Using the scheduled contact importer

Learn to use our scheduled contact importer to import and keep a large number of contacts up-to-date.


Contact upload limit

There is a default limit for usage of the scheduled contact importer of 100,000 contacts per month. This applies to newly created and updated contacts.

If you want to discuss increasing this limit, reach out to your Customer Success representative.

Uploading contacts using our manual import process has some limitations - for example, when manually importing contacts you are limited to a maximum file size of 50MB. For larger imports, you can use the scheduled contact importer to upload your contacts, which has a much larger file size limit of 1GB.


This allows you to make use of our hosted and secure SFTP server to upload your data and automate file imports following a set schedule of your choice. It's the tool to use if you're looking to upload large amounts of data, or simply want to automate your uploads, whatever their size.

SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol, also know as Secure File Transfer Protocol) is an established network protocol that enables secure file transfer capabilities across a data stream, using secure shell.

Step 1: Download an SFTP client

To use the scheduled contact importer, you need to download an SFTP client in order to connect to our SFTP server.

A few options we can suggest:

There are many others, and you're free to choose the one that works best for you.

Step 2: Create an SFTP user

You need to create an SFTP user which is used to authenticate your connection to our SFTP server.

To do this:

  1. Go to Settings > Access > SFTP users.
  2. Select Newuser.
  3. There is an auto-generated email in the Email address field. This can't be altered.
  4. Optionally enter a description in the Description field. This can be helpful if you have multiple users.
  5. In the Password field, enter a password.
  6. Enter the same password again in the Confirm password field.
  7. Select the Enabled radio button.
  8. Select Save.


Your SFTP users are found under Settings > Access > SFTP users. You can edit and delete your users here. You also see your region-specific SFTP endpoint.


Step 3: Schedule an import task

Create a new data import:

  1. Go to Email > Contacts > Import data.
  2. Select NEW DATA IMPORT.
  3. Select the Contacts radio button, then select NEXT.
  4. Select an address book to import your contacts into and then select NEXT.
  5. Upload a file to our SFTP server via your SFTP client. A folder path is created on the server for you and displayed here.
    Accepted file formats are Excel, CSV, TXT and ZIP.4.

Upload a file:

  1. Connect to your chosen SFTP client using the SFTP user credentials that you created.
  2. You're asked for our SFTP server name and the port, which is 22.
  3. Once connected, upload a file into the folder that's been created for you.
  4. Once your SFTP client confirms the successful upload of the file, return to Dotdigital.
  5. Expand the SFTP file drop-down menu and select the uploaded file on the SFTP server.
    If it's not showing yet, select the Refresh icon.
  6. Expand the Encoding type drop-down menu and select the appropriate encoding type depending on which foreign language character sets you're looking to support. Unicode (UTF-8) supports most languages.
  7. In the Email address to notify field, enter an email address to receive confirmation when your import is finished.
  8. In the Name field, enter a name to associate with the scheduled task.
  9. Select Next.

Map your file columns to contact data fields:

  1. Expand the drop-down menu for each field and select the appropriate contact data field for each column.
  2. Select Next.
    If you change the layout of your import file, you will need to update the mapping settings for the scheduled task. If it is not re-mapped and the order has changed it will import into the wrong data fields.

Set the import task schedule:

  1. Choose the frequency with which you'd like to schedule the importing of your contact files.
    Any files that are present in the SFTP folder path will be included each time the import runs.
    Select from:
    • Hourly - and set the minutes past the hour that the import runs
    • Daily - and set the time of day that the import runs
    • Weekly - and select a day or number of days of the week, along with the time of day, that the import runs.
  2. Select Save schedule.

You're returned to the Scheduled tasks page where confirmation is given that your schedule has been saved, along with when it will run.

All your scheduled tasks are listed on this page.


After contacts have been imported, files are deleted from our SFTP server.

Managing scheduled tasks

You can manage your scheduled tasks on the Scheduled tasks page, which provides the following details on any scheduled task that has been set up:

  • The name of the scheduler
  • The folder path of the scheduled task (the source)
  • The source type
  • The destination type
  • The scheduled task's status, which can be Active, Draft or Running
  • The date the scheduled task was last modified
  • The date the scheduled task was created

To delete a scheduled task, select the checkbox for the task and then select Delete.

To edit a scheduled task, select the Edit icon to the right of the task. You can change the address book to upload to, the encoding type, the email address to notify, the scheduler's name, the mappings, and the schedule settings.


To view reporting for a scheduled task, select the History icon. 


History provides details on the number of contacts imported and the status of the import, for example whether it's failed, pending or running.


Your completed scheduled imports are stored in Contacts > Advanced featuresImport history for 30 days, just as manual imports are.
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