Using E-mail Signatures

Possibly the simplest and most powerful traffic driving tool that every person with an e-mail account has at their disposal is the signature file.

Those few lines that you place at the end of your e-mail message make marketing sense and although somewhat invasive, are not considered an offensive means of self-promotion. When you consider that sending unsolicited e-mail and posting unwarranted announcements in newsgroups are both considered lawless acts of online espionage, it puts promotion through the signature file into perspective

Nowhere on the Internet is it unacceptable to have a signature that simply identifies the sender. It is only proper to identify yourself with the acknowledgment of your name, title, phone - with voice mail or answering machine to get all incoming calls - fax, e-mail address, and web site address.

This simple courtesy provides ample avenues to make certain that recipients can always get a message to you without too much work, and can research your online presence at their own leisure. Disclosing this information assures the recipient that you are a real entity and that you welcome an open dialogue with them.

Adding a smidgen of self-promotion is not bad. Concisely mentioning a new product or service in the signature file can be challenging, yet rewarding. Your wording must be clear, inviting, and offer a hypertext deep link for interested recipients to click through.

What attributes make a well-rounded and effective signature file?

1. Distinguish it. Whether you separate your signature from the body of your message with a horizontal line or enclose it with a box of asterisks is a personal matter. Just be sure to delineate it from the body of your message giving it its own presence. Don’t go to the opposite extreme. Some have gone so far as to turn their signature files into attempts at artwork, or are misguided by the belief that abundantly applying dollar signs ($) to your signature file will make a lasting impression. In reality, these tactics, even though applied with the best of intentions, act to quickly categorize you into the spammer category, and your email will be thrown away. In extreme cases, future mail from you may simply be filtered directly into the trash.

2. Keep it short. If you can supply all of your contact information and a short self- promotional blurb in five or six lines than you have a winning combination. You have only a limited amount of time to make an impression, so use it wisely.

3.Think lowest common denominator when building your layout. Most businesses are equipped with Netscape or Eudora mail packages. You must fashion your message to be acceptable to both of them. Most importantly, keep your signature width to within 65 -70 characters wide. This is the default setting on Eudora.

4. Make it easy to get more information. Provide a hypertext link to both your email address and to your web site address, or URL. Believe it or not, many people forget to add their URL or don’t add the http:// necessary to make the link clickable. Even if the suffix of your email address corresponds to your URL, you should not leave it to chance that the recipient of your message will go to the trouble of finding your online location. Make it simple by providing a clickable link to your web site. Be certain that no punctuation is placed in front of or follows your URL. This will render it unclickable.

5. You should make your email address clickable simply by placing mailto: with your email address directly following the colon. If your message is forwarded, it may be helpful for the new recipient to be able to send correspondence to the original author. Be certain that no punctuation is placed in front of or follows your URL. This will render it unclickable. Provide your postal address, phone, and fax, since some of your recipients will want to hear a real person’s voice or prefer to communicate through traditional means.

6. As mentioned earlier, minimize your self-promotional or soliciting comments, called your tag line. You cannot literally attach a sound, color, or gesture to your signature file, so you must be creative. Think like Nike when crafting these lines. The strong-willed individualism that emanates from the triumvirate call to action, “Just do it,” builds a powerful emotional link between a product and consumer. You must use their philosophy to get the best results.

Ensure that your email signature file works properly by sending yourself a test message with the signature file in place. If you don’t know the recipients e-mail software programs, it is best simply to use the test link.