How can I import Marketing List Members into Dynamics CRM?

Problem: I utilise an external Data Warehouse to identify marketing list members for a mail out, how can I load these into CRM to utilise the campaign functionality?

Initially when posed with this question, I thought development as you can not use the standard import tool to do this, but when stood back and looked at Marketing Lists, I realised there was a simple solution. The solution hinges around the fact that Manage Members utilises advanced find to perform a search to identify members, so we just need to be able to have something to search on, without needing to update the existing record.

In fact their are 2 options, as follows:

  1. Create a new entity named “External List”
  2. Create a relationship (lookup) to Contact, Account and Lead if you are creating marketing lists for all 3 types.
  3. Create a second relationship to Marketing list entity as a n:1
  4. Save and publish
  5. Now from the external source export your list, that must contain a unique attribute for each record that matches what is stored in CRM
  6. Create a marketing list in CRM or copy the name of an existing one for which you want to import members into
  7. Add to the export you did in step 5 a new “Name” and “Marketing List Name”column
  8. In the name column enter a unique name for the external list records that the import will create. In the marketing list column enter the name of the marketing list created in step 6.
  9. Import this file into CRM into the new entity “External List”, mapping the new relationships created in step 1 and 2 to the appropriate column in the csv file. I.e. Map the unique attribute for the CRM record to the Account, Contact or Lead for which it refers to.
  10. Now open the marketing list created in step 6 and use Manage members to perform a search on all Contacts, Accounts or leads (depending on what you are referencing) where an External List record is associated to them that is related to the Marketing list you created in step 6.
  11. Add the found members to the List.
  12. You have now imported members to a marketing list, you can now always view which members were added via the external list process and which additional members were added via standard CRM processes
  13. As a time saver, save the data import as a new template for future use

The second option is similar to above but you instead of creating a new entity you use Connections and import a new connection linked to the marketing list and use this to perform an advanced find on. The only downside of this approach is that can muddy the water if you use connections for other purposes.

I hope this solves a common dilemma.