Seven Features of an Effective Email Signature That Gets Results
by Donna Gunter

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

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

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 http:// 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.

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: Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Business Coach Donna
Gunter helps self-employed service professionals learn how to automate their businesses,
leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To sign up for more FREE
tips like these and claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit
her site at
Get More Clients Online. Read about running an online biz at our blog, Get More
Clients Online Blog.
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