Most business people give little thought to their email signatures, including only the most basic contact information -- often just their name, if they use a formatted email signature at all. What a shame when an email signature can be the least expensive yet one of the most effective tools in one's online marketing kit.
Consider Sig Power
It's high time to consider the power of your "sig line," which enables you to effortlessly promote yourself and your business without paid advertising. Sig information, which is automatically added at the end of each outgoing email (set in email preferences), tells the recipient who/what/where you are, as well as why you are the one. But its flexibility goes well beyond emails.
Consider creating several email signatures for various purposes or audiences, and do the same for your smartphone. I often include links to my columns or to articles featuring my clients to expose them to a broader audience. Here are a few places to employ your email sig.
On every email you send to business associates, to new business prospects, to friends, family, colleagues, etc. In emails in response to postings on discussion lists In every posting to online forums or blogs. In every email broadcast to your lists of prospects, clients, etc.
Creating Your Sig
To create an effective email signature, follow the KISS rule, and be sure that everyone in your organization follows the same layout format.
1. Keep it short. Limit yourself to no more than six lines, and 65 characters wide. Discussion lists or online forum moderators generally limit signatures to five lines so keep the most essential information upfront. This is one reason to create several email signature files for different uses.
2. Include only essential contact info: name, title, company tag line, phone number, Web site url, email address, and/or Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, or perhaps a small logo or graphic file.
3. List only the preferred contact methods. Stick to one or two phone numbers. Forget fax and street address, state, etc.
4. Offer something free. Whether is a newsletter, a special report or reprint, an eBook, audio or video clip, give people a reason to visit your Web site.
5. Auto sendout. Make sure that feature is turned on in your email program so you don't miss any valuable marketing opportunities.
6. Plain text or HTML? Plain text is best for day-to-day email correspondence, but company fonts or colors can add extra punch. Since many online discussion forums don't accept images or HTML, you should familiarize yourself with your audiences before formatting.
7. Live links. Because you don't know what email program your recipient uses, type in the extra characters needed to create a live link in the email address and Web site URL. For a Web site, include http://. Add mail to: at the beginning of your email address.
8. Borders. A simple border line should separate your signature from the content to eliminate confusion.
A consistent email signature delivers a potent marketing message, over time, reinforcing your brand image and identity, drives traffic to your Web site, increases pass-along, flags company recipients, and, best of all, costs you nothing but a minimal investment in time. It's time you signed on.