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December 12, 2022
Salesforce

How to Import Data Into Salesforce

This article explains in detail how to import data into Salesforce without hassle.

I. Introduction

Salesforce is a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that offers numerous solutions for businesses, including customer relationship management (CRM), sales automation, marketing automation, analytics, and more. It boasts a user-friendly interface and customizable features, allowing businesses to tailor the software to their needs.

One of the key strengths of Salesforce is its data management capabilities that centralize tools to help businesses gain insights into their customer base. Data import is one of those features that make the platform so useful.

Let’s illustrate the importance and benefits of using data import in Salesforce:

  • time-saving: manual data entry can be time-consuming, especially when dealing with large amounts of data. Data import speeds up this process, allowing users to import vast quantities of information and eliminating the risk of manual errors
  • accuracy: accurate and up-to-date data is critical for effective decision-making. With Salesforce data, human error is minimized, and data accuracy is enhanced
  • consistency: this is key when it comes to managing data, whether handling customer information or product data. It can be achieved via correctly populated fields during data entry
  • scalability: as businesses grow, so does the data they need to store. Data import makes it easier to manage this growth by enabling users to load large amounts of data in one go rather than manually entering it field-by-field
  • data mapping: salesforce allows users to map fields between source and destination, excluding the risk of critical data loss during import. This can be an especially helpful feature for companies migrating data from legacy systems
  • metrics and reporting: data import ensures that information is entered uniformly, allowing users to create reliable metrics and reports.

II. Preparing Your Data for Import

Before the import takes place, all the data you plan to migrate to Salesforce must be checked, filtered, and organized for a successful outcome. Here are some general guidelines to help you prepare data for import:

  1. Identify the Data Source: this can include data from spreadsheets, databases, customer management software, etc.;
  2. Assess Data Quality: look for inconsistencies, inaccuracies, duplicates, and missing information;
  3. Clean and Format Data: this involves removing duplicates, correcting inconsistencies, standardizing data formats, and filling in any missing information. Be sure to use software tools that can help automate this process and are compatible with Salesforce.
  4. Organize Data: create clear and concise categories and fields to help users navigate the data smoothly;
  5. Test Import: this will help you identify any issues with your data or formatting early on, so you can correct them before they cause problems downstream;
  6. Map Data Fields and Configure Object Relationships: this will ensure that all of your data is connected and Salesforce users can access it seamlessly.

III. Understanding Salesforce Objects and Fields

Objects are the fundamental building blocks representing specific data types, such as accounts, contacts, and opportunities. They are essential for storing, organizing, and managing data in Salesforce.

Standard objects are pre-built objects that come with Salesforce and are available to all users. Examples of standard objects include accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities, and cases. These objects are created and managed by Salesforce and provide an essential structure for data management, but they can be customized to some extent; however, they are limited in flexibility and extensibility.

Custom objects, on the other hand, are objects that users uniquely create to represent a specific type of data not covered by standard objects. They can accommodate complex data structures and relationships, making them ideal for businesses with unique data management needs. Custom objects can be easily created and modified using Salesforce's point-and-click tools and integrated with processes, workflows, and reports.

Fields and their Significance

Fields serve as the structure for importing data into the platform. They form the record structure, containing specific information such as a name, address, or email address.

Each field within Salesforce has unique characteristics, including data type, length, and format. Understanding them is critical in managing the accuracy and consistency of data within the platform, ensuring that all data is formatted and recorded in a standardized way.

The significance of fields during data import lies in their ability to provide structure and organization to the data being imported. Data is mapped to specific fields within the platform during the process, taking care of records’ format. Furthermore, by enforcing certain data types and formats, fields can help prevent errors and inconsistencies in data entry. This, in turn, helps to maintain the quality and accuracy of data within the platform.

IV. Mapping Your Data

Data mapping means establishing a link between two data sets, ensuring their relevancy and consistency across different systems. Salesforce uses data mapping to help organizations synchronize data between marketing automation, customer service, and sales. So, data entered into one system is automatically updated in all other systems that are connected to it. This ensures accurate, real-time data is always at hand for the decision-making process.

Mapping data fields involves a series of steps:

  1. identify the source file: an Excel, CSV, or any other type of file that holds the data to be integrated into Salesforce
  2. determine the target Salesforce field: the exact field in Salesforce where the data should be mapped
  3. identify the data type: this is necessary to ensure that the data is properly mapped
  4. map the data fields: specify the source file column that corresponds to the target Salesforce field
  5. test the mapping: this involves importing the source file into Salesforce and verifying that the data has been properly mapped to the correct fields
  6. address any mapping issues: this can be done by checking the data type, mapping configuration, and data format.
  7. automate the mapping process: leverage data integration tools that allow you to automate the mapping process.

V. Overview of Salesforce Data Import Tools

Salesforce data importing tools make the process of data migration easy and seamless. Let’s take a look at the most popular ones.

Data Import Wizard

The Data Import Wizard is a web-based tool allowing users to import data sets into Salesforce objects, including accounts, contacts, leads, solutions, etc. This tool supports up to 50,000 records at once from common data sources like Excel, Outlook, and Gmail. It offers field mapping functionality, which helps users map fields from the source file to the destination object in Salesforce. It also features a preview functionality for data overview in a specific state before import. The Data Import Wizard provides users with an easy-to-use graphical interface that makes data mapping and importing a breeze.

Cloud File Uploader

The native Salesforce functionality and custom uploaders available in the market do not allow users to upload files directly from leading third-party services such as Google Drive and Dropbox to Salesforce. To address this gap, we extensively researched to determine the best widget or library that could cater to this issue; however, most of the available options were incompatible with Salesforce's Locker Service security model.

Cloud File Uploader is a unique solution developed by Noltic in partnership with UploadCare to cater to the pressing needs of Salesforce clients. It enables Salesforce clients to upload files from different sources (Facebook, Google Drive, Google Photos, Dropbox, Instagram, etc.) to Salesforce seamlessly. The app does not require subscription payments or hidden charges, adding further value to its users.

This solution uses a highly customized UploadCare JavaScript widget to ensure a seamless user experience, adapted to match the native Salesforce design and Lightning experience. Furthermore, Cloud File Uploader allows for local file storage and remote URL uploads directly to Salesforce, eliminating the need for 3rd party services, hence streamlining the uploading process further.

Data Loader

Data Loader provides a comprehensive set of data import/export tools that can handle large volumes of data and support advanced sources. It is an enterprise-scale on-premise tool that can import and export data to and from any system that supports CSV, XML, or DML. Unlike the Data Import Wizard, Data Loader supports bulk data imports for up to 5 million records, making it an ideal solution for large data migration projects.

Dataloader.io

This is a free, user-friendly tool for importing and exporting data to and from Salesforce. It offers a simple drag-and-drop interface that lets users map their data fields and set up automated schedules for data loads. Dataloader.io supports various file formats, including CSV, Excel, and XML, and it can import up to 5 million records at once. It also comes with powerful filtering and validation features that allow users to ensure data quality.

Workbench

Workbench is another free, web-based tool developed by Salesforce that provides bulk data load, update, and delete operations. Workbench is particularly useful for advanced users who need to perform complex data manipulations, as it offers a robust set of APIs and a powerful query system. Workbench can load up to 100,000 records at once and supports various file formats, including CSV, Excel, and XML.

Jitterbit Cloud Data Loader

This cloud-based solution offers advanced ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) capabilities for importing data to Salesforce. Jitterbit supports over 400 data sources, including databases, applications, and web services, and comes with a user-friendly interface that lets users easily map data fields and define data transformations. It can handle large data volumes and provides real-time monitoring and error-handling features.

VI. Using the Data Import Wizard

Whether you're migrating to Salesforce from another system, or simply need to update your existing data, this handy tool can save you a lot of time and effort.

Let us take you through the entire process of loading data into Salesforce via the Data Import Wizard.

Step 1: Navigate to the Data Import Wizard

Log in to your Salesforce account and navigate to the Data Import Wizard. This can be found under the “Data Management” section in the Setup menu. Click on the “Data Import Wizard” link to get started.

Step 2: Choose Your Data Source

You can either upload a file from your computer or import data from a Salesforce object. If you're importing from a file, ensure it's in one of the supported file formats (such as CSV or Excel) and contains all necessary fields.

Step 3: Select your Salesforce Object

If you're importing data from a Salesforce object, you'll need to choose which object you want to import to. This could be anything from accounts and contacts to custom objects. Make sure you select the correct object and that all of the required fields are present in your source data.

Step 4: Map Your Fields

Match the fields in your source data to those in your Salesforce object. You can do this manually or use the auto-mapping feature, which will try to match fields based on their names and data types.

Step 5: Specify Your Import Options

This step includes things like how to handle duplicate records and whether to trigger any workflows or validation rules during the import process. Review these options carefully to ensure they're set up correctly for your situation.

Step 6: Preview and Validate Your Data

Before actually importing your data, you'll have the option to preview and validate it. This will show you any potential issues or errors that may arise during the import process.

Step 7: Start the Import

Depending on the size of your data set, this may take some time to complete this step. Monitor the progress and check for any errors or warnings along the way.

Step 8: Review Your Imported Data

Double-check any important fields or data points to ensure that they've been imported accurately.

VII. Checking the Results of Your Data Import

To check the success of data import to Salesforce, navigate to the “Import Jobs” page, which displays a list of all the import jobs that have been uploaded. From there, you can monitor the progress of each job by checking the “Status” column. Successful imports will have a “Completed” status, while failed imports will have an “Error” status.

To view the detailed success and error reports, click on the name of the import job from the “Import Jobs” page. This will display information such as the number of records imported, the number of records rejected, and the cause of any errors encountered during the process. You can download the “Error Report,” highlighting the specific errors encountered during the import, making it easier to identify and rectify the problem.

VIII. Best Practices for Importing Data Into Salesforce

How do we make the data import process as smooth as possible?

One piece of advice we can give you is to break down the import process into smaller batches, especially if dealing with a large volume of data. This helps avoid potential issues and errors that may arise in the import process. Scheduling data imports during off-peak hours can help prevent disruptions to user activity.

Prior to importing data into Salesforce, thorough testing should be conducted to ensure that the data is accurate and that the intended results are achieved. Testing the data import in a sandbox environment is recommended, as this can provide a safe place for testing without impacting real-time data.

And, of course, validation. Conducting data checks and verifications to ensure that the data is complete, consistent, and conforms to the standards required by the platform prior to import can save you from having to correct it afterward. Proper validation reduces the risk of errors and ensures that the imported data is reliable and usable for analysis and reporting.

IX. Importance of Regular Data Maintenance

After loading data into Salesforce, your job isn’t done yet. You need to regularly review and update data to reflect any changes or updates made by your organization and clean any duplicate or outdated records.

One effective way to manage your data is to implement a regular schedule for data imports. Consider factors such as the frequency of your data updates, the size data sets, and any potential data integration issues. For example, if you have a large set of data, you may need to break it down into smaller batches to avoid overwhelming your system.

Import data consistently across all Salesforce platforms, including mobile devices and desktop applications. This can be achieved by automating the process using Salesforce’s Data Loader or other third-party tools.

Finally, ongoing data cleaning is critical to maintaining the quality of your data. This involves regularly reviewing and removing any duplicate or outdated records and ensuring that your data is consistent and accurate across all fields.

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