Marketing List FTP Sync User Guide

  • Updated

This guide will provide you with instructions on importing and managing a Marketing List using FTP as your data source.

To see information on how to set up your FTP connection with Act-On, see our guide here: FTP Setup Guide

If you want to import to All Contacts using FTP, see FTP Import to All Contacts.


  • FTP connector set up and configured, in Act-On and locally
  • Your list(s) have been uploaded to Act-On via FTP


To get started, you will first need to import the file into Act-On to create a list. You can do this using the file as a direct import (instructions here), or you may use a file you've uploaded to the FTP server using the instructions below.

Create a new Marketing List from FTP

  1. Navigate to Contacts > Marketing Lists
  2. Click New List
  3. Enter a list name and choose a folder to place the list in Act-On
  4. Click Select Method
  5. Choose Import from your recently uploaded FTP files
  6. Check the box to accept the terms of the agreement
  7. Select one of your recently uploaded FTP files
    • If this option is missing, you may not have any files uploaded yet, or an incorrect file type. Act-On will accept .csv, .xls, and .xlsx files only.
  8. Click Next
  9. Review the data. If something doesn't look right, click on change processing options and update data settings
    • Values may be delimited using commas, tabs, or semicolons.
    • Field values may be single-quoted or double-quoted.
  10. Click Save and again review your data. Choose an option for the field names:
    • Rename the uploaded list fields to match the Standard Field Names you've defined in Act-On
    • Use the field names contained in your uploaded list
  11. Click Next again
  12. How would you like to handle the field names in your uploaded list?
  13. Confirm the fields you will import to Act-On, then click Finish

Import data from FTP to a Marketing List

  1. Navigate to Contacts > Marketing Lists
  2. To the right of the list you want to synchronize, click the dropdown arrow and select Import/Export > Manage FTP Sync
  3. Click New (or select a current sync to change its settings)
  4. Select the Import check box
  5. Select File and locate the file from FTP
  6. Review Field Mapping. Each column will show the field name in the file and the Act-On list. Field names do not have to match.
  7. De-select any fields you don't want to import
  8. Click Accept
  9. Click Change Options and update the import settings:
    • Add How? Choose whether to add new records or update existing ones.
    • Which field will be used for locating existing records? Choose which list field will be used to check if a record already exists (e.g., Email). This will be the Unique ID for your records. 
    • Reject Opt-Outs, Hard-Bounces, or Suppression Domains? You may reject records that would otherwise be suppressed. This improves email performance.
    • Optional Features*
      • Remove entries from list not in file? 
      • Force overwrite existing data with all imported fields?
  10. Click Set
  11. Choose Run Now for a one-time sync or Schedule to run a recurring sync
  12. Click Save

* See Optional Features below for a description and how to request these settings.

Export data from Act-On to FTP

You can set up any Marketing List in your account to send its data to your FTP location.

You will first need a file that will receive the data uploaded to your FTP account in Act-On. (Hint: you may download the current list as a .csv and use this file for exporting.)

  1. Navigate to Contacts > Marketing Lists
  2. To the right of the list you want to export, click the dropdown arrow and select Import/Export > Manage FTP Sync
  3. Click New (or select a current sync to change its settings)
  4. Select the Export check box and choose the relevant settings:
  • Select File and locate the file that you uploaded
  • Choose which list fields should be exported to the file
  • Choose Run Now for a one-time sync or Schedule to run a recurring sync
  • Click Save
  • Optional Features

    These features cause permanent data deletion.

    For access, contact our support team.

    Remove Records not in Source

    With this enabled, records that are in the Act-On Marketing List but no longer present in your uploaded file will be removed. 

    To turn this on, check the box for Remove records from the list not in the file being imported in the Import Options.

    Overwrite Blank Values

    By default, once a field is populated in the Marketing List, emptying the field in the .csv file will not clear the value in Act-On. The Marketing List record will continue to hold the original value even after an FTP sync.

    With this feature enabled, records that have values for a particular field in the Act-On Marketing List will have that value deleted when the uploaded list has a blank value in that column.

    To turn this on, check the box for When a contact is updated, any blank field in the new file will delete existing field data in the Import Options.

    Best Practices

    • Upload .csv files for best performance
    • Once your initial sync is configured: 
      • Do not change the file name
      • Do not change column names
    • Use the same field names across Act-On (such as with Forms and other Marketing Lists) and any external data sources.


    How can I add or change a column for a Marketing List syncing with FTP?

    If there is a new or changed column in your list data but the Act-On Marketing List, it must be configured.

    1. To add a new column, first, add a column to your Marketing List.
    2. Next, transfer the new file to our FTP server using the same file name*
    3. In Act-On, go to Contacts > Marketing Lists and find the list you are updating
    4. Click on the FTP icon and click on the sync name to find the FTP Sync settings
    5. Click on the button Change Mapping
    6. Choose the coordinating field name in the dropdown for the new or changed column 
      • You may need to scroll to the right to see more fields
      • Field names do not need to match
    7. Click Accept
    8. You may choose Run Now to sync the new field with your Marketing List
    9. Click Save

    *If you change the file name, you must select the new file in FTP sync settings.

    How are duplicate records handled with lists imported from FTP?

    If a record exists twice or more in the list (based on the Unique ID), a single record in Act-On will be created and then updated with each occurrence of that record's Unique ID. The last record that is present on the list will overwrite data from previous entries.

    Ways to accommodate this:

    • Only add new records, do not update (use this setting if you aren't updating records and need to sync each record as new, such as with a Contact Us Form)
    • Consider using a different Unique ID (usually this is Email, but may vary)
    • Scrub your list for duplicates, and do not create and/or sync duplicate records.

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