Nov
9

Make your Outlook e-mail newsletters more personal

In our today’s review we will have a close look at plug-ins that can become indispensable assistants for those who are in active correspondence with a large number of users and especially groups of users. I hope you would agree that sending out one and the same message to all recipients is not the best solution. Firstly, your message will lack personality, secondly, you will have a very long (if not to say more) chain of e-mail addresses in the To field. In one of the previous reviews I was covering one aspect of this problem, I am speaking about Outlook plug-ins purposed for sending BCC / CC copies in Outlook automatically.

And the main task of plug-ins in this review is on personalizing your Outlook email correspondence and making your outgoing e-mails more private. Their major task is to automate and personalize the distribution of newsletters, sales offers, and other mass mail of such kind.

So, choosing the desired e-mail addresses or distribution lists, at the output you will have a personalized e-mail for each user and not one and the same message sent to all. So each e-mail message will be addressed to one person only, and the message body will start with the salutation to that person using their first or last name, e.g. Hi Joe, or Dear Frank, or Dear Mr. Green, etc.

This is my vision of e-mail personalization. Let’s see how far my requirements are met by Outlook plug-ins selected for today.

Add-in Version Developer Price Supports
GoMail 3.4.3.4 ExecuteIT $68.95 Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007
Easy Mail Merge for Outlook 1.1.91.0 Digital Software Development $39.95 Microsoft Outlook 2002, 2003, 2007
Send Individually 1.0.119 Sperry Software $49.95 Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007
Send Personally 1.16.4 MAPILab $24 Microsoft Outlook 2007 / 2003 / XP / 2000

GoMail from ExecuteIT

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003, 2007.
  • Microsoft Windows 2000, XP

GoMail web-site

Gomail: Registering assemblies error

The installation of this add-in was to my mind is bit slow. Besides the add-in itself, the installer was trying to install some patch for my Office. In the end, I saw the message saying that this component is already installed (in fact, this should be expected because I always timely update my operating system). However, during all those attempts I had an impression that the installer was hanging and nothing else was happening. At that very moment when I decided to inquire whether the process is alive, the installer began to register something using the console. Then I saw the following message:

According to the message, the registration was not quite successful. I belong to that group of users that prefer to be aware of what is happening in their system. In general, the installation process of Go Mail was quite complicated and obscure.

Gomail: Startup screen

Nevertheless, the startup add-in screen appeared immediately after the installer finished its muss-and-fuss activity. As shown in the screenshot, the trial version is limited to 30 days or 15 runs. The main capabilities of the add-in are also listed there.

So, GoMail Standard Edition is purposed for sending text emails and personalized email to Outlook Distribution List, sending emails to different mailing lists without exposing the list and sending email to a selective category within the CSV database.

My further plays with the add-in ended once and forever immediately after clicking on the Later button. It was a Runtime Error that I got. Addressing their technical support service didn’t make things clear either. My request was enqueued onto the priority queue, in a while its status changed, but I was still unable to find out what that change meant and what I was supposed to do next. It remains only to wait for the new version that will be able to start up.

Easy Mail Merge from Digital Software Development

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2002 (XP), 2003, 2007.
  • Microsoft Windows Me, 2000, XP, Vista.

Easy Mail Merge web-site

Easy Mail Merge: Installation type choosing

As to this plug-in, I have no questions to its installation. On the contrary, you have several advanced options to choose from. Firstly, there is an option of installing the plug-in for a certain user account:

Easy Mail Merge: Finish setup

Secondly, you will not have to look for the add-in by guess-work after the installation is completed. The final screen of the setup wizard demonstrates how the Easy Mail Merge toolbar looks like:

Easy Mail Merge: Startup screen

After starting Outlook, you will see the plug-in welcome screen that will inform you about the number of trial days left and will offer to buy a license.

Easy Mail Merge: Tip of the day

Digesting the inevitability of seeing this screen (naturally until the purchase), next what we see is a tip of the day (that can be disabled and not shown at further startups):
The Easy Mail Merge toolbar looks absolutely traditionally and is located in the customary place on the Excel toolbar:
Easy Mail Merge: Menu items

Easy Mail Merge: Select the source for the current session

Out of all available menu items, the access to the add-in’s functionality is provided by Start Session. By clicking on it you get access to the add-in wizard:

At the first stage, you need to choose the source that contains all necessary contacts and addresses. The following options are available: loading contacts from one or more Outlook distribution lists, loading contacts from your Outlook contacts folder, loading addresses from defined address lists, loading contacts from a CSV file, loading contacts from a previous Easy Mail Merge session.

Easy Mail Merge: Select contact folder

After that, you should specify the location of the selected file or folder (I selected Loading contacts from your Outlook Contacts folders):

Easy Mail Merge: Select contacts

I suppose it should be mentioned here that the evaluation version in limited to 10 records.

After ticking needed contacts and clicking Next, you can proceed outright to editing a template message.

The text personalization is achieved by what the add-in developers call the variable text fields. This process looks as follows:
Easy Mail Merge: Available text variables

A list of customizable fields is bigger than in other add-ins of this kind. The following fields can be personalized: address, emails, file as, first and second name, full name and initials.

Easy Mail Merge: Scenarios editor

In addition, Easy Mail Merge has an option that makes this add-in stand out among other Outlook personalization plug-ins. What I mean is the option for creating scenarios. This option allows you to automate to the process of creating personalized messages depending on a set of criteria (a group of users the e-mail is addressed to, the content of various fields, etc.). You can access this feature via the Insert scenario item. In spite of the fact that the scenario is actually a program, though a very simple one, it won’t require you any programming skills. With the Edit scenario feature, the procedure is utmost simple and clear:

You just choose from available variants, conditions and actions. At that, you can combine all these options any way you like it.

Summing up, I can say that besides some common features and options, the availability of scenarios in the Easy Mail Merge add-in makes it the most flexible and comfortable to use. As to the abilities of working with distribution lists and databases, Easy Mail Merge also leaves all other add-ins far behind.

Send Individually by Sperry Software

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003, 2007.
  • Microsoft Windows Me, 2000, XP, Vista.

Send Individually web-site

This Outlook plug-in for email personalization from Sperry Software doesn’t have a trial version, so we can get some impression of its functionality only from a flash-tour available on the vendor’s web-site. As stated on the vendor’s web-site the add-in:

  • Integrates directly into Outlook and is invoked from within Outlook.
  • Allows customization of each email with keyword substitution (first name, last name, etc)
  • Creates reports to see who has been sent and when.
  • Supports any email format, plain text, Rich Text, or HTML for unlimited creativity.
  • Optionally delays sending to avoid overloading your ISP (for larger mailings).

So, you can access the plug-in from a newly created Outlook message. E-mail addresses are entered into the To field as usually, separated by a semicolon (;). To personalize the message text, you can use several substitutions, or tags. The following tags are available: first name, last name, title, nick name and company name.

Send Individually: Main window

The setting windows contain some addition options that do not relate directly to e-mail personalization, but can help you save a lot of your time. The most important is that you can set the maximum number of outgoing e-mails sent during a given time interval. This will prevent you from being considered a spammer by your e-mail provider. If you wish, you will get a report about successfully and unsuccessfully delivered e-mails, so that you can send the email again to those who didn’t receive your first message.

This window also offers you a brief instruction on sending personalized email.

Send Personally by MAPILab

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2007 / 2003 / XP / 2000.
  • Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista.

Download Send Personally for Outlook

It happens that every new acquaintance with MAPILab plug-ins becomes something more than a mere check of the operability and efficiency of there software, it rather turns into attempts to find what other innovative and original featured were implemented by MAPILab developers. The higher the reputation, however, the more visible becomes any shortcoming, which also puts great responsibility on the developer.

Well, let’s get back to the Send Personally plug-in. As well as all the other plug-ins in this review, Send Personally is purposed for automating the creation and distributing of personalized e-mails to large groups of recipients.

Each e-mail message is created in Outlook separately but automatically, in such a way that other recipients don’t see a long chain of e-mail addresses in the To field, they see only one address, their own one. The same is true for the message body.

As in all other MAPILab plug-ins, the user interface of Send Personally supports several languages (English, German and Russian). The plug-in can be installed for all user accounts or for the current account only. The trial version has some limitations with regard to the number of e-mail addresses (up to 100) and works for 20 days without registration.

Send Personally: Choose installation language

At Outlook startup you will see the welcome wizard that will ask you once again to decide about the language you want to use.

Send Personally: Add-in location

The Program Location window shows you the location and the look of the Send Personally toolbar in Outlook:

In order to start using the plug-in, you just create a new Outlook message and see the Send Personally toolbar there.
Send Personally: Paste macros

The work with the plug-in is organized as follows: all personal information in the message (e-mail address, username, distribution list, first and second name) is replaced with special tags (shown in the screenshot above). Then, upon clicking on the Send Personally toolbar, the plug-in creates personalized e-mails and sends them out. Here how a sample message body looks like:
Send Personally: Message sample with pasted macros

As a conclusion, I can recommend the Send Personally plug-in for those who look for handy and easy-to-use tool, but if you need a more powerful plug-in for Outlook personalization with lots of advanced options, you’d better consider GoMail or Easy Mail Merge for Microsoft Outlook.

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