VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism
| TECH TIPS
with Mary Lou McNatt
Personalizing Your Email Messages
Have you received an email message that you were certain went to a group of individuals, but the one you received was personalized with your own name in the message? Have you wondered "How do they do that?" Maybe you thought this was only a technique that could be used by high-tech companies who have all the fancy equipment and software.
Not the case. You too can distribute emails to your groups and personalize them at the same time. We are not suggesting you send indiscriminately to a group that has not already agreed to accept and looks forward to receiving your email messages. If you need to send out a large amount of email messages and you want to personalize them we'll show you how you can do it.
Why would you want to send out personalized emails? Personalizing an email message offers the following benefits:
What types of Email messages can you send?
1. Plain text
2. HTML- simple formatting
3. HTML - Advanced formatting - complex formatting with tables and forms and graphics
How do I do it?
It's as simple as creating a Mail Merge with your word document and choosing to merge to an email message. If you are not familiar with how to work mail merges, rather than reiterate it here, there is a good online tutorial available at the Online Knowledge Magazine (MIStupid.com).
If you have Microsoft Office 2000 (plain text email merge only) or a newer version (where you could create an HTML message), you can create a personalized email merge using Word as the base for the email message. You will then link it to your database and create individual, personalized emails. You can use any field of input from your database to insert into your email message. The emails are routed to Outlook/Outlook Express and sent from there. (You may want to go in and delete the files after they are sent from your Sent box because each individual message that is sent is will be stored there).
I had the opportunity to use the email merge for a membership group of over 1000 persons. The message included the information we have for them currently in their profile and we asked them to 1. Reply to the message, 2. Update the information and, 3. Send it back to us. Normally when we ask the members to update their information online we get a small response. I am still getting emails from the members who have been updating their information from the email message we sent out. We received over a 20% response rate from the email messages we sent out. For us that is monumental!
It really works and it's also a lot of fun. If you haven't tried it yet I encourage you to do so.
Mary Lou McNatt has many years of experience working with volunteer programs, advancing our profession and has a passion for introducing the advantages of technology to volunteer programs. She was instrumental in obtaining Ivan Scheiers body of work on volunteerism and putting it online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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