Personalized Email Blasts Using Outlook
By Filonia LeChat
Microsoft Outlook, the Microsoft Office Suite’s email client, offers a number of ways to save users time with its email creation and sending tools. One way to shave time off your routine is to create email blasts, sending similar or identical emails to a large group of people, but still adding a personal touch so they don't feel they're receiving spam. Using Outlook to write email blasts lets you take advantage of the same menus, tabs and buttons familiar from in other Office suite products such as Word, which makes customizing your email blasts easier.
An email blast is a single email that goes to more than one recipient -- usually many. The blast may be work-related, such as one about an upcoming sale or training, or an invitation to a personal event or party. Email blasts need not be considered akin to chain letters or spam; they simply save the sender the time and effort of recreating the same email message and avoiding the potential pitfalls of typing errors. The difference between regular email blasts -- often picked up as spam -- and personalized ones is that a personalized blast has at least one nugget of information that directly relates to the recipient. Using the person's name, for example, instead of "Dear Sir," personalizes the letter.
Creating an Outlook email blast actually involves Outlook and one of its other Microsoft Office suite partners, Word. The process starts when you open Outlook and click the “Contacts” link in the bottom-left corner of the screen. Press and hold the “Ctrl” key and click once on each contact to include it in the blast. Still in Outlook, click the “Mail Merge” button on the ribbon at the top of the screen. Click the “Only selected contacts” radio button. If the “Document type” menu isn’t showing “Form Letters,” select it. Select “E-mail” from the “Merge to” window. When the “Message subject line” text box opens, type into it, such as “Join us for a holiday party!” Click the “OK” button and Microsoft Word opens a new window, with the “Mailings” tab already enabled. Click the “Greeting Line” button. Make any changes to the greeting as desired and note your first contact appears in the middle of the window. When you click “OK,” Word will show just a form field. Type the email blast part of the message. Click the “Finish & Merge” button on the toolbar. Click “Send E-mail Messages.” Review the “Merge to E-Mail” window options and click the “OK” button. Close Word. Check the Outlook Outbox or Sent Items folders to view the email blast en route.
While most emails in Outlook and other mail clients are just text in the body of the message, the combination of Word and Outlook offer a number of ways to personalize the missive to possibly capture more of your readers’ interest. Use the “Insert” tab and “Clip Art” button on the top of the Word screen to insert a picture, logo or graph. If you have a stored electronic signature graphic file, add it as well or customize the signature for the occasion, such as ending with best wishes for an upcoming holiday before your name and contact details. Other ways to personalize the Outlook blast is to format the message. Change text or background colors through Word’s “Home” tab and “Font” section of the ribbon to match the business standards. Keep in mind that Outlook messages sent to non-Outlook email clients will probably not retain their formatting and will just appear in regular black text on the recipients’ screens.
Many computer virus protection software programs are set up to automatically divert email blasts to a junk or spam folder, simply because of the assumption that spammers send messages to large groups of people at once, hoping for a hit. Even though your personalized email blast may have legitimate information, it could accidentally end up not ever been viewed by your intended recipients. Even after you've completed the mail merge process, there is a chance the message may be transferred to a spam folder.
Fionia LeChat is a technical writer whose major skill sets include the MS Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher), Photoshop, Paint, desktop publishing, design and graphics. LeChat has a Master of Science in technical writing, a Master of Arts in public relations and communications and a Bachelor of Arts in writing/English.