How to get my Outlook Contacts into MailChimp

How to get my Outlook Contacts into MailChimp

This article looks at two methods to get your Outlook contacts into MailChimp.

  1. Export your contacts from Outlook into a csv file, and then import the csv file into MailChimp. 
  2. Use a third party tool called ChimpySync.

Before you start the process of exporting your contacts, there are two things to consider:

#1 Plan your list

Before you exporting your contacts, you should stop to plan which fields and groups you will need in your MailChimp list. Your MailChimp list will not necessarily include all the same fields that you have in Outlook – there are over 100 fields in an Outlook contact, and you certainly won’t need a mailing list with all of these fields.

If you synchronize your MailChimp list with your Outlook contacts list, you will only need some basic fields in MailChimp required to send and personalize your messages. All the other information can be kept in Outlook where it is more easily managed and accessed.

#2 Make sure you have documented permission for all contacts that you are considering adding.

All email list marketing relies on getting permission to send emails to the people on your list. If you don’t have permission – you are sending SPAM. SPAM has a number of possible consequences, all of which are undesirable for a business. At minimum you risk people not reading any of your emails, your emails going straight to junk mail or being deleted without being read; Worse would be losing your email reputation (which can result in genuine emails not getting delivered); finally in many jurisdictions small or even business crippling fines can be imposed. So please take this warning seriously.


OK – planning and documentation complete. You are ready to upload your contacts.


Method #1: CSV Export – Import

This method involves creating a csv file from your Outlook contacts – exporting from Outlook; and then importing the csv file into MailChimp. (CSV stands for Comma Separated Values. The file is a list of the contacts with each field value separated by a comma. The first line gives the name of each field, the next lines are the contact values.) By default Outlook will export a significant number of fields that you do not need, but MailChimp makes it relatively painless to import from any csv file- even a large one from Outlook.

The key area you will need to think through is: Which Outlook fields will map to which MailChimp fields. There is a post here which will help you think through the process.

Microsoft gives a detailed description of how to export contacts to a csvfile. This post will not reproduce all the detail so you can find the document here:

The basic process is to use the File > Export option from Outlook.

Copy Public Contacts folder to Personal Folder

For this method, if your Contacts are in a Public Folder, you will first need to copy the folder to your main Outlook profile and export the contacts from there. There is no way to export to a csv file directly from a public folder.

Export to CSV

Outlook Export

Select the folder to export from, define the name of the csv file to export, and set up the field mappings. If you plan to use standard Outlook fields, you don’t need to change the field mapping on the ‘Map Custom Fields’ form. Even though it creates a very big csv export, as you will see below, MailChimp has a tool to manage the import from a big (large number of fields exported) list.

Map Fields in Outlook

Import from CSV

Now you have your csv file, MailChimp gives a good description of how to import a csv file into a MailChimp list. You can find that information here:

MailChimp have made it fairly easy. The image below shows how MailChimp manages the imported csv file – even with the native Outlook exported csv with a large number of fields. It lets you select which column from the csv file maps to which list field. (You may have to keep scrolling to he right quite a long way to find some fields.)

Mapping Imported Fields

Once you have completed the process you are ready to start sending messages to your list.

You may want to consider that your Outlook contacts and MailChimp list are now separate entities. Any changes in one will not be updated in the other. If you want to see changes and additions to MailChimp from within Outlook, and/or make sure changes to Outlook contacts get updated in MailChimp, you will need to set up Synchronisation.

Method #2: ChimpySync ‘Subscribe to List’

ChimpySync is the latest incarnation of an Outlook-MailChimp synchronisation tool originally created in 2012 by Davton. The latest version has been completely re-written and updated for Outlook 2016 and Office 365.

Take advantage of the free trial

ChimpySync includes a 14 day free trial so you don’t need to purchase anything if all you want to do is a single transfer (or 14 days of multiple transfers). You can find installation details for ChimpySync here. ChimpySync is an Outlook plugin that will work in Outlook 2010, 2103 and 2016 for Windows. (If you want a tool which works for Mac, check out ChimpView – but it has more limited capabilities.)

ChimpySync offers you two options for subscribing Outlook contacts to a MailChimp list – a one time upload, and an on-going Synchronisation. This post describes the one time upload. You can find details of the synchronisation here (it is not much different to set up from the one time upload).

Subscribe Outlook Contacts to a MailChimp List

If you require a quick ‘upload’ of a number of contacts to a MailChimp list, ChimpySync has a tool for just this purpose.

With ChimpySync, it makes no difference if your Contacts are in a Public Folder or a personal folder, you will still be able to follow these same instructions either way.

If you need to install ChimpySync, you can find detailed instructions for installing and setting up with your MailChimp account here.

The first thing you will need to do is to MAP your Outlook Contact fields to your MailChimp list fields. This is straight forward and obvious for basic fields like email address, first name, last name,company name. However Outlook has over 100 possible fields, so you probably won’t be mapping all of them.

If you haven’t planned your field mappings or set up your list yet, check out his post for help and ideas.

If you have used Outlook categories to segment your contacts, you can map your categories field to one or more Group or Interest fields. You will need to make sure the Outlook categories match exactly the interest values in the MailChimp groups.

Map Fields

Once you have set up the field mappings for your list, you can open Outlook contacts and highlight the contact (or contacts – there is no upper limit) you want to export.

Next select the ChimpySync ‘Subscribe to MailChimp List’ option.

ChimpySync Subscribe

The form will load the highlighted contacts and show you a grid with the information from the mapped fields. If you have more than one list setup in MailChimp – you can select which list you are subscribing to.

Subscribe Selected Contacts

If any contacts are already uploaded, or are missing information which has been marked as mandatory on the MailChimp list, or are missing an email address, a ‘Bad Contacts’ form will pop up and let you know (giving you a chance to fix the issue if you need to).

Bad Contact Notification

At this point you can just click the subscribe now button. But if you want to add some segmentation information, you can add it now using the ‘Edit Group Data’ option. For example if all these people attended the ‘Southern Roadshow’ in Nov 2107, you could add a tag to an ‘Attended’ column with the name of the show. (This assumes you have already a group on MailChimp called ‘Attended’ with an interest value which matches your new tag e.g ‘Southern Roadshow Nov2017’.)

Tag with Interest

When you click Save, you will see the updated values in the form.

Updated Interests

Now you can click ‘Subscribe’, and the contacts are sent to a batch upload process managed by MailChimp. It may take a few seconds (or minutes for a very big list) for the batch to be processed, and for you to see the contacts in MailChimp.

The ‘Batch Update Status’ form lets you check if the batch process has finished (click the ‘Check Again’ button until you see the results). When the batch has finished, the form shows you the result of every contact submitted. Hopefully for most contacts it will say ‘Success’ – but if MailChimp rejects a contact for any reason (typically a missing field or email address for example) this is where you will find out.

Batch Notification

That is it.The list is updated with your new contacts, and you can begin to plan your next mailing.

If you decide you want to see changes and additions to MailChimp from within Outlook, and/or make sure changes to Outlook contacts get updated in MailChimp, you can easily set up Synchronisation using ChimpySync. The post here shows you how.