June 6, 2023
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How to use Mail Merge in Outlook (and 5 alternatives)

As business owners, investors, and professionals, one of the most effective forms of communication is through email. But sending hundreds (if not thousands) of individual emails would be tedious: we're looking at message mix-ups, a tracking nightmare, plus it takes a lot of time.

This is where mail merge comes in handy. Using Outlook, you can send bulk emails and make them tailored to each recipient without endless copy-and-paste. In this blog post, we will guide you on how to efficiently perform a mail merge in Outlook and suggest 5 other alternatives. This article is suited to folks trying to mail merge Outlook contacts.

Why look for an Outlook mail merge solution?

Personalization is key when it comes to email marketing. By using mail merge tools and variables such as [firstname], [lastname], [companyname], and [jobtitle], we can create customized and targeted messages that make the recipient feel special and valued. When an email feels personalized, it's more likely to catch the reader's attention and encourage them to engage with the content. This can lead to higher open rates, click-through rates, and ultimately, more conversions. So, if you want to take your email marketing to the next level, consider using mail merge tools and personalization variables to create more effective and engaging campaigns.

How to Send Personalized Emails with Mail Merge on Outlook: Step-by-Step Instructions

Email merge Outlook is an amazing feature for sending personalized email messages to everyone on your list.

Step 1: Prepare your data for Outlook mail merge

If you want to send personalized emails to numerous recipients, you need to first have a database of your contacts in Excel format. Ensure each category like name, email address, location, and more are correct and categorized in separate columns.

Step 2: Start a New Email

To access the mail merge wizard in Outlook, you need to start a new blank email by clicking on “New Email” in the Home tab. Once you have opened a new email, go to the ribbon menu and click on “Mailings”. Select “Start mail merge” then choose “E-mail messages”.

Start mail merge with Email messages selected
Sending emails from Outlook

Step 3: Insert fields you want to mail merge outlook

Once you are done choosing your document type, click “Select Recipients” to choose your address book. From the Mailings tab, click “Insert Merge Field” to select the fields you want to integrate into your email like name or location.

Now it is possible to start creating messages with variables. By clicking on Greeting Lines you can add Greeting Lines to a document.

The formatting field allows you to enter any text you want.

Step 4: Preview and Finish

After selecting your mail merge fields, Preview your emails by clicking on “Preview Results”. This will give you a sample of how your emails will look once they are sent out. When you are done with the final preview and have reviewed all the fields, click on “Finish & Merge”.

Screenshot of the Mailings tab in Word, showing the Preview Results group.
Previewing mail merge
Screenshot of the Mailings tab in Word, showing the Finish & Merge command and its options.
Previewing mail merge

Outlook Mail Merge email limits

Though very useful, Outlook mail merge has several limitations:

  • No analytics, tracking, or way to see which recipients have opened, clicked or replied
  • It's only compatible for Outlook email address and can't be used with Gmail accounts
  • It's limited to individual use, meaning the results can't be shared with other teammates, and therefore it's not collaborative
  • The UX is outdated and clunky
  • You must toggle between three different applications (Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook) to send merged emails
  • You’ll need to opt-in for an Office 365 subscription (which starts at $12.50/user per month for business use) or use proprietary versions of the software ($249.99 for one computer) to use Outlook mail merge

Tools Comparison for Mail Merge in Outlook

There are various tools and addons that you can use to perform a mail merge. Some popular ones include Gmass, folk, Yamm, and Mixmax.

folk is a popular lightweight CRM with a built-in mail merge feature.

folk

folk is a simple CRM system with an embedded mail merge tool.

Key features

  • Contact sync, so you can import contacts from any source, like Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, LinkedIn, Twitter, csv files, custom integrations, or any other data source
  • Contact enrichment, that fills in missing contact information in moments
  • Organize contact lists, create contacts groups in order to categorize them your way
  • AI Support, build custom fields, such as an icebreaker, greeting line, a personalized subject line, or anything else you need, generated in seconds with AI
  • Pipeline management, build custom pipelines from an existing list of contacts
  • Email marketing, use the mail merge function to access all your contacts and create email sequences
  • Track synced interactions (such as email messages or calendar events) directly in folk
  • Team collaboration, build on each others notes to create one source of truth across your team, set reminders, see last interactions and more

For mail merge, when customizing your email on folk, it's very easy to insert variable fields as shown in the image below

Mail merge from folk
Variables inserted from folk

folk’s AI-feature ‘Magic Field’ takes your personalization strategy beyond {first Name}. It leverages the data you have on your contacts in folk, so you can use a variable to generate this information in your Messages. Furthermore, it's much easier to send personalized mail merge messages when you have full context on a contact: folk stores your history of interactions in the form of emails exchanged, calendar events, and any other interactions that you can manually add.

Preview previous interactions on folk

It's also easy to track the results of the campaigns by viewing opened, clicked and bounced rates.

Analyze campaigns results on folk

folk’s latest update introduces email sequences as a new feature in its mail merge solution. This allows you to create an email journey within their CRM platform. You can use it to create journeys across sales, onboarding, events and recruiting. 

Learn about the best practice for sending email sequences here.

Email sequences in folk

Pros

  • Easy-to-use interface (similar to Notion)
  • Can find missing email addresses quickly with enrichment
  • Offers a free plan with no time limit
  • Integrates with Outlook and Gmail
  • Offers detailed analytics on email opens & clicks
  • Collaborative, fit for teams or individual users
  • Embedded into a CRM that includes pipeline management, email tracking, reminders, notes and more
  • AI feature called ‘Magic Field’ helps you write personalized emails faster
  • Automatic de-duplication of contacts 
  • Automate manual tasks such as grouping contacts
  • New email sequence feature

Cons

  • Limited credits for the free plan

Gmass

Gmass is an email marketing tool that allows you to send personalized mass emails with ease. It has a user-friendly interface and integrates easily with Gmail but has no Outlook integration.

Key features

  • Turns Gmail into email marketing and cold email platform
  • AB testing
  • Mail merge personalization with Google Sheets

Mixmax Review 2023 (Pricing, Features, Limitations)

Pros

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Can send personalized mail merges
  • Can track email opens and clicks
  • Supports sending follow-up emails
  • Has an affordable pricing plan

Cons

  • Limited integration with other platforms
  • No built-in CRM functionality

Yamm

Yamm (Yet Another Mail Merge) is a mail merge tool for Gmail that allows you to send personalized emails in bulk. It is an excellent tool for businesses looking to streamline their email outreach process.

Key features

  • Send with an alias, cc and bcc
  • Create email surveys such as simple polls that recipients can answer from their inbox
  • Template library, including ready-to-use templates and advanced HTML emails
Yet Another Mail Merge: Mail Merge for Gmail™ - Google Workspace Marketplace

Pros

  • Integrates with Google Sheets
  • Sends personalized emails
  • Can track email opens and clicks
  • Offers a free plan

Cons

  • Limited integrations with other platforms
  • The free plan has limited features
  • Requires a Google account to use
  • No Outlook mail merge
  • Clunky interface

Mixmax

Mixmax is an email tracking and automation tool that integrates with Gmail. It offers a wide range of features such as email scheduling, automated follow-ups, and CRM integration.

Key features:

  • Sales and customer success focus
  • Salesforce integration lets you create a trigger that updates Salesforce without data entry
11 Best Mail Merge Software to Skyrocket Replies in 2023 | QuickMail

Pros

  • Integrates with popular CRMs
  • Sends personalized emails
  • Can track email opens and clicks
  • Offers a free plan

Cons

  • Limited integrations with other platforms
  • Bit too complex, heavy
  • The free plan has limited features
  • Can be expensive

Streak

Streak is a CRM tool that integrates with Gmail. It allows you to manage your sales pipeline, track emails, and collaborate with your team.

Key features

  • Gmail integration, seamlessly integrates with your Gmail allowing you to manage your CRM within the email interface
  • Email tracking, to see when recipients read emails helping aguage timing for follow-ups and interest level
  • Mobile application, log calls and send contacts to your phone

Streak CRM for Gmail

Pros:

  • Integrates with Gmail
  • Easy to use interface
  • Manages sales pipeline
  • Offers a free plan

Cons:

  • Limited integrations with other platforms
  • No web app, only possible to use it directly from the Gmail interface
  • May not have all the features of other CRM tools
  • The free plan has limited features

Why use mail merge in Outlook?

Sending individual emails to a large number of recipients can be a time-consuming task. This is where personalization and mail merge tools come in handy.

Personalization is a crucial element of email marketing. It involves tailoring the content of an email to suit the recipient's interests and needs. Personalized emails are more likely to be opened, read, and acted upon by the recipient. They create a sense of connection between the sender and the recipient, which can improve customer engagement and retention.

However, personalizing emails manually can be a daunting task, especially when dealing with a large number of recipients. It takes a lot of time and effort to create individual emails for each recipient. This is where mail merge tools come in handy. Mail merge tools allow you to personalize emails in bulk, making the process much faster and more efficient.

Mail merge tools work by combining a list of recipients' email addresses with a pre-designed email template. The tool then automatically populates the email with the recipient's name, address, and other relevant information. This creates a personalized email that appears to have been sent individually to each recipient.

Using mail merge in Outlook has several benefits. Firstly, it saves time and effort to go through a mail merge process. Instead of spending hours creating individual emails, you can create a single template and personalize it for each recipient in a matter of minutes. This frees up time for other important tasks, such as analyzing email metrics and refining your email marketing strategy.

Secondly, mail merge tools can improve the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns. Personalized emails have higher open and click-through rates than generic emails. By using a mail merge tool to personalize your emails, you can increase the chances of your emails being opened and read by the recipient. This can lead to increased engagement and conversions.

Finally, mail merge tools can help you maintain consistency in your email marketing campaigns. By using a pre-designed template, you can ensure that all your emails have a consistent look and feel. This creates a sense of professionalism and reliability, which can help build trust with your customers.

Conclusion

Mail merge is an effective way to send personalized emails to numerous recipients without wasting time and effort. But it can be hard to mail merge Outlook contacts with a simple process. With the simple steps above and the tools comparison provided, you can easily perform a mail merge in Outlook or choose the tool that best fits you. This way, you get to send personalized emails to clients, prospects, and other recipients, and also dedicate your time and attention to other pressing engagements.