[Libs-Or] Tech-Talk: OUTLOOK – Personalize Your Group Emails with Mail Merge

Darci Hanning darci.hanning at state.or.us
Fri Oct 2 09:59:45 PDT 2020

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Add a personal greeting to your emails with mail merge


 This Week's Topic: OUTLOOK

1. ARTICLE & VIDEO ... Personalize Your Group Emails with Mail Merge
2. COMMUNICATING ... Think vs. Feel
3. LEADERSHIP ... Visions at the project level
4. WEBINARS ... Animated Gifs<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001T7WaApvfsboFUgD_4z7Xc-YBc_BEe19_znDrT6-8yUNX7bekN0GbYr4EVfJksDeYDhoXvPAZOZB7TnmakH-ZuSghgZEem2a_4rKaxzeO96uyOeWtz2tE6ca1idnPTWGIB0ZTq4M8rZUx5nseeJsDk6e6uhq2AxUJ&c=E6eSaiFrIfTTeepjpY_ftsF44i7x9e-O5Oh2gRk_rVoya3UppSQaRw==&ch=2Zv0YQyCzGz9667OMQ0zeaI0K-gnA_myFQ_j6xGrnO2Z_FHnb7Ewcg==> (Oct 7); Oral Histories for Libraries<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001T7WaApvfsboFUgD_4z7Xc-YBc_BEe19_znDrT6-8yUNX7bekN0GbYr4EVfJksDeYDhoXvPAZOZB7TnmakH-ZuSghgZEem2a_4rKaxzeO96uyOeWtz2tE6ca1idnPTWGIB0ZTq4M8rZUx5nseeJsDk6e6uhq2AxUJ&c=E6eSaiFrIfTTeepjpY_ftsF44i7x9e-O5Oh2gRk_rVoya3UppSQaRw==&ch=2Zv0YQyCzGz9667OMQ0zeaI0K-gnA_myFQ_j6xGrnO2Z_FHnb7Ewcg==> (Oct 21)
5. Yes, we're hiring. Part time/subcontractors<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001T7WaApvfsboFUgD_4z7Xc-YBc_BEe19_znDrT6-8yUNX7bekN0GbYs62wr82ToA_J02CsTUfZ_4YncOlm_ekOQ0sS2tEJloYFLxPSYB3q4sfXWLEQkxx1FL2EH_6YjVAfOS9QEUadwWBRUgv2JqKcrL74tugd1kIuVPGEZp8RHwxPVnaleabXf4fYWkq2BLeb2zOVQjU23Md2YyiYsQNzQ==&c=E6eSaiFrIfTTeepjpY_ftsF44i7x9e-O5Oh2gRk_rVoya3UppSQaRw==&ch=2Zv0YQyCzGz9667OMQ0zeaI0K-gnA_myFQ_j6xGrnO2Z_FHnb7Ewcg==>. Want to help Tech-Talk go global?


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OUTLOOK - Personalize Your Group Emails with Mail Merge

[send mass emails]

I bet you start emails that you send with the person's name, right? It certainly is best practice. Most people do it.

But did you know you can use the Mail Merge feature in Outlook to send personalized emails when sending to an entire group?

Statistics show that people are far more apt to respond or engage when an email has a personal greeting.

So if you send notes to a group of individuals in your organization, or a large committee or maybe a list for special events ... personalizing the greeting would be handy, don't you think?

Why Did We Choose This Topic?

One of our Tech-Talk subscribers (Caitlin in Western NY Library Resources Council) recently brought this feature to our attention. She had started using the Mail Merge in Outlook to personalize her group email messages. She thought our readers would find it useful.

Sure you can add all of the email addresses to the BCC area (so that each email address is kept private) or CC line (when you want everyone to see who all was included) but that doesn't give you any personalization.

With the mail merge feature, you get both privacy and the ability to address each recipient with their individual name. Examples: Dear Janet or Hi Sam.

How to Personalize Group Emails with Mail Merge

There are four steps to sending an email using Outlook with a personalized field. You can begin this process right in the software or from inside a Word document. In this example, we're going to start inside of Outlook and follow these steps:


1. Get Your List Ready

You would think that it would be easy to set up a Contact Group in Outlook so that you can send your personalized email to everyone in that list. However, Outlook's Mail Merge function doesn't let you use Contact Groups in a merge.

So, if you have a large list that you want to send an email to, you could:

·     Add these contacts to a new folder so that they are all in one place.

·     Or use a field in their contact record so that you can search by it and display only those contacts. If you want to add a new Outlook field, follow the steps in this article<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001T7WaApvfsboFUgD_4z7Xc-YBc_BEe19_znDrT6-8yUNX7bekN0GbYkMcayh7S1WvGPFCEzY_YPH8TOI5T4MbCXK7z05oaNFSJOCgMrovLJel5pVYu7wmqCfkfuEidNBwHbGTiLDh22ynfNx3FTfAAT9xKy5xMwBXiCKjtGjWkunV0ThMZiAXUdmPWZmmWQv3XD8sF9KeauI=&c=E6eSaiFrIfTTeepjpY_ftsF44i7x9e-O5Oh2gRk_rVoya3UppSQaRw==&ch=2Zv0YQyCzGz9667OMQ0zeaI0K-gnA_myFQ_j6xGrnO2Z_FHnb7Ewcg==>.

In our example, we're creating an email with a personalized first name, although, any field that you have in your contact list can be used in a merge (city, state, favorite ice cream flavor, etc.).

2. Select Contacts

·     Go to the Contact view by clicking on the People tab, select the Contacts folder that contains the people that you want to send an email to.

·     Change the Current view to List to see the contact record headers. Sort by a header name to find contacts by a specific item (company name, category or new field name).

·     Select the contacts. To pick contacts that are all in order, highlight the first one, hold down the Shift key and highlight the bottom one. To select contacts that are spread throughout your list (not in order), highlight the first contact, hold down the Ctrl key and continue to select additional ones.

[select contacts]

·     With your contacts selected, click the Mail Merge option. In desktop Outlook, it will be in the Actions section. For MS 365, you may need to press the ellipsis button on the right to see Mail Merge.

[mail merge]

The Mail Merge Contacts dialog box will open. Selections should look like this:

[dialog box]

·     Contacts: Only selected contacts

·     Fields to merge: All contact fields

·     Document file: New document (or you can select an existing file that you have created)

·     Merge options: Form Letters and New Document

NOTE: There may be a field to the right of Merge to that says "Message subject line." If it is displayed, enter a subject for your email. If it doesn't appear (as in this screenshot) don't worry, you'll be prompted to enter it in the final mailing step.

·     Click OK and a new Word document will open.

3. Create the Email and Add Mail Merge Fields

Next, you'll compose (or copy and paste) your email message in a WORD document. You can use formatting like bold, italics or bullets as you would in a normal email. Be sure to add your signature line.

·     To insert a mail merge field (like first name/greeting), put your cursor in the position you want it to be added. Go to the Mailings tab in the menu and select Greeting Line.

[add greeting line]

[insert greeting line]

·     Customize the Greeting line by replacing the default fields with your own. For example, you could change "Dear" to "Hello."

·     Click the drop-down menu to choose the format for first name, and add a default greeting if the person's name is invalid or that field is empty.

·     Use the preview option to scroll through your contacts to see how each will look in the sent email.

You can add other merge fields from contact records within your email. Put your cursor where you want it added, and then select the Insert Merge Field option. Choose what content you want included from the drop-down list and follow the prompts.

NOTE: If there is no content in a contact's record, no text will be added to the email, leaving a blank area ... which might confuse the reader, so be sure all fields that you're using are complete or that the sentence structure is such that a blank won't be noticed.

4. Send the Email

When you're ready to send the email:

·     From the Mailings tab select the Finish & Merge option and choose Send E-mail Messages… from the drop-down window.

[send email]

·     In the Merge to E-mail box, enter the Subject line if prompted for this message (you may have entered it in an earlier step).

·     Since you have already selected contact records, the Send records option should be set to All.

·     Click OK to send.

·     Close the Word doc or save it to use in the future.

NOTE: It may not appear that anything is happening, but your emails should be sent. Check your Sent email folder in Outlook to confirm.

CAUTION: We're talking about sending to many individuals at once in group emails, but be careful as there are sending limits to how many different addresses you can send to at once ... and not be flagged as spam, have your emails prevented from arriving or tossed into the recipients junk folder.

In some cases, these parameters are set by the organization's IT department. Or, at the higher level, Outlook 365 Personal/Home<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001T7WaApvfsboFUgD_4z7Xc-YBc_BEe19_znDrT6-8yUNX7bekN0GbYqrB6pxXtLUNJioiqanoQvCBD_a3KSKoNPGpGOClEH47LxKnVIJTVynoj0sppferRMs9Wq-6FHrmEEj7rJPY4zKuYpM-CrwwYw0G-CKftGzaw19VdQTlPg6QxLDWCQo3ae2_qDjrDAnefGi0I3iLsTy8PKSthDUyt4ohIvjdtW2fVnYPQO7blWRCHepkinY0UsHkpnroV00y&c=E6eSaiFrIfTTeepjpY_ftsF44i7x9e-O5Oh2gRk_rVoya3UppSQaRw==&ch=2Zv0YQyCzGz9667OMQ0zeaI0K-gnA_myFQ_j6xGrnO2Z_FHnb7Ewcg==> (maximum recipients per message: 500). For Business/Enterprise level, <http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001T7WaApvfsboFUgD_4z7Xc-YBc_BEe19_znDrT6-8yUNX7bekN0GbYqrB6pxXtLUNCiTto-B1Wu0Thhoi0NvcgOBUbURSo_PdTZDC2Cvq654X1DrVrco1QW2VdGGWUEEFRs-c0CJHfplQKdmPCpqmJJFVofJcDhJvxguklGwBldjwkmMBtLZOyj8YpoS_PMfm22kIeD0HXgfjjM3Vk3ANs7_rNo-XbURDusDaWInMIdmZi1Ccab25SC1eWDa49YpELJkNJ6mVuvLp1kw-ZMrsiDVzVsHhl1ly&c=E6eSaiFrIfTTeepjpY_ftsF44i7x9e-O5Oh2gRk_rVoya3UppSQaRw==&ch=2Zv0YQyCzGz9667OMQ0zeaI0K-gnA_myFQ_j6xGrnO2Z_FHnb7Ewcg==> numbers vary depending on the organization.

If you email large groups of people on a regular basis, instead of using your personal email platform, you may want to look at email broadcast tools designed for large lists like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp.


Communications: Writing / Talking
Feel vs. Think

As we were developing additional Tech-Talk characters to use with our soon-to-come merchandise offer, we were given two cuties to review from the Fiverr.com graphic artist.

[think vs feel]

Since I was the one who solicited these characters, I wanted Deb's opinion on them before moving forward. I sent them to her in an email and started to ask:

"What do you think about these for the merchandise?"

Seems like a fair question, right?

Then I caught myself and switched from the think word to the feel term.

Why? Because I am far more likely to get a positive reply ... and a quicker one ... by asking how she feels about them. It means she doesn't have to stop and THINK. She just reacts. It takes the pressure off, so she can be more positive. (And of course I want her to be more positive about what I'm presenting!)

There is often little or no judgment around people's feelings. If you're asked to think about something and give your opinion, you believe you have to put more effort into it because what you come up with may be judged. Feelings are easier.

So, I retyped the question...

"How do you feel about these for the merchandise?"

As a result, she gave me a quick answer: add diversity in skin color and take the glasses off one of them. (You see, you do get intelligent, thoughtful answers, even when you ask how someone feels about your ideas.)

Do you feel the difference between the two approaches? Share your answer here.<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001T7WaApvfsboFUgD_4z7Xc-YBc_BEe19_znDrT6-8yUNX7bekN0GbYqrB6pxXtLUNAiUUiA4bA48lGq1zD2PkyU2DQOYR-xhAKrWtox5u2XQUeBA-93dvrGCbH9fH7lnV3Z99qpULiOrOjkhkTG09R0oLWGF2Kob2X-XNmLhZ-ZA=&c=E6eSaiFrIfTTeepjpY_ftsF44i7x9e-O5Oh2gRk_rVoya3UppSQaRw==&ch=2Zv0YQyCzGz9667OMQ0zeaI0K-gnA_myFQ_j6xGrnO2Z_FHnb7Ewcg==>


Creating visions at the project level

Have you ever thought about creating a vision for projects? Visions aren't only for organizations and departments, you know.

When you have a vision at the project level, it gives the initiative greater importance. It offers a big picture for your efforts.
Project Vision Examples

"Customers feel like they are getting a great 'deal' every time they come in." [Project: Pampered Pricing, Ford Dealer]

"An exciting, inspirational, modern worship experience at the 11:00 service." [Project: Music Director, Faith Church]

"The Post Host Jewelry Travel Case provides investor dividends every quarter."
[Project: Earring case, Inventor]

Remember, as you're creating your own visions, they need to be aspirational and create excitement ... not dull and boring.


[Ask a question]<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001T7WaApvfsboFUgD_4z7Xc-YBc_BEe19_znDrT6-8yUNX7bekN0GbYiH7ZAfwhdkuDrBmqMtDxkCVAtEzDcvMvfZ786nWOMEmtgDPEYigvKyStBW0h8X21kGkWZADy5B3qp7SdbkOsoSPYjPFlt9RM_Nth8NKdsHagu8pvWyEPv8=&c=E6eSaiFrIfTTeepjpY_ftsF44i7x9e-O5Oh2gRk_rVoya3UppSQaRw==&ch=2Zv0YQyCzGz9667OMQ0zeaI0K-gnA_myFQ_j6xGrnO2Z_FHnb7Ewcg==>

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Darci Hanning, MLIS
Public Library Consultant / CE Coordinator
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