The Email Signature Handbook
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What is Email Signature Marketing?

An example of email signature marketing

Everyone in your company sends thousands of emails a year. This equates to a vast source of marketing opportunities that your company can capitalize on with the humble email signature. Email signatures can increase your social reach, promote your latest content, keep your brand consistent across all emails, and increase the ROI of your key marketing campaigns.

Now, before we jump ahead, we need to be clear that we’re not talking about what are classed as “marketing emails” but “transactional ones”. What’s the difference you ask?

Marketing emails come with commercial messages that are to be used for commercial purposes and are sent in bulk to groups of contacts. Examples would be monthly newsletters or a product launch announcement.

Transactional emails are one-to-one messages that contain information relevant to each recipient. Every email sent will be to individuals rather than a large list.

When using traditional email marketing, you have to take in to account various regulations around the world. Take CAN-SPAM, a well-known law used in the United States, for example. Before sending any mass communication, you have to ensure the following:

  • All details are accurate and not misleading;
  • Clear subject lines are used;
  • The message can clearly be identified as an advertisement;
  • Recipients are able to see where your physical address is located.
  • A clear unsubscribe message is included.
  • All opt-out requests are actioned within 10 working days
  • That you monitor what others are sending out on your behalf i.e. a marketing agency.

The email signature marketing play

Transactional employee emails will always have a much more engaged audience than a mass marketing email simply because they are one-to-one communications. When an email is known to be legitimate and from a trusted sender, it offers a great opportunity to introduce a tailored message around your latest marketing campaign or social media post. You can use an email signature to further enhance the relevance of that content and personalize the message to better suit a sales, marketing or customer service audience or conversation. This is known as email signature marketing.

You can transform a basic email signature into a powerful marketing communications touchpoint by including:

  • Your logo and branding;
  • Promotional display banners;
  • Links to your social media accounts;
  • Links to your most recent & relevant content.

Logo and branding

Email signature marketing example of corporate branding

Every company puts its brand on everything it can – its building, its uniform, its brochures, its direct mail and, of course, its email. Branding is important and conforming to brand guidelines impacts the design of your company logo, the color palette and font. The same is true of email signatures.

The biggest element of a company’s brand is its logo – the aesthetic aspect of an email signature. This is probably the largest part spatially, but it’s consumed the quickest mentally: users glance once, then move on.

Despite this, a logo is relied upon to give your brand a personality – Hilton’s solid, simple design prefaces its traditional, trusted service, while Google’s implies a creative, eccentric personality. The prominence of a logo and thematic echoes in the email signature marketing mix might relate to the ideology it’s supposed to espouse: Hilton and Google might both be quite minimalist, like the Google homepage for example, but Apple or Coca Cola might want to inject the entire email with their iconic visual themes.

If signature images are attached and embedded in a message, they don’t need to be downloaded by the recipient and won’t appear in boxes with a red ‘x’. It is possible to use hosted images, like those in a direct marketing email, but they will need to be downloaded as additional content and won’t appear in the email immediately.

Social media

Social media in email signatures

Social media buttons, RSS feeds and other functionality can also be incorporated into your corporate email signatures. A subtle, small corresponding logo – the Twitter ‘t’ or a LinkedIn ‘In’– can be used to indicate users can click to ‘Follow’, ‘Like’ or ‘Recommend’ your company or product on the relevant social media platform.

These should be deployed with care, noting the meaning of the prompt and its place in the consumer’s experience – for example a Twitter ‘Follow’ might be appropriate for a new user, but a LinkedIn ‘Recommend’ may be wrong for a prospective customer who hasn’t yet used any of your products.

Nonetheless, their pleasant appearance and innocuous size makes them an effective marketing tool and are intensely useful if integrated correctly. Note that each social media provider has its own set of guidelines for using logos, for example the YouTube logo should not be used with ‘drop shadow’ graphical effects.

Promotional banners

Email signature marketing example of Christmas themed banners

Using a display banner is one of the most effective ways to utilize email signature marketing. Your work email channel is constant, so your signature is the perfect place for showcasing new content such as white papers and webinars, highlighting special offers, attendance at trade shows and so on.

A banner typically goes below the contact details so naturally carries weight and credibility. There are no other distractions to an engaged reader so you can tone down the intensity of the banner design to land your message more effectively.

You can alter the signature messaging for different teams and give contacts a message they’ll care more about. For example, potential buyers could see an introductory offer while a regional office could be promoting a local event. You can even create a range of official, on-brand and approved signatures so that individuals can choose from depending on the context, objectives, and desired outcome of the emails they are sending.

An email signature will also bring up potential upsell or cross-sell opportunities without disrupting the sender/recipient communication flow. The sales message is then suggested rather than imposed or forced.

Tracking and measurement

Tracking links in email signatures

It’s all well and good adding promotional banners and social media links to your email signature. However, as with all marketing campaigns, you’re not going to know what elements are actually working well if you don’t have appropriate tracking in place.

Tag and track each email signature component via Google Analytics to better understand customer journeys, engagement and conversion. You can quantify your contacts’ level of interest with your signature content and propensity to convert down to the individual level.

When using work email for marketing communications, you get to exploit the high visibility of the email signature touchpoint as well as the information it provides, who sends it, when it’s sent, who it’s sent to, how the recipient responds etc., and target the message with superior precision to get better results.

Internal communications

Internal email signature

Internal communications and corporate culture can also be used for marketing purposes, especially where turnover is a concern or skills are a scarce resource. Employees will passively read and process the message without feeling pressure to take immediate action.

Internal branding can augment the above in two ways, and each is defined by where it appears. Signatures with departments, job titles, internal extensions and even location (a U.S. branch or a European headquarters, for example) on every email sent between colleagues, can help them keep in contact more effectively.

HR department emails, or any correspondence between the leadership and the workforce, can include signatures that integrate with morale initiatives: benefits, social events, workplace facilities and other internal communication activities.

Setting up an email signature marketing strategy

Professionalism counts towards a company’s brand reputation and inconsistent email signatures are simply unprofessional. This happens when the email signature channel is not properly controlled. A company-wide email signature policy needs to be in place and enforced if you want to get the full benefits of this channel. If there is no control, there is no way you can build a successful email signature marketing strategy.

If you let employees control their own email signatures, it becomes their marketing communications touchpoint and not the company’s. Another option is for the company to email out a template with instructions on how to copy and paste it into their email client. But how do you keep track of its usage and how many iterations of the same signature will end up being used for both internal and external communications?

IT could write some in-house HTML code that adds the signature to emails automatically. This means handing all control over to IT, although you’ll still need to supply images, link URLs and designs. The whole process will then have to adhere to IT’s policies, service level agreement and timescales. Again, you won’t be able to take full ownership of any marketing strategy.

As you can see, none of these methods are really ideal and you won’t be able to get the true benefits of email signature marketing. You will need centralized control in place before you can start thinking about how you want to use a specific campaign banner.

The Exclaimer proposition

Email signature solutions give central control

In the end, specialist email signature solutions by Exclaimer makes managing your signatures a walk in the park. Our solutions eliminate manual intervention and simplify the design process. Once set up by IT and integrated into the email systems, all changes can be managed centrally. You can then control all elements of the email signature marketing mix without any issues and ensure that everyone in your company is using the correct signature template.

How Exclaimer Can Help:

If you're looking for an easy way to design and manage professional email signatures across your whole organization, we're here to help. Find out more or start your free trial today!

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