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Sign of the Times

Are you missing out on this simple, inexpensive marketing tool?

How many e-mail messages do you send every day: 10, 50 or more? Seize the opportunity to promote your business to a highly targeted audience without spending a dime. Few words are more powerful than those in your e-mail signature line.

Marketers whose e-mail messages only contain their names and contact information are missing out. E-mail recipients have already opted for communication from you. Plus, they're key members of your unofficial marketing network: prospects, clients, employees, press contacts and colleagues. Your signature line is the perfectly unobtrusive space for a customized promotional pitch. Try these tactics to turn your "sign-offs" into sales:

  • Highlight what your company offers.
  • Offer an incentive for recipients to take a specified action.
  • Use the associated URL for the incentive, if it's also on your site.
  • Give better visual positioning to the promotional pitch rather than contact information.
  • Play with eye-catching fonts and colors.
  • Use less than 64 characters per line so the words don't wrap to a new line.
  • Write a signature for different categories of recipients.
  • Change your signature copy frequently.

Let's say you run a fitness-apparel company. Your company tag line could be "Company ABC Fitness Apparel: quality comfort for maximum performance." Especially critical for emerging brands, using a tag line explains how customers are served, and it supports or furthers brand awareness. All company employees should include the company tag line in their signatures for these reasons.

The tag line might not evoke a response, however; that's the job of the incentive. An announcement about a new catalog with discounts is an irresistible invitation to a fitness-apparel company's shoppers. This copy might do the trick:

Penny Hamilton, CEO
Company ABC Fitness Apparel: Quality Comfort for Maximum Performance.
Surf our new spring catalog-save up to 25% today!

Let's try another market: employees. Why not use a signature line to boost your team's performance? Remind them about a reward program or a company event, or share a business affirmation. You could make your signature line fun as well as informative; the CEO of a fitness-apparel company could use this motivational signature in communication with her sales team:

Penny Hamilton, CEO & Happy Hiker; Hit our sales goal this month, and lunch is on me!

Although it's common to put a personal name first, followed by a company line and then an incentive line, see what works for you. Mix up the sequence of lines for the optimal visual layout and response, and always include contact information. Modify your signature line periodically. E-mail is often passed along, and you never know which signature will attract new business from the people you've already been communicating with over numerous e-mails.


Speaker and freelance writer Catherine Seda owns an internet marketing agency (www.sedacommunication.com) and is author of Search Engine Advertising.

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This article was originally published in the January 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Sign of the Times.

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