How to Mail Merge in Outlook (5 Easy Steps)

How to Mail Merge in Outlook (5 Easy Steps)

- Published: - 10 minutes read

Want to send multiple emails at once? And add a personal touch to each of your messages? You can do that (and much more) directly from your Microsoft Outlook account.

Ever heard of Outlook’s mail merge feature? It’s a great tool that lets you send mass personalized emails. In just a few clicks.

In this quick guide, we’ll show you how to mail merge in Outlook. And why there are better alternatives to send bulk emails.

Sounds good? Then let’s dive right in ⤵️

What is a mail merge?

A mail merge is a tool that lets you create personalized emails. At scale. This can save you hours of work.

Instead of writing each email manually, you can create a generic email. And automatically customize it for each of your recipients.

But how does it work exactly? Well, to create a mail merge you need 2 things. A template email. And a data source.

Your template email is a standard message. But instead of saying “Dear John”, you’re going to use a placeholder, such as “Dear {First_Name}”.

Your mail merge will then replace the placeholders with unique data fetched from a spreadsheet or a database.

With a mail merge, you can send 10,000 emails at once. And still make each of your recipients feel like your email was written specifically for them.

This is a game-changer. Because personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates. And lead to better performances.

How to mail merge in Outlook?

A few years ago, Microsoft introduced a new feature allowing you to mail merge directly from your Outlook account. Here’s how to use it. One step at a time.

1. Create your email template

For starters, let’s create your email template. To do that, you can open Microsoft Word on your device. And select Blank Document.

Create your mail merge template

Next, go to the Mailings tab. Click on Start Mail Merge. A dropdown menu will appear. From there, select Email messages.

Start your mail merge in Word

All set. You can now type the body of your email directly into Microsoft Word. Don’t worry about personalization yet. We’ll get to that.

In the meantime, you can replace your recipient’s first name or any other variable with placeholders. Here’s how it looks ⤵️

Write the body of your template email

2. Prepare your data source

Now that your email is (almost) ready, it’s time to prepare your mail merge data. The easiest way to do that is to open Microsoft Excel and create a new spreadsheet.

Create a new Excel spreadsheet

Add a column header for each field you want to personalize. In this example, we want to customize the recipients’ first name and company name.

To do that, we’re going to create 3 columns:

  • One for the first names
  • One for the company names
  • And one for the email addresses

We’ll then fill each column with the relevant data. Once you’re done, your Microsoft Excel spreadsheet should look like this ⤵️

Consolidate your mail merge data in Excel

What happens next? Now that your mail merge data is ready, click on Save as. Enter the name of your mail merge list. And press Save.

Save your mail merge data

Almost there. So far, you’ve created your mail merge message in Word. And you’ve set up your mail merge data in Excel.

Now let’s link those 2 documents. To do that, go back to your Word document. Click on Select Recipients. And select Use an Existing List.

Select mail merge recipients

A new window will appear. Find your Excel spreadsheet. And click on Open to link it with your template email.

Link your mail merge data list

You can now replace your placeholders with your mail merge data. To do that, select the text of your placeholder. Click on Insert Merge field. And select the corresponding entry.

In the example below, we selected the [company name] placeholder. And we replaced it with the «Company_name» merge field.

Insert merge fields

4. Preview your Outlook mail merge

Once you’ve replaced all your placeholders, you can click on Preview results to check for mistakes.

This step is important. It gives you a clear view of what your mail merge will look like in Outlook.

Preview your mail merge in Outlook

Use the Previous and Next arrows in the Microsoft Word Mailings menu to navigate between your emails. You can preview each message individually.

Outlook mail merge example

Is everything as you want it to be? If so, it’s time to finish your mail merge in Outlook. To do that, click on Finish & Merge. And select Merge to email.

Merge to email

5. Send your mail merge in Outlook

A new dialog box will appear. Click on the To field. Microsoft will then show you all the column headers of your Excel spreadsheet.

Select the one in which you listed your recipients’ email addresses. In this example, that column header was Email, so that’s what we’ll choose.

Send mail merge in Outlook

Lastly, add your email subject line. And click on Email merge to Outbox. Outlook will then automatically send your emails.

Email merge to Outbox

And that’s it. You’ve successfully used Outlook’s mail merge feature. Your recipients should now shortly receive their personalized email. Congratulations 🎉

5 Outlook mail merge limitations

Outlook is a great tool. But it’s definitely not the best mail merge. And if you plan to send mass emails from your Outlook account on a regular basis, you’ll quickly realize that there are a lot of limitations. We’ve listed 5 of them below ⤵️

1. It takes too long

Let’s start with the obvious. Creating a mail merge in Outlook can be a tedious process. Did you see how many steps we had to go through to send 1 bulk email?

To mail merge in Outlook, you need to switch between 3 applications. Which ends up being very time consuming. Can you imagine doing that several times a week?

There are other mail merge tools that allow you to do the same thing. The main difference? They do it 3 times faster.

2. You can’t send many emails

Do you want to send 8,000 emails at once? We’ve got bad news for you. Outlook won’t let you send that many messages.

Like most email service providers, Microsoft has set limitations to prevent you from sending too many emails at once ⤵️

  • Your number of recipients is limited to 5,000 per day
  • Your number of non-relationship recipients (i.e. people you’ve never emailed before) is limited to 1,000 per day
  • Your number of recipients is limited to 500 per message

Are those high enough for you? If not, you may want to look for another solution. Make sure to check our list of the 8 best mail merge add-ons before making your choice.

3. You can’t manage unsubscribes

Sending mass emails from Outlook is risky. Because Microsoft’s messaging app doesn’t give you the right tool to manage unsubscribes.

You can’t automatically generate an unsubscribe link at the bottom of your bulk emails. And even if you add one manually, you won’t be able to know who clicked on it.

This does not comply with GDPR legal requirements. Which can be a problem if you’re emailing people that live in the European Union.

What’s more, if you don’t give people an easy way to opt out of your emails, they’re more likely to flag you as spam.

Which can hurt your sender reputation. And ultimately reduce the results for your email campaigns.

4. You can’t send attachments

You can’t natively mail merge with attachments in Outlook. If you want to attach files to your bulk emails, you’ll need to install a third-party tool such as:

  • Outlook Mail Merge Attachment (OMMA)
  • Merge Tools Add-In
  • Mail merge tool kit

However, these add-ons often have poor deliverability rates. Because they lack the possibility to send your emails in small batches.

5. You can’t track your emails

How many of your emails bounced? How many people opened your emails? How many of them clicked on your CTA?

If you mail merge in Outlook, you won’t know the answers. Because Outlook doesn’t provide you with detailed metrics.

Meaning that you won’t know how your emails performed. And without feedback, you won’t be able to learn from your mistakes.

​​A better alternative to Outlook for your mail merge

Fortunately, there are some alternatives. You can bypass the Outlook mail merge limitations with other tools such as Mailmeteor.

Mailmeteor is a powerful mail merge that lets you send mass personalized emails directly from your Gmail account.

You can track your emails in real time. Send 2,000 emails per day. Schedule follow-ups or email sequences.

And do many other things that are not possible when you mail merge in Outlook. Like personalizing your subject line. Or adding attachments.

Our free plan lets you send up to 50 emails per day. Give it a try and let us know what you think (no strings attached).

Happy sending :)

This guide was written by Paul Anthonioz, content editor at Mailmeteor. Mailmeteor is a simple & privacy-focused emailing software. Trusted by millions of users worldwide, it is often considered as the best tool to send newsletters with Gmail. Give us a try and let us know what you think!

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