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Email Marketing: A Simple, Free and Overlooked Way to Market Your Business

Email. We use it for everything from chatting with our friends and family to corresponding with clients and sending business inquiries to helping others in online discussion forums. It's arguably become *the* mode of modern-day communication – more so than the telephone, certainly more so than letter writing.


There's a limited amount of real estate in every email that you send. How you use it determines, in part, how effective your emails are and how well you are marketing yourself. Given how often emails are forwarded around, a well-crafted email signature can get you calls/emails from prospects you never knew even existed, new ezine subscribers and, in the best cases, a new client – this is a great return on free marketing.

1. Keep it *plain*.

There is such a variety of email programs and capabilities out there -- Outlook, Eudora, AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, gmail, etc. – that you should use plain text in your email signature to insure that everyone can read it. In addition to my text address, I use a border to separate the email address from the body of the email. You can use basic symbols which separate your signature without distracting from it. In my case, I use a line of dashes to separate the body of my email from my email signature.

2. Make it automatic.

Most email programs today will allow you to set up a default email signature which will automatically append the end of every email you send. In Outlook, you can even set up a variety of signatures depending on which email account you are using and you can alter the address based on whether you are initiating and email versus replying to one.

Setting up an automatic email signature will save you a lot of typing in addition to insuring that your signature remains consistent.

3. Make it complete.

I highly recommend that you include either your email address or your URL (assuming you have a website) in your email signature. You want to make it easy for people to find you.

Someone receiving your email for the first time may not wish to pick up the phone and call you – they may want to learn a bit about you first. When possible, include your email address in such a way that it's clickable no matter the email account that opens it. You do this by writing mailto:yourname@yourdomainname. Having the "mailto" at the beginning of your email address makes it a "clickable" link.

Some discussion groups don't allow you to include your email address in your email signature. But if you have a website, you can direct readers there by including your URL as a clickable link. You do this by typing http://www.yourURL. Adding the "http://" to the beginning of your URL makes it a clickable link for your readers – even in a plain text email.

4. Keep it short.

Keep your signature to no more than 5 lines – more than that and your signature becomes overwhelming and will turn off readers.

Many online discussion groups/forums will limit the number of lines that your signature can be so be sure to check out the guidelines before you post. As a result, I use three variations of my signature: one for online discussion groups, one for existing clients and one for everyone else.

5. Give ‘em a reason and a gift.

Do you want subscribers for your ezine? Do you want people to visit your website? What is the "call to action" of your email signature?

You want to give your email readers a reason to go to your website or sign up for your ezine or pick up the phone and call you by including an invitation in your email signature. You could offer them a F*REE special report, an e-course or a F*REE teleseminar – all for the "price" of heeding your signature's call to action.

Your email signature block is a small, yet very valuable piece of marketing real estate. You want to give as much thought to constructing it as you do the rest of your marketing materials.

by Sandra P. Martini