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The College Administrator’s Complete Guide to Personalized Mass Emails

College administrators complete guide to personalized mass emails

You’re here because you’re a college administrator who sends a lot of emails. All college administrators send a lot of emails.

GMass has become a very popular mass email and cold email platform for the people running colleges and universities all over the world. But there are still hundreds of colleges out there not using GMass for its personalized mass emails.

In fact, just speculating here — I’d bet there are many college administrators out there who don’t know this type of software even exists.

Today we’ll cover some of the most common types of mass emails college administrators and administration staff send — and how to set those up in a fraction of the usual time in GMass.

College Administrator Emails: Table of Contents

What Are Personalized Mass Emails for College Administrators?

Running an entire college requires mass emails. To send mass emails, you may be:

  • Dumping tons of people into the BCC field.
  • Using tough-to-manage and antiquated listserv lists.
  • Relying on IT to build and maintain a homemade mass email tool.
  • Or worst of all, manually sending nearly-identical emails one-by-one after you customize each one a little bit.

There’s mass email software out there that can make the email process so much easier.

With a tool like GMass you can:

  • Send mass emails that use mail merge personalization for everything from people’s names to specific attachments or links.
  • Send automated follow-ups to people who don’t reply, click, or open.
  • Avoid going to spam folders with deliverability tools.
  • Send emails from Google Workspace without having to learn a new platform.

What types of personalized mass emails are college administrators sending?

We’ve talked with lots of college administrators about how they’re using GMass to send emails to students, faculty, businesses, alumni, and more.

Here are some of the most common ways college administrators are using GMass:

  • Campus event announcements
  • Recruiting for advisory boards and committees
  • Student surveys
  • Sending student class schedules, housing info, and other key individualized information
  • Running the hiring process for faculty and staff
  • Sending a campus-wide newsletter
  • Communicating with groups of faculty and staff
  • Getting info from students, like updates to their student records
  • Sending out grades and transcripts

Through the rest of this article we’ll cover the four most popular types of mass emails and go over how to set them up in GMass.

Note: Before you can send any of these… you’ll need the GMass extension for Chrome. Download it from the Chrome Web Store, then take a quick run through the GMass quickstart guide to get rolling.

How to Send Campus Announcement Emails

You need to keep students, prospective students, faculty, alumni, businesses, and the community informed about important things happening at school.

That can range from a major on-campus event to an update to your school’s COVID restrictions.

And mass emails — especially personalized, trackable ones — are the best way to get the word out.

Creating the campus-wide email

For this example, we’ll send an email to all students, faculty, and staff about a welcome event for the new academic year.

Connect to your Google Sheet(s) of emails

The best way to send personalized mass emails is with Google Sheets. GMass has a native integration with Google Sheets and every column in the sheet becomes a Gmail mail merge field for quick personalization.

There are other ways to add contacts for individual mass emails with GMass, including just pasting all of them into the To field. But for this example, we’ll use the Google Sheets option.

Note: It’s good to include your own email on your Google Sheet to test your campaigns before you send them.

Connect your Google Sheet to GMass by clicking this icon in Gmail.

Connect to GMass spreadsheet

Or by opening a new compose window in Gmail and clicking the icon in the To field.

Connecting to a sheet inside the compose window

Add recipients from a Google Sheet by selecting your Google Sheet from the dropdown.

In the Optional Settings, we won’t need to do any filtering here — we’re sending to everybody.

I’ve made sure “Keep duplicate emails” is unchecked, since everyone on our list only needs one email. And I’ve checked “Update Sheet with reporting data” so GMass will update my Google Sheet with opens, clicks, replies, and bounces.

Google Sheet connection options

I’ll also add a second sheet of contacts to this email, the school’s faculty and staff. With GMass’s Multi Merge feature you can connect multiple lists to a single email campaign.

To connect to the second sheet, I’ll click the GMass icon in the To field of the compose window.

Connect to a second sheet

And I’ll connect my second Google Sheets with the same settings.

Connection settings for my second list

Composing the email

Now you can compose your email like any normal Gmail email.

For this example, I whipped up a quick flier in Canva to add to the email as well.

Begin to build your email

If you want to format the email further, you can use Gmail’s built-in formatting tools. You can also format your email by editing the HTML in the GMass settings. (HTML editing isn’t something you can normally do so easily in Gmail — GMass adds the HTML editing function.)

Edit HTML using GMass

After I’ve made my formatting edits (I used HTML to set the background color and turn my link white), my email looks like this:

College administrator emails with formatting

Adding personalization

For this example, I’ll add the person’s name to the top of the invitation.

Type a left curly brace { in the email and the list of mail merge options will appear. The mail merge options are the names of the columns from your Google Sheet (or multiple Google Sheets).

Curly brace makes the mail merge options appear

I’ll set it up with a fallback value (in case we don’t have someone’s name filled in on the Google Sheets). I went with {FirstName|let’s celebrate} for this email. That way it would say You’re invited, Laura! — or, if we don’t have the person’s name, You’re invited, let’s celebrate!

The email with everything done

Scheduling the email — and setting automated follow-ups

Now that I’ve finished composing my email I’m going to adjust the campaign settings.

To get to the GMass settings (which I alluded to earlier in the section about editing HTML), click the arrow next to the GMass button in the compose window.

Setting up automated follow-ups

I want to send two follow-ups, once a week, to people who haven’t clicked on the RSVP link.

To set those up, go to the Auto Follow-up section of the GMass settings box.

Check the box for Stage 1. I’ll set this so if there’s no click on my original email after seven days, it will send a follow-up.

I’m going to make it a quick, one-sentence follow-up — mostly to bump up this email thread in the person’s inbox.

I’ll set the Stage 2 reminder to go out seven days after that.

Here’s how it looks in the GMass settings box:

Auto follow-ups in GMass

Scheduling the email

I want this email to go out on Monday morning. To schedule the email, click into the Schedule section of the settings box. Then select the time and date you want.

Scheduling the email

Breaking Gmail’s limits to send all the emails at once

Google sets a limit of up to 2,000 emails per day for Google Workspace accounts. That’s not going to work if you’re sending to the entire student body and faculty.

With GMass, you can break Gmail’s daily limits and send virtually unlimited emails.

You’ll need to set up an external third-party SMTP server to do so. Check out the instructions for using an external SMTP server with GMass.

Also: Since you’re sending non-commercial emails, you can apply to use GMass’s own SMTP server as the easiest way to break Gmail’s limits.

Sending a test of the entire sequence

The campaign is ready. Time to test it to make sure everything works right.

In the GMass settings, click the arrow next to Send Test and check the box next to Send all stages.

Send all test stages

Then click the Send Test button. A few moments later you should see the first email and the sequence of follow-ups in your inbox.

Here’s the result:

Test send of the sequence

All looks good to me. The mail merge personalization worked right, everything else looks how I want — so this is ready to go.

Sending the email

When you’re ready to send the campaign (or have it go out at the future date and time you scheduled), click the GMass buttonNot the regular Gmail send button.

Send with the GMass button

How to Send Emails for Surveys (with Reminders)

The next personalized mass email we’ll cover in this guide is a survey email. The most important part: We’ll send automated reminders to people who don’t fill out the survey.

Before you create your email, you’ll need:

  • Your survey link (SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, or whatever survey provider you’re using)
  • Google Sheet of all recipients’ email addresses

Note: It’s possible to use custom links for each recipient if necessary. Check out our guide to using personalized links in GMass. The quick version: You’ll just need to add a column in your Google Sheet with each recipient’s link.

Sending out the surveys

Connect your Google Sheet to a new GMass campaign in Gmail in the ways described earlier: By clicking the sheet icon next to the search bar or by clicking the GMass icon in the Compose window To field.

In the Google Sheet connection options, I’ll leave “Keep duplicate emails” unchecked — every student just needs one survey. And I will check the box to update my sheet with reporting data.

Connecting to the sheet to send surveys

Using filters to send to a specific group of students

If you don’t want to send the survey to everyone on your spreadsheet, you can use the Filter Rows options in the connection box.

For instance, if I only want to send this survey to students in the College of Arts and Sciences and not the School of Engineering and others, I could set up a filter. I have a column in my Google Sheet called “College”. And I’ll set a filter where College=CAS.

With that filter, GMass will only send to email addresses in rows where the College is CAS.

Filtering rows

Writing the email

Now compose the email (like any normal email in Gmail) and include the survey link.

Compose the survey email

Adding names for personalization

You can add names to your email (and/or subject line) to help convey you value their specific response.

In the example email, I’ve added the person’s first name to the subject line (along with a fallback value “Attention” in case we don’t know have their first name filled in on the Google Sheet).

I’ve also added their full name to the body of the email. I used conditional logic here to handle situations where we might not have someone’s first and/or last name.

This code tells GMass if the first name is empty, don’t include a space for name, just put a comma. If we have the first name but not the last name, just include the first name followed by a comma. And if we have both, use both followed by a comma.

{{If FirstName = "" Then}},{{Else If LastName = "" Then}}{FirstName},{{Else}}{FirstName} {LastName},{{End If}}

Added personalization and conditional formatting

Following up automatically with students who don’t take the survey

Open the settings for your campaign by clicking the arrow next to the GMass button.

Go to the Auto Follow-up section to create your follow-ups.

For the example, we’ll set up three auto follow-ups that will go to students who haven’t clicked the survey link.

I’ve set these up so the first message will go out if someone hasn’t clicked after four days… the next one will go out five days after that if there hasn’t been a click… and the final one will go out a week after that if the person still hasn’t clicked.

Auto follow ups to survey non responders

But… what about students who click the survey but don’t take it? There are ways to track that — but they’re more advanced. To learn about those techniques, you can read up on GMass suppression lists or the GMass Zapier integration; both would work for that situation.

However, it’s likely the faster method from this article will still catch almost all of the students who haven’t taken the survey.

Testing and sending the survey email

You can test the entire sequence by clicking the arrow next to “Send Test” in the GMass settings box. Select “Send all stages” then hit the purple Send Test button.

Here’s what your test result should look like. The mail merge personalization worked as expected. I can see the survey link isn’t included in the second follow-up (it was lumped in with the three dots section) so I’ll bump that up for my final send. That’s why we send tests.

The survey sequence

Once the email is ready to go, hit the red GMass button to send. Follow-ups will go out automatically as needed.

Sending Emails with Personalized Attachments (e.g., Class Schedules, Housing Assignments, Email Credentials)

In the two examples above we’ve sent individual, personalized emails — but we’ve only personalized by including people’s names.

Sometimes you’ll need to personalize a whole lot more than that.

With GMass, you can personalize entire paragraphslinksimages, who’s CCed and BCCedattachments, and more.

For this example, we’ll focus on attachments: Sending each new student a PDF of their class schedule for the fall semester.

You’ll need:

  • Google Sheet of everyone to whom you’ll send the email
  • The attachments hosted on a web server (Google Drive, Dropbox, AWS, your own server)

Adding the personalized attachments to your Google Sheet

Create a column in your Google Sheet for the URLs to the schedule PDFs that includes the word “attachment.” I’ve called mine AttachmentSched.

Google Sheet with attachment column

You can read more about the attachment links here. If your files are on Google Drive, you can just include the file names. If they’re on any other server (like Dropbox in my example), you need to include the full link.

Create your campaign and connect the Google Sheet

I’ve covered the process of connecting a Google Sheet to a new GMass campaign in the prior two examples, so I won’t reiterate it here. It’s the same deal: Connect your Google Sheet, then write your email in the Gmail compose window.

You don’t need to do anything special to add the attachments. When GMass sees an “attachments” column in your spreadsheet, it knows to attach those files.

Create your campaign that has custom attachments

Send a test, then send the campaign

In the GMass settings, click the Send Test button to try out the campaign.

Here’s my test; you can GMass sent the correct PDF as an email attachment.

The email with my file attached

Assuming everything looks right you can send the emails by clicking the red GMass button.

Cold Outreach to Advisory Board Candidates

So far we’ve covered situations where you’re sending mass emails to students, faculty, alumni — basically, to people who know you and would expect emails from you.

This situation covers something different: Cold email. GMass is one of the most popular cold email platforms and is fully equipped to handle your cold campaigns.

Things to do before you send a cold email campaign

Cold email campaigns work a bit different than mass email campaigns. While cold email is not spam and is legal, some people still may report your emails as spam. That can hurt your overall deliverability — so some of your regular emails in the future may go to spam.

Here are three steps to take before you dive into cold email campaigns to avoid some potential issues.

Consider creating a new email address

Are you ready to risk your primary email address? If you’re sending emails from your college’s .edu domain, some spam reports on cold emails won’t ruin the entire domain — it’s too powerful. But those spam reports could affect your specific email address.

So consider getting a separate email address just for cold email, especially if you’re sending large-scale cold email campaigns.

Build a targeted list

One of the big differences between cold email and spam is cold email is targeted. Your cold emails should go to a carefully-curated list of recipients who would be interested in your offer. The better the list, the better the results. (And the less likely you’ll get spam complaints.)

Take the time to build good cold email outreach lists for your campaigns.

Write your cold email and follow-ups

In this example, I’m cold emailing people (some alumni, but also local businesspeople unaffiliated with the college) about joining our campus advisory board.

You can read up on effective cold email copywriting techniques elsewhere on the GMass blog. In short, I’ve made sure the offer focuses on the person, not on me — and I’ve made it clear what’s in it for them.

Write your cold email to potential advisors

Set up your follow-up emails

It’s important to send automated follow-ups to cold emails — in fact, right around the fourth email is often where you’ll see the results start coming in fast.

Click the arrow next to the GMass button. Then type up your auto follow-up messages. Send them if “No Reply” — with cold emails, replying is usually the action you want recipients to take.

I’ve set up follow-ups here to extend over the course of almost an entire month.

Cold email follow-up sequence

Send a test, then send the emails

You can send yourself a test of the entire sequence by clicking the arrow next to Send Test in the GMass settings. Then choose to “Send all stages.”

Here’s how it looks in my inbox:

Cold advisory sequence test

If everything looks right, send your emails by clicking the red GMass button in the compose window. The first emails will go out, with scheduled automated follow-ups after as they’re needed.

College Administration Emails: Next Steps

There are endless ways college administration offices can use personalized mass and cold emails.

We’ve covered four of the most popular uses in this article. Once you’re familiar with GMass, you’ll undoubtedly come up with all sorts of other ways you can use the platform to better communicate with everyone on campus (and beyond).

GMass also has plans for teams — get everyone in your administration office using GMass. You can even share things across your accounts, like a list of unsubscribed email addresses.

You can give GMass a try for free and send up to 50 emails per day during your trial. Just download GMass from the Chrome Web Store to get started.

And believe it or not, you’ll be sending your first personalized campus-wide mass email in a matter of minutes.

See why 99% of users say they’ve had their best deliverability ever with GMass

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