Miami University. IT Services [MASS MAILINGS: BULK MAIL WITH MAIL MERGES]

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1 2009 IT Services [MASS MAILINGS: BULK MAIL WITH MAIL MERGES]

2 Table of Contents What is Bulk Mail?... 3 What is a Mail Merge?... 3 How is Bulk Mail different from a Mail Merge?... 3 Examples of Generic Bulk Mail:... 3 Examples of Mail-Merge:... 3 Why use Mail Merge?... 4 What makes up a Mail Merge?... 4 Performing an -based Mail Merge... 5 Part 1: Create a Template File... 5 Part 2: Prepare your Data File... 5 Part 3: Merge your Data and Template Files into a Result File... 5 Cautions and Limitations of Mail Merging... 9 Always follow a strict naming convention Microsoft Word does not know what type of data you are merging Only include data in your Data File that you intend to merge Always make sure you have yourself as the first person in the Data File Always send a test message to yourself before each merge session Never rush through a mail merge, and always proof-read your documents Only perform mail merges from in front of your office computer For merges, you should only send in batches of 500 at a time If printing, you should only print batches of 200 merges at a time Once you complete a mail merge to , it is too late to make changes Mass Mailings: Bulk Mail with Mail Merges

3 What is Bulk Mail? Large numbers of identical items (letters, s, advertisements, etc.) sent to multiple recipients are considered to be Bulk Mail. In general, bulk mail can be thought of as a single generic or mailing, sent to many recipients. What is a Mail Merge? The process of generating multiple documents (letters, s, envelopes, labels, etc.) from a single template, based on a data file. In general, a mail merge can be thought of as many individually addressed s or letters, sent one by one to recipients. How is Bulk Mail different from a Mail Merge? A mail merge allows for personalization of bulk mail (names, addresses, dates, titles, or any other linked information). In addition, where bulk mail would be one generic message sent en masse to all recipients, a mail merge would be a message with individualized components (such as name, address, survey numbers, etc.) sent to individual recipients. Examples of Generic Bulk Mail: Example 1: An organization would like to send a newsletter to each of its members. Since it is a generic newsletter, there is no need for a personalized greeting. Since there is nothing being personalized, a mail-merge is not necessary. Example 2: You want to organize a listserv that sends out notifications about an upcoming building project. You plan to send out updates any time a major breakthrough happens, such as financial approval, groundbreaking, building opening, and any other major project steps, as they happen. Since the letter is purely informational, there is no reason to address each person individually, and a mailmerge is not necessary. Examples of Mail-Merge: Example 1: A company is hosting multiple events at multiple times. This company wants to simplify the process of informing attendees of the day/time/event they are attending. This information already exists in an Excel spreadsheet file that they are currently using to track their events. By using a mailmerge, they can generate letters (using a template) to send reminders via postal mail or . 3 Mass Mailings: Bulk Mail with Mail Merges

4 Example 2: You are charged with printing 250 name tags for an upcoming conference. Included on the name tags, you would like to have each attendee s title and print where they are coming from. All of this data exists in an Excel spreadsheet file that was created when each participant registered. By using a mail-merge, you can generate labels for each name tag without having to retype the information or even copy/paste. Example 3: A non-profit research firm has a survey they would like to distribute to 5,000 students in the form of . After two weeks, they would also like to send follow-up reminders. Each of the participating schools have provided Excel spreadsheets with first and last names, addresses, and student major(s) listed. Using an -merge, you will be able to easily accommodate this request, and personalize each . Why use Mail Merge? There are certain times when personalizing messages might be desirable. In the above cases, personalizing messages to students is shown to increase response rates. In another case, sending an addressed to a potential student might help them feel more accepted and welcomed. When dealing with large volume, using a mail-merge can and will save time over manually typing each label, name tag, letter, etc. In Example 2, manually typing 250 names, with title and origin, is quite a task. It also leaves a lot of room for typo and formatting errors. Even if you copy and paste your information, using a mail-merge will save you time. What makes up a Mail Merge? A mail merge consists of three documents: Data File, Template, and Result described below: Template File This is almost always a Word file. In your template, you should have whatever letter or document you want to send. Most of the time, this is a letter, , or blank labels. Data File This is usually an Excel document, containing whatever information you are interested in adding to the template. Usually, this is a table with information such as name or address. Result This is the final product of the merge. The Result file is generally one of three things: Printed letters or labels, sent messages in your Outbox, or a Word document to be printed later. For the purposes of this document, we will focus on mail merge for messages. Due to the incredible speed of delivery for , it is the most important aspect of mail merge. If you are printing letters or labels, you can always re-print them before you send. Once you complete a mail merge to , it has already been sent, and there is no way to recall it. For this reason, it is imperative to be absolutely sure everything is exactly right. 4 Mass Mailings: Bulk Mail with Mail Merges

5 Performing an -based Mail Merge Part 1: Create a Template File The first step of any mail merge is to create a Template file. Using Microsoft Word, draft the main document with all of the information you want to reach your target group. If possible, avoid using graphics, special formatting, etc. as they often do not transfer well into messages. Once you have finalized the Template File, proceed to step two. Note: The Template File should contain the text and graphics that are the same for each message. DO NOT include any personalized information. Part 2: Prepare your Data File Typically a Data File is created with Excel. Only include information in your data file that you will actually merge into your message. Having extra information only adds to the complexity, and chance of error, involved with mail merge documents. For example, strip out sensitive information (such as Banner ID or Social Security Numbers) before attempting any merge. Important: Make sure you include your own name and information first on the list. This will allow for easy testing in later steps. Part 3: Merge your Data and Template Files into a Result File Before you begin, ensure that you are working with the final versions of both your Template File and your Data File. Make sure there are no other files that you could easily confuse them with. It is highly recommended to create a folder with only the Data File and Template File in it. When you are ready, open your Template File. Once you have opened your Template File, click on the Mailings tab (See below). 5 Mass Mailings: Bulk Mail with Mail Merges

6 Next, click Start Mail Merge and select Step by Step Mail Merge Wizard The Mail Merge panel will appear to the right of the screen to guide you through the rest of the process. On Step 1, select messages and click Next: Starting document to continue. On Step 2, click on Use the current document and click Next: Select recipients to continue. On Step 3, leave the selection as Use an existing list, then click Browse to locate your Data File. Once you locate your Data File, you will be asked to select the table that contains your data, and then click the OK button. 6 Mass Mailings: Bulk Mail with Mail Merges

7 On the next screen, you will see a preview of the data. This will allow you to filter your results, if necessary. Since you should only have records and data you want in the file, this step is usually unnecessary. After you complete this step, click Next: Write your message to continue. On Step 4, select the area in your document where you would like to insert data from your Data File, next, click the small drop-down arrow next to Insert Merge Field from the top of the screen. In your document, you will see the field names show up (i.e.: «First_Name», «Last_Name» ). When you have finished entering your fields, click Next: Preview your message to continue. 7 Mass Mailings: Bulk Mail with Mail Merges

8 On Step 5, you will see actual names, addresses, and other merged fields in the document. It is very important that you proof read your entire document at this point. Also, be sure that when you navigate forward and back using the blue arrow keys at the top of the screen, the fields update with new information. Once you have completed your checks, click Next: Complete the merge to continue. On Step 6, select Electronic Mail and ensure the To: field has your address field selected. Next, enter the subject of your message in the Subject line: field. This will appear as the subject line for the in the individuals inboxes. Since your own information is always the first in the list, be sure to send a test message to yourself first. To do this, enter 1 to 1 in the From: box, ensuring the bubble next to From is marked, and then click the OK button. You should now check your . If the message appears appropriately, then conduct the Merge to E- mail step again, sending in batches of 500 at a time. WARNING: Only send in batches of 500 at a time. For example, enter From: 1 To: 500 for the first batch. Once they have sent, repeat this step using 501 to 1000, and so on until you have sent to all recipients. 8 Mass Mailings: Bulk Mail with Mail Merges

9 Cautions and Limitations of Mail Merging Always follow a strict naming convention. A mail merge should consist of three documents: Data File, Template, and Result described below: Template File This is almost always a Word file. In your template, you should have whatever letter or document you want to send. Most of the time, this is a letter, , or blank labels. Data File This is usually an Excel document, containing whatever information you are interested in adding to the template. Usually, this is a table with information such as name or address. Result This is the final product of the merge. The Result file is generally one of three things: Printed letters or labels, sent messages in your Outbox, or a Word document to be printed later. By following these naming conventions, you can avoid confusion and greatly reduce error. It is highly recommended that these files are placed in a separate folder, keeping them isolated from large directories of files. Microsoft Word does not know what type of data you are merging. Whether you are merging someone s name, or someone s social security number, mail merge has no way of knowing. This means it is up to you to proof-read your documents. Please do not use any sensitive data while conducting a Mail-Merge. Only include data in your Data File that you intend to merge. In other words, it s generally a bad idea to pull data from Banner that includes Banner ID s, Social Security Numbers, Addresses, Pay Rates, etc. unless it has a direct use in your merge. Even having this data in your data file increases the chances of it accidently being added to your merged document. Always make sure you have yourself as the first person in the Data File. This is for two reasons: First, you can send yourself a test message to ensure the document is working. Second, you will receive a copy of the final document, as it appears while sending, for your records. Always send a test message to yourself before each merge session. Sending a test message to your own account is the most important way to prevent errors. Any time you take a break between sending messages, even if it is for ten minutes to answer a phone call, send another test to yourself and proof read it. 9 Mass Mailings: Bulk Mail with Mail Merges

10 Never rush through a mail merge, and always proof-read your documents. Proof each step of the process Template File creation, Data File creation, Test Messages, and in between each batch of recipients. Most data exposures could be avoided by properly proof-reading documents. Never rush through a Mail-merge. Once an has been sent using mail-merge, recovery of sent messages is extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible. Only perform mail merges from in front of your office computer. In other words, don t send an official mailing from home, or even through remote session. The chances are much higher to have unknowns and failure when sending from off-site locations. For merges, you should only send in batches of 500 at a time. The process of completing a mail-merge is extremely memory and processing intensive. Sending more than 500 messages at a time will most likely result in crashes of Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, or your entire computer. If you are sending extremely large mail-merge documents, you probably want to use a number smaller than 500. If printing, you should only print batches of 200 merges at a time. Printing takes a significant amount of time. Sending extremely large print jobs will usually end up in running out of paper, exhausting your toner cartridges, and other problems. Sending in smaller batches will allow you to ensure you are not missing pages. To print 200 at a time from a completed merged document, use s1p1 s200p1 (assuming your document is only one page). In mail-merge documents, different individuals are broken down by section breaks. Once you complete a mail merge to , it is too late to make changes. If you are printing letters or labels, you can always re-print them before you send. Once an has been sent using mail-merge, recovery of sent messages is extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible. For this reason, it is imperative to be absolutely sure everything is exactly right. 10 Mass Mailings: Bulk Mail with Mail Merges

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