How to do a mail merge with Google Sheets. Best success tricks and what to avoid

This is an easy, and quick way of getting your information out to a ton of people and fast. You'll have a lot of work ahead of you for finding the actual information first, but then it's super easy to email people out. I've written about casting a wide net and emailing many beauty companies to begin a relationship of collaboration in my "How I collaborated with 20 companies at 5,000 followers" post. 

In this post, I'll disclose how to quickly and efficiently you can not only amass the emails but also reach out and begin establishing relationships, receiving the products, and also keeping up with the contacts for years to come. 

Finding your target

After you decide who your target demographic is on your blog, Instagram, Facebook account, etc. you can then find lists of companies you think would potentially work with you through paid or unpaid collaborations. Because my account was focused on lifestyle and travel, but I only had five, six thousand initially, I couldn't start collaborating with clothing companies quite yet because of how expensive the products tend to be. I didn't want to advertise a t-shirt company that sold $5 tees. I wanted pretty dresses and flowy tops. But those run at $100+ per item, so I didn't think I had a chance to receive an item even (just as a free post).

Instead, I focused on the beauty community. 

Beauty ranges in price and I wanted to pair up with companies I believed in. I began with searching through Credo Beauty because they are a directory of cruelty free, green companies and I felt that if I got any products from said companies, my conscience would be alright when advertising the products to my followers. Green beauty looks good on everyone.  And the best part is that beauty could be very inexpensive, so companies would most likely be more willing to offer products that are $10, $20, $30 for my review and Instagram posts. 

I went through the list of Credo Beauty, compiled all of the emails that are either "contact" or "PR/ Marketing" into an excel spreadsheet and amassed about 140+ emails. Not a bad start.

Does this mean that I have to change up my Instagram feed? A little bit, yes. But I found creative ways of incorporating beauty and still making the post feel authentic to my brand: 

If you don't know how to find a directory of brands, look up your favorite magazines which may have posts featuring companies. It's certainly more work, so try to google search for stores that carry tons of the products you'd like to advertise. So for my example of beauty, I started with Credo (because I knew about it through a friend), and moved on to brainstorm about other companies that carried a large beauty selection. I looked at Sephora, Petit Vour, Goop, Barneys.

This part takes a long time, and it can certainly be outsourced. The first time I've compiled a list, it took me about 3-4 weeks to put together 200+ emails. The second time, I searched for stores / websites with a large selection of beauty and gave the URLs to a couple guys on Upwork.com. I spent about $75 dollars and in turn, I received 1400 emails. It was an easy, fast, and "fiscally conservative" way to receive a large amount of emails in a small amount of time. I think it feels a little bit unethical in the beginning to mass email, but it simply doesn't make sense for you if you have a small budget and very little time. By clearing up your schedule, you have time to create content instead. 

Creating your pitch

My pitch was simple and short. I didn't want anyone to read a novel and I didn't really think that every company would work with me, regardless of how stunning my "cover letter" was. So I made a simple but effective invite to collaborate that went as follows:

Hello to the wonderful people at {{Name}},
I hope your week is off to a great start! My name is Khrys. I am a passionate creator, photographer, and blogger at ______. Check out some of my recent post here, here, and here. (Insert links). 

I am a passionate Instagrammer who also is a total beauty and skincare addict. I see you’ve got a high placement of value on offering healthy, unique, life friendly products and I was hoping we would align. I’d love to talk about what kind of partnership opportunities are available, and see whether we could collaborate. 

I love telling stories through my photos and my work and I’d be interested in what we could come up together. Please find my work at: https://www.instagram.com/khrysthegypsy/

Please let me know your thoughts! Happy to jump on a call to discuss ideas further.

Very warm regards,

Khrys

Setting up the merge

This part is not tricky but it does require some finesse. 

Step 1

After you create your pitch letter, you have to give it a subject name, and leave it as a draft. My subject changes from "Thoughts?.." to "Let's collab" to anything fun that can spark interest. 

When drafting your email, make sure that the name section is the same as it will be in the Excel Spreadsheet. So if you say "Hello wodnerful folks of {{Full name}}" then Full name should also be the title of your Excel column where you will be entering the names. This is very important because then YAMM won't pick up the names correctly. 

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Step 2

Take your list of names and emails, and make sure it is in 2 columns : Name and Email. Copy and paste this list into a standard Excel spreadsheet to make sure you have not gotten any duplicates. Trust me, it's extremely uncomfortable to get messages telling you that the company has "received many many of your messages already but the answer is still no". Oops! 

Go into Excel, click on the tab Data, and press "Remove Duplicates" button.

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After you get clean up the list, you can paste it back into your Google Sheet. 

If you've never used a sheet, it's pretty simple. Log into your email account, and in the upper right corner, hit on the small menu button which will open up to give you the option to see all of the Google Apps. One of those apps is the Google Drive, which is shaped like a triangle. 

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Your Google Drive will give you the ability to create a new Google Sheet by clicking the large " + New" button in the upper left corner of the page.

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Step 3

Make sure that your first column & row is titled "Name" and the second column will be "Email". This will help us with the merge accuracy. 

Go to "Add-ons", click "Get add-ons". When the search window pops up, look up "YAMM" or Yet Another Mail Merge and install it.

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Step 4

After it's installed, you can either choose the free version which offers you 50 emails for every 24 hours, or you can pay $24 per year to be able to send out 400 emails per day. I decided that $24 is nothing in this case and purchased it to speed my process up.

Now it will exist in your "Add-ons" tab. Click "Add-ons", go to "Yet Another Mail Merge" and click "Start mail merge".

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It will now ask you some questions about where you'd like to pull data from, since we haven't yet posted the emails and names yet. Follow with the questions by saying "Add emails myself".

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Once YAMM pre-populates the fields for you (Email Address, Full Name, Example), take the emails you had from your Excel spreadsheet where you've removed the duplicates, and carefully paste them into this new spreadsheet. Just as carefully, add the names of the users/ businesses. Take a quick peek to see whether the names match from the first to the last email.

 

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Now you once again have to go and click on your "Add-ons", follow down to "Yet Another Mail Merge", then finally hit "Start mail merge". This will open up a window that will ask you which Email Template you'd like to use (and we are going to the one we created as a draft).

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Note that I only have 2 more emails in this example but like I said, depending on your plan you can have 50 or 400. You can also hit "Receive a test email" to make sure your email looks high quality but it does deplete your quota! A test email counts as a regular email no matter if you have allotted 50 or 400 emails. 

Step 5 

Profit. Just kidding. Wait patiently. YAMM gives you a nifty little notification where it tells you how many emails it sent out and then it offers statistics on who opened the emails, how many of them bounced, etc.

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Keeping track of responses

And that's it. Emails will start rolling in saying 1 of several things : "Yes lets work together", "No thank you", "We forwarded your info", "Not right now", "What did you have in mind?" or no response at all. Answer however you'd like. I like to offer an idea if the company asks for thoughts and past examples, and suggest we jump on a call. 

One of the most difficult things with mass emails is dealing with the mass responses. When I was sending the emails slowly, one by one, they responses were staggered over a period of weeks. This time, all hell is unleashed. Your inbox is now going to be filled with automatic responses, inquiries, questions, and a bunch of "No"s. I've made an Excel sheet to help you stay organized in my Resources page. Enjoy.

Combing and combing again

Whether you spent time yourself or you paid someone to collect emails, you are now left with a ratio of emails that were sent or bounced. Out of those you had successes, a bunch of "no"s, some "maybe check in with us in 6 months", and some were never opened or responded. It is up to you know how you'd like to proceed. My strategy is to comb over the "Bounced" emails to resolve the problem, check out the sites again, and email the appropriate people.

Through YAMM, you can highlight the emails that were bounced, unopened, etc.

Through YAMM, you can highlight the emails that were bounced, unopened, etc.

I will also check back with the people who never responded to me or never opened my emails. Why didn't they? Probably many reasons: an un-interesting subject that didn't catch their attention, lack of time on their part, lack of organization, or simply no interest to open emails from folks they don't know. I can re-send an email to them saying I'd like to work with them, but maybe change the subject.

I also try to update my sheet. If a company said they don't like to work with influencers, I remove them from my list. If I noticed that I have strange companies that don't really fit with my brand (such as Dyson vacuums for example), I remove them. And then I build on the list as I go. Every time I find a brand, I reach out to that company, and add that to my data set of companies I will email again. But in the next 6 months to a year. By then, I will have most likely doubled my followers, I will have a blog that is constantly growing, a newsletter, etc. I will be a more favorable candidate for collaborations. But also by that time, I will not be reaching out for free products. I will be reaching out for paid collaborations. Stay tuned. 

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