Using Mail Merge to Scale Outreach

by on August 21, 2012 | posted in Scalable Link Building

My friend Eric Pratum of InboundAndAgile told me about the Google Doc ability to merge cells with Gmail, allowing you to setup custom inputs with common e-mail variables like “URL”, “First Name”, and “Site Name” to scale the heck out of your outbound work. Basically, it takes whatever your cells are in Google Docs, automatically syncs it with a drafted e-mail you’ve created with variables on each cell, and then blasts it out to the list you’ve created in seconds.

I did some research and found the original post that describes the process, which also includes a copy of the document and script you can copy  for your site. I’ve used it, and it works really well, and will definitely be a permanent part of my process ongoing.

Since you can’t add “true customization” for each site, I suggest you do this for:

  1. Mass numbers of low tier prospects
  2. Spots where you can get creative with customization, such as getting outsourced workers to find related URLs about your linkable asset on the domain and then also create different persona e-mails to pitch smaller subgroups

If you try and contact high value sites, the lack of true ability to modify e-mails may lower the effectiveness/use of this. However, when you can blast out 500 customized e-mails pretty quickly to people with lower interest/potential value, it can be wickedly effective in building a scalable process.

This kind of thing is pretty common from e-mail marketing service providers, but for us, the link builders, it can also be effective at the micro level to more efficiently contact prospects who might be interested in our content.

  • Annie Cushing

    We tried using this at SEER, but then we couldn’t use Boomerang, which our link builders really rely on to stay on top of communication.

  • Eric Pratum

    I’m sure that you picked up quickly on this, Ross, but just for anyone that has not, a mail merge is an awesome way to create a high level of personalization with your outreach. Think of anything that you might be able to categorize and then drop into an email, and that can be handled by mail merge. Maybe, you sentence says, “I’ve really been enjoying your posts that talk about…” You mail merge field can be populated by almost anything that is grammatically correct and seemingly relevant to you and the recipient.

  • Eric Clark

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing. Interestingly, mail merge isn’t available between Google Docs Documents and Spreadsheets (I’ve been waiting for that for a long time). There’s a somewhat complicated third party app that handles it right now. But this is very cool.

  • Slavik Volinsky

    Finally got to use this — this tool is an amazing time-saver! Thank you for sharing.

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