Okie dokie. The basics. What exactly is an email sign-off?
Your sign-off is the part of your email -- with your name, company, phone, etc. -- that comes right after your text message.
To be honest, I find most email sign-offs pretty boring. (And I find some of them pretty annoying!)
Most often, however, I see lost opportunities.
In this article, we'll be taking a look at how just a few simple changes to your email signature can make a BIG difference to your business.
1 - NO SIGN-OFF, NO RESULTS
I think it's incredible -- since most of the emails I get are from coaches and small business owners -- but I get at least a couple of emails a day with absolutely no sign-off at all.
That's right. No company name, and no contact information. Emails sometimes even arrive without the sender's last name!
This is not only a waste of a perfect marketing opportunity, it's pretty bad business. There's nothing professional about a business email without basic business information.
2 - START WITH THE BASICS
Every email you send out should include basic information about you and your company:
* Your name (first and last)
* Company Name
* Business phone
* Email address
Tip: Why include your email address here, when the reader can see it at the top of the email? Simply because it's easier for the reader to have all of your contact information in one place -- especially if he decides to add it to his address book or contact manager.
A basic email signature might also include:
* Your title or business designation
* Company logo and/or tag line
* Your photo
* Fax and/or cell phone number
* Website address
Tip: If you include any graphics (photo, logo, etc.) be sure to use small files that will download quickly and easily for the reader. (For me, any file I need to wait for falls into that 'annoying' category.)
3 - WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU?
Here's the deal. Your email signature is the perfect place to include information about your business, your products, or your services. Why?
* You're writing -- or responding -- to someone you know is already interested in you, or your business
* You know your message will be seen
* Email is a natural place to describe something new, or interesting
* It's totally non-intrusive
* It's easy
* It doesn't cost you a thing!
So, take a minute to think about something about your business -- or your products -- that you'd like to tell people about. For example:
* Your upcoming workshop, seminar, or teleclasses
* Your book or audio product
* An improvement you've made to an existing product or program
* New business location, or expanded business hours
* Your new website
Choose one of these ideas now, and take it through the next few steps in this article....
4 - WHAT'S IN IT FOR THEM?
To illustrate, let's say you decide to use your email signature to tell people about an upcoming teleclass.
I can imagine several answers to the question, "What's in it for you?"
* new business leads
* 'live' interaction with solid business prospects
* revenue (if you're charging a fee for the class)
* opportunity to introduce participants to your other products and services
* getting your name out into the business community
* opportunity to shine as an expert in your field
* word-of-mouth advertising from your teleclass participants
If you'd like your email signature to attract new clients -- and sales -- be sure to focus on "What's in it for THEM?"
Going back to the teleclass example, what will participants get out of it? (information, fun, interaction, difficult to find facts or tips, a plan/strategy, etc.)
What problem do they have that this teleclass will help resolve? Where are they struggling? (stress, frustration, ill health, isolation, financial troubles, need more clients, lack of confidence, etc.)
Jot down at least two benefits your reader will get from your product. And then write a sentence or two that simply tells them this -- and shows them how to order or sign up (live links, please!).
Add your contact information, and you've got a powerful email signature!
Tip: To improve your results, add an offer -- or a reason for the reader to take action NOW.
5 - SHORT AND SWEET
Remember I said that email signatures are totally non-intrusive? I was describing clear, concise, well-written email signatures; yours, I hope!
Take a quick peek into your email "Sent" box. If you're anything like me, most emails you send out are 10-20 lines long. Many are probably only 2-3 lines.
Don't write an email signature that's longer than most of your emails!
I'm a member of several email list-serves (coaching, writing, publishing) and not suprisingly, every one of them has rules about email signatures. The maximum 'suggested' length is between 7-8 lines.
Use this length recommendation as a guide when developing yours. Think 3-4 lines to get your marketing message across, and 3-4 lines for your basic contact information. That's all you need.
6 - THE TECH OF IT ALL
Okay, one question that often pops up is whether to use a "text only" or "html" email sign-off (often called 'signature' in your mail program).
In my mind, that totally depends on your audience.
If you work with a fairly tech-savvy group of people, and would like to add the graphics and formatting that are possible with html, go for it. For some audiences, however, html is a mistake -- since it'll show up as an unreadable mass of code if they don't have the software to decode it properly.
Not sure? Stick to simple text email messages and sign-offs.
In the past couple of years, email signatures have become incredibly simple to do (technically, that is!). Here's where to find basic instructions from two of the most popular email programs:
Outlook: Tools > Options > Mail Format > Signatures
AOL: Mail > Set Mail Signatures > Create
For other mail programs, check the Help menu, or write to customer support. These days, virtually every ISP will has a way for you to add an email signature -- with or without a marketing message -- quickly and easily.
Tip: Take a minute or two right now to write a new email signature, and get it into your email account.
7 - KEEP 'EM FRESH
Ever have this experience: You drive past the same billboard day after day, and after while, you literally don't see it at all?
The same holds true for email sign-offs. After several emails with the same sign-off, your readers won't 'see' it any more. So write several sign-offs -- for the same product, or for different products or programs -- to keep them fresh and new.
Each time you write one, ask yourself:
* Does it meet your marketing objective? (What's in it for you?)
* Does it offer a real benefit to your reader? (What's in it for them?)
* Is it clear and concise? (7-8 lines, including your contact information)
Use these three questions as guidelines, and you'll be well on your way to creating email sign-offs that'll attract customers -- and increase sales.
By Kathy Gulrich