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    Migrating from MailChimp



    Migrating from MailChimp involves several steps. We recommend following the steps in the order found in this article. This will allow you to start collecting new leads via ONTRAPORT web forms, and then work on migrating the rest of the information over. Several steps import from MailChimp so we recommend completing all of the steps prior to closing your MailChimp account.

    If you want to start fresh with only your contacts moved over, see Quick Import and Tag in the Importing Contacts section.

    Exporting from MailChimp

    In your MailChimp account access the main drop down menu (1), click Account (2), then Settings (3) and Manage My Data (4). Click the Build My Data Backup button. 

    MailChimp Data Backup

    MailChimp will notify you when your data backup is ready for download. Download the zip file and unzip it to your computer. The data backup will contain folders with your account information. We will refer to these folders in each of the steps below.

    MailChimp Data Backup Folders


    Recreating Webforms

    In MailChimp a signup form is automatically created per List. In ONTRAPORT, opt-in forms are global, created at will, insanely flexible and allow you to segment your contacts based on a wide number of factors.

    ONTRAPORT uses a single database for all contacts, so you don't pay for a contact more than one time. To segment contacts we recommend using Tags. Tags are used in place of separate Lists to filter contacts into Groups; as you'll see this is a much more powerful, flexible system. We will use Tags when recreating your MailChimp web forms in ONTRAPORT. 

    1. Log into MailChimp in one browser window, and ONTRAPORT in another.

    2. In MailChimp. click on Lists and then select Signup Forms from the drop down menu next to the first List.

      List Signup Forms

    3. View the number and type of fields on the form, taking note of the Field Settings tab that shows which fields are required. We will be duplicating that form in the ONTRAforms editor.

      sign up form fields

    4. In ONTRAPORT you can create a complete stand-alone landing page for your form using ONTRApages, or create an ONTRAform for insertion on your own webpage. 


    Webforms: Creating an ONTRAform

    Use this technique to create an opt in form for your website to replace your current MailChimp webform. You can create static forms of any width, pop up forms, or "click to pop up" forms easily. To create a stand-alone landing page with an opt in form follow the instructions under Webforms: Creating ONTRApages.

    1. Click Contacts > Forms and click the New Form button.

    2. Click Create New in the ONTRAform icon. The currently Featured Templates will load. Click the View by Type section in the Palette on the left and the Lead Capture templates will load.

      lead capture ONTRAform templates

    3. Choose any form template you like. For this tutorial, we are using the Ignite template.

    4. The template loads in the Canvas in a true what-you-see-is-what-you-get format. For the full information on designing and editing ONTRAforms, see our separate article on ONTRAforms. For this tutorial we will focus on editing the Smart Form, the opt in form portion of this template.

    5. Name the form at the top left. The name is only used within ONTRAPORT, and we recommend using a naming convention to help identify the form's purpose later. You can use prefixes such as WSOI: for "Web Site Opt In" for example.

    6. Click on Smart Form in the Palette to select it for editing then click Form.

      Edit ONTRAform Smart Form

    7. The form fields are displayed in the Palette. In the Ignite template there is a Last Name field that is greyed out and has a red slider icon next to it. Because our MailChimp form had the Last Name exposed, click the red slider icon to unhide the last name field on the template.

      unhide Smart Form field

    8. Our MailChimp form had just the First Name, Last Name and Email address fields. If you want to add more fields to this form, click the + Add button.

    9. Click on the First Name or any other field name in the Palette to expose the editing options for the field.  Take note of the following:

      • Label: the label is what the field is called on the form. The Last Name field could be called Surname on the form.

      Placeholder: puts the field name inside the field rather than above it

      Required field: Check it for any fields you had required on the original MailChimp form. 

    10. Remember to click the Save button after editing each field.

    11. When finished editing the form fields, click the Done button in the Palette to return to Smart Form editing in the Palette. Edit the Button if desired.

    12. Click the Form Settings gear icon to load the Form Settings dialog. This is where you will edit any backend automation that happens once the form is filled out.

      Form settings

    13. ONTRAPORT has several options for each section on the Form Settings dialog. For this tutorial, we will accept the default Single opt in under Opt-In Settings, with the Default Thank You Page (the Thank You page is the page your leads will see after filling out your form). You can return here later to change these options. You can learn more in our Opt-In Settings article.  

    14. In the Manage Form Fills section use the drop down selection box to add the Tag for this List. Select "Create New" to create a new Tag. You can add additional Tags if you want to segment these contacts further such as by the website you will use this form on, or by the content of the form itself. 

      add tag

    15. Add your Welcome sequence in the Sequences section next. You can choose to Create New and create a Step Sequence that sends a welcome email. See the instructions Recreating Automation / Sequences below for details.

      Add sequences

    16. You can see several other options available, including Rules, Notification and Routing, the Form Connector and Advanced options. Our ONTRAforms article has the details on these options. For now, scroll to the bottom and click Save

    17. In the Palette, click Done to return to the Blocks on This Form view.

    18. At the upper right, click the Publish button. The Publish ONTRAform dialog appears.

    19. Under Select Your Display Type choose how you want the form to appear.

      • Automatic Lightbox is a pop up form that has several options in step 2 to control how it is triggered and the placement on the page. You can pop up the form after the page loads, when the user scrolls a certain amount of the page, or when their cursor heads toward the "back" or "x" buttons (called "exit intent"). 

      • Embed in Page provides a static display of the form on the page without any kind of pop up activity. This is a good choice if you are dedicating an entire page to your opt in. 

      • Click to Pop Lightbox provides a link to click to opt in. This option allows you to put a link anywhere on the page, including in a narrow sidebar, and have the full form pop up. 

    20. After configuring your form's display options step 3 has the code you can copy to insert into your webpage. 

      publish options for ONTRAforms

    Webforms: Creating ONTRApages

    Use this technique to create stand alone landing pages with opt in forms.  To create standard webforms for replacing your MailChimp webforms on your website, see Webforms: Creating an ONTRAform.

    1. Click on Sites > Landing Pages in ONTRAPORT and click the New Landing Page button.

    2. Click the Create New button in the ONTRApages icon. Selected Landing Page Templates will load. Click the View By Type section in the Palette on the left and the Lead Capture templates will load.

      ONTRApages lead capture templates

    3. Many templates are free and are labeled as such. Some templates are created by designers who allow you to use them in exchange for your email address, or for a small fee, as indicated on the template thumbnails. For this tutorial, select the free Horizon template.

    4.  The template loads in the Canvas in a true what-you-see-is-what-you-get format. For the full information on designing and editing ONTRApages see our separate article on ONTRApages. For this tutorial we will focus on editing the blocks on this page.

    5. Start by naming the page in the upper left. This name is used internally only to identify this page, and is not shown to your Contacts. We recommend using a naming convention that makes sense to you. A common method is to use a prefix for the type of page, such as LC: for "Lead Capture", and then a description of the page.  

    6. The Palette displays the Blocks On This Page view. Our first task is to move the Smart Form block up under the banner. Click and drag Smart Form up and drop it under Banner in the Palette

      reposition Smart Form

    7. We want to simplify this page, so we'll be hiding several blocks. Hover over Text, Testimonial and Divider and click the green Toggle Visibility icon to turn it red, and hide the blocks. 

      toggle visibility of blocks

    8. Edit the Banner block. You can click Banner in the Palette to edit it, or hover over the banner in the Canvas and click Edit. Hide the Button by hovering over it in the Palette and clicking the Visibility Toggle. Edit the Header and Sub-Header as needed. When finished with each one, click Save in the Palette. 

    9. When done editing the text, click blue Done button to return the Palette to the Blocks On This Page view. 

    10. Click on the Smart Form to edit it and then click Form.

    11. The form fields are displayed in the Palette. These fields match our MailChimp opt in form in this case, but we can add more fields by clicking the + Add button.

    12. Click on the First Name field name in the Palette to expose the editing options for the field. ONTRApages use the Material Design standards set by Google for color, font and size choices. We recommend you use our options in order to ensure your form looks good on all devices. Take note of the following:

      • Label: the label is what the field is called on the form. The Last Name field could be called Surname on the form.

      Placeholder: puts the field name inside the field rather than above it

      Required field: Check it for any fields you had required on the original MailChimp form. 

    13. Remember to click the Save button after editing each field.

    14. When finished editing the form fields, click the Done button in the Palette to return to Smart Form editing in the Palette. Edit the Button if desired. 

    15. Click the Form Settings gear icon to load the Form Settings dialog.

      Form settings

    16. ONTRAPORT has several options in each section of the Form Settings dialog. For the purposes of this tutorial we'll accept the default Opt-In Settings  of Single opt in and the Default Thank You Page. You can return and edit these later. 

    17. In the Manage Form Fills section use the drop down selection box to add the Tag for this List. If you created a Tag during import of this List, use that here. You can add additional Tags if you want to segment these contacts further such as by the website you will use this form on, or by the content of the form itself.

      add tag

    18. Add your Welcome sequence in the Sequences section next. If you didn't create one earlier, you can choose to Create New and create a Step Sequence that sends a welcome email. See the instructions Recreating Automation / Sequences above for details.

      Add sequences

    19. You can see several other options available, including Rules, Notification and Routing, the Form Connector and Advanced options. Our ONTRApages article has the details on these options. For now, scroll to the bottom and click Save
    20. In the Palette, click Done to return to the Blocks On This Page view.

    21. At the upper right, click the Publish button. The Select a Domain dialog appears. For this tutorial we will be using the default Use Our Domain selection and choose one of the domains supplied by ONTRAPORT. 

    22. The first text box is for the subdomain; this is a good place to put your brand or company name if it is available. The second text box is a drop down selection box for one of the regular or secure domains supplied by ONTRAPORT. The third text box is for an optional file name. 

      publish ONTRApages

    23. After making your selections click the Save & Publish button. An easy way to visit the new page is to click the Publish button again and click the Current Hosting: URL. Your new opt in page will display in a new tab. 

    24. Test the opt in page by filling it out. After submission, see if the Contact is recorded in Contacts. You should see the Tag and Sequence added via the Form Settings dialog. 

    Recreating Email Templates

    This one minute video shows the process to convert an exported email template into an ONTRAPORT HTML email. It includes the process to move the images used in the email template from MailChimp to ONTRAPORT. 

     Here are the step by step, detailed instructions:

    1. Navigate to the templates folder in the MailChimp data backup you downloaded.
    2. Double click on the template name to open it in your web browser.

    3. Right click on the rendered email template in your browser and select View Source.

    4. Right click on the code and choose Select All, then right click again and choose Copy.

    5. In ONTRAPORT, click Contacts > Messages and click the New Message button.

      New Message Button

    6. Select the HTML Email editor.

      HTML Email Editor

    7. Click the Source button and right click, and paste, the HTML code into the page.

      Paste Code

    8. Click the Source button again. The email is rendered in the editor window. Right click on the first image and select Image Properties from the drop down.

      Image Properties

    9. Right click and copy the image URL in the URL field, then click the Select Hosted Image button next to that field.

      Copy image path

    10. On the Insert Image dialog, click the Upload tab, and paste the image URL into the Enter URL field. Then click Go.

      Paste image path

    11. ONTRAPORT will copy the image from the MailChimp server and store it on the ONTRAPORT server, then return you to the Browse tab of the image manager. Click on the image and click the Select Image button. Click the OK button on the Image Properties dialog to return to the email. Repeat this process for each image in your message template.

      Select Image in image manager

    12. After editing your email, be sure to click the Copy from HTML button below the HTML editor window to create a plain text version of the email. This is a best practice to avoid your email hitting the spam folder!

      Create plain text email

    13. Name your email (1), using a naming convention prefix such as "MC:" and indicate it is a template. Give it a Subject Line (2) and then click Save (3).

      Name template

    14. Using this email as a template: The HTML Email editor does not use templates. To create a new newsletter from this email, go to Contacts > Messages and select the email, then click Copy. Rename the copy of the email and edit the copy for your new broadcast.

      Copy Message

    Migrating Email Campaigns

    The campaigns_content folder in your MailChimp data backup contains the email messages from past MailChimp campaigns. If you want to save a copy of the email in the ONTRAPORT Messages library, use the process outlined above under Recreating Email Templates. While these migrated messages will not have any statistics associated with them, they will be available within your ONTRAPORT account to copy and reuse.

    Recreating Automation / Sequences

    MailChimp provides dozens of "Automations" templates for specific responses. In ONTRAPORT, you will convert most of these to Sequences, with Step Sequences being the most common replacement. 

    There is no direct import of MailChimp Automation. We recommend opening your MailChimp and ONTRAPORT account in separate browser windows so you can re-create the automations as Step Sequences in ONTRAPORT. This example shows how to re-create a simple Welcome message automation as a Step Sequence we will name "Welcome". 

    1. Open your MailChimp account in one browser window and select the Automation tab.

      MailChimp Automations

    2. Hover over the Welcome message and click the Edit button. The automation will show the Trigger, and the Schedule, Segment and Action for the Welcome message. ONTRAPORT treats these items differently allowing you more flexibility for each opt-in form you have, as we'll see in a moment.

    3. Open ONTRAPORT in a new browser window. Navigate to Contacts > Sequences and click the New Sequence button. Then select Create New in the Step Sequence icon. 

      New Sequence

    4. Name the Step Sequence "Welcome" and add a note that the Sequence is adapted from the MailChimp Welcome Automation. Then click the Email button to add an email step to the Sequence.

      Welcome Sequence

    5. The default timing under Schedule Step is to wait "0 days" and send the email at "Immediate", sending the email as soon as the new contact enters the Sequence. This takes the place of the Schedule option in MailChimp, and can usually be left at the default timing.

    6. You can choose to create a new email, use one you have created already in Contacts > Messages, or copy your Welcome message from MailChimp. 

    7. In the Message drop down, select Create New Message and name the message "Welcome". Click the Save and Edit button to create the message now. 

      Welcome Message in ONTRAPORT

    8. We recommend selecting the ONTRAmail editor and creating a new email for your welcome message. This is easier than copying the email from MailChimp and having to change all of the embedded links, etc. that MailChimp includes. For instructions on creating an email using ONTRAmail, see this article. Skip to step 10.

    9. If you want to convert the MailChimp welcome message allow extra time and follow steps 1 - 11 under Recreating Email Templates, then complete the process by:

      1. Edit the email to remove the MailChimp subscription information at the bottom of the message. MailChimp templates typically use tables for this information. Right click to select the table and select Delete Table. If you make a mistake, CTRL - Z will restore the recent deletion. 

        delete MailChimp information

      2. Highlight and then use the Insert Merge Field drop down to replace the first name, company name, etc. information in the email. This converts the MailChimp merge fields to ONTRAPORT merge fields. 

      3. After editing your email, be sure to click the Copy from HTML button below the HTML editor window to create a plain text version of the email. This is a best practice to avoid your email hitting the spam folder!

        copy from HTML button

    10. Click the Save button at the upper right to save the new message. After a short delay you will return to the Email Step on the Step Sequence. 

    11. Click the Save button at the upper right to save the new Welcome sequence. 

    In ONTRAPORT, each opt in form can specify a Sequence that the new contact is automatically subscribed to; this allows quite a bit of flexibility in designing specific welcome sequences for specific forms. We showed how to add this Welcome Step Sequence to an ONTRAform in the Webforms: Creating an ONTRAform section above.

    Importing Lists / Contacts

    MailChimp stores contacts in "Lists". The same contact may be on more than one List in MailChimp, and each appearance counts toward your total contact limit.

    ONTRAPORT uses a centralized Contacts Database so you don't pay for the same contact twice. Don't be surprised if you see less total contacts after importing your contacts!

    To segment your new Contacts in ONTRAPORT to match the Lists in MailChimp we use Tags and create "Groups" based on those Tags. Going forward, think of your former MailChimp "Lists" as "Groups" in ONTRAPORT. 

    Quick Import and Tag

    If you just want the First Name, Last Name, Company and Email address fields populated you can follow this Quick Import process. The MailChimp files are ready to import! This video shows the steps required. Each step is detailed below.

    1. In ONTRAPORT, click Contacts > Settings > Import Contacts.

      Import Contacts

    2. In Step 1 of the import process click Browse Computer and navigate to your MailChimp Export folder. Your active, opted-in contacts are in the folder Lists > Members (or, Lists > Subscribed). Note the name of the first List for the Tag we will add, and select it for import. 

      Select a Members List

    3. Step 2 will open with a preview of the contacts in the List. Select the Do not import header row checkbox and click the Next: Import Settings button at the top right.

      Direct import of MailChimp List, step 2

    4. In Step 3 of the import process leave the default selections as is. Under Usage Agreement read and check off the four conditions for using Contacts in ONTRAPORT. 

      Make sure the screen looks like the image below and then click the Next: Match Fields button at the top right.

      Import Step 3 of 5

    5. Step 4 of the import process presents the fields in your MailChimp List on the left, and allows you to match that data for import into the ONTRAPORT Contact Record fields on the right. Note that the first field, Email Address in MailChimp, has "No match" indicated in the drop down. Click the drop down and select Email. 

      The Company, First Name and Last Name fields should match up automatically. If not, select the corresponding field from the drop down. For this simplified import, leave the rest of the fields set to "No match" as shown. Then click the Next: Add Rules button at the top right.

      Import process step 4

    6. On the final import screen, step 5, click + Add New to add a new Rule. Name the Rule "Add Tag MC:" and then the name of your MailChimp List. Under Then Do This select Add Contact to Tag and add the Tag "MC: <Name of MailChimp List>". In this example the Tag we are adding is from a MailChimp list named Small Business Resources. 

      If the Tag does not exist yet, choose Create New Tag in the drop down and create it. Our example Tag, MC: Small Business Resources, will be added to each imported Contact. Click the Save button to save the Rule, then, click Finish at the top right. 

      MailChimp Import Step 5

      Best Practice: Use a naming convention with your Tags. We are using "MC:" in front of the List name to indicate the contact comes from a MailChimp List.

      Want to add more tags? Click + Add New Action in the Rule and add another Add Contact to Tag: line. You can add as many tags as you want this way. 

    7. Repeat this process for each of your Subscribed or Members Lists. See the Import Use Cases section below to see how to import the cleaned or unsubscribed lists.

    Importing Use Cases

    Importing More Fields: 

    The import process above can import all the fields if you like; you just add more field matching in Step 4 of 5 of the import process. For fields that don't match up, you can create a new Custom Field. Keep in mind:

    • Custom Fields are limited by the amount of data used. 

    • ONTRAPORT will not use the fields set by MailChimp for any of it's internal functions. For example, "Date Added" in ONTRAPORT will always represent the date the Contact was added to ONTRAPORT. To track the contact's original  opt in date in MailChimp see the Custom Field Example use case below.

    • You can add multiple tags during the import process if needed. Tags help you segment your Contacts into Groups, and can also be used in automated processes later.

    Custom Field Example: 

    To import the field OPTIN_TIME to keep track of when a contact originally opted in to your MailChimp list follow these steps:

    1. When you get to Step 4 of 5 in the import process select Create new field from the drop down next to OPTIN_TIME.

      Create new field

    2. The Field Editor loads. The System Information tab contains the ONTRAPORT Date Added field, and is a natural place to put the MailChimp original opt in date. Click + Add Field under the column that has the Date Added field. Name the field and set the Field Type as Date. Do not check off "This field is required". Click Save.

      Configure field

    3. Click the Save button in the upper right to return to the import process. 

      Save button

    4. You may have to select the new field again in the drop down next to OPTIN_TIME when you return to Step 4 of 5 of the import process. Continue to add more custom fields or continue with the import process. 

    Importing Unsubscribed Contacts: 

    MailChimp provides a separate file for each of your Lists with those contacts that have unsubscribed. Because ONTRAPORT is also a great CRM with functions far beyond just email you can import these lists as well. In Step 3 of 5 during the import process check off the box to Import these contacts with bulk mail set to 'Opt-Out'. This will prevent ONTRAPORT from sending bulk email to these contacts, and avoid exposing you to spam complaints. 

    Import Contacts with Email Status Opt Out

    What can you do with Contacts with bulk mail set to 'Opt-Out'? Unlike just a mailing app, ONTRAPORT allows you to still interact with your customers even if they do not want to receive bulk email from you.

    • Send an individual email to them from their Contact Record.

    • Record their visits to Landing Pages via ONTRAPORT's built in tracking.

    • Send them postcards (US addresses only).

    • Send them SMS (they must opt in to SMS).

    • Retain their history in case they opt back in.

    • Record phone calls from or to them in the Contact Record.

    • Use ONTRAPORT's IMAP function to keep track of their email to you.

    Creating Groups for Your Former Lists

    Instead of viewing individual "Lists" in MailChimp, in ONTRAPORT you will use "Groups" to view the contacts. To create a Group for a particular Tag added during the import process, click the Manage Groups button. Create a new Group using the Group Condition Contact Tags > Contains > and your MailChimp Tag. Here is such a Group for our Small Business Resources List we tagged with MC: Small Business Resources

    Creating a Group from the Tags


    Other Resources

    ONTRAPORT Projects get you up to speed quickly. Select a project and the training module will walk you through the process step-by-step. You can pause and come back at any time, and using the training program does not interfere with using ONTRAPORT, making it ideal for both beginning and advanced ONTRAPORT clients. Make sure ONTRAPORT is open in another tab then click on the following links to see the Projects in your account:

    ONTRAPORT Answers offers peer-to-peer support provided by our Certified Consultants and other ONTRAPORT clients, as well as the ONTRAPORT support team. 


    Q. How can I avoid sending the same email to a Contact if they were in multiple Lists in MailChimp? I got complaints because of this; sometimes I send the same email to my "Customers List" and my "Prospects List". Now they are in multiple Groups in ONTRAPORT so I'll have the same problem. Help!

    A. Instead of sending the email as a broadcast to each Group use a Step Sequence. Import the email into the first step of the Step Sequence with the time to send set to "Immediately". Then, in the Contacts Database, select each Group and subscribe it to the Step Sequence. ONTRAPORT automatically filters out duplicate additions to the Step Sequence so only one email will be sent to the contact, even if they are in multiple Groups. 

    Q. Do you require all my contacts to double opt in again?

    A. No. If they were opted in on your other list we will allow you to import them and start mailing after approval. Approval may take up to 48 hours if your list is pulled for review. Please note that we watch both the bounce and complaint rate continuously; if you reach a 7% bounce rate or 0.35% complaint rate at any time we consider your mailings to be "spam". If you have any questions, need to "warm up" a list you haven't mailed in a while, etc., please be proactive and let our Postmasters help you succeed. Contact them at

    Q. What are you doing to ensure my emails get delivered?

    A. There are certain things an email service provider (ESP) does to ensure delivery. Our Postmaster outlined some of the things we do in this ONTRAPORT Answers post: How Does ONTRAPORT Promote Excellent Email Deliverability?

    Have more questions? Submit a request


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