Bootstrapping skills – mailmerge

This is a short post about a subject that someone in your office needs to know about. A basic understanding of how mailmerge works, along with a bit of lateral thinking can help you get your information out very effectively – and save you loads of work. It’s as useful a bit of knowledge as ‘how to write a blog-post’ is.

If you’re a large organisation, with a web-development budget and well-established processes, then this won’t be of much interest to you. But if you’re a small-ish outfit who want to be able to get visitors to your website, get them to fill in a form and then be able to use that information, you can get some great processes ready with an absolute minimum of tech development and skills training – as long as you know two things:

WordPress websites can incorporate the (free!) Formbuilder tool – it allows you to create customisable web-forms on your site in minutes – with only the briefest bit of training. It takes a few minutes to install on your site and a few more to understand how it works.

Formbuilder can be set to capture information in a .csv file format. You can download this to your desktop, open it in Microsoft Excel, and use it to create a mailmerge document – as this YouTube tutorial demonstrates nicely.

This opens up all kinds of opportunities for creativity. You can capture these details and then send out form-letters if you like. But there are plenty of other creative things you can do with mailmerges.

Have a go at doing this if you can find a moment. Once you’ve done it a few times, you may be able to do a bit of lateral thinking and come up with some other applications of this process – to compile directories, write website code or organise events – end to end – from ticketing to name-badges, place-cards, notification letters or e-mail-shots.

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