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Turn Your Email Signature into a Free Marketing Tool

Most of us are wise enough to know that ‘Sent from my iPhone’ is not a valid email signature.

But then again, most of us simply list our contact information in our signatures and never give it a second thought.

Well, I’m here to give you a second thought. Because the space at the bottom of your emails can be more than just a place to put your phone number and your website — it can be a smart marketing tool.

email-marketing-signature-spread

Maybe the idea seems silly, or even outdated. Email signature marketing? What is this, 2002? Are we also going to go back to building our websites in tables and referring to the internet as the “world wide web” in all of our marketing copy?

But think about it this way: your signature gets seen by everyone you email. Why not turn it into a call-to-action space? Plus, it’s totally free — at least to the extent that your domain is already paid for.

So what can you promote in your email signature? I’m glad you asked!

  • Website, blog, and social media. These are the really obvious ones, but they’re also the really obviously overlooked ones. Add any social platforms where your business has a current, active presence, and if you have a regularly updated corporate blog, add that too. The key word here is updated — linking to a long-forgotten profile will make exactly zero positive impressions.
  • Conferences and special events. Are you taking your act on the road? List your next city and date along with a booth number and an RSVP link, if applicable.
  • eBooks, white papers, case studies, and other original reports. You’ve done your research and you’re proud of it. Linking to these reports in your signature not only drives downloads but gives your thought leadership a big signal boost.
  • Sales or special offers. I don’t know about you, but a good deal is usually all the reason I need to make a purchase. Don’t be stingy with that promo code and get rewarded in kind.
  • Product demonstrations or service consultations. If business has been a little flat lately — and even if it hasn’t — turning your contacts into leads is a handy way to support your sales staff in their efforts.
  • Free tools and trials. Do you have an online calculator, game, survey, downloadable kit, free trial, or other resource? Make sure everyone you email knows to take advantage of it!
  • Newsletter or mailing list subscriptions. Hey, if people are already getting emails from you, they might enjoy getting other company communication.
email-signature-marketing-sample
An email signature example with a call-to-action banner.

Basically, you can promote anything in your email signature that you want to promote, but there are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind:

Be incredibly picky.

There’s only so much you can fit in a signature and have it remain effective. Outside of your social media and website links, try to limit your promotions to one at a time. That way your message can come across loud and clear, without distractions.

Consider not using images.

The problem images is that some email clients can have a difficult time rendering them. If they’re embedded directly in the email itself, they’re delivered as attachments and anti-spam software can block them. If they’re linked, some email clients require the reader to agree to download them and the reader must be connected to the internet to do so.

But images are great! Images are visual! Images draw attention! I get it. Which is why a good compromise might be found in designing for text first — make sure any images you use are secondary, not primary vehicles of communication.

When you do use images, do it right.

  1. Host images on a public folder. This way you’ll know that they’re accessible. Most companies store their hosted images in a subfolder on their corporate website, but free options such as Photobucket and Picasa exist.
  2. Use only .jpg. Some email clients still struggle with other file types, like .png.
  3. Make sure to provide alt text. Alt text is what displays if the image doesn’t. For example, if you have a linked image that says “Download Now!” then you’ll want your alt text to say “Download Now!” to make sure the message doesn’t get lost.
  4. Keep them small! A good maximum size for a banner image in your email is roughly 400×100 pixels. Anything much bigger than that risks being too distracting or has the potential to be cut off or auto-resized on mobile.

Design with system-standard fonts in mind.

Think Ariel, Helvetica, Garamond, Calibri etc. While it may be tempting to use your cool branded type, don’t — most other computers won’t have that font and will display the default instead.

Track everything.

From custom promo codes to unique URLs, make sure everything anyone can click in your signature has some analytics attached to it. That way you can put numbers on what impact your emails are making.

Will email signature marketing change the world? No. But it can help your business grow small gains, and small gains add up over time.

So take advantage of that space at the bottom of your emails. Every impression matters!

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