What is mail merge?

What is mail merge, and when to use mail merge for your Google Docs or Word Docs

What is mail merge?

Updated December 3, 2019

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What Is a Mail Merge?

In essence, a mail merge automates the process of sending bulk mailings. This process typically involves a list of addresses, names, or other variables stored in a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel, and a document created with a word processing program like Microsoft Word.

Users set up the document to include variable placeholders, and the spreadsheet to contain matching variable data to enable automation between the files. This ensures that each document will wind up with the right information in the right spot. When both files are ready, the user runs the documents through a mail merge system that fetches the spreadsheet data and pulls it into the document.

What is mail merge for?

Ideally, a mail merge eliminates the painstaking task of pairing a document with the names and contact information of multiple people. This can be a huge time-saver for business owners, administrators, lawyers, and other professionals who need to send personalized communications to many people at once.

Too often, however, this supposedly simple task becomes an exercise in frustration. Until recently, users were required to install word processing and often, spreadsheet software to handle mail merge tasks. Not only can this specialized software become expensive, it often presents system compatibility challenges, especially when it comes to mobile devices. As more and more people use smartphones to check emails, these services have become trickier to use effectively.

The good news is that these problems now have a simple solution. We created Easy Mail Merge as an answer to common challenges with mail merge software. Not only does our service eliminate the need for expensive software installations, but it’s also easy for anyone and everyone to use.

The advantages of mail merging apply to countless industries, and can save professionals time, effort, and money when communicating with clients and customers..

Examples of Common Mail Merge Projects 

Mail merge tools can eliminate the need to address multiple pieces of mail by hand. Depending on the project, this can mean automating hundreds or even thousands of addresses and names. Here are a few project types that benefit from mail merge.

Direct Mail Marketing Pieces

Personalized direct mailings have a more significant impact than impersonal ones. Mail merges created from existing client lists or purchased consumer contact info can help to add personalization.

Legal Notifications

Mail merge can be a handy tool when a large group of people needs to be notified about an upcoming legal proceeding like a zoning ordinance hearing. Another example is a pending issue that could potentially affect multiple parties in a specified area, like pesticide spraying or temporary service outages. Also, if you need to reach out to abutters—for scheduled demolition notifications, Airbnb neighbor notifications, or similar purposes—mail merge is an ideal method.

Personal Mailings

Merging your personal contact list with a holiday letter or blank labels to affix to holiday cards can be a major time-saver. The possibilities are nearly endless. You could notify all your contacts that you’ve moved, send out a new baby announcement, or invite friends and family to a party.

Easy Mail Merge Makes Mail Merges Simple

Mail merges have traditionally been conducted offline through the use of installed software. Today, online mail merge options provide equally effective functionality and added benefits to boot. Easy Mail Merge is one such service that provides a straightforward, affordable process that can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection.

Easy Mail Merge is versatile as well. The service can handle Word and Excel documents, Google Docs and Sheets files, or a combination of any of these.

Uploading Microsoft Excel and Word Files to Google Drive

If you plan to use Excel or Word documents, you’ll need to upload these to Google Drive. The process is easy:

  1. Open Google Docs or Google Sheets. These functions are linked to your existing Google account. If you don’t have one, you will need to create a free account

  2. Click on the brightly colored plus sign (+) in the box located toward the top of your screen. This will open a new, blank document or spreadsheet.

  3. Select the File menu at the top of the page.

  4. Choose Import.

  5. In the pop-up box, select Upload.

  6. Locate the Word or Excel file on your system and select it.

  7. Click Open. The file will be automatically uploaded to Google Drive, so Google Docs or Sheets can open it. 

  8. At this point, the file has been uploaded to Google Drive. You can either leave it open for easy access or close it for now.

Merging Files with Easy Mail Merge

Now that you’ve uploaded the correct files, you’re ready to use Easy Mail Merge to merge spreadsheet data and a document.

Here’s how:

  1. Select the gray “Select Merge Data File” from the middle of the Easy Mail Merge home page.

  2. Select the Google spreadsheet containing contact information.

  3. Make sure you have selected the tab containing the mail merge data at the bottom of the spreadsheet.

  4. Verify the field designations pulled from the spreadsheet are correct. Adjust the spreadsheet data if necessary. 

  5. Click “Template.” 

  6. Choose the document that needs personalization, i.e. the document you need to send to the list of contacts in the spreadsheet. 

  7. Verify that the field labels (for instance, “First Name”) in the document match the column labels in the spreadsheet. Note: field designations are not case sensitive. 

  8. When you are sure you have made the right file selections and that the fields match, click on “Confirm.”

  9. On the next screen, choose your preferred output file format. The program defaults to PDF. Give your output file a descriptive name that will allow you to locate it later more easily.

  10. Select “Merge.” 

  11. Input payment information.

At this point, you should have a ready-to-print set of identical documents customized with the information listed in the spreadsheet you chose. 

The mail merge process is even more straightforward if you are starting with Google Docs or Sheets files. Simply skip the upload steps and select the appropriate Google files.

Common Errors

While our service provides a simple-to-use solution, there are a few user errors that frequently occur no matter the mail merge approach.

Inconsistent Field Labels

By far the most common source of mail merge failure is inconsistently labeled fields. Required field labels are not case sensitive, but they do have to match otherwise. In other words, if you use “FirstName” to label the column containing first names in your spreadsheet, you must use “FirstName” (or “firstname”) in the document. Otherwise, the data will not be fetched, and your mail merge will be unusable.

Incomplete or Incorrect Fields

Another common issue is related to data entry. Be sure to take a good look at your spreadsheet data and check to make sure the field labels correspond with the data listed under each label. It is not unusual to see first and last name field labels swapped, for example. If the file is not excessively large, take a pass through the whole list to look for blank fields. Fill in the missing information as you are able. For instance, you can look up zip codes if you have the rest of the street address.

Misplaced Address Block

This issue isn’t limited to mail merge projects, but rather a generalized word processing problem. When merging envelope labels, if the address block is not located in a way that lines up with the envelope window, your letters won’t be deliverable.  

Easy Mail Merge Pricing

We work to keep our prices affordable so that anyone can use our time-saving service. Our lowest price is free.

That’s right: your first five output files (up to 50 cumulative pages) are on the house. Once you exceed this threshold, our (still quite affordable) pricing structure is applied. We keep this pretty easy too:

  • Up to 100 template pages: $3.00 flat rate

  • Every additional 100 pages: $1.00 flat rate

For example, a 275-page mail merge would cost $5.00 total. 

Even substantial projects are affordable with this payment structure, and you don’t have to worry about any taxes or hidden fees.

Easy Mail Merge Benefits

We created Easy Mail Merge as a solution to a recurring problem in the business world: a lack of simple, online resources for merging documents.

When we started creating the service, we focused on simplicity, convenience, and usability. The result is a web-based tool that manages to be both powerful and easy to navigate.

Here are just a few benefits that Easy Mail Merge users enjoy: 

  • A service that doesn’t require an account or a subscription to use

  • A user-friendly experience that’s simple and intuitive even for word processing and spreadsheet novices

  • A service that doesn’t require paying for or downloading any software onto your device

  • A frustration-free mail merge solution that allows users to check accuracy throughout the process

  • A hands-off approach that doesn’t require users to wait around for the merge to finish

We want every user to enjoy an experience free from the frustration often related to traditional mail merges. Easy Mail Merge is the perfect way to customize business and personal mailings hassle-free.

If you have questions, comments, concerns or suggestions, please email team@easymailmerge.com. We’re here to support you every step of the way.