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

Why use mail merge: email many people at once with a personalized message that still looks 1-on-1

When Canopy Labs sent 500+ cold emails, a personalized version to one group of potential customers and a non-personalized version to the other group, the personalized version achieved a 23% higher open rate and a 3.5x higher response rate.

The only issue is, writing an unique message to everyone takes a lot of time and work. If there was only 48 hours in a day...

But what if you could mass personalize many emails at once and still have it look like an 1-on-1 message for each contact? I'm going to you how to set it up step by step.

How mail merge mass personalizes all your emails
1. Turning your email into a template to be personalized en masse for each contact

First off, draft the email that you want to send to a list of contacts. Write it as if you were writing to one person, leave in the personal details! Once you're done, identify the words and phrases you want to personalize for each contact. Not sure how to write your initial outreach email? You can reference one of these 7 proven cold email templates.

Here's the example email I drafted (words I want to personalize for each contact are highlighted in blue):

    Hi Jon,

    Thank you so much for being a reader of Art of Emails!

    I wanted to personally invite you to a live online workshop I'm co-hosting.

    I'll be revealing line by line the psychology and copy behind really good sales emails, so you can go on to write ones that get consistently opened and responded to for Verizon.

    The workshop happens this week Tuesday (August 8th) at 3PM your time (click here to save the date to your calendar)

    There's only 100 spots so if you would like to join, please reserve your spot ahead of time here so I can save it for you: http://bit.ly/sales-webinar

    I'll also be answering questions the last 20 mins of the workshop - really look forward to e-meeting you!

    Again you can reserve your spot here: http://bit.ly/sales-webinar

    - Sapph

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 highlighted in blue:

    Hi First,

    Thank you so much for being a reader of Art of Emails!

    I wanted to personally invite you to a live online workshop I'm co-hosting.

    I'll be revealing line by line how the psychology and copy behind really good sales emails work, so you can go on to write ones that get consistently opened and responded to for Company.

    The workshop happens this week Tuesday (August 8th) at Time your time (click here to save the date to your calendar)

    There's only 100 spots so if you would like to join, please reserve your spot ahead of time here so I can save it for you: http://bit.ly/sales-webinar

    I'll also be answering questions the last 20 mins of the workshop - really look forward to e-meeting you!

    Again you can reserve your spot here: http://bit.ly/sales-webinar

    - Sapph

2. Fill out the words and phrases you would like to be personalized for each contact in Google Sheets

Create Google Sheets with two columns to start. In the first column, add the email addresses of contacts you plan to email. In the second column, add their first names. Add the email addresses and first name of every contact you wish to mass email

For columns after First name, name each one the unique reference you used in your email template. For my example, that would be: Add your unique words or phrases to be mail merged

Write out the unique words or phrases you would like to personalize for each contact in their row: Add your unique words or phrases to be mail merged

Here's what my spreadsheet looked like: Fill out a spreadsheet with the personalized words or phrases you want to send to each contact

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

A great mail merge tool is GMass for Gmail. It's free for emailing 50 people at a time. Beyond that, plans start at $6.95/month.

How GMass works: It replaces each unique reference in your email draft with the contents of the corresponding spreadsheet cell (your personalized word or phrase) for each 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 just worked on and click on Connect to Spreadsheet: Select the spreadsheet with your personalized words and phrases It'll open up a new email draft and add all of the contacts from your spreadsheet as the recipients (each contact will 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 the email you worked on in step 1 into the email draft window: Paste the template with your unique references into your email draft

To have GMass plug in the personalized word or phrase for each contact when sending, highlight your first unique reference in the email, delete it and 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 personalized content 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 this 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 send your email with the words and phrases personalized for each contact, click on the red GMass button instead of Send. Note: due to Gmail limits, you can email up to 500 contacts at a time if you have a personal Gmail account and 2000 if you have a paid G Suite account): Mail merge send mass email personalized for every contact GMass sends a personalized individual email to 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 for 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, 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

4. 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 along 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 your follow up email, an effective approach is describing the biggest benefit of your ask in an interesting way.

For example, let's say you're prospecting for Slack. Some interesting follow up subject lines could be:

  • Before you drop a bomb on your inbox because you're up to 2588 unread emails
  • NASA uses us to spend more time planning a Mars trip
  • Nobody wins at ping pong email :(

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

  • Another major benefit of using your product
  • A recent customer success story
  • A recent event that happened related to your product
    Example: Let's say your product is an email protection software. A recent relevant event you could mention is the news that a Slack employee fell for a phishing scam, revealing the salary information of many colleagues.

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

    Hey First,

    Wondering if you received the invite to my live workshop? It happens tomorrow at Time.

    I'll be going over some won't-find-anywhere-else protips about how to 2-3x your cold email response rates while doing way less manual work to set everything up.

    There are only a few seats left - save yours here: http://bit.ly/sales-webinar

    Look forward to e-meeting you!

    - Sapph

5. Set up and send your mass personalized follow up email

In Gmail, click on the @ red button on the top beside the search bar to open GMass' follow up feature: Mass personalizing your follow up emails Choose the subject line of the first mass email 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 how they interacted with your first email and click on Compose Follow-Up. I selected the interaction behavior 'Opened but didn't click': Choose which contacts you want to send a follow up email to based on their email interaction behavior GMass will add the contacts who match the behavior criteria as follow up email recipients. Paste your follow up email into the email draft: Paste your follow up template into the email draft For GMass to replace the unique references in your email with personalized words or phrases for each contact when it sends your email, 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 this process for every unique reference and your follow up email will 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 contacts who match the behavior criteria and GMass will send individual personalized follow up emails to everyone: 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, 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 mail merge email personalization! 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:

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

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