Put Your Signature On It: The Good And Bad of Email Signature Marketing

While it doesn’t lend itself to as much automation and customization as traditional email marketing, there’s a lot that can be done with signatures. But is it worth your time?

With all the talk about email marketing in the news in recent days, particularly in relation to the General Data Protection Regulation, we thought it might be a good idea to offer you a fresh way of thinking about the subject.

And here’s a direction that we don’t think we’ve covered before: Email signatures can be really effective as marketing tools, especially if designed the right way.

But how much should you rely on a bold email signature, anyway? A few considerations:

Signatures can help drive conversions. Have an event you’re trying to promote or an important online initiative you want to push? Maybe you want to get a few more folks to join your association? Or perhaps you just want a few more followers on Twitter? Signatures are well-designed for these approaches and can prove effective in the right context, because they’re naturally targeted if you’re doing your job right. “You shouldn’t expect to add these to your employee signatures and suddenly meet your sales goal for the year, but they will drive real incremental conversions for your business,” the online advertising firm WordStream explains on its website.

Signatures can offer up some useful data. Even if they don’t necessarily convert, they can offer useful ways to passively get some data on your messaging. Many of the tools that one can use to track clicks, such as UTM codes, are available in signatures, too. In a recent blog post on MarTech Advisor, Newoldstamp CMO Helga Zabalkanskaya makes the case that signatures can be a launching pad for bigger campaigns. “You can check how effective email signature campaigns are by analyzing the received data,” she writes. “Being able to accurately measure their success will influence your future business email marketing efforts. This fits perfectly into the overall data-driven marketing strategy, as you’ll be able to make informed decisions and see the real proof of the fact that email signature marketing actually works.”

There are tools to get fancy. Creating a good email signature doesn’t necessarily mean learning the dark arts of Gmail. Among the options out there are Newoldstamp, MySignature, and an online creator from the marketing firm Hubspot. On the other hand, sometimes an effective email signature simply has a good image and good text. As long as it does it job, it’s still worth using.

But does it annoy people? While mail signatures can be a nice marketing technique, there’s a danger of taking things too far, of course. Entrepreneur recently commissioned a study in which Ispos asked what users were most annoyed by when it came to email signatures. Some of the biggest annoyances are perhaps obvious—your colleagues don’t care about your home address (which annoyed 52 percent of those surveyed), the awards you’ve won (50 percent), or your home phone number (49 percent). Notably, though, self-promotional features were often major annoyances for those surveyed, with head shots (38 percent), Twitter handles (35 percent), website links (35 percent), and blog links (29 percent) fairly sizable one. Certainly, one is allowed to have an inspirational quote, but when 28 percent of those getting your emails are annoyed by it, it might be a problem.

And that’s a consideration you have to make about email signatures in general—they can be quite effective as a word-of-mouth marketing tool, but with people’s inboxes already getting bombarded with marketing messages, it’s important to use them carefully.

Your signature can move the needle, but when it comes down to it, it’s not the most important thing in the messages you send.

An example of a signature from Hubspot's email signature generator. (Hubspot screenshot)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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