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Importing Contact Data Into Tern
Using an import identifier to keep track of your contacts
Using an import identifier to keep track of your contacts
David Shull avatar
Written by David Shull
Updated over a week ago

The Import ID is a pivotal feature in Tern, especially useful for addressing unique identification challenges in contact management.

What is an Import ID?

An Import ID is a distinctive identifier for each contact in your Tern database. It's a combination of characters (including letters and numbers) that uniquely represents each contact. This identifier is particularly vital in situations where unique email addresses are not available or multiple contacts share the same email.

Why Use Import IDs?

Originally, Tern relied on email addresses for identifying and updating contacts. However, this approach had its limitations, such as:

  • Shared Email Addresses: Situations where families or groups use a single email address for multiple contacts.

  • Contacts Without Emails: Individuals like children who may not have personal email addresses but require tracking for important details (e.g., passport information).

Import IDs offer a more reliable and error-resistant solution for identifying contacts under these circumstances.

Creating and Assigning Import IDs

  1. Generating Import IDs: You can create an Import ID for each contact. If a contact already has a unique identifier in your existing system, you can use that as the Import ID. Otherwise, you can generate a new one, ensuring it's unique for each contact.

  2. Assigning Import IDs: When importing data into Tern, include the Import ID for each contact. This ID will be used by Tern to distinguish each contact, particularly when email addresses are not unique or absent.

Using Import IDs in Importing Process

When you import contacts into Tern, the system checks each row for an Import ID. Here's how it works:

  • Existing Import ID: If a contact row includes an Import ID, Tern uses this ID to identify the contact. If the ID matches an existing contact in the database, Tern updates that record with the new information. If not, Tern creates a new contact.

  • No Import ID: In the absence of an Import ID, Tern defaults to using the email address. However, this can lead to complications, such as creating duplicate contacts if multiple contacts share an email or have slight name variations.

Best Practices for Using Import IDs

  • Unique Identification: Always use unique Import IDs for each contact to prevent duplication and ensure accurate data management.

  • Shared Emails: In cases of shared emails, prioritize using Import IDs to accurately differentiate between contacts.

  • Data without Emails: For contacts without email addresses, Import IDs are essential to ensure they are correctly identified and managed in your database.

By integrating Import IDs into your contact management process in Tern, you can significantly enhance the accuracy and efficiency of your database management, especially in complex scenarios where traditional identifiers like email addresses fall short.

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