There are a lot of reasons why you would want to send personalized mass emails with Gmail. The most popular ones include:

  • The ability to send cold personalized emails in bulk, that are also customized for the end user (e.g.: using their first name, using nice templates, and so on);
  • Not having to use BCC or CC;
  • Not having to commit to an email marketing platform if you just want to send out simple plain text outreach emails – or even email newsletters.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to easily send bulk outreach personalized messages using Gmail – so let’s get going.

First, here is the high level overview of what this procedure covers:

  • The goal: To set up a system that will allow you to send bulk outreach emails directly from your Gmail account.
  • The ideal outcome: You will easily send customized emails to multiple addresses, which you won’t have to write manually every time.
  • The prerequisites: You need a Gmail inbox and the ability to gather all of your information in a Google Sheet. Also, you need a Google Sheets add-on as well—which you will install during the process, following the steps described in this blog post.
  • The importance of this action: Outreach emails are very important for a number of different reasons. You can do this for business development, for example. Also, if you’re not using an email service provider (like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign), you can manually keep your emails in one place and then send them out to your users (I don’t recommend this, but it can work for businesses that are just starting out their email list).
  • Where this is done: This is done in Gmail and Google Sheets. Just as a side note, in general, using the Google Drive and G Suite is one of the best options for your business – it’s free, it’s easy to use, and there’s a Google App for all of your basic business needs (Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and so on). Plus, you get the chance to use adjacent free tools which can be extremely helpful – such as in the case of running a Gmail mail merge campaign, for example.
  • When this is done: Anytime you need to send out bulk outreach emails.
  • Who does this: Anyone on your team who needs to do bulk outreach. This could be you, your VA, someone doing backlink outreach on the SEO team, or maybe a sales team reaching out to potential leads.

Get This Entire Walkthrough and All the Resources in This Post

Before you begin: set up your environment

There are a couple of things you will need for this:

  1. A Gmail account. You can set up one here if you haven’t done it already.
  2. Install the Google Sheets add-on called Yet Another Mail Merge.

Create your Gmail Bulk Outreach Database Sheet

Once you are all set up, you will have to create a database with all of your Google contacts’ information. However you get these email addresses, you should put them in a Google sheet. So, here are the steps to follow for this:

  1. Create a new Google sheet using your Google account;
  2. Name it (in my case, this was “Gmail Bulk Outreach Database”);
  3. Set the columns for your database of email recipients:
  • First Name;
  • Last Name;
  • Email;
  • Phone;
  • Company;
  • Title;
  • Another Piece of Data (something you can use to personalize your emails).

Keep in mind: aside from the “First Name” and the “Email” column, all of the other columns are optional—you can use as much data here as you’d like.

However, it is best for you to gather as much information as you can about the contact group you are sending your outreach emails to—it will help you personalize the emails and increase the response rate.

bulk outreach template
  1. Populate the sheet: it can be consisted of current customers, or information you gathered using a LinkedIn scraping tool, for example.
outreach database

Enable the “Canned Response” feature in Gmail

Enabling the “Canned Response” feature in Gmail will allow you to create an email message template to use with your outreach campaign, so you don’t have to type them every single time.

Here’s how to do this:

  1. Open Gmail;
  2. Click on the little gear icon → settings;
canned responses gmail
  1. Click on the “Labs” tab;
gmail labs
  1. Type “canned responses” into the search bar;
canned responses gmail
  1. Click on “Enable”;
enable canned responses
  1. Click on “Save changes”.
save changes

Write the Email Templates Using Canned Response

Once you have enabled canned responses, you can start writing your mass email templates.

So, here’s how I write canned responses:

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Start writing an email draft just as you would normally, according to the purpose of your outreach email campaign.
  • In my case, I pretended this was a sales email and I’m selling widgets, trying to find the best person to talk to at the company to reach out to and talk about my products. So, my first draft email template was this:
outreach email draft
  1. Once you have drafted your email template, you have to replace the variables in it (e.g. the First Name, the Company Name, etc.). To do it, follow these steps:

a) Go to your Gmail Bulk Outreach Database.
b) Copy column header for the contact’s first name, in my case: “First Name”.
c) Paste it to replace the actual first name in your email.
d) Add double curly brackets at the beginning and end of “First Name”.
e) Repeat this with all the variables in your email template.

  • Keep in mind, these variables are case sensitive. For instance, in my Google Sheet column, “First” and “Name” are both capitalized, so I need to use them the same way in my canned response as well (if I typed it in lower case, this wouldn’t work).
  • Your “Another Piece of Data” can be anything that makes the email more personal. For instance, I added “like dogs” to my first entry in the Google Sheet, under the “Another Piece of Data” column. So, at the end of the email template, I added “By the way, I heard you {{Another Piece of Data}}”.
  • This is how my email looked after replacing all the variables:
email code
  1. Click on the little arrow next to the trash bin in your email.
recipients
  1. Click on “Canned Responses” → “New canned response…”.
new canned response
  1. Enter the name of your new canned response. In my case, this was “Quick Question For You” (the subject line I used for the email template).
response message
  1. Click “OK”.
  2. Check to see if your canned response was correctly added. Open a new email, go to “Canned Responses”, and see if your newly added one is there. Once you click it, the email body should be automatically filled out with your email template text.
configuring canned responses
  1. Be very, very particular about the email outreach and data privacy laws in your country. These laws change all the time, so it’s always best to talk to a professional in the field about it. For example:

In the United States, there are a couple of things you need to think about before sending out an email outreach campaign:

  • You need to be honest about your email outreach. Do NOT be deceptive about it, do not make the subject of the emails something entirely different than whatever you’re doing.
  • Include an unsubscribe link to give users a way to opt out easily if they don’t want you to contact them again. You can easily do this with “Yet Another Mail Merge”:
    • Write your “unsubscribe here” text (e.g. “Click here to unsubscribe from these emails”). You can add this at the bottom of your email, for example;
    • Highlight this text;
    • Add a hyperlink to it, linking to “https://yet-another-mail-merge.com/unsubscribe”. In my case, I added this at the end of the message body, right after my signature.
unsubscribe hyperlink
  • Put your actual address in the footer of the email. You can easily just type this out at the bottom of your email, as a signature, maybe with a smaller font, and save it to all of your canned emails.

In the EU, these laws are even more specific, so it is VERY important to check them out and make sure your outreach emails comply to the current legislation.

email draft

Install Yet Another Mail Merge Add-on

Now that you have your database set up, your merge template email done, and your canned responses are enabled, you should install the actual Google Sheets add-on that helps you send out the outreach emails.

To add it to your Google Sheets, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the sheet you previously created.
  2. Go to Add-ons → “Get add-ons”.
install yet another mail merge
  1. Search for “Yet Another Mail Merge”.
yet another mail merge search
  1. Click the “+Free” blue button.
app install
  1. You will get a pop-up on the screen and you will be asked to authenticate with your email address. Go ahead and do that.
intallation mail merge
  1. Click on the blue button saying “Allow” to give the add-on the necessary permissions.
mail merge permissions

Merge the Canned Response Email Template and the Outreach Database

You’re all set up now—all that’s left is to do the actual merge:

  1. Go to your Gmail Bulk Outreach Database sheet;
  2. Click on “Add-ons” in the menu;
  3. Click on “Yet Another Mail Merge”;
  4. Click on “Start Mail Merge”;
  • The free version of “Yet Another Mail” merge will allow you to send up to 50 emails a day for free. If you pay for it, they will allow you a little bit more. And if you’re using a non-Gmail address (i.e. Google Enterprise), you will be allowed to send even more emails (because you are more trustworthy as a Google Enterprise user).
start mail merge
  1. Leave the “Sender Name” field as it is;
  2. Click the drop-down under “Email Template” and select the template that you wrote;
selecting message template
  1. Leave “Track emails opened, clicked or bounced” checked.
start mail merge send
  1. (Optional) Click on “Alias, filters, personalized attachments”. This is where you can change the reply-to address, check if the email unsubscribe link is detected by the add-on, and so on. Once you’re done with all of these, click “Back”.
setting up mail merge
  1. Click “Receive a test email” to check in a different if everything is in order.
testing mail merge
  1. Once you checked and made all the necessary edits, you can hit send.
  • You can also delay the sending of the email by clicking on “Delay delivery” and setting this up.
test email 1
test email 2
  1. Click “OK” on the pop-up that will appear on screen.
  2. A new column will appear in your Google spreadsheet (“Merge status”), as well as a sidebar that will show you basic information about the emails you have just sent out (e.g. how many opened, how many receivers replied, and so on).
mail merge stats

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