Thursday, 8 May 2014

Comparing mail merge tools


Last month we published a blog post on performing a mail merge in Google Apps using Yet Another Mail Merge or xsMerge. Since then we’ve been asked to also take a look at Merge by Mail Chimp, and recommend which of the three tools is easiest to use. So, in this blog post we’ll give you a quick overview of Merge by Mail Chimp and do a comparison of the three tools.



Merge by Mail Chimp

This Add-on to Google Docs is a stripped-down version of Mail Chimp, a popular online email marketing solution. The add-on sends the content in a Google Doc to a list of up to 1000 people stored in a Google Sheet. The content in the Google Doc can be personalised for each recipient using fields from the Sheet. Once the email has been sent, you can use Merge by Mail Chimp to track who opens it.

You can learn more about Merge by Mail Chimp in their blog announcement and find the add-on here.

Which mail merge tool is best?

That depends on what you want to use it for! We’ll start with a quick run-down of the pros and cons of each tool, and then make some basic recommendations.


Tool Pros Cons
Yet Another Mail Merge

  • Can compose email in Gmail

  • Supports attachments

  • Can use Gmail contact group for source data



  • Only sends to 100 recipients per day

  • Standard set of merge fields only

  • No email tracking

  • Basic interface

xsMerge

  • Can compose email in Gmail

  • Supports attachments and merged attachments

  • Can also be used to merge Google Docs to PDF

  • Can use Gmail contact group for source data



  • Only sends to 100 recipients per day

  • Standard set of merge fields only

  • No email tracking

  • Basic interface

Merge by Mail Chimp

  • Sends to 1000 recipients at a time

  • Very clean interface that integrates well with Google Docs

  • Customisable merge fields

  • Guides you step by step through the merge process

  • Tracks who opens email

  • Can compose rich content using Google Docs



  • Cannot compose email in Gmail

  • Does not support attachments

  • Your organisation's address, an unsubscribe link and the Mail Chimp logo is automatically appended to the email

  • Cannot use Gmail contact group for source data


As you can see the features and functionality of the three tools vary. While Merge by Mail Chimp is undoubtedly the most professional and easy-to-use of the three, it does have some limitations that do not make it suitable for all tasks. Similarly, although Yet Another Mail Merge and xsMerge are great for basic tasks, they may not be powerful enough to meet more advanced requirements. Here’s our suggestions of what to use when:

You want to send a newsletter, invitation or flyer to a pre-established mailing list
Use Merge by Mail Chimp. You can make a nicely formatted Google Doc as the basis of the email, and track who opens it.

You want to send a simple personalised email to a group of people (for example, to confirm an upcoming event)
Use Yet Another Mail Merge or xsMerge. You would not want to confuse them with an unsubscribe link (from Merge by Mail Chimp) and the more advanced formatting of Google Docs is not required.

You want to send a personalised email and a personalised attachment to a group of people (for example, a congratulatory email and certificate)
Use xsMerge. It can personalise both the email and the attachment from the same data source.

So while none of these tools will do everything you may need, each has strengths that you can use to pick the best one for your task. The good news is, each is easy enough to master so you can move between them as required.





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