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February 12, 2014
The E-Sig, a Marketing Opportunity Not to be Missed
 
Everyone has seen email signatures following the message. Some look professional; others not so much. Amazingly, many emails arrive without any signature at all. More shocking, many companies lack e-sig templates or leave it to individual departments to create their signature style.  
 
This situation is inexcusable when there are many tools and apps available, paid and free, to create personal and business email signatures. Today, there is no excuse not to have both, if not five or six specialized e-sigs targeting different audiences, especially when the most popular email programs — Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, MacMail — include built-in tools to create e-sigs.
 
It’s more than nice to have professional-looking email signatures; every email is a marketing opportunity. Keep your signature simple, but be sure to include all key contact details and social links. Also, add links to your website, your latest blog posts, and/or recently published articles. This simple technique will drive additional traffic to your website, increase your social following, encourage revisits, and enhance your thought leadership. And all for free!

Creating a Professional Email Signature
Now that you have been convinced of the importance of an e-sig, these tips will help you create a professional, functional email signature.

Lead with your name, with an embedded link to your LinkedIn profile or other biography. Follow with your job title and company name; again embed appropriate links. Finally, include your telephone number(s), email address, social media, and blog and article hyperlinks (there are many online tutorials about this process). Lastly, add the company logo and tag line.

Once you’ve gathered and organized your data, create some visual appeal by using different text alignments, fonts, and varied point sizes and color, as on a paper business card. Your basic business e-sig should now be good to go. But before you head out for coffee, consider the potential of additional e-sigs that can focus readers on others aspects of your expertise, such as recently published books, speeches, awards, activities, etc.

Now that you have the basics down, be careful not to commit these common e-signature mistakes

1. Including every possible way to contact you.
With multiple phone numbers, email addresses, websites, and social media networks, it can be tempting to cover all the bases and include all forms of contact. But too much information can overwhelm or confuse readers — the more choices, the less likely that any will be clicked. You want people to reply to your most direct contact data. Instead, consider adding a line and a link telling the reader the quickest way to reach you, i.e. “Tweet me any time.”

2. Using an image as a signature.
Some email services or devices have default settings that block images in emails. If your signature is an image that includes your name, title, and logo, there is a risk that the recipient won’t see anything. If you want to include an image, use “alt text” behind it so the recipient doesn’t see a blank box. There’s nothing worse than an email with an unreadable signature.

3. Not designing for the small screen.
At least half of recipients, and the trend is rapidly accelerating, read their emails on mobile devices, so be sure that your signature will be readable on a smaller screen. Everything must be “thumbable.” If the recipient can’t easily put their thumb on your link, your email will quickly be deleted.

Legibility is key with small screens, so pay close attention to font selection. Since reading speed on mobiles is slower than on desktop PCs, consider using a sans-serif font with a point size from 11 to 14. Usability always takes precedence over design.

4. Including irrelevant information.
Of course you want to increase your blog readership or drive more traffic to your business website. While it’s a good idea to include a link to your site in your e-sig, make sure the content on that page is relevant to the person receiving the email.

If you are still confused, or doubt your design abilities, there are many software applications to help automate the process. Several include: Email Signature Rescue (http://emailsignaturerescue.com/pricing), an affordable subscription service, and programs like Graffiti, for Apple OS products (https://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/50178/graffiti).
 
Whatever you do, don’t overlook the power of your email JOHN HANCOCK.

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Len Stein founded Visibility Public Relations to position the full spectrum of creative marketing services companies for industry thought-leadership. 

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