As an organizer, I often need to communicate with large groups via email. Sadly, the options aren't great: spend hours sending individual, personalized emails, or go with the inelegant and impersonal BCC blob.
Thanks to the creative minds at Labnol.org, there's a solution: Mail Merge for Gmail with Google Docs. The process is simple, and they've got a great video to walk you through it. Here are a few suggestions for using this great tool, as well as a caveat.
- Personalize bulk emails. Sending an update to a group, but want emails to be personalized with each recipient's name? This trick is great for communicating with large groups (volunteers, leaders, etc) in a more "personal" way.
- Avoid messy chains. Sending an email to a group, but don't want to start a "reply-all" frenzy that often results when you use "To" or "CC"? This tool sends to just one recipient at a time, so the only person folks can reply to is you!
- Skip the Spam filter. When you send a large BCC email, you're likely to land in some Spam folders. This process sends individual emails, so the odds of being marked spam are very slim. That means people will get your email in their inbox, so they're more likely to open it, and your email address and domain are unlikely to be flagged as potential spam (which can really hurt you in the future).
- Be careful - there are still limits. Gmail restricts how many emails you can send. Don't flirt with the limits. If you come close or exceed them, Google will lock your account and you'll be flagged as a potential spammer.
Whether you're communicating with co-workers, volunteers, community leaders, press, or anyone else, this trick saves time and produces a more professional email. Just be careful to follow Gmail's sending rules so you don't get shut down.
Do you have a bulk email horror story? Share it with us!
Evan Sutton is Communications Manager at NOI