Create your Own Email Survey with GMail Mail Merge and Google Forms
Email is the stable and somewhat "formal" means of communication that is recognized and used by nearly every Internet based form of communication. You learn how to email next to learning how to open a browse and start Googling. Sending out individual emails soon lead to sending to multiple recipients, and then to email lists, or email groups. Email quickly grows to an important everyday task in our personal and professional lives.
One might have eventuall come to the need to send out email "questionnaires" or "surveys" to friends/family and colleagues. This can be as light as party invitations and RSVP's, and to formal business emails and requests for proposals and feedback. You might have previously done this by either sending "one-to-one" emails (tedious, prone to errors as you are doing copy-paste), OR the easy "one-to-many" (in which you send to all your address book contacts, disregarding privacy and not really learning to use the "BCC" email feature). After getting through the initial hurdle of composing that "survey" email and popping-up everybody's email address one by one, the next task is to wait and gather the replies.
After sending out that "mass email" invite whether for a personal occasion or business purpose, awaiting the reply is the next task.
- Some recipients will simply click the "Reply" button and email you back their input. This works fine as the recipient directly sends an email to you only.
- Some may have incorrectly learned the option for "Reply-to-All" and sends out their response this way -- thus spamming everyone with their reply. And thus possibly causing a second branch of spam replies and replies after replies, after replies! Basically now flooding everyone's email and totally losing track of the original purpose of the email survey!
So we have established the needs of our simple email survey requirement:
- the occasional need of sending out email surveys
- keep the privacy of others by not showing their email as recipients too
- replies should be directed only to you
- keep track of responses THE PROPOSED SOLUTIONS: Tedious One-to-One emails
We can compose individual emails for reach recipient, input each email address, paste the body of the email, personalize the greeting with the recipient's name. This is indeed the hard and long approach. If done without any copy paste mistakes, this will be effective and useful for keeping track of future replies and email threads. This also keeps the privacy of communication only between the two emailing individuals. Of course, its obvious that the problem is the repetitive copy-paste which may be prone to error or just difficult to manage if you are looking at 300 to 500 or even a thousand recipients! The One-Shot "One-to-Many" emails
To do this method correctly, one must remember that sending out an email to a hundred or thousand people from your Address Book by doing "select all" and then pasting them all to the "To" field is definitely the wrong way to do it! Do it this way and you basically let everyone know who your personal contacts are, and you void everyone's privacy of keeping their email addresses private.
Doing this "right", requires that you copy-paste all that hundred to maybe thousand email address in the "BCC" field of the email. The BCC field keeps private all the other email recipients, so that only you and the recipients email will be shown in the email header.
================================================== ==== THE RIGHT SOLUTION: MAIL MERGE AND AN ONLINE SURVEY FORM!
The Tech Savy approach to sending modern online surveys via email is suggested to be with sites like SurveyMonkey.com and Zoomerang. This websites provide an easy to setup online form and mass emailing capability. These sites will indeed simplify the tasks! Problem solved!?
With the free online survey websites, you get what you get for it being free. The emails sent out are likely to contain adds. The emails and responses are likely to require that users register for an account before replying. Your respondents shouldn't need to create an account and go through many registration burdens just to reply if they are coming to your party or not!
So on to the solution:
1. Free GMAIL MAIL MERGE
2. Free GOOGLE FORMS
GMail Mail Merge will be used to manage the process of sending out that mass number of emails -- all while keeping privacy, consistency in the address and personal greeting.
Google Forms will be used as the online answer form to your survey questions -- all while keeping the response of each individual private, secure, and easily tracked.
================================================== ==== Step one: How-to GOOGLE FORMS
1. Login to Google Drive, and create a new Form
2. Choose your design template
3. Customize the important settings, it is best to never require a login -- you want to give the respondents the ease of immediately answering your survey questions and not having to bother creating yet another online account.
4. Begin designing your form and questions
5. When done with the questions, remember to have a submit button and confirmation message that their response has been received.
6. Save the form, and take note of the system generated link that will allow others to view your survey. Copy and save this link for we will be using to in the next step of GMail Mail Merge!
================================================== ==== Step two: How-to GMAIL MAIL MERGE
Mail Merge is the tool for sending out emails with corresponding email addresses and personal greetings. There is no built-in Mail Merge option in GMail, but there exists many user created GMail plugins that will enable this feature. The steps below guide you into creating using a Mail Merge script, and then using it with GMail to send out messages.
1. Open Google Drive, and create a new Google Spreadsheet.
Click on Tools
, click Script Gallery
2. Search and install the script named as "Yet Another Mail Merge"
3. Give the script permissions to be added to Google Docs and GMail
4. Proceed to GMail and compose a draft email that contains your invitation message. Use place holder variables that the Mail Merge will later reference to when sending out the emails.
Notice the placeholder that I used for <<FirstName>>.
Populate the spreadsheet with the email addresses and names
We will be using this placeholder in the Mail Merge script.
5. Proceed to Google Drive, and create a new Google Spreadsheet. Create the columns with the first rows being the header of the data.
Since we have used only one placeholder <<FirstName>> we indicate that the FirstName column in the spreadsheet will contain the details that correspond as first name to the email address.
6. Click on Mail Merge
, and select Standard Merge
7. You are prompted to select the draft of the email with which to attach the Mail Merge.
Select the title of the Draft email that you composed in Step 4.
Input your name -- so that the outgoing emails sent by Mail Merge is properly labelled with your name as the sender.
8. You have successfully sent out the email invites / email survey!
9. Track the responses of those who have viewed and responded to your survey
I hope you found this tutorial helpful! Good luck on your next email invite or survey! I hope you have fun creating and customizing more email forms and mail merges!