Email Signatures + Marketing: A Love Story

Dan Hanrahan

Dan Hanrahan

love

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, let’s explore a marketer’s relationship with the corporate email signature. Like a grade school girl being chased and teased by the boys at recess, the marketer first views the signature as simply annoying. But she eventually harnesses the potential of the email signature and falls in love.

Let’s call our 3rd grade boy Billy, and his crush will be Jill. By high school Billy is more sophisticated in his efforts and has stopped teasing Jill. Jill and Billy become sweethearts and later husband and wife.

Sidenote: Sometimes I find myself quickly downing my drink during these “how we met” stories, but that’s beside the point.

When it comes to the employee email signature, most marketers tolerate the daily annoyance of inconsistent, off-brand employee email signatures. But when a savvy marketer turns the nuisance into an opportunity, beautiful things happen.

Let’s compare a marketer + the email signature to Billy + Jill by looking at a few stages of the relationships.

Rocky Beginnings:

Grade school Jill is annoyed by Billy, and the marketer is similarly frustrated with the employee email signature. Sometimes, the cause of the pain is an old version of a logo or inconsistency between employee signatures. But it can be much worse! There’s no shortage of terrible signature examples:

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The average employee sends 36 emails per day (Email Stats Report: Radicati Group). That’s over 1,000,000 annual sends per 125 employees. Every one of these sends has an impact on your company’s relationship with the recipient.

Each employee hand-picks the audience, and recipients are often the most important people to your company: customers, prospects, partners, investors, etc. Check out this simple email sends calculator to see how many emails your business sends.

Each email should strengthen your brand and message. The email signature is not the place to express sentiments on the environment or to share a favorite Successories quote. Admit it… You have one you like!

Billy realized that he needed to put his best foot forward every time he saw Jill.  We, too, know that our brand sentiment is simply the sum of all interactions a person has with our brand. Most of us complain about email, but the fact remains that email is routinely a company’s #1 touch point with customers and prospects.

So please. Please stop pulling hair and chasing your customers across the playground. Let’s become more sophisticated.

The Potential:

If email signatures are so frustrating, why don't we just eliminate them? Most marketers have wondered this, but the signature serves an important purpose.

So if we can’t abolish email signatures, how can we ensure the signature supports the brand?

Each employee email signature needs to be consistent with other signatures in the company. Only then can you can consider turning each signature into an eye-catching branding and marketing opportunity.

Step 1: Standardize Fonts + Formats

Standardizing format, fields, and fonts is a huge improvement for most email signatures. At this stage, it’s best to avoid any images. Even if your employees all use the exact same email client, users have trouble adding images. Compounding the human errors, inconsistent display settings and email client settings often cause images to be stretched, pixelated, or just plain unprofessional.

Stick to text and maybe links at this stage. First update your signature exactly how you like it. Then email your employees and have them copy and paste directly from your signature. They can insert their own contact details, title, etc. This is far from perfect. Employees can still edit or add to the signature, but it’s a good start.

Step 2: Images + Marketing Campaigns

If we have reach and the right audience, it’s our job as marketers to turn that medium into opportunity for our organizations. We already have the content, and we have this untapped medium, so now it’s about marrying the two. If you just have one or two key events or content each year, email your employees and ask them to copy / paste a link into the email signature. Again, it’s be best to avoid images when relying on a user install.

At Sigstr, our customers want to update campaigns in employee email signatures more frequently and want central control to update and measure campaigns without any required employee action.

Here are a few examples of campaigns Sigstr users have deployed to company email signatures:

Depending on your brand voice, it might be appropriate to promote your latest offering, but the best performing campaigns in Sigstr typically focus on educating and helping. Either way, the message gets out every time an employee hits “send.”

The Love:

Jill and Billy turned something immature and frustrating into a lifelong relationship. There’s no reason marketers can’t do the same with email signatures. Let the email signature help you reach your marketing goals, and you’ll learn to love it for what it is: a high volume point of interaction with your most important stakeholders, and an untapped opportunity for you to build a lasting relationship with every send.

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