Mail merge guide: send personalized emails to a list of prospects / contacts

Welcome! Click to view all the steps to personalize mass emails.
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1. Why use mail merge: lets you contact many people at once while each email still looks 1-on-1

When Canopy Labs sent 500+ emails, a personalized version to one batch of potential customers and a non-personalized version to another batch, the personalized email garnered a 23% higher open rate and a 3.5x higher response rate.

Personalizing your emails garners a 3.5x higher response rate

Which one would you be more likely to respond to?

versus

The only problem is, writing an unique message to hundreds of contacts takes work. If there was only 48 hours in a day...

But what if you could mass personalize hundreds of email at once? The future of AI? Robots taking over the world? Nope, the tools do it exists today and I'm going to you step by step how to set this up:

How mail merge mass personalizes all your emails

2. Turning your email into a template to be personalized en masse for each contact

Review the email you want to mass send to all your contacts and identify words and phrases you want to personalize for each one. Not sure how to write your initial cold email? See how I rewrote the cold emails of 4 companies so you can nail the right approach.

Here's the email I want to mass email (words I want to personalize for each contact in blue):

Turn each word or phrase you want to personalize for each contact into a unique reference to be personalized en masse later. The unique references I used are in blue:

3. Fill out the words and phrases you would like to be personalized for each contact in a spreadsheet

Create a spreadsheet with two columns to start. Underneath, add the email addresses and first name of every contact you wish to mass email:

Email address of contact
Prospect first name
[email protected]
Prospect first name
[email protected]
Prospect first name

For columns after First name of contact, name each one something similar to the unique reference you used in your email template. For my example, that would be:

Email address of contact
First name of contact
Company
Timezone

Write out the unique words and phrases you would like to write to each contact in their row:

Email address of contact
First name of contact
Company
Timezone
[email protected]
Prospect first name
Prospect 1's company name
Time of workshop for Prospect 1
[email protected]
Prospect first name
Prospect 2's company name
Time of workshop for Prospect 2

Here's how my spreadsheet looked like:

Fill out a spreadsheet with the personalized words or phrases you want to send to each contact

4. Set up the mail merge tool to insert your unique words and phrases for each contact when mass sending your email

One of the best mail merge tools I've tried is GMass. It's free for emailing 50 people at a time. Above that, plans start at $6.95/month.

How GMass works: It replaces each unique reference in your email template with the contents of the corresponding spreadsheet cell (your personalized word or phrase) for every contact when it mass sends your email.

After you install GMass, your email will look something like the image below. Click on the first red button on top beside the search bar to run Gmass:

GMass connect with spreadsheet of your personalized words and phrases for each contact

Select the name of the spreadsheet you want to extract the personalized content for each contact from and click on Connect to Spreadsheet:

Select the spreadsheet with your personalized words and phrases

It'll open up a new email draft with all the contacts from your spreadsheet inserted into the recipients section (they will each receive an individual email addressed only to them when you send the mass email):

GMass inserts all your contacts from the spreadsheet into the recipients section - they each receive an individual email addressed only to them

Paste your email template with your unique references into the email draft:

Paste the template with your unique references into your email draft

To replace your unique reference with the personalized word or phrase you want to use for each contact (it will extract the contents from the corresponding spreadsheet cell), start by highlighting your first unique reference, delete it, press the red arrow button at the bottom of the email draft window. In my example, I started off with First (first name of contact):

Highlight the unique reference you want mail merge to replace when mass sending your email

Click the button with the name of the spreadsheet column (in my example First Name) you want to extract the spreadsheet column contents from for this unique reference:

Highlight the unique reference you want mail merge to replace when mass sending your email

In my example, it replaced First with {First Name}. After you repeat the process for all your unique references, your email would look something like this:

GMass replaces each unique reference with a variable coded to extract the contents of the corresponding cell from your spreadsheet

To mass email your template with the words and phrases personalized for each contact, click on the red GMass button instead of Send (due to Gmail limits, you can only email 500 contacts at a time and 2000 for Google Apps users):

Mail merge send mass email personalized for every contact

GMass sends a personalized individual email to each and every contact from your spreadsheet:

After mail merge, a personalized email is sent to each and every contact

Here's how the personalized email looks like to an individual contact:

How an email to an individual contact looks like after GMass inserts the words and phrases you personalized for them

After a few hours or a day, click on the Opens label under GMass Reports in the left hand sidebar to see who opened your email:

Check the Opens label after a day to see who opened your email

5. Following up with prospects who did not respond to the first email

Don't be discouraged if you do not get a response to your first email! According to a Yesware 2014 study, you can still get a response as far in as the 7th and 8th follow up email:

Why you need to follow up if you don't receive a reply to the first email

For the subject line of a follow up email, an effective approach is describing your biggest benefit in an interesting way.

For example, let's say you're Slack and your biggest benefit is moving team communications from never-ending email chains to instant messages.

Some interesting ways to express this could be:

For the contents of the follow up email, an effective approach is to include:

Here's a follow up email I wrote (with each word and phrase I want to personalize for each contact again replaced by a unique reference):

6. Sending your mass personalized follow up email

In Gmail, click on the @ red button on the top beside the search bar to activate Gmass' follow up feature:

Mass personalizing your follow up emails

Choose the subject line of the initial email campaign you sent:

Choose the subject line of the initial email campaign you sent to start the follow up mail merge

Choose which contacts you wish to send a follow up email to based on their email interaction behavior and click on Compose Follow-Up. I selected behavior 'Opened but didn't click':

Choose which contacts you want to send a follow up email to based on their email interaction behavior

It'll add the contacts who performed (or did not perform) the chosen behavior into the email recipients section. Paste your follow up email template with your unique references into the email draft:

Paste your follow up template into the email draft

To have GMass replace the unique references in your email with the personalized word or phrase for each contact, highlight your unique reference:

Highlight your unique reference in your email template you want GMass to replace with your personalized word or phrase for each contact

Click the button with the name of the corresponding spreadsheet column you want GMass to extract the personalized word or phrase from:

Highlight your unique reference in your email template you want GMass to replace with your personalized word or phrase for each contact

Repeat the process for unique references you would like to be personalized for each contact and your follow up email would look something like this:

Follow up email after GMass replaces your unique references with variables coded to extract contents from the corresponding spreadsheet cell

Click the GMass red button to send the personalized follow up email to each one of your contacts who met your behavior criteria and GMass will again turn your unique references like {First Name} with the unique word or phrase you wrote for each contact when mass emailing every one:

Click the GMass red button to send the personalized follow up email to every contact who met a certain behavior critiera

After a few hours or a day, click on the Opens label under GMass Reports in the left hand sidebar to see who opened your follow up email:

Check the Opens label after a day to see who opened your follow up email

And there you have it, the ABCs to semi-automating the personalization of emails! And just like Superman doesn't always just use his stick-to-anything superpowers to save people, mail merge isn't only useful for sales prospecting. It's also a lifesaver for mass emails including:

As the cliche goes, work smarter, not harder. ✌

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