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Troubleshooting: importing subscribers (pre-import)
Troubleshooting: importing subscribers (pre-import)

Common issues that cause errors when attempting to import or upload a CSV of subscribers, and how to resolve them.

Updated over a week ago

Ever felt like this guy when your subscribers won't import correctly?

Don't worry! The vast majority of the time, these issues can be resolved with simple modifications to your CSV file, which we'll walk you through here.

NOTE: In this guide, we'll cover troubleshooting steps for pre-import issues, which prevent the subscribers from being added to your account in the first place. If you're experiencing post-import issues, such as as a reporting discrepancy, check out this guide instead!

Most import and/or upload errors will be resolved by one or more of the following steps.

Verify that the import file is a CSV

Your subscriber import filetype must be .csv — if it's .txt (regular text file), .xlsx (Excel file), or anything else, our importer won't be able to parse it. CSVs are very commonly used for data exports, and should be provided as a standard export format.

If you need to convert your import file to CSV format, we'd recommend importing it into a spreadsheet application like Excel, Numbers, or Google Sheets. Any of those will then allow you to export the file as a CSV instead.

Add header rows

In many cases, the top row of a column will not contain data itself, but rather a label indicating the type of data contained in that column. For example:

Note the 'First name' and 'Email address' labels at the top

If your CSV file doesn't already contain header rows, try adding them in and see if that helps with the import. The names of the header rows should correspond with the name of the fields in ConvertKit, such as 'First name', 'Email address', etc.

(If the column contains tags, you can just use 'Tags' for the heading.)

Remove any extraneous columns

Some email providers include several columns' worth of information in their CSV files that aren't needed by our importer. This can disrupt the import!

Separately, if you upload columns of subscriber data for which you already had existing data in ConvertKit, we will replace such existing data with the new data in your CSV file. This can lead to the accidental overwriting or deletion of existing subscriber data in ConvertKit that you hadn't wanted to change.

Therefore, we recommend removing all columns from your CSV other than those that contain data that you want imported into ConvertKit.

For example, if you want to import only your subscribers' first names and email addresses, you can delete all the columns in your CSV other than the two that contain first names and email addresses.

Check for nonstandard characters

Sometimes our importer gets hung up on nonstandard characters like ç, θ, or Þ. Check your spreadsheet for these types of characters—or even glitched characters that don't display correctly in any alphabet. Something like ▯ would be the expected result in a case like this, and that can cause an import to fail.

If you find any nonstandard or glitched characters, remove or replace them and try your import again.

Still having pre-import trouble?

If none of the above steps solved your import issue, please reach out to us with a description of the issue you're experiencing, and attach the CSV file you're trying to import. One of our Product Specialists will help troubleshoot further!

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