Why Email Signatures Are a Valuable Marketing Channel (11 Examples)
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Email signatures should be treated as distinct from email marketing efforts and as their own marketing channel. They are the digital imprints on the bottom of corporate emails sent by employees of an organization. Think of them as the virtual equivalent of formal letterheads and handwritten signatures.
Understanding the value and role email signatures play as a distinct marketing channel requires some consensus in their definition. This is necessary because the corporate ownership of email signatures within an organization can vary enormously. It isn’t always the marketing department that controls them.
Depending on where this ownership lies, the stakeholders in charge can tend to prioritize only a portion of the medium’s possibilities and be largely unaware of the rest. Without some central control, email signatures can not be used as an effective marketing channel.
Some smaller organizations may have no defined ownership of email signatures, leaving it to individuals to control how their personal email signature real estate is utilized. This can lead to inconsistent branding and messaging that doesn’t conform to overall business goals. This means there is no ability to turn email signatures into a marketing channel as there is no central control.
In larger companies, the IT team frequently manages email signature policy and control centrally, with plenty of coordination between other departments. In these cases, email signatures must present accurate contact information, consistent branding, and compliant disclaimer text. This is all important but misses out on the potential usage of email signatures as an untapped marketing channel.
Email signatures as calling cards
Email signatures are a far more flexible piece of ‘digital real estate’ than most practitioners assume. Their basic capabilities relate to providing supporting information about the message sender, so the recipient needn’t spend time searching or asking for it.
- Job title
- Contact information (phone number, email address, IM, etc.)
- Links (website, social media, etc.)
Email signatures as extensions to the digital brand experience
Around 60% of businesses are thought to harness email signatures as a marketing channel to some extent; approximately two-thirds of them do so regularly. Exposure to email signature marketing typically begins with making email communications consistent as part of the corporate brand experience.
The primary objective is filling what would otherwise be a blind spot in how customers and partners experience a company’s brand by ensuring that visual look and feel is consistently applied when corresponding over email.
This is shown through elements such as:
- Fonts, colors, icons
- Short promotional statements
Email signatures as marketing assets
Beyond the brand experience lies many ways to exploit the proper real estate opportunity of email signatures as a marketing channel. The most common approach is to use parts of the available space for email signature banners, icons, and buttons that communicate promotional messages and calls-to-action. This is comparable to how banners are used in other digital marketing channels, such as online media buying and PPC.
However, there is a further dimension to email signatures that can be used to drive far closer engagement for sales and marketing purposes. This is by linking with other owned and third-party apps and various distribution channels.
- Chat and video conferencing platforms
- Payment systems
- Hosted webinars and events
- Reviews sites
- Support ticketing systems
Examples of email signature marketing campaigns
Unlike a paid display banner placed on a digital advertising platform, a similar banner, message, or graphic inserted into an email signature has the added context of the email sender and the organization they represent. This acts as a launchpad for many sales and marketing campaign types beyond simple advertising.
Here are 11 such examples of using email signatures as part of your marketing strategy:
Flash sales, special offers, and discounts
The people your employees emailing are likely to already know your brand, products, and proposition. This allows promotional banners and messages in email signatures to be very simple and concise.
A significant proportion of email communication will be with existing customers, particularly among your customer-facing team. Selecting these colleagues to carry these messages can directly influence upselling and customer retention objectives.
Another approach that benefits from the strategic deployment of sales and marketing messages from specific employee groups. In the case of sales teams, employees can carry cross-sell promotions for products and services offered elsewhere in the company. These leverage trust between a salesperson and customer to deliver adjacent marketing messages that don’t distract from the overall conversation.
Salesperson engagement campaigns
A logical extension to email signature contact information allows a recipient to schedule time with the sender. Scheduling sales meetings and demos straight from an email signature directly boosts sales activity while saving customer effort.
A variation on this is the facility to initiate sales video calls and chat sessions from the email signature. Again this reduces the effort for current and potential customers by enabling them to engage on their terms, switching from email to a richer conversation.
Customer retention campaigns
Common triggers for customer churn include persistent issues with the product or a poor experience that requires training and support to rectify. Organizations mindful of these threats design customer retention campaigns with high-touch support to rediscover and reset customer expectations. Email signatures are well-suited as a marketing channel to reach out to this target audience effectively.
Community building campaigns
A significant marketing preoccupation is social engagement. The primary avenue for growing a follower base is through social media. This often leads to dedicated social media marketing and word-of-mouth marketing campaigns.
However, email signatures can expand community-building opportunities by carrying dedicated propositions around the benefits of following the brand on a given platform. This can be instead of, or in addition to, the personal social media coordinates of the individual sender.
Content marketing and news campaigns
Marketers want to get as much value from their content investments as possible. This means they can use email signatures as a complementary marketing channel to opt-in lists and other outbound email channels.
This is also true for news distribution and PR success stories like customer wins, awards, partnerships, and acquisitions. In fact, email sign-ups to regular news feeds, and nurture campaigns can be easily achieved by promoting them in email signatures.
Word of mouth and referral campaigns
Marketers know the value of positive reviews and influencer marketing. They also understand how trust and engagement are necessary for this to become a reality.
This makes email signatures a natural marketing channel for this call-to-action. They typically link to forms and third-party review sites. This can also create awareness for referral campaigns and user groups.
Brand values alignment campaigns
Purposeful brand values, corporate social responsibility, and related initiatives are now firmly entrenched as critical marketing and communications objectives. Brands understandably want to cultivate a shared understanding of what they stand for among customers, partners, employees, and other stakeholders. Email signatures are the perfect marketing channel for promoting these values and brand awareness.
Event participation campaigns
Investments in trade shows and expos, corporate events, and upcoming webinar series demand registrations to demonstrate a return. When numbers need boosting, particularly at short notice, ‘owned media’ like email signatures have a much more significant impact when compared to other marketing channels where the tactics take too long to turn around.
Customer feedback campaigns
The 1-click smiley survey is an increasingly common feature in email signatures and can elicit valuable business intelligence for sales and marketing. Use it to poll recipients for feedback on recent ad campaigns, new pricing models, customer pain points, and more. This can inform companywide improvements as well as personalized responses.
Accelerated payment campaigns
A less common application as a marketing channel, but this type of campaign is very suitable for specific sectors like charities and debt management. Chosen senders can include ‘make a payment’ calls-to-action in email signatures to launch the payment process without looking for it elsewhere.
It’s important to note that email signatures can play a significant marketing role, but only if they’re used correctly. They can become the perfect marketing channel for running specific campaigns, inviting people to a product demonstration, asking for customer feedback, scheduling appointments, promoting your latest special offer, and so much more.
In fact, when done correctly, every email ending can truly make a lasting impression on any recipient and give your marketing efforts a massive boost in the process. You end up supercharging all those valuable, personal interactions between your company and your audiences.
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