I recently had to send emails to hundreds of people to distribute my research questionnaire. Sending a generic message to all would be unproductive as most people will ignore a mail which is not addressed to them. So I needed a solution to send hundreds of customized emails, one at a time. A consulting firm called IT4SmallBusiness whipped up a simple e-mail merge tool in the form of a Google Docs template. Whether its for wedding invitation or other invitations, you can now send personalized messages to 100’s of people in Gmail with just one click.
Getting Started with customized mass mailing
Log into your Gmail or Google Docs account and open the ‘MailMerge‘ Google Docs template. In the new page you will be prompted if you would like to make a copy of the new document. Click ‘Yes, make a copy’ and a copy of the document will be added to your Google Documents.
Preparing and Customizing the email
The new document created is a spread sheet document with three sheets; ‘Instructions and settings‘, ‘Email text‘ and ‘Data to be merged‘. You can switch between the sheets by clicking the appropriate tab at the bottom of the sheet. The first sheet contains general instructions on how to use the document along with fields that contains general information about the email, such as sender email, sender name, subject of the email and list of attachments.
The second sheet contains the email content. Each paragraph is to be in a separate cell. Here too you are given instructions as to how to prepare your email. Markers such are ‘<<Firstname>>’ are place holders that will be replaced with value from the third worksheet when the mail is actually send. Also keep in mind that these markers are case sensitive. So you must enter then as they are in the ‘Data to be merge’ sheet.
Finally you need to prepare the data that you will insert into the email. This will be entered in the last sheet. It comes with four field of which ‘Status’ and ‘Email address’ fields are critical. You are not supposed to alter any cell in red color. If you want to add more fields to customize your email you can insert more columns. Each field is identified by the column heading. To insert a particular field into the email message or mail subject place the column header within double less-than and greater-than symbols ‘<<colum-header>>’.
Sending the Mail
Just before you send the mail you need to make sure if the mail is rendered as you want it to. The last entry of the top menu is ‘Mail Merge’. If you click it you will see three sub menus. The first one lets you see how your email will look when it is send. The second one actually sends the mail. The last menu gives you more information regarding the script.
The first time when you click any of the menu options you will be prompted for authorization. Once you provide permission for the script you are ready to go. First click ‘Test Mail Merge’ and see if your mail appears as you want it to. Then you can press ‘Run Mail Merge’ and it will start sending the mail one by one after a popup message.
The spreadsheet and accompanying script are provided free for your use, and without any warranty.Please note that experience shows that trying to email more than about 100 people in one mailmerge is likely to cause problems. This is due to Google’s measures to prevent spam, not a result of our script. If you are sending to more than 100 people, its suggested to send in several batches, 100 at a time, a few minutes apart. Google also impose also a daily limit of approximately 500 emails in total per day. Recent updates were made so as for the script to indicate which emails have been sent successfully, and any that have not.