How to use mail merge in Outlook

With Shared Email Templates

In Shared Email Templates for Outlook, you can create and send personalized emails to multiple recipients at once with the help of mail merge campaigns.

Note. The mail merge feature is available only in the selected subscription plans.

Here is a quick How to use mail merge cheat sheet, click on the button below to open or download it:

Download cheat sheet

Video: How to use mail merge

See the full video transcript on the Webinar 5: Using mail merge page.

Before you start

Please read the below notes carefully before creating a campaign.

  • In order to protect your security, the add-in will ask you to sign in to your Microsoft account every time you finish creating a campaign and click the Schedule or Send button.

    This is done this way, so our mail merge service has access to your inbox only from the moment you finish creating a campaign to the second when the campaign messages have been sent.

  • The campaign email messages are sent from the Microsoft account you sign in to when finishing creating a campaign.
  • To create a mail merge campaign, you need to prepare text for the email message and a mailing list. For the email message, you have three options: a simple template, a mail merge template, and your own HTML text.
  • Most probably, your message for the campaign will include merge fields—specific parts of email messages that are set up as variables with the help of the ~%MergeField[] macro.
  • A mailing list is an Excel table that contains email addresses for the campaign and data for the merge fields.
  • Some macros are not supported in templates for mail merge campaigns. Here is the full list of these macros.

Mailing process and campaign statuses

Your campaigns may have the following statuses: Sending, Pending, Scheduled, Cancelled, and Finished.

When you create a campaign, you can schedule it or send immediately. If the campaign is being sent, it will have the Sending status.

Campaigns are sent one by one in the order you create or schedule them. So, if you create two campaigns and both should be sent immediately, the second campaign will start mailing only after all the emails of the first campaign have been sent. Until then, it will have the Pending status.

The Sending and Pending campaigns can be Cancelled but of course if some messages are already sent, they can't be unsent.

Campaigns that are scheduled for a particular date and time will be marked as Scheduled. Scheduled campaigns can be edited or deleted.

When all the messages of the campaign have been sent, it gets the Finished status.

Mail merge template

A template for the mail merge campaign can be a simple one as well as a special mail merge template that lets you select a ready-made HTML layout and a color theme. Besides, you can import your own HTML-based layout into the message body.

Mailing list

It is an Excel table with email addresses of the recipients and all the info needed to personalize the email messages. Important notes about the mailing list:

  • XLSM and XLSX formats are supported.
  • The Excel book must be located in OneDrive.
  • The table must be formatted as an Excel table.
  • Email addresses are to be placed in the first column. Its header must be 'email'.

Here is an example of a mailing list:
Mailing list sample.

Merge fields

They are variable parts of your template. You can change them depending on the addressee. The ~%MergeField[] macro is there to help. It retrieves the necessary data directly from the mailing list. You just need to type the name of the column containing the values of interest in the macro's square brackets.

For example, if we use the mailing list above, into the place where we need the name of the recipient, we'll enter ~%MergeField[name], into the place with a discount value—~%MergeField[discount].

The words 'name' and 'discount' are used in the square brackets as they are the headers of the columns from which the data should be pasted.

Create mail merge template

To create a mail merge template, right-click My Templates, a folder, or a team and select New Mail Merge Template in the contextual menu:

Create Mail Merge Template.

In your default browser, a new tab with the Shared Email Templates web application will open. First, you'll be asked to select a layout and click Next:
Select template layout.

Tip. You can click Custom HTML to paste your own HTML template.

Select a color theme and click Finish:
Choose color theme.

You'll see the ready template layout. Enter your text, paste images and add hyperlinks. Find below more information on how to edit a mail merge template.

Tip. If you copy text from another source, use the Ctrl + Shift + V shortcut to paste text without formatting.

Edit mail merge template

Please find the detailed guide on working with mail merge templates here.

Add merge fields

Into the places where custom information from the mailing list should appear, enter the ~%MergeField[] macro with column headers of the mailing list in square brackets.

Put the cursor where the text should be pasted and click the Insert Macro icon on the toolbar:
Insert the MergeField macro.

On the Select macro pane, type "Merge" into the Search box, click on the suggested ~%MergeField[] macro and hit Select:
Insert the MergeField macro.

The macro will be pasted. Into the square brackets, enter the header name of the column from which you need the data to be retrieved:

Put the column name into the square brackets.

As soon as you're done, don't forget to name the template and click the Save button:

Mail merge template sample.

Create mail merge campaign

To start creating a mail merge campaign, click the Mail Merge icon:
Click Mail Merge button.

Click the New Campaign button at the bottom of the add-in pane:
Click New Campaign button.

Fill in the following fields and select files:

Create Mail Merge Campaign.

  1. Enter a name for your campaign, it will be displayed only in the Shared Email Templates UI.
  2. Type in the text your addressees will see in the Subject line of the email received.
  3. If needed, enter the email address for reply messages.
  4. Click this icon to import the mailing list. Here are some important notes about the mailing list and below please find more details about the very import process.
  5. Here you define the message body of the emails. You can either select a template or paste your HTML-based message. See more details below.
  6. You can set a date and time for the campaign to schedule it. In this case, the button will change from Send to Schedule.
  7. Or select Immediately to start mailing right after clicking the Send button.
  8. Check the box to save all the sent messages in your Sent Items Outlook folder.
  9. Click Send or Schedule to start the campaign. As soon as you do this, you'll be asked to pick the account from which the mailing should be performed and confirm accepting the needed permissions.

To see all the campaigns, switch to the Mail Merge view:

The campaign is created.

As soon as the campaign is finished, you'll see a short report saying when the campaign ended and how many email messages have been sent:

The campaign is finished.

Import mailing list

Before selecting the mailing list, please make sure it meets all the requirements.

Note. Data from the Excel table is saved with the campaign. If you make any changes to the original Excel table after the campaign is created, they won't be taken into account.

Click Import from a file:
Import from file.

In your OneDrive, select the necessary Excel workbook:
Select a file.

Tip. If the file you need is not located in OneDrive but is saved in your local storage, you can click the Upload button and upload the file to OneDrive.

Choose the table and click Select:

Select a table.

Define message body

Note. Data from the template or your custom HTML-message is saved with the campaign. If you make any changes to the template after the campaign is created, they won't be taken into account.

For the message body, you can pick one of the two options:

Mail merge message body.

  • To use a template from the add-in in the message body, click Copy from a template and select the template.
  • Pick Use HTML to paste your own HTML text.

Required permissions

To create a mail merge campaign, the add-in will request the following permissions:

Required permissions.

Maintain access to data you have given it access to

Allows the add-in to send the scheduled campaign messages even if you are logged out from your account and have switched off all the devices.

Sign you in and read your profile

Allows the add-in to send the campaign messages from your mailbox.

Have full access to all files you have access to

Allows the add-in to import files from your OneDrive and upload files from your local storage to your OneDrive. Needed for the mailing list import.

Edit or delete items in all site collections

Allows the add-in to import files from your SharePoint and upload files from your local storage to your SharePoint. May be needed for the mailing list import in the future.

Send mail as you

Allows the add-in to send the campaign messages from your mailbox.

Send mail on behalf of others or yourself

The permission is needed for the future updates of the Shared Email Templates, Mail Merge edition. In the future, we plan to add an option to send the campaign email messages from other mailboxes.

Mail merge campaigns statuses

Campaigns in different statuses are marked with different icons:

Different mail merge campaigns.

  1. Scheduled campaign will start on the indicated date and time. Can be edited, moved to another folder/team, or deleted.
  2. Sending campaign is being sent at the moment. Can be canceled but of course if some messages are already sent, they can't be unsent.
  3. Pending campaign will start mailing as soon as the Sending one is finished.
  4. Finished campaign can be moved to another folder/team or deleted.
  5. Cancelled campaign can be deleted or activated anew. To do this, select the campaign, click on the Edit icon on the toolbar, make changes if necessary and click the Schedule or Send button.

Edit and cancel mail merge campaigns

Scheduled

If the campaign is scheduled, you can edit, move to another folder/team, or delete it by clicking the corresponding icon on the toolbar:
Edit or delete a scheduled mail merge campaigns.

Sending or pending

If the campaign is being sent or is pending, you can cancel it:

Cancel a pending mail merge campaign.

Unsupported macros

Due to the technical limitations, the following macros are not supported in templates for mail merge campaigns:

  • ~%ClearBody
  • ~%FromAccount[]
  • ~%FillTo[]
  • ~%FillCc[]
  • ~%FillBcc[]
  • ~%To
  • ~%Cc
  • ~%Bcc
  • ~%InsertRecipientFirstName
  • ~%InsertRecipientFullName
  • ~%InsertRecipientLastName
  • ~%InsertSenderFirstName
  • ~%InsertSenderFullName
  • ~%InsertSenderLastName
  • ~%Subject
  • ~%FillSubject[]
  • ~%Date
  • ~%Time
  • ~%FillLocation[]
  • ~%AddLocation[]
  • ~%Location