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Using Mail Merge to Send Bulk Email Messages

Microsoft Word's mail merge feature is a useful tool for bulk mailings. However, there are other solutions that make creating customized emails easier, faster, and more flexible.

When using mail merge to send bulk email messages in Outlook, you can create multiple documents or emails that are basically the same. Still, each document contains unique details for every recipient. For example, you can send messages in bulk with different addresses, subjects, signatures, or attachments for each recipient.

How to do mass mailing in Outlook using mail merge

Almost every email user has encountered a case where it was necessary to send identical mail to different recipients at least once in their life. And in commerce, such mailings are a part of the daily business routine.

You can send similar emails in Outlook to many recipients by putting the addresses into the To field. But what if you need to insert a text related to a specific recipient into each email, such as a personal greeting? You can create an email template, and then use it as the base, manually customizing it to send individual letters to each recipient. But when you have dozens or even hundreds of recipients, imagine how much time this will take! Besides, the more addresses are added into the To field, the higher the probability of being filtered as spam.

There are special services that offer a unique way to perform mass mail campaigns. But it is more convenient, easier, and cheaper to personalize your mail in your own way with the mail merge feature.

As opposed to emailing to multiple addresses, mail merge creates a separate letter for every one of them. For example, there might be invitations with the same text, but the name, address, or even the subject is unique and corresponds to the recipient.

You can achieve this by merging two files when creating mass mail campaigns:

  • The message: MS Word document or a saved from Outlook email template which contains the text of the letter with specific placeholders for personalization.
  • A data source file, which contains the values for the placeholders.

Let's take a brief look at how to do a mail merge in Outlook.

Step 1: Create a database file with the data to personalize the mail

Once you have prepared the letter, you need to build up a data source for your mailing list and merge fields. Different tools offer different data sources to fill the placeholders in the letter template - for example, Microsoft Outlook contacts for addresses.

Mail Merge Wizard: Step 3

However, the most common and easy way is to create a spreadsheet file containing various kinds of data to merge with the personalization fields from the template.

Mail Merge with Attachments: preparing Excel table for mailings

Pay attention to all the fields before executing the merge. For example, sometimes you need to have separate columns for the last and first name, etc.

Step 2: Create an email document for merging

To create personalized mass mail, you need to create a template for your emails. There are different ways to do this:

  • You can create a document that contains ready-made merge fields in Microsoft Word.
  • However, it's more convenient to write the original email without leaving the program if you're working with Outlook. This way, you can work with the familiar tools and see how the final letters look like. Typing a mailing draft in Outlook, you don't have to switch your attention to other programs. Our utility offers this method of typing a text template.
Mail Merge with Attachments: creating email template for mailings

No matter the way you create the source document, it will contain placeholder fields for merging. They will be filled with data from the data-source table created on Step 1.

Step 3: Link the database file with the email document

After both documents are ready, it's time to perform the merge. Save the documents before proceeding. Then select the template file and the data-source file to link them.

For instance, it is easy to link the source data table with message template using the Mail Merge with Attachments utility:

Mail Merge with Attachments: selecting data source and email template

Step 4: Send personalized emails in bulk

The last necessary step before sending personalized mail is to preview it. This is so you can be sure that the mail merge will succeed, and once again, check you have forgotten nothing.

The preview process might be different for different tools. For example, MS Word's Mail Merge Wizard shows how the letter text will look before merging.

Мастер слияния Word: Шаг 5

The advanced Mail Merge with Attachments utility included in ReliefJet Essentials allows you to save final emails in a separate folder to fully check them before mailing.

Then start the merge process and send emails immediately or save them if the tool you are using allows you to do so. After clicking the Send button once, all your recipients will receive individual letters with personal greetings and other important individual data.

What are Microsoft mail merging tools

MS Office offers to merge Outlook mail, helped by Microsoft Word. The Mail Merge Wizard in the Mailings tab of the Word Ribbon is the step-by-step tool offering you different choices while you proceed.

The basic steps of how to mail merge from Word are similar to those listed above. You prepare an email template in MS Word and compose the list of data in Microsoft Excel. Then click the Start Mail Merge > Step-by-Step Mail Merge Wizard... on the Mailings tab of the ribbon and select the E-mail messages type and required the document or template.

Мастер слияния Word: Шаг 1 Мастер слияния Word: Шаг 2

After that, the Wizard asks you to choose the source list of recipients. Here, you can also select Outlook contacts.

Мастер слияния Word: Шаг 3

The next steps are to add the placeholders to the email template and preview the merged text to make sure that all the data matches the fields correctly.

Мастер слияния Word: Шаг 4 Мастер слияния Word: Шаг 5

When everything is ready, start the mail merge on the last step of the Wizard or click the Finish & Merge > Send Email Messages on the ribbon. Word sends a separate email to each address.

Мастер слияния Word: Шаг 6

Limitations when using the MS Word Mail Merge Wizard

Mail Merge feature of MS Word solves the critical task of personalizing mass emails. However, the Word mail merge itself has some limitations.

Confusing process

MS Word mail merge tool has various options, but the merging process is not the simplest one.

  • The setting procedure is complicated and takes a lot of attention and time from entry-level users.
  • Although the Mail Merge Wizard is supposed to simplify the process, it deprives you of performing actions in an order convenient for you. You have to learn how the tool works and memorize the sequence of actions.
  • To mail merge in MS Office, you need to use different programs: Outlook, Microsoft Word, and Excel or Access.
  • The Preview your email messages option does not allow you to see the final Outlook emails but only the resulting message text.

Limited settings

Microsoft Word provides good options to set custom placeholders in the email body, but it doesn't allow you to customize Subject, CC, or BCC. These limitations significantly reduce the efficiency of your mass mail campaigns.

Mail merge restrictions

The main restriction of the MS Word Mail Merge is that you can't add attachments to the letters created during the mail merge process. For this, you need another tool, making the whole process even more complicated.

How to perform mass mailing in Outlook using "Mail Merge with Attachments" utility

The advanced version of the Mail Merge with Attachments utility performs mail merge processes following the same steps as we describe above. It offers a fast and easy way to personalize mass mailings automatically:

  • You can create your mail template in Outlook from an ordinary email or use a previously saved document in OFT or MSG format. Use macros in the email body as placeholders as you use them in the other message fields. Add appropriate columns in your data-source spreadsheet.
  • Mail Merge with Attachments: creating email templates for mailings
  • The data source for placeholders is a standard CSV spreadsheet file. It is the common format, and it's easily created in Microsoft Excel or another program that manages spreadsheets.
  • Mail Merge with Attachments: creating Excel data table for mailings
  • Choose fields for merging in the utility settings, including recipient addresses, Subject, CC, BCC.
  • Mail Merge with Attachments: general settings
  • On the Attachments tab, you can choose how to attach files to your mailing. Indicate the path to the folder with the attachments in the database table or in the utility settings.
  • Mail Merge with Attachments: specifying attachments for mailings
  • When you have configured the utility, you can send the mass emails straight away when running it. Or you can save outgoing messages in a separate Outlook folder, and check them to ensure everything is in order. Settings on the Advanced tab provide more sending options.

Learn more about how to mail merge with attachments in the detailed description of the utility.

Additional advantages

  • The "Mail Merge with Attachments" tool allows you to create personalized emails directly in Outlook. This way, you can easily design your newsletters, ensuring they will be the same when received by clients and partners.
  • The utility provides great options to deal with attachments. Specify the attachment location in the data-source table or when setting the program. You can send different or the same documents to multiple recipients, attaching documents directly to the message template. The tool also automatically converts MS Word attachments to Adobe PDF when running. Finally, it deletes attachments from the template file if they are not needed in a particular case, and you do not want to change the general template.
  • You can use data from data-source columns even for CC, BCC, and Subject fields.
  • You can choose an Outlook profile and account, and the sender's address before sending the mail.
  • There is a possibility to limit the selection of cells from the data-source table to select data in a range of rows or forward it to different recipients according to a certain condition.
  • When you have set the desired configuration, you can save outgoing mail in a specific Outlook folder without sending it.
  • You can set the start time of sending the emails, and more, delay each next email for the desired timespan. This gets you around the mail server's limits on the number of messages sent per time. And you will further reduce the probability of landing emails from the mailing list into spam.

Summing-up

Mass mailing is an extremely useful option that can cover many tasks in various areas:

  • sending special offers to customers,
  • notifying partners about changes in your business,
  • informing subscribers about the latest news,
  • corporate mailing,
  • just an announcement to friends about upcoming parties.

It will be convenient and often necessary to personalize your mails. The mail merge feature lets you automatically turn common information letters into individual mail that contains personal data.

Among different solutions to this issue, choose the tools that have the most potential, flexible settings, and are easy to use. Using a professional program that works with unlimited recipients helps to avoid spam filters and sends flawless personal mails to meet your goals.

Please note that 167 free utilities and add-ins for Outlook available on our website. They are all created for the needs of our users. Using these utilities, you can speed up Outlook, improve your productivity and solve many problems.


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