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If GDPR prohibits me from emailing certain contacts, how can I continue marketing to them?

How to export your contacts via XLSX to retarget with custom audiences on Facebook & Google.

Database Marketing 101

To get the most out of your database, we recommend taking a multi-channel marketing approach.

Communicating with your contacts via email is an excellent way to share company news, promote your latest products and politely nudge them to complete that abandoned checkout: all very helpful reminders that your business exists. But what if a customer has opted out of marketing communications? Or what if a contact has recently unsubscribed from your weekly newsletter? 

Don't take it personally - that contact's inbox may just be overflowing with marketing emails - it doesn't necessarily mean that they don't intend on ordering from your store in the future. 

To ensure your brand is still at the forefront of your contacts' minds,  you need to  grab their attention using  alternative marketing channels.

In this help article, we show you how to maximize the value of your database by exporting your contacts from your Machine Labs account to an offline spreadsheet, that can be reformatted and uploaded to Facebook and Google.  

Exporting your contacts 

To export your contacts, in your  Machine Labs account visit the contacts page.

Here you'll find a full overview of your contacts, where you can search for specific names, filter by segments and filter by mailing lists.

Once you've filtered the contact list to your liking (or alternatively kept the full list in tact, to target all possible contacts), hit the export all button in the top right hand corner. If you've  chosen to select individual contacts using the white tick box on the left of each email address, this button will read export [number] selected. 

Dependent on which browser you're using, you may get a pop-up to make sure you're happy to download the XLSX export. Click allow

Your exported contacts list will be automatically saved into your device's downloads folder

The list can be opened with Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers, Google Sheets or any other spreadsheet software. 

Open the file to find your selected contact list comprised of  each contact's email address, first and last name, phone number, address, city, state, zip code and country, alongside the date that the contact was added into your Machine Labs account. These fields will be pre-populated with the data that already exists in the system for each contact.

Facebook Ads

To create a custom audience within Facebook ads manager, first you'll need to reformat the XLSX download to ensure each column matches Facebook's requirements.

Following Facebook's guidelines here, you need to edit each column: 

  1. Rename column A from email address to email
  2. Rename column B from first name to fn
  3. Rename column C from last name to ln
  4. Delete column D called date added
  5. Rename column E from phone number to phone
  6. Delete column F called address
  7. Rename column G from city to ct
  8. Rename column H from state to st
  9. For the zip code, Facebook accepts  US and international ZIP and postal codes. US ZIP codes are 5 digits long (as per the example above) or may include a 4-digit extension as long as they are separated by a hyphen. Codes accepted include these formats:
    1. W11 2BQ
    2. 94104-1207
    3. 94104
  10. Leave column J called country as it is. 

Now that your customer list is prepared for Facebook you'll need to save it as a CSV or TXT file

To do this (depending on the software) you'd typically click file > save as > change file format to Comma Separated Values (.csv) or New Text Document (.txt) alternatively known as  Macintosh Formatted Text on Mac. 

You're customer list is now ready to upload to Facebook! 

To do this: 

  • Visit Facebook Ads Manager.
  • Once logged into your account, click on Audiences, then click  Create audience > Custom Audience > Customer list
  • Here you can select custom audience (to target the existing contacts on your list) or lookalike audience (in this instance, Facebook will find new potential customers, who have similar interests and behaviors to your existing contacts). 
  • Select the identifiers you'd like to include, for example email address and phone number. To target more specifically, you can also select identifiers such as city, country and gender.
  • Now add your customer list and give it a name. 
  • Facebook will then review your customer list, asking you to confirm each identifier is mapped correctly and asking you to resolve any issues. 
  • Once you see the green tick symbol, your list is good to go.
  • Select upload and create!  

Your list is now available to use when choosing an audience during Facebook ad set-up. For any help on how to create Facebook adverts please visit Facebook's comprehensive guide

Google Ads

Like Facebook, before uploading your contact list to target your database with relevant ads for them, it's important to format your contact list correctly. 

Following Google's guidelines  here, you need to edit each column:

  1. Rename Column A from email address to Email
  2. Leave columns B & C called First name and Last Name as they are. 
  3. Delete column D called date added
  4. Rename Column E from phone number to Phone
  5. Delete columns F, G & H
  6. Rename column I called Zip code to Postcode
  7. Leave column J called country as it is. 

Now that your customer list is prepared for Google you'll need to save it as a CSV file

Again, to do this (depending on the software) you'd typically click file > save as > change file format to Comma Separated Values (.csv).

You're customer list is now ready to upload to Google!

To do this: 

  • Whilst logged into your Google Adwords account, click on the tools & settings menu (labelled with this    icon) in the top right corner of your screen.
  • Under the section labelled “Shared library” click Audience manager.
  • Click Audience lists from the Page menu on the left.
  • Click the blue plus button to create a new audience list.
  • Choose “Customer list”.
  • Choose to upload a hashed data file (this will be your contact list, but with Google hashes the data to protect security of your original data).
  • Choose your new file.
  • If you agree, tick the box “This data was collected and is being shared with Google in compliance with Google's policies”.
  • Set a membership duration. The default membership duration is unlimited, but you can set a custom time limit.
  • Click Upload and create list.
  • You can view the progress of uploading your data file under "Audiences Lists". This process may take up to 48 hours to complete.

Once fully complete your list will now be available to use when choosing an audience during Google ad set-up. For any help on how to create Google adverts please visit Google's comprehensive database of information.


If you need any more assistance with exporting, reformatting and using your contact list for custom audiences, please contact our help team by emailing support@machinelabs.com

Please note - the advice given above is a temporary solution - we are currently working on 'export for Facebook' and 'export for Google Ads' options.