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Sending Bulk Email Messages Individually with Mail Merge

The mail merge feature is an essential tool to send bulk email messages individually for each recipient, Microsoft Word's is the most common one. However, there are other solutions that make creating customized emails easier, faster, and more flexible.

Table of contents

How to send bulk emails 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.

When using mail merge to send bulk email messages, you automatically personalize each email and address each recipient directly. You can mail merge mass emails with various instruments, but the basic principle is the same. It's a merging of an email template with personal data and recipient list.

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.

Mail Merge is a method of mass mailing personalization. To perform this task you need an easy-to-use tool with a wide range of additional features, like the advanced version of Mail Merge with Attachments. Unlike the Word Mail Merge, this Outlook add-in personalizes the Subject, CC, and BCC, Attachments, and provides a comprehensive set of sending options for greater performance.

How to do mass mailing in Outlook with mail merge

To send multiple emails in Outlook separately and make them look personal, you need to solve the same task - individualize bulk email messages. Here you can also use mail merge for the email individualization.

When creating mass mailing Outlook campaigns, you need to merge two files:

  • 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.

As a result, you create multiple mail merge documents that are basically the same, but each document contains unique details for every recipient. With the most advanced mail merge Outlook add-ins, you can send bulk emails with different addresses, subjects, signatures, or attachments for each recipient.

In the process of sending mass emails in Outlook the mailer should not only be concerned about email personalization. There are important sending issues such as choosing the proper sender address or account and avoiding the risks of getting into spam. When all these points are considered in one toolkit, you don't have to take any additional actions. It is enough to configure the tool once and all these issues will be automatically solved during runtime. Besides, you can save the configuration and use it for other mass mailings, changing the settings in a couple of clicks. Read in detail how to do a mail merge in Outlook with maximum functionality.

Now let's take a brief look at the basic mail merge steps to understand how it works and what's the difference in using various mail merge instruments.

Mail merge steps

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

The first step is to build up a data source for your mailing list. To do this, you need to figure out what data is individual for each recipient and how you will allocate it in the email text and message fields. Different tools for mailings offer different data sources to fill the placeholders in the email template. For example, Microsoft Outlook contacts for addresses.

Mail Merge Wizard: Step 3

However, most often you need not only to use different addresses, but also to personalize other parts of the message. The most common and easy way is to create a spreadsheet file containing various kinds of data to merge with the personalization fields - placeholders in the message template. You can start a mail merge from Excel and then save the Excel worksheet in another format if necessary, such as a CSV file. Then you'll put the column names in the merge fields indicated in 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 mailing, you need to insert data into a general message draft. For this make up 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 mail merge 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.

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

Other tools provide slightly different options for combining two source files together. See below how this is implemented in Microsoft Word.

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 message text will look before completing the process.

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.

After you have done the сhecking, run 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.

ReliefJet Essentials for Outlook contains over 160 professional utilities and add-ins in a single package to expand Outlook capabilities and make it super-efficient.

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:

  1. You prepare an email template in MS Word and compose the list of data in Microsoft Excel.
  2. 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.
  3. Мастер слияния Word: Шаг 1
  4. On the next step select the required the document or template.
  5. Мастер слияния Word: Шаг 2
  6. After that, the Wizard asks you to choose the source list of recipients. Here, you can select Outlook contacts if you only need to send out a newsletter to separate addresses. Otherwise use a list, that is, the spreadsheet file you created earlier.
  7. Мастер слияния Word: Шаг 3
  8. 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.
  9. Мастер слияния Word: Шаг 4 Мастер слияния Word: Шаг 5
  10. When everything is ready, start the 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.
  11. Мастер слияния Word: Шаг 6

Limitations when using the MS Word Mail Merge Wizard

Word Mail Merge feature solves the critical task of personalizing mass emails. However, this instrument has some limitations.

Confusing process

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 Microsoft 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 mailing 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 send mass emails 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 email automatically:

  • You can create your mailing 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 and use the column names in the merge field. If you have the same files to send to all the addresses in the list, add them to the message template. You can remove them in one click when configuring the Attachments tab, if needed.
  • 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 or 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. Attach various individual files to separate messages in the mailing list. Use file masks for easy and fast file selection.
  • 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.

Key advantages of the utility and useful tips

  • The advanced version of 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.
    • Use macros in the Word attachments in the same way as you use them in the message text.
    • The tool also automatically converts Word attachments to Adobe PDF when running, if necessary.
    • 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 to add as many CC and BCC addresses as you need, and customize the Subject line.
  • The utility provides a set of sending options to carry out a mass mailing campaign by yourself. There is no need to use more instruments.
    • 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. You can also forward it to different recipients according to a certain condition. It is extremely handy when you use the same data-source file for multiple mailings.
  • 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 is convenient and often necessary to personalize your mass mailings. The mail merge feature lets you automatically turn common information letters into individual messages that contain personal data. The greatest value of this option is that you can send out bulk emails without need for a special mass mailing service. This saves you money and gives you complete freedom in the timing of the mailing, forming the list of recipients, and making any last-minute changes.

Such flexibility requires no special skills and extensive training. Modern mail merge software is user-friendly and simple to configure. 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.

When looking for a merger program, pay attention to the following options:

  • Which parts of the mailing message you will be able to personalize.
  • How convenient it is to compile the source documents.
  • What additional merging options the tool provides.
  • How easy it is to use the program, and whether that compromises its functionality.
  • Whether the software gives you the additional sending possibilities for bulk messaging or just provides mass mailing personalization.

If the tool you've selected meets all of these requirements, then feel free to use it to send out cold or follow-up emails on your own. With the help of such comprehensive mail merge software you can manage the mailings in the same way as a professional service would. What's more, using advanced mail merge tools you will discover even more opportunities to increase the productivity of your campaigns.

ReliefJet Essentials for Outlook is a large set of easy-to-use indispensable tools to increase office and home productivity in one convenient package:

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