When it comes to building your own personal brand, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn get all our digital love. However, for the majority of business professionals, the hundreds of people you’re emailing day in and day out make up the most important social network you have.
Tools like Smartr help personalize the inbox experience, assigning photos, titles, and email history to names. Tout offers you the tools and templates you need to track and schedule your messages. What’s missing for most people in this day-to-day email equation is a helpful and memorable email signature.
This precious real estate at the bottom of every message is often filled with either too much or too little information (or, worse, dead space). Sifting through my own inbox, there are few signature stand-outs among thousands of contacts.
As I stare at my own signature, I hang my head in shame. I probably send out 250 messages a day, so ignoring this simple marketing tool is wasted opportunity. My not-so-bold sign-off consists of a couple of boring lines pointing people to my book, website, and company. While not offensive, it certainly isn’t something to write home about (no pun intended).
In my quest for a better email signature, I’ve determined that within a few simple steps it’s easy to further your brand and reflect your personality while still giving your contacts the content they need to find you online and offline.
Here are my ABCs of email signature success.
When you are building your own personal brand, it’s a good idea to attach your active social media sites to your email signature. Although many email experts recommend you keep your signature to four to six lines maximum, you should be able to add your networking handles and keep your more traditional contact info without going beyond this limit. If you want to use icons to represent these sites, do so, but don’t let your signature get too cluttered with too many colors and images. I’ve seen email signatures with half a dozen social sites included, which is just too much for the average person to sift through. Focus on two or three key online profiles you want to highlight and leave it at that. However, before including any social networks, make sure that your accounts are in fact optimized for a professional audience; in other words, don’t link to your Facebook page if your barhopping photos from Tahiti are still public.
Taylor Jones, the founder of the popular blog DearPhotograph.com, gets creative with his mobile signature. While it doesn’t include a lot of information (which is pretty standard on smartphone sign-offs), it reflects his site’s overall vibe. “Sent from the palms of my hands,” is a simple statement that is indicative of Jones’ brand–simple and straightforward, always with a human touch. While not every professional has the freedom to write a witty message in his signature, there are opportunities to stand out from the crowd.
If you have something new to promote, change up your signature to reflect a different link. There is nothing to say you can’t modify your sign-off on a regular basis (if you’re in a corporate environment, you will want to check with your company’s email policy before making any significant changes). If you want to get even more creative, use a tool such as WiseStamp to spice up your email messages with dynamic content like your latest tweet or your most recent blog post (again, just remember to keep it clean and uncluttered).
Most email signatures provide various ways to get in touch, but they lack information about the best way to get in touch. Best-selling author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki encourages his recipients to interact with him on Google’s social network, Google+. More importantly, below his address info (which we’ve deleted to protect his privacy), he cites his email as the best way to contact him. Instructional language beside these contact areas gives readers context insofar as how to best find Guy. For example, when I redo my signature to add my social networks, since I spend a lot more time on Twitter than I do on Facebook, I should advise my recipients to tweet me for a fast answer (versus relying on Facebook, which I only check a few times a day).
As Sarah Prince (@missprincen) says on Twitter, “The state of hard copy business cards is questionable but email signatures are here to stay!”
Take a few minutes today to spruce up your sign-off to give your personal brand an instant mini-makeover, no fee required.
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[Image: Flickr user Karla_K]