Bulk email using mail merge in Word - Image by Gerd Altmann from PixabayHow often do you receive an email from someone that has no personalised greeting and just a standard email that is not personalised to you. It’s impersonal, and bordering on rude. Surely there must be a better way of doing this.

There are CRM systems and MarTech solutions that promise personalised email but these come at a cost. This got our investigative juices flowing and our team started looking for a way to personalise bulk emails without having to spend anything extra beyond your Office license.

This tip shows a way to create emails that are recipient-specific and can add other details specific to that person. the method uses mail merge in MS Word. But rather than printing and sending by post, you use the email method of sending them.

Where to start

Mail merge is simply two files that come together at certain points you specify.

First off, prepare the letter you wish to send out. The example is based on the problem that many PRs face in sending bulk emails to journalists. Impersonalized emails are opened fewer times. As they often send similar messages to the same journalists, this tip is especially useful for them.

Here is an example. Example of a letter

I have saved this as “Master letter for embargoed research” as I may wish to use the basics of this letter again in the future.

As you can see there are two areas that are in bold to show you that these are the specific areas that will change according to the person I am sending this to.

  • Their first name
  • Their publication
  • Date and time will be consistent for each batch, no need to include in the mail merge data set.

The next step is to create a list of recipients and the other details I highlighted above. I use Excel as the list is easy to create and easy to build upon in the future, should you need to.

Here is an example.Master email list

N.B. I would like to point out that the above emails are totally fictitious, as are the people’s names.

How to mail merge and email

  • Start in the Word document you have just created.
  • You then need to link it to your contact list in Outlook.
  • Then you add the parts that are person-specific to the four areas.

There are two different ways to achieve this.

The First Way – Start Mail Merge – E-mail Messages

  • From the Mailings Tab Example list
  • Select Start Mail Merge tool Start Mail Merge Tool
  • Select [E-mail Messages], from the list that appears. e-mail messages

I will cover the second way in my next tip

Start Mail Merge – E-mail Messages

  • Make sure that your cursor is at the beginning of the document.
  • After selecting the E-mail Messages from the list you are presented with a new ribbon. Mailings Tab
  • Highlight the words [First_Name] and take off the bold.
  • Locate [Select Recipients] tool from the Start Mail Merge section. select recipients tool
  • Select the tool. Use existing list
  • Select [Use an existing list…]
  • Locate the file you created in Excel and select [Open button]. I named mine “master list of contacts“.
  • Select the Insert Merge Field Tool from the ribbon in the [Write & Insert Fields] section. Insert Merge Field

A list appears is displayed, showing the titles of each column within the list you created in Excel. Field selection list

  • Select [First_name].
  • Select the [Insert button]. This is then placed between chevrons in your letter. This is the link between this place in your letter to the list Excel. This will update to the next name for the next email until it has exhausted the list.
  • You then must select the [Close Button] to be able to go to the next area of the letter. Something I think Microsoft has made difficult for us.
  • Move to the next place and again delete the words in bold and take off the bold before selecting the Insert Merge Field and the word [Publication].
  • Select the [Insert button].
  • Select the [Close Button].
  • Move to the date area and follow the steps as before.
  • Then the last area for the time and follow the steps as before.

Your letter should look like this.Letter with fields in

It is extremely important to check the letter before you go any further. Spaces may have been deleted whilst inserting the fields. Therefore read it carefully or get someone else who has not been involved with this to read it for you.

You can check that it is going to work by selecting the [Preview Results] tool from the ribbon in the [Preview Results section]. Preview results tool

Just next door to that tool you will find the ability to go through every instance of your list. By scrolling through each recipient, from 1 to what ever you have. recipient scan

The last step

When you are satisfied that your letter is laid out correctly and that each recipient is with the right publication, select the tool Finish Merge just right of where you have just been.

A list appears. Finish and Merge tool

  • Select [Send Email Messages….]

You are presented with this dialog box. merge to email tool

Check that the [To: box] has the email address selected. who to

  • Type in your subject line underneath. mail format
  • Select the format your email will be sent in.
  • If you want this to go to everyone in your list, then keep the setting to [All].
  • Select the [OK Button].

Off go your emails to all those people with their first name greeting them and their publication name in the body of the text. And no list of everyone else in the To box. emails sent

Wonderful. So satisfying.

Look out for the next tip that shows a slightly different way to do this. Step-by-Step Mail Merge Wizard…

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