Developing a Dynamite Signature File

The power of signature files is often overlooked as a strategic marketing tool. A signature file should be included at the end of each email or newsgroup message being sent or posted by you. Signature files give your target market an easy means of locating your contact information and they provide you with the opportunity to let your target market know about special events, happenings, opportunities, or promotional materials. Signature files generate exposure for your business! So, how exactly do you design a dynamite signature file?

1. Tips
I have included a few of the many tips you can use to your advantage when developing and implementing your signature file. I cover signature files in much greater depth, in my book '101 Ways to Promote Your Web Site'.
  • Be sure to list all appropriate contact information in your signature file. Include your name, company name, phone number, fax number, Web site, etc. You want to provide your target market with every opportunity to make contact with you.
  • Keep your signature file short - no more than 4 to 8 lines. Nothing is worse than receiving an email from someone only to see the signature taking up of the message. It looks unprofessional.
  • Keep it simple! You do not want to overwhelm the reader with too much or useless information.
  • Always provide an appropriate and professional tag line. The tag line can be used to encourage your target market to take a desired action or to increase brand awareness for your company and/or product or service.
  • Advertise when advertising isn't allowed. While most newsgroups do not allow advertising, they do allow tag lines. Put your one line mini-advertisement in your tag line.
  • Update your tag line often! You need to reflect the latest marketing information being used by your company.
  • Develop several signature files to appeal to different groups of recipients. You can then select the most appropriate signature file that appeals to the individual you're communicating with.
  • Keep each line of your signature file equal to or less than 60 characters in length. This will help to ensure that your signature file is viewed consistently regardless of what email browser, screen resolution or font your target market might be using or if they are using word wrap.
  • Do not include graphics in your signature file. They may look good to you, but when you send it to the recipient it may not display the way you originally intended.
  • Always include the http:// before Web site URLs and mailto: before email addresses to make them hyperlinks within emails.

Here is a sample signature file that I have used in the past. 

Susan Sweeney, C.A.
Connex Network Inc.
75 Brentwood Drive, Bedford, N. S., B4A3S2
Tel: 902-468-2578 Fax: 902-468-0380

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This signature file has proven very successful for me in the past - it is simple, easy to read, provides all relevant contact information, and includes an appropriate tag line.

2. Tools

You can develop your signature file in Windows Notepad, Microsoft Word, or generally any other word processing program available should you wish to attach your signature as a separate file to outgoing email messages. However, be sure to save it as a standard .txt file because this can be displayed universally.I prefer to use the signature file option included in my email browser, and I recommend you do the same. Most email browsers (e.g. Outlook Express, Pine, First Class, Eudora, etc.) allow you to develop a signature file and attach it to each outgoing email message. Always make sure a signature is added to your outgoing mail by selecting this in your options. I currently use Outlook as my email program of choice.

3. Techniques

Because Outlook is the most common email reader, I will use it here when discussing how to set up a signature file. Most email browsers will follow a similar process.
  • On the menu bar click "Tools."
  • On the drop down box click "Options."
  • Click on the Mail Format tab.
  • Click the Signatures button at the bottom on the dialog.
  • In the Create Signature dialog, click the New button.
  • Enter your signature information - can be copy & pasted or developed. The signature can be formated anyway that is perferred including left, centered, or right justified using the "Paragraph" button.
  • To display your signature file, pick the "Name and address" in the "Signature for new messages:" ("Use this signature by default:" in Outlook 2000) window.
  • To send your signature when you foward or reply to emails, click on "Signature for replies and forwards" window and choose the file ("Don't use when replying or forwarding" box in Outlook 2000- leave blank).
  • Click "OK" button to finish.

    4. Resources
    I have included a couple of resources for you to check out when developing your signature file.

    For additional resources I recommend you visit the resources page on my Web site.

    The Internet Strategist--Internet Mailing Lists
    What to do and what not to do on sig. files and mailing lists. Learn how to create your personal sig. file and what the different types are used for.

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