I could have also titled this – Mail merge from Outlook. Because that’s exactly what this process is about. Mail merge is a powerful productivity feature of MS Word.
Before I leap ahead, mail merge is used when we want to create several documents that are basically the same but where each document contains unique details. For example, a set of letters where the content is the same but the name, address or even the subject bits are unique for each. The best use I have found – use it as a job hunting application with custom details for each employer.
The mail merge feature uses two parts – a main constant document and the inconstant data source – and merges them. With Outlook being a part of the MS Office suite, one can use this feature to bulk send mail, each personalized for a different contact (it ain’t spamming, although I guess mail merge is mass mailing by another name).
So here’s how to send mass emails in Outlook and make emails look personal:
- Open Outlook. Go to Contacts and select the people whom you want to mail by Ctrl – clicking the multiple names on your contact list. To effectively select the multiple names, opt for View – Arrange by – Categories.
- Remember: Mail merge does not work with distribution lists.
Mail merge contacts
- On the menu bar, go to Tools – Mail Merge. The Mail Merge Contacts dialog box opens up.
- For the fields bulleted under Contacts, choose Only selected contacts.
- At the bottom, for Merge options – Merge to; select Email from the drop down. A Message subject line field appears. Fill it with the common subject. Click OK.
The completed dialog box looks like this”¦
Compose the email in Word
- When you click OK, MS Word starts up and opens in a new document with the focus on the Mailings tab. You can use the default document or any other template you desire.
- The selection of recipients has already been done from within Outlook. So, we will use the Write & Insert Fields panel to insert our custom fields.
- For the word of greeting, click on Greeting Line. Configure the greeting as you want it to appear.
- To insert any other contact specific like a home address or a phone number, click on Insert Merge Field for a large drop down list.
- Write the body of the email in the Word document.
- Once you are finished with the fields you want to include, preview the final look by clicking on Preview Results and then moving through your recipients by clicking on the previous and next record buttons in the Preview Results panel.
All that remains”¦ Mail it!
- Click on Finish & Merge – Send E-mail Messages. The Merge to E-mail dialog box opens up. Click on OK.
MS Word then does the job of automatically posting the emails in a flash. You can save the document you used for the mail merge, as it also saves the link with the data source i.e. the contacts.
Once you get the hang of it, the whole process takes barely a few minutes from start to finish. In the same time I would have earlier composed an email for just a single person; now, I did so for a group. So here’s how we managed to save on repetitive typing and save up on time.
Any other way to send personalized mass emails in Outlook? Do you use mail merge for email? Or the more common fields of carbon copy (cc) and the “˜anonymous’ blind carbon copy (bcc)? So, what are your productivity tips for Outlook? Share with them with us!