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Is there a way to add subscribers from sendable data extension (linked by subscriber key) without sending the first email?

We are importing/uploading customer data to sendable data extension as it has different fields than subscribers list.

We've heard that sendable data extensions get automatically added to Subscribers list once you send the first email.

However, we want to define the INITIAL Subscriber Status (Active/Unsubscribed/Held) for each subscriber before sending the first email, as we are migrating from a different emailing system and want to preserve the current subscription/optout statuses to Exacttarget/SFMC. i.e. we do not want to send the first email to the people who have been unsubscribed in the current/old system.

Is there a way to add data extension records to subscribers list without sending an email? -- If that's possible, we can update the subscriber statuses after this happens, before sending the first email.

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We had to create an automation to do this as contacts injected into a journey have to be added to all subs first.

The automation runs a query that pulls all contacts we want to add from various DEs and overwrites our "AddToAllSubs" DE every hour. It just contains Email, SubscriberKey, Status, but you can import whatever fields you have setup on your subscriber profile.

The automation then runs "Data Extract", "Transfer File", and "Import File" activities to create a csv, move it to the import folder of the ftp, and Import it to the All Subscribers List.

It's a little hacky, but it's been working for us.

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