How to Send Bulk Emails Using Mail Merge
The main goals of marketers are not just searching for and attracting new clients. Retaining existing customers is also a major goal. This group of people includes customers who have used your service or have bought your product and also those who were just one step away from a purchase – those who have registered on your website, subscribed to your news, put something into the shopping cart, activated trial period, etc. Practice shows that campaigns with this group have a very high conversion. It would be a big mistake to ignore it. All we need is to remind our existing and potential customers about our product or service. It can be information about new products, special discounts, new articles in your blog, or your company news. So, how can we deliver this message to our customers? One of the best solutions is sending bulk email.
Compared to other channels like phone calls, text messaging (SMS), or paper letters, sending emails is the cheapest and easiest way of communicating with our customers. There are a few minimum requirements: you have to create an email template and collect customers’ email addresses. It's very likely that your website already has the list of your clients with their emails. Also, I recommend you implement a subscription form in your blog and product pages if you haven't done so yet.
At present, marketers distinguish between two types of bulk emails: non-personalized and personalized. In this article, I'm going to cover the features of each type.
Sending Non-personalized Bulk Emails
This way is very easy. You just need to create one email template and send it to all your clients.
Most campaigns use this type of bulk email. It works well and it makes sense if you collect the clients’ email addresses only. But if you have more information about your customers, like their names, it will provide you an opportunity for improving the results of campaigns sending personalized bulk emails.
Sending Personalized Bulk Emails
We have to be ready that our clients already get dozens of emails every day. Many people decide to open, delete, or ignore each email in less than 5 seconds of seeing it. Some of them mark our emails as spam even if they had subscribed to our newsletters just a couple of days prior. It's a pretty tough competition. Our goal is to raise trust in our emails. One of the greatest solutions is to personalize messages. Writing the recipient's name in the title or in the preheader text can make our email significantly more attractive and increase the chance of clicking on the CTA button. I recommend you send personalized bulk emails every time when it's possible.
For reaching this goal we have to send different emails to different recipients.
Of course, nobody wants to create thousands of different emails manually. This task has to be automated. There are many ways to personalize your newsletter. In this topic, we’ll talk about how to use the Mail Merge for this.
Send Automated Personalized Campaigns
Sending a Bulk Email Using Mail Merge
This way is based on using one email template with placeholders and a list of recipients with email addresses and additional information, like the recipients’ names. Many email services support Mail Merge. Also, you can use Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel, and Outlook.
For a demonstration of how it works, I'm going to prepare a list of recipients on Microsoft Excel, then I'll create an email template on Word, and send all the emails with Outlook.
Preparing a List of Recipients
Our purpose is to create a CSV-file with customers’ email addresses and their names. Of course, it can be exported from the database of your website. For my experiment, I'll create it manually from scratch.
I'll open Microsoft Excel, click New, select Blank Workbook, and press the Create button.
The first row of the table has to have names of fields, for example, "email," "first_name," "last_name." Other rows, starting from the second, have to consist of information about our recipients.
Then I'll save my file as a CSV [CSV UTF-8 (Comma delimited)]. If I open our file in a regular text editor, I would see rows with information about clients where fields are separated by commas.
So, our list of recipients is ready. Let's start preparing an email template.
Preparing an Email Template
As I said before, for sending bulk emails using Mail Merge we need to prepare just one email template for all our recipients. For this experiment, I'll create a very simple template in Microsoft Word. If you want to create a more complex HTML template, I recommend you use an HTML email template builder that can support placeholders.
I'll open Microsoft Word and click New Document. Then I'll type a text for our template.
Now I'm going to create Mail Merge. For this, I'll open the Mailings tab, click the Start Mail Merge menu, and select the Email Messages item.
The next step is to connect our list of recipients that we prepared in the previous section. I'll open the Select Recipients menu and click Use an Existing List... In the dialog window, I'll select the CVS-file with our customers.
Now I need to create at least one placeholder. It's called Merge Field in Microsoft Word. In my example, I want to replace the "Customer" word with the full names of the recipients. For this, I'll remove "Customer" and put the cursor before the exclamation mark. Then I'll open the Insert Merge Field and select the "first_name" item. I'd like to insert the full name, that's why I'll add a space after the "first_name" placeholder and insert the "last_name".
It's time to test my template. For this, I'll open the Preview Results menu, turn on the Preview Results mode, and check how my template looks with the recipients’ real names.
Everything looks fine. The last step is sending the emails. I'll open the Finish & Merge menu and select the Merge to Email item.
In the window that appears, I'll select email in the To field, type the subject line, and click the Mail Merge To Outlook.
After that, Outlook will get all my emails in the Outbox folder. All I need to do is click the Send & Receive button in Outlook.
Tips and Recommendations
Mail Merge is a very powerful tool. It can help you with promoting your products and services. Just follow these tips and recommendations:
Review and correct the list of recipients. Usually, we get this list from our website. During registration, many people write their names using lowercase or on caps lock. Translate all the names into the usual spelling. For example, "michael" or "MICHAEL" is supposed to be "Michael." Sometimes, users type special symbols and random letters instead of their names. Replace them with "Customer" or "friend."
Some client names can be very short or too long. It can break your layout, especially if you use a complex HTML template. Always test HTML email templates on real devices and applications before using them in real campaigns.
In eSputnik editor, you can personalize messages in a few clicks. Read more on dynamic content.