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7 Features of an Effective Email Signature That Gets Results

How well is your email signature working for you?  For most people who use email, an email signature is just a basic contact information signature file that they append to their emails without giving it much thought, if they choose to use an email signature at all. However, for online business owners, an email signature can be the least expensive yet most effective tool in your online business marketing toolkit. Why?  Because it enables you to promote yourself and your business without any blatant advertising.  It’s like sending a business card with a call to action in every single email that you send.

Where should you be using your email signature?  Here’s a quick list:

  • on every single piece of email that you send to friends, family members, colleagues, etc. from your computer’s email program (Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, etc.)
  • in every email that you send in response to a posting on email discussion lists
  • in every posting that you make on an online discussion forum
  • anytime you send a broadcast email out to your list through your email broadcast service

You never know where you email will end up (how many emails do you forward in one day?) nor who will be reading it, so it pays to attach an effective email signature to everything that you do.  It serves as a wonderfully effective free marketing tool that works for you 24/7.  I’ve gotten countless subscribers to my newsletter from simply using a compelling call to action in my email signature.

What are the components of an effective email signature?  I’ve seen horribly long email signatures (as many as 20 lines), signatures missing basic contact information, and email signatures that leave me thinking, "So what?".  Here’s how you can create an effective email signature that will help you get clients online:

1.  Keep it short.  Nothing is worse than reading an email signature that’s longer than the email itself.  To be most effective, limit yourself to no more than 7 lines.  As you participate in discussion lists or online forums, the list moderators may limit your signature to as few as 5 lines.  So, just like you make your printed business card "Rolodex proof" (i.e. don’t put essential contact info at the bottom of the card where it will be lost when holes are punched into it for your Rolodex), keep your most essential info in the first 5 lines of your signature file.  That way, if some info is cut off when you post to a discussion forum, it won’t be the essential info that you want to convey.  Better yet, do as I do and create various email signature files for different uses, including ones specifically created to comply with the rules of various discussion lists to which I belong.

2.  Include only essential contact info.  This would include your name and title or tag line, as appropriate, phone number, website, and email address. The phone number and email address may be optional, depending on the purpose of your email and how it might be displayed (for example, sometimes an email discussion list will post your email address automatically in the body of your post, so you can use that space in your signature for something else).

Don’t list every single way that someone can contact you — only the most important, essential methods that you prefer.  I’ve seen some email signatures contain 5 phone numbers.  The lines listing those phone numbers can be much more effectively used for another purpose. And, make sure your email address is the email address at your website.  Sometimes you might not get the option of posting your website URL, so if you can only post an email signature, savvy readers can ascertain your website URL from your signature.  Don’t use your email signature real estate to give any more free publicity to Yahoo, Google, AOL, Earthlink, or any number of other ISPs.

3.  Make an offer for a free introductory product.  What’s your free giveaway on your site — an ecourse, email newsletter, special report, ebook, audio or video clips?  Give people a reason to visit your site by offering your freebie in your email signature.  If your freebie contains info that they want, publicizing it in your email signature is a definite way to get them to visit your website.

4.  Auto sendout.  Every email program has the capability to automatically append an email signature to every piece of email that you send.  Make sure that feature is turned on in your email program so that you don’t miss any valuable marketing opportunities.  It’s tough to contact you if your email is missing its signature file.

5.  Plain text or HTML?  I’m still a big fan of sending out plain text emails for day-to-day correspondence.  For the most part, I don’t use fancy fonts or special colors or formatting in my signature file.  I want my email signature to be clearly displayed in any email program, and plain text is the best way to accomplish that.  There are services like Plaxo (for users of Microsoft Outlook) that will let you create a business card image that is appended to your email as your email signature and import that into Outlook.  However, I don’t use Outlook and I find these cumbersome, as there isn’t a way to cut and paste the sender’s contact info into my contact database.  Additionally, many online discussion lists and forums don’t accept images or HTML in their posts. So, even though the business card images look pretty, I would encourage you to stick with a plain text email signature.

6. Make it clickable.  Because you never know what email program your recipient is using, type in a few extra characters in the email address and website URL lines of your email signature file to guarantee that the link will be clickable.  For a website URL, type in the entire URL, starting with https:// rather than simply www. to make sure that your link is universally clickable.  For your email address, adding mailto: at the beginning of your email address, i.e. will enable the reader to click on that link and will open a blank email addressed to you in any email program. 

7.  Use a border.  Having a simple border to separate your name as you end an email from your email signature will lessen the confusion as to what is considered the main text of the email versus the email signature.  ASCII characters like == or  ~~~ will create a simple border that is effective but not distracting.

You can view my email signature here:

An effective email signature has incredible power to drive traffic to your website.  Take a few moments and evaluate your signature and see if it’s doing its best work for you. Your email signature is an incredibly effective marketing tool that can provide great "bang" for almost no bucks.

About the Author Donna Gunter

Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.

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