Static List Import Best Practices

Level 3
Level 3

Static List Import Checklist and Guide

First timer when it comes to List Imports, or just need a refresher? This is a step by step guide with best practices on List Imports, from the list cleaning process through full import. 


Before the Import, make sure you've got the right build in place to support your list needs:


1. Acquisition Program and Static List Check:

  • Create a Program in Marketo which will get the Acquisition Program credit if you import new record(s)
  • Create a Static List inside the program which you will use to import the list into

2. List Review

Best practice is to import CSV files, unless you are importing non-latin characters, in which case you should follow these instructions. Once you have your list, review it against the following items to ensure it's clean and ready for import: 

  • De-dupe list based on email address
  • Delete any records without an email address
  • Delete any records with invalid email addresses, such as emails without an (@), emails like, email addresses with invalid domains (such as instead of
  • Delete any records you don’t want to import such as Competitors or Vendors (optional)
  • Delete any columns/fields you don’t want to import
  • Normalize any values which don’t match your standard pick-list values
    • Example: Industry, Country, Job Function
  • Add a Lead Source field/column and any other standard fields to support your Source Strategy
  • Add a header row with the field names that match the Marketo field name. If you don’t want to match the field name, you can create field aliases (instructions here).


Now you're ready to Import Your List!

Note: You must have the list import permission to import a list.


Step 1 – Select File
Click on the Static List you will be importing into and go to List Actions > Import List.

  • File: Find the file you want to import.
  • File Format: Select the file format from the drop-down.
    • Auto Detect (system will auto detect format but file must be in one of supported three formats)
    • Comma Separated Values (recommended)
    • Tab Delimited
    • Semicolon Separated Value
  • Trusted Source: This choice will appear because fields are blocked from updates. This allows you to control different list sources on a field level basis, if desired. If you don’t have setup for this use case, you can select trusted.  
  • List Import Mode*:
    • Default – this will add people from your list to the Marketo database, and update any field level data in your list for those people (unless blocked in Field Management)
    • Skip New Leads and Updates – this will only add people to your static list that already exist in your Marketo database (thus, will not add any people to your database).


*This will only appear if the Marketo user has Advanced List Import Permissions (documented here).


Step 2 – Import Preview

Preview the fields that will import, the fields that will be ignored, and the fields that will be blocked from updating during list import. Marketo will attempt to auto-map fields which you can correct if necessary. Fields that will not import will be marked as IGNORED and you can search for the corresponding Marketo field (optional). Fields that will not accept an update will be marked as BLOCKED.

Note around Block Field Updates: Updates to a field are BLOCKED only if the field already contains data in Marketo. If the field is empty in Marketo, the field accepts the data from the list being imported.

Step 3 - Import Options

  • List Name: Enter the list you will be adding the records to (if you went through the steps above, it will auto-populate)
  • Revenue Stage: Recommended to ignore this and manage your Revenue model in one centralized program opposed to individual list loads
  • Acquisition Program: The Acquisition Program is the Program that will get credit for acquiring the new lead. So, for instance, if you had a list of new leads obtained at an event and wanted to import them into Marketo, you would select the Program that the news leads were acquired from in the drop-down menu. This is important for reporting purposes and understanding Program effectiveness.
  • Set the Acquisition Program to the event where you acquired the records.
    • If a lead already exists in Marketo and has a Acquisition Program, it will not be set to an acquisition program on import.


Step 4 – Click Import

The list is now importing. Based on the size of the file, it may import in near real time, or it could take some time. You can always see the status of the list import in the top right corner of your Marketo instance (the following will pop up after you select Import).


When complete, you’ll see the following Import completed message. If you choose the “Skip new leads and updates” import mode and people were not added to the list because they didn’t exist in the Marketo database, you will get a link in the import status box that will tell you the number of people, and link out to a list of the people who were not added (will download as a csv file).  


If it is taking more than a few minutes and you’d like to get rid of the notification, but check back on the status later, you can go to the list > List Actions > Show Import Status.


Step 5 – Review your List, if Desired

You can view the people that you just imported by navigating to your list and viewing the “Leads” tab. You can change the View to see any data point (field) about those people.