Why your Gmail mail merge personalization failed

If you’re sending mail merge campaigns in Gmail with GMass, or even a different mail merge service, there are several reasons why personalization may fail. If you find that the right values aren’t being substituted for your mail merge tags, see if any of the below reasons are the cause.

1. You sent yourself a test email, but your email address isn’t in the spreadsheet or the To field.

GMass, like many mail merge services, has a Send Test Email button.

You can enter any email address and have a test email sent to that address. If, however, your campaign is set up to merge with a Google Sheets spreadsheet, and that spreadsheet has columns that you’re using throughout your Subject and Body for personalization, and your test email address isn’t also in the spreadsheet, GMass won’t know what values to use for the mail merge. Therefore, the mail merge tags will be replaced with blank values, or fallback values if you’re using fallback syntax. This is the most common reason why personalization fails.

2. You hit the Send button instead of the GMass button.

Despite a recent usability enhancement that hides the regular Gmail Send button when you have many email addresses in the To field, there are certain situations where the Send button isn’t hidden and still gets clicked accidentally when the intention is to click the GMass button. If you do this, not only will your email not be personalized, but one single email will go to everyone in the To field, exposing your list to everyone on it.

3. You connected to a spreadsheet but used the standard merge tags of {FirstName} and {LastName} instead of the ones specific to your spreadsheet.

If you are attempting to personalize a mail merge campaign with the recipient’s first name, and you notice that some emails are personalized while others aren’t, you likely made the mistake of using {FirstName} as the merge tag when the column in your spreadsheet containing first names was not “FirstName”. When you do this, the first name personalization will work for email addresses that are Gmail Contacts where Gmail has stored the first name along with the email address, but will fail for all other email addresses.

4. You had an extra space before or after the curly bracket.

When you insert personalization tags, make sure they are inserted accurately. In most cases GMass will provide you with one-click buttons to insert your mail merge tags.

The buttons will correspond to either the columns in your Google Sheets spreadsheet or they will be the standard personalization buttons of FirstName, LastName, and EmailAddress. The buttons, however, can only be used to insert the mail merge tag into the Body. If you wish to personalize the Subject, you’ll need to copy/paste the tag into the Subject.


For a comprehensive guide to personalization in GMass, see the Complete Guide to Mail Merge Personalization in Gmail.

3 Replies to “Why your Gmail mail merge personalization failed”

  1. Suzy

    I am trying to use First Name personalization and another personalization in the same email. Why isn’t the second personalization not showing in the sent email?

  2. Antonis

    Also, for those having a problem with the personalization tags when using spreadsheets, make sure the personalization tags you want to use are placed on the 1st row of your sheet, right under the column header, otherwise they are not recognized. 🙂

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