Premiere Issue December 2001
Mail Merge by Tom Antion
Sending out permission based* emails has been the most
profitable thing I have ever done in 30 years of business. One way to
maximize the response from any emails you send is to personalize them.
In email marketing this is known as "mail merge."
Mail merges can get a much higher response from people
because it appears personalized when it is received in the email box of
the recipient. Although you can overdo this, in most cases you will get
more people to open and respond to your email when using this technique.
A mail merged email message may look something like this
before you send it out.
Subject: <$firstname$>, we have
a special on ButtCamp CDs
Body of message:
Thanks so much for purchasing
the <$product$>, on <$date$>,. By now you are certainly putting all the
techniques you learned into action.
(Insert good copywriting
paragraphs here . . . )
<$firstname$>, don't you think it's
about time to make the next move and get the knowledge you need to
increase your revenues on the Internet.
If so, order easily from our
secure shopping cart . . . . .
In the above example <$firstname$>, <$product$>, and
placeholder fields.. When you send out a mail merge the person's name is
inserted where the <$firstname$> field is. The product they purchased is
inserted where the <$product$> field is and so on. You can make any number
of custom fields and insert the actual data in each email that goes out.
You actually have two files that are "merged"
as each email is delivered. One file is called the data file. This is
where all the real information about your email recipients is
The other file is the message file (like the sample
above). This is the structure of the message you wish to send. It
contains the placeholders <$fields$>that will be replaced by the real
information from the data file.
The downside is that some people put in goofy or fake names or no
name at all which makes their email look funny when they receive it
because information will be missing from the data file. Some programs
can correct for this.
Make it really personal
Once in awhile I have a little trouble with someone who bought something
and listed his/her name as R. Wilson or something like that. If you mail
merge this person the message would read "Dear R." which
sounds and looks stupid. When we run across a record like this we do
everything possible to find out the real first name.
One way to make an educated guess of their name is to look at their
email address. It might say Rob@123.com . In that case we change the
database to say Rob Wilson instead of R. Wilson.
In some cases we visit 123.com and see if they own the site. Their
real name is usually listed.
Another thing we'll do is call the customer to make sure their order
is OK and in the course of conversation make sure we get the first name.
One more tip.
The database may say the customer's name is William Harrison because
William used his legal name on the order form to make sure his credit
card authorized properly. If we see a formal name like William we make
every effort to determine if William is actually "Bill." It
doesn't sound very personal to get an email marked "Dear
William" if William goes by Bill. Mail merging to Dear William
could actually be counterproductive because Bill will know immediately
that you are not very familiar with him and he may delete the email as
soon as he sees the name William in the Subject Line of the email or the
Dear William inside the email.
Mail merge can really increase the amount of money you
make from your existing database.
Permission based means that people have asked to receive my emails
topics for this section:
Plain Text Email
List management companies
Getting subscribers fast
Getting content fast
How to make money with your zine
How to gain clout with your zine
How to maximize the signups on your website
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