I’d been in the mortgage business about five years when I realized that I was regularly sending almost identical emails to many of my prospects and active clients. Yep, it only took me five years to figure that out. I’m quick like that.
Luckily, once I finally noticed the trend, I jumped on the task of streamlining my process. Within a month, I had created and installed 20+ email templates that, with minor tweaking here and there, I still use daily. If you’d like to stop re-creating the wheel as well, let’s walk through how to setup and use e-mail templates in Microsoft Outlook.
Start With The Message
The first step is to figure out what emails you seem to resend over and over. An easy way to do that is to open the “Sent Items” in Outlook and start browsing through them. Seeing we tend to use the same Subject on similar emails, you can click the “Subject” header to have it sort your sent messages by that field. This will likely make trends even more obvious.
Once you find the emails that you tend to use repetitively, you’ll likely want to print out a copy for you to use when making your templates. You can also open those emails, leave them open and copy and paste the contents when we get to that point if having that many things open at once doesn’t make you crazy like it does me. Your call.
Write The Email
Now it’s time to create your first email template. Start a new email just like you normally do (Clicking the New E-Mail icon, hitting CTRL N, whatever). Type in the Subject that you want and the email body. Seeing you’re going to use this regularly, spend some time upfront getting the text in the body right.
Leave the TO box empty at this point. You will fill that in when you actually use the template. Also, if you have an auto-signature like I do in the picture below, delete that. Outlook will add it back in when you actually use the template so if you leave it in now, your email will end up having two signature blocks (yep, I learned that the hard way).
Save the Template
Once you have the template the way you want, click the “File” tab in the top right hand corner. It will open up new options and you will select “Save As”.
Where you save the templates depends on the operating system you use. For Windows 7 and Windows Vista, you’d save it at c:\users\username\appdata\roaming\microsoft\templates (changing the username to whatever your username is). For Windows XP, the default place is c:\documents and settings\username\application data\microsoft\templates. Go to whichever location is right for you and name the email whatever you’d like. Before hitting save though, change the ‘Save as Type” to Outlook Template. That will put it in the right place and in the right format.
Using the Template
Repeat the steps above as often as needed to make up the templates for emails that you send often. When you are ready to use one, click the “Choose Form” icon on your Home tab in Outlook.
It will open a new window. In that window, you need to click the down arrow by “Look In” and change it to “User Templates in File System”. That will tell it to look in that c:\yada yada place that you saved it to upfront. When you change that drop-down, all the templates you’ve written and saved will show in the window below. Select the one you want, hit Open, and you’re off!
If you’re like me, you’ll still need to tweak parts of some emails before sending them out (not for all templates probably, but some). I use ‘X’ when writing the template for the things that I’ll need to change for each client. I then just go through and change the X’s each time, which is a lot faster than re-creating the whole message.
While there is some time invested upfront in setting up these templates, the overall time savings from using them is huge. It’s saved me days, probably weeks of my life, and I bet it can for you too. Here’s to your continued success!