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Send a Welcome Message to New Users

 

Applies to: Office 365 for professionals and small businesses, Office 365 for enterprises, Live@edu

Topic Last Modified: 2012-07-31

After you provision new user mailboxes, you have to give the new users the user ID and password for their new account. We recommend sending a welcome e-mail message that contains these sign-in credentials and any additional information that might help them get started.

A great way to do this is to use the mail merge process in Microsoft Office Word and the CSV import file that you used to provision users. With mail merge, you create a generic welcome message that contains information for all users, such as instructions about how to sign in for the first time. During the mail merge process, user-specific information from a data source is added to the message. In this welcome message scenario, the user-specific information is the Windows Live ID and password, and the data source is the CSV import file that you used to provision users.

Create and send a welcome message to new users

Let's walk through an example. You're the messaging administrator at the School of Fine Arts. You've received feedback from students that they are uncertain about how to sign in to their new account. As a result, not all students are using their account. This is a concern for school administrators. You can make it easier for students to sign on for the first time by providing a welcome message that provides a step-by-step sign-on procedure and links to help and the school's computing resources for students.

Watch this demo to learn how to send a welcome message

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Plan and prepare

First of all, you need e-mail addresses to send the welcome message to. The School of Fine Arts obtains an e-mail address for all incoming students during registration. You make sure you get all the addresses from the Registrar and add them to the CSV import file before the mail merge.

To prepare for the mail merge, you decide the following:

  • Use the following parameters from the CSV import file for the mail merge fields:

    • FirstName   You use this field in the salutation.

    • EmailAddress   This field contains the user ID. The user ID is also the e-mail address of each student's new account.

    • Password   This field contains the user's password, which is the students' birth date. You'll encourage users to change their password after they sign in for the first time.

  • Add the e-mail address that students provided during registration to each row of the CSV import file, and name the column SendToAddress.

  • Start with the Sample Welcome Message template provided by Microsoft and revise it with information that is specific to the School of Fine Arts. In preparation, copy this template into Word and make changes, such as adding the name of your organization to the salutation and adding a link to the Web page for your organization's computing and communications resources for users. Also, you may want to adjust the formatting for your purposes. Then, save this file as WelcomeMessage.doc.

Use mail merge and a CSV import file to send a welcome message

With your plan in hand and copies of the CSV import file and welcome message template on your computer, use Word mail merge to create and send a welcome message that contains the sign-in credentials for each user in the CSV import file. For help using mail merge, see one of the following:

Use the following table to complete the mail merge procedure in Word.

 

For this step in the mail merge process: Do this…

Document type

Select E-mail message.

Starting document

Use WelcomeMessage.doc.

Recipients list

Use the CSV import file.

Merge fields

Insert the following parameters from the CSV import file into the appropriate location in the welcome message:

  • FirstName

  • EmailAddress

  • Password

Complete the merge

Use the SendToAddress field in the CSV import file to specify the addresses used in the To: field of the e-mail message.

Type a subject line to be included in each welcome message. For example, "Sign in to your new e-mail account".

After you complete the mail merge, a personalized welcome message, with a unique user ID and password, is sent to every person in the CSV import file.

Best practices

Consider these best practices when you use mail merge and a CSV import file to send a welcome message:

  • Use the CustomAttributeN property to store alternative e-mail addresses   When you provision users, add the CustomAttributeN property to the header in the CSV import file so you can store an alternative e-mail address for each new user. Then, when you use mail merge to send welcome messages, select the CustomAttributeN field as the "send to" address. This will save you from having to add the alternative e-mail address to each row in the CSV import file, as we did in our example.

  • Require users to change their password   To do this, add the ForceChangePassword property to the header of the CSV import file you use to provision users. This will create a user ID that requires new users to change their password after they sign in for the first time. This is a security best practice to help ensure only users know the password for their accounts.

  • Test the mail merge before you send a welcome message to lots of new users   Practice makes perfect, so use mail merge and your CSV import file to send test messages to yourself to troubleshoot problems before you send mail to hundreds or thousands of users. Use your own e-mail address for the mail merge "send to" address.

  • Add your organization's logo and other graphics to the welcome message   Do this to brand the welcome message as official school or work business or to jazz up your welcome message to make it more compelling to users.

  • Turn off the AutoFormat setting in Outlook that enables the hyperlinking of e-mail addresses   Outlook and other Microsoft Office applications automatically format Internet addresses, network paths, and e-mail addresses as hyperlinks. If you use Outlook, you may want to turn off this functionality so that the user ID isn't hyperlinked when you send a welcome message to new users. To do this in Outlook:

    1. Click Tools > Options > Mail Format >Editor Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options.

    2. On the AutoFormat tab, clear the "Internet and network paths with hyperlinks" checkbox.

 
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