I have a scenario where the client will be dropping a file into their FTP, which I will need to pick up and load into ET's data extension.

Currently the only available Extract Types in the Data Extract activity are Tracking Extract and Data Extension Extract.

2 Answers 2


Extracts are for getting data out of the Marketing Cloud. What you would need to set up is an Import Activity, and a Custom File Location.

Creating File Locations

  1. Go to the Email Application
  2. Click the Admin tab on the navigation bar.
  3. Under the Data Management tab, click File Locations. The File Locations workspace appears.
  4. Click Create from the toolbar.
  5. Select Location Type as "External FTP Site"

You don't need to set up the transfer that this page is detailing. Just set up the location, and your import activity will grab the file from where you uploaded it.

Note: You cannot use subfolders in the file location. The FTP username must be chrooted to the specific folder you will upload the file to. If you need subfolders, you would need additional FTP users, and File Locations set up in the Marketing Cloud.

Creating Import Activites

  1. Go to the Email Application
  2. Go to Interactions -> Import
  3. Click Create from the toolbar.
  4. Use your custom file location from previous step

Once these items are set up, you can then run your imports adhoc, or set up as part of an automation.

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  • Yes. But I am looking to solve the opposite flow where I am getting a file from the client's database and I need to load the data into ExactTarget.
    – user10250
    Aug 1, 2014 at 12:19
  • 1
    That is what this flow does - it will import a file from another location into ExactTarget. The opposite flow of the above would be to extract data from ExactTarget and send to an ftp. Aug 1, 2014 at 12:28
  • The file location tells ET where the file is located, and the import brings the data into ET. Aug 1, 2014 at 12:31
  • 1
    Yes that should work. I forgot to mention in the post that client wanted to drop off Fixed File. Sorry about that.
    – user10250
    Aug 1, 2014 at 13:12
  • 1
    If a fixed file is a requirement, you can to import each row into a staging Data Extension with a single column. Then you can use a Query to parse out the columns from the staging DE and write them to the final DE with all of the columns defined. Aug 1, 2014 at 13:33

Using a Triggered Automation is also an option for you. They are quite handy if the client files are not dropped on regular intervals. More details can be found on the ExactTarget help site:


I would recommend creating a directory under your FTP Import folder for each Import Definition you configure.

ExactTarget triggered import file FTP location

Here's the File Location configured in the account (located in Admin -> File Locations):

File Location configuration

and the Import Definition (located in Interactions > Import):

Trigger Import Definition


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