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Complete Guide to Mail Merge Personalization in Gmail [UPDATED 2018]

GMass offers a number of ways to personalize the Subject and Message of your mail merge campaigns sent with Gmail. From basic mail-merge style personalization to fallback values and automatic-first-name detection, this guide takes you through all of the options.

Simple Personalization

At the most basic level, you can use {FirstName} and {LastName} to personalize emails if you’re sending to email addresses that are your existing Gmail Contacts, meaning people with whom you’ve had prior email conversations. Your Gmail Contacts contain names along with email addresses.

If you’re connecting to a Google Sheets spreadsheet, then you can use any column from the spreadsheet to personalize, like {Company}, {LastPurchase}, or {DateOfBirth} for example, assuming that your spreadsheet contains the columns Company, LastPurchase, and DateOfBirth.

You can use these simple personalization variables in the Subject and Message. GMass gives you one-click buttons in the Settings panel to insert personalization variables.

Note that the buttons will only insert the personalization variables into the Message, but you can copy/paste them into the Subject too.

Fallback Values

If you know that your personalization variables will have a value for some email addresses but won’t for others, you can set a fallback value to be used when the personalization value is blank. For example, you could use {FirstName|Friend} in your message. If a “FirstName” is available, it will be substituted; otherwise “Friend” will be substituted. You can use the fallback value syntax, a pipe symbol, followed by the fallback value, with any personalization variable.

Google Sheets vs No Google Sheets

If you’re connecting to a Google Sheets spreadsheet, then you’ll get separate personalization buttons in the GMass Settings Box, one button corresponding to each column in your spreadsheet. If you are not connecting to a spreadsheet, then you’ll just get the standard FirstName, LastName, EmailAddress personalization buttons, where the values correspond to the email addresses and names of your Gmail Contacts.

Multi-word Names

Sometimes the names associated with your Gmail Contacts have not just two words, but three or four words. This is especially common in East Asian cultures. Therefore, in addition to FirstName and LastName, which will use the first word of the name and the last word of the name, you can instead use the syntax {Name1}, {Name2}, {Name3}, and {Name4}. Name1 corresponds to the first word in the name, Name2 to the second word, and so on.

For example, if you are sending to a Gmail Contact that looks like:

<loh@twitter.com> “Loh Kin Poh”

Asian convention dictates that you address someone by all three words of the name, so in this case you would use:

Dear {Name1} {Name2} {Name3}:

at the beginning of your message.

Auto First Name Detection

GMass has developed an algorithm that can accurately auto-detect someone’s first name just from their email address. To insert the auto-detected first name, use the syntax {auto-first}. Again, you can use this syntax in the Subject and Message. In the below example we auto detect the first name and use a fallback value of “old friend” in cases where the first name cannot be detected.

Combining techniques

You can use personalization values along with auto first name detection and fallback values. For example, let’s say you’re using a spreadsheet with these columns:


Some of the FirstName values are blank. So for those, you want GMass to auto detect the first name. And in cases where GMass cannot auto detect the first name, you want to use “old friend”. In that case, the syntax would look like:

Hi {FirstName|auto-first|old friend}:

The personalization tokens are tried in order they are placed inside the curly brackets. Fallback values should be separated by the pipe symbol ( | ).

Advanced Personalization Techniques

Along with the techniques above, you can also:

Testing Personalization

It’s easy to make sure your personalization is working before you send your email to all of your recipients. You can use the Send Test Email button to send a test email to yourself or anyone else. Then just check your Inbox, or your Sent Mail Folder, to make sure the test email looked the way you expect.

You can also choose to create Drafts first instead of sending the mass email. That allows you to spot check all of Drafts, one for each recipient, and then if the personalization in the Drafts looks the way you expect, you can click a link to send all the Drafts.


Still having trouble getting mail merge personalization to work? See our the top reasons why personalization fails.

  1. Hey Ajay, we're getting this error when we try to send an email.

    our mass email has NOT been processed by GMass. Error details: Google.Apis.Requests.RequestError
    Not Found [404]
    Errors [
    Message[Not Found] Location[ – ] Reason[notFound] Domain[global]

    Any idea why?

  2. First you have to bang on Messenger on the left hand edge of the computer display and add the individual you desire to drive a note to as a contact. Then that individual obtains a notification that you supplemented them as a ally, and can reply to the invitation.click here

      1. I came looking specifically for an option to send mass emails with unique attachments, so here’s another vote for achieving that feature.

  3. I have been using G mail for years now and been emailing the same 60 buddies almost daily during these years. Now as of yesterday all my outgoing emails are bouncing back blocked with this message: Message rejected. See https://support.google.com/mail/answer/69585 for more information.
    After reading all I could about this problem I found myself here. Is this GMASS program what I need to go to?

  4. Hi, how can I change the “From” name ?

    Even I change it in my account Parameters, it does not change when sending the emails from Gmass.

  5. Does the mail merge feature work in the query string of the url?

    This would be helpful in identifying who signed up and/or completed an action.

  6. If you want to try {auto-first} but want the fallback option to be blank (vs “friend” “customer” etc) will it work if you set it up like “Hi {auto-first| }?

    1. Hi Dan,

      Yes – but omit the last “|” since you only have that single option so it would just be Hi {auto-first}

  7. lets say there is a country column, and i want to add “how is it in {Country}” Only if Country is not empty, otherwise don’t write the whole sentence.
    how can this be done?

    1. Hi Zohar,

      Unfortunately, no. You would need to add the entire sentence in the country column instead. You can do a “Concatenate” formula in Google sheets to combine the sentence and the country then use the results (sentence with the country) as the merge field.

  8. Hi Ajay

    My emails being sent via GMASS are limited to 50 recipients per mail. How do I change the settings on this limit?

    1. Hi Jeff,

      You can simply have a column for the date you wish to add and then call the merge tag as you would the first or last name.

  9. It’s becoming more and more of a necessity to use unique attachments. I think I’m just going to have to use another services since you guys don’t feel it’s a priority.

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