Internal Communications

How to Use Google Sheets for Mail Merges


By Alex Cleary


Mail merges let you personalize your mass emails to increase open rates and boost engagement—but setting up mail merges can be a pain without the right tool. We’ll explore how to send mail merges in Google Sheets, and why you should use ContactMonkey instead.

If you send emails to hundreds or thousands of recipients, manually personalizing each email is effectively impossible. This is where mail merges shine: you can customize countless emails from one centralized document.

Google Sheets has a mail merge functionality that allows mass email personalization in Gmail. Though effective, using Google Sheets for Gmail mail merges is tedious to say the least. We’ll explore how to send a mail merge using Google Sheets, and then show you why using ContactMonkey is way better.

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What is Mail Merge?

Mail merge is a method for personalizing multiple emails from a single document or interface. Rather than entering unique information into every email being sent, your emails are personalized from a single document that contains this unique information.

Your mail merge document contains different fields of information that are applied to each email you send. The information in your mail merge document is organized based on your recipients; each recipient will have fields unique to them like first name and last name, title, location, and any other recipient-specific information you need to include.

This information can be inserted into an email template using merge tags. By using merge tags, your email template populates with personalized information depending on who it’s being sent to. You can easily send hundreds or thousands of personalized emails (depending on Gmail email limits or Outlook email limits) using just your mail merge document and an email template.

Why use mail merge?

Personalized emails have a higher engagement rate than those without personalization. If your business relies on email to engage employees, then you should be using personalization.

Mail merge gives you an efficient way to personalize emails to your employees. Rather than spending hours creating unique emails on an individual basis, all you need to do is maintain your mail merge document with updated information.

Mail merge also lets you add customized merge fields to your emails, so you can tailor your email personalization to your business needs.

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How to Use Google Sheets to Send Mail Merges in Gmail

With Google, you can use mail merge through a combination of your Gmail inbox and Google Sheets. Google provides you with the required assets in order to perform a mail merge on their help page.

Here is a quick breakdown of how to use mail merge with Google Sheets:

1. Create your mail merge spreadsheet

Your mail merge spreadsheet should contain all the information you plan to use in your email. This can include fields like:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Email address
  • Location
  • Company Name
  • Job title

We recommend mapping out all the information you potentially need in your emails to avoid having to constantly update your spreadsheet.

Using the spreadsheet provided by Google, add the email addresses of your employees. If you wish to use additional merge tags, add a column titled with the type of tag you want to include:

Screenshot of Google Sheets Mail Merge spreadsheet.

Note: If you change the names of the existing column rows, you’ll have to update the script code used by the spreadsheet accordingly.

2. Adding merge tags to your email template

After your mail merge spreadsheet is properly updated, head over to your Gmail inbox and open up a new draft. Create your email as you normally would, and then add whichever merge tags you’d like to use.

Screenshot of merge tags within Gmail email draft.

Your merge tags should be formatted using curly brackets (also called ‘braces’) surrounding the category which you’d like to insert. For example, the merge tag to add your recipients’ first name to your email will look like {{First name}}.

Note: Ensure your merge tag text is written and capitalized the same as its corresponding column. And make sure its formatting matches how the rest of your email text is formatted.

3. Populate your merge tags

After you’ve added your merge tags and you’re happy with your email draft, add a subject line to your email and copy it.

Navigate back to your mail merge spreadsheet and click Mail Merge>Send Emails. Authorize the script used by the mail merge spreadsheet when prompted.

Note: If you get a warning indicating that “This app isn’t verified”, click Advanced and then click “Go to Gmail/Sheets mail merge (unsafe)”.

Click Mail Merge>Send Emails again, and paste your email subject line in the text box that appears:

Screenshot of the email subject line text box within Google Sheets mail merge.

Note: When pasting your subject line into Google Sheets, ensure that it matches exactly with how it appears in your Gmail email draft, otherwise the script will not populate your merge tags.

You’re now ready to send your email featuring whichever merge tags you chose. These fields will be personalized depending on who is receiving your email.

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Downsides of Google Sheets Mail Merge

As you might be able to tell from the previous steps, using mail merge with Google Sheets can be a lengthy process.

It requires you to manually update and maintain your mail merge spreadsheet with the required information. You also have to switch back and forth between Gmail and Google Sheets in order to make it work.

In addition to the time-consuming creation process, mail merges in Google Sheets do not support merge tags in the subject line. Personalized subject lines are shown to increase open rates by 10-14%, which makes them one of the most important applications for merge tags.

Finally, Google Sheets mail merges require the use of a scripted code in order to populate your merge tags. We mentioned how you’ll need to edit this code if you want to add additional merge tags—if you break the code you will have to start again or contact Google support, which can be a tedious process.

Use ContactMonkey to Send Mail Merges in Gmail

If you frequently send emails featuring merge tags, using Google sheets can be overly time-consuming and occasionally frustrating.

To save time and effort, we recommend using an email app like ContactMonkey to optimize your email design process:

1. Design your email (including merge tags)

Rather than spending time populating or updating your mail merge spreadsheet, ContactMonkey lets you focus on what really matters: designing and sending great looking, effective emails.

Using ContactMonkey’s drag-and-drop email template builder, you can easily create an email template from scratch or choose from a library of pre-made templates. Customize your template using the many content tiles available.

Select Merge tags from the text menu. Here you can select which merge tags you’d like to include. Simply click the merge tag you want and it will be automatically inserted into your email copy:

Screenshot of merge tags used within ContactMonkey's email template builder.

Once you’re happy with your email design and merge tag placement, click Save & exit.

2. Add subject line merge tags

Head over to your Gmail inbox (you won’t need to go back to the email template builder). Click the Internal Comms button in your inbox that appears when you use ContactMonkey. This will open up a new email draft, but with some important additions.

In the email draft window, click the Templates button and import the email you created.

Screenshot of template selection menu in Gmail using ContactMonkey.

After you’ve imported your email template, you can now add additional merge tags—including to the subject line—using the merge tag button that appears in your email draft window (it looks like this: {}). This button will generate properly-formatted merge tags that you just need to paste into your email body copy or subject line.

Screenshot of subject line with merge tags using ContactMonkey

Once you’re happy with your email, click the Preview button to scan your email for errors (like if a merge tag is incorrectly formatted). If you need to send the email at a later date, click the Send Later button to select a date and time for your email to be sent automatically from your inbox.

3. Track the success of your merge tags

After sending your email with ContactMonkey, you’ll have access to a wide-variety of email metrics to measure how your recipients engaged with your email. From your analytics dashboard, you can track information like:

  • Open rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Read time
  • Opens by device and location
  • Individual email opens and link clicks
ContactMonkey internal communications tools analytics

You are also given a variety of tools to analyze this information to find insights like your best performing content and most engaged recipients/departments/locations. Using these internal email analytics, you can refine your email design process so you can send better emails.

Google Sheets Mail Merge FAQs

What is a mail merge?

A mail merge is a method for personalizing multiple emails from a single document or interface. It can be used to send customized emails to large groups of recipients without having to individually edit email.

How to use mail merge with Google Sheets?

Google offers a script which enables a Google Sheet to populate merge tags within an email. You can create custom merge fields within your Google Sheet to insert into your email.

Why use mail merge?

Using a mail merge saves you the effort of manually customizing email information based on the recipient. If you’re sending hundreds or thousands of emails that require personalization, mail merges are the only realistic choice.

How to use mail merge without Google Sheets?

Mail merges can be performed without Google Sheets using email apps like ContactMonkey. These tools remove the need for using a spreadsheet and script when using the Google Sheets method.

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Easier and Faster Mail Merges with ContactMonkey

Saving even a tiny amount of time on a repetitive task can result in huge amounts of time and effort over a year. Using ContactMonkey, Mettler Toledo has saved over 25 days a year on their internal communications.

By optimizing your email personalization process, you can remove unnecessary steps and recurring errors when performing mail merges. ContactMonkey’s email template builder and Gmail plugin makes your creation and sending process easier than ever.

Want to see how ContactMonkey can supercharge your internal emails? Book a free demo to see our email tool in action:

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