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Mail merge with ACT!

June 19, 2013

One of the ways that ACT! can make your life easier is by automating mailouts to multiple contacts.

The first thing you need to do is to create a template for whatever it is you want to send. Remember that if you are using Microsoft Word as your word processor of choice with ACT! you can do anything in a template that you can do in Word. The only catch is that if you are planning to send the merged documents by email you have to remember that email messages don't have a set width like letters printed on paper, so you have to be a bit thoughtful about how you lay out the document.

Once you have created the template, you can then merge it with selected contacts. Your choices will be to merge to Word Processor, Printer or Email (plus Fax if you have appropriate software installed). The Word Processor option is for checking the final layout before printing, to check for things like where page breaks occur. You can print from the Word Processor option but no history will be recorded.

To test email merge, create an ACT! group of a few people with emails in your office and do a mail merge to them before sending out the real thing. This will let you check the appearance of the emails when they are delivered and can save the embarrassment of sending out a mass of emails and then having to send them again with an apology for errors.

To comply with privacy legislation you should consider including a paragraph explaining that you are emailing people who have had some contact with your company before, and give recipients an email address that they can use to ask to be removed from further contact.

Another good idea, particularly for newsletters, is to put a version of the document on your web site (it can be as an Adobe PDF file) and provide a link in the document to the web page for people whose email programs might not display the email correctly (some email programs strip out images, for example).

The final tip is about how you record history. Don't tell ACT! to save the entire document, just ask for the fact that a message was sent to be retained. You don't need to fill up your ACT! database with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of identical messages.

If you want help with this or training in any aspect of ACT!, please feel free to contact me through the links on our main web site.

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