTF-8 with BOM as encoding. 
  3. Click on Save.
Excel on macOS
  1. Open your Excel file on macOs.
  2. Go to File and select Save As.
  3. Choose the extension CSV UTF-8 (comma delimited) (.csv) in the format drop-down.

When you use the extension comma delimited (.csv ) under the category Special formats, your contacts may not be added correctly. This is an old version, created by Apple, which is no longer supported. 
Google spreadsheets
  1. Open your file in Google Spreadsheets
  2. Go to File and select Download as
  3. Choose the option Comma-separated values (.csv, current sheet) to save the file with UTF-8 encoding.

Open a CSV file (macOS)

When exporting a CSV file, you can open this file in a spreadsheet as well, except when you use Excel on macOS. When opening a CSV file in Excel on macOS, it will not keep the UTF-8 encoding. Therefore you need to open the file as followed:

  1. Open an empty worksheet in Excel.
  2. Go to the Data tab and choose the option Get External Data > Import Text File.
  3. Choose the CSV file and click on Get Data
  4. On the right side, you will see Macintosh. Here you will have to choose for Unicode (UTF-8)
  5. Click on Next and select as separator a semicolon
  6. Click on Finish to complete and start editing your file. 


Still not entirely clear how to save an Excel file (Windows) as an usable CSV file? Watch this video:

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