One of the most powerful traffic and community building tools you have at your disposal is the signature
lines that appear at the end of every email you send.

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Your email signature file

Make money with Ads by Google

by Jim Wilson

One of the most powerful traffic and community building tools you have at your disposal is the signature lines that appear at the end of every email you send.

There is nowhere on the Net that it is considered bad form to include a small blatant commercial for your web site or product. Many, if not most, of the discussion lists and newsgroups prohibit postings that are self-promoting in nature. You can't post an ad about yourself or your site or product. But you are always allowed to tag a sig onto any post you make and it can be very self- serving without being considered bad form.

Essential to your web operation
Every email you send to someone will give them an opportunity to visit your site by clicking on the URL in your sig. Every post that you make to a newsgroup or discussion list will forever carry your little commercial to the thousands of people that read it. Sigs are powerful and one of the basics that must be in place to have a successful web operation.

What makes a good sig?

  1. A horizontal line to separate your sig from the body of your message.
  2. Not more than 5 lines.
  3. No wider than the average mail reader window (about 70 characters wide)
  4. Your name and email address (clickable)
  5. Your site URL and site name.
  6. For commercial sites: contact information like phone number.
  7. A 1 or 2 line mini-commercial.

Not that mine is perfect, but let's take a look at my infamous sig file:

Jim Wilson
VirtualPROMOTE <>
First aid for the walking wounded of web site promotion.
Subscribe to the Gazette - Free weekly promotion newsletter.
Personal Web Server: JimWorld

I've got a line to separate my sig from the body of the email and draw attention to my sig.

My name is there so that my message comes from a person, not from a company or web site. Companies and web sites don't send email.. Individuals do. My email address is right there next to my name, and it is clickable no matter where this message winds up. By having the mailto: with the address lets most email readers and browsers display it as a clickable address. Without the mailto: someone would have to cut and paste it into their email program to send me a message. This is very important when posting to a newsgroup or discussion list where the information is included in a longer message from multiple people so the reader cannot just hit Reply to reach me.

Further help on this topic...
<- Look here!
You'll find further help on this topic, or closely related issues, in the side columns on this page..
Look here! ->

Make it easy for people to visit
Next comes the name and complete URL of my web site. Notice that the URL is complete and clickable. I want to make it easy for people to visit. If I don't make it clickable by including the complete URL they would have to cut and paste the URL into their browser. Unless I'm giving away free money, they probably aren't that motivated.

Next comes what's known as a 'tag line' in the advertising world.. This is my little commercial to make people curious enough to visit my site. Put some real thought into this line. I see lots of people waste this valuable advertising space by including some quote from some famous person. If your site is about that person, great. Otherwise, let him or her do their own promotion. You should be promoting yourself, not them.

Next comes my plug for the Gazette and finally my plug for JimWorld, which is the Personal Web Server running here on my desktop and has lots of stuff to look at and chat rooms to gather in.

Acceptable to discussion groups
Of the hundreds of posts I've made to discussion groups, I've never had a moderator cut out any of my sig. When they get one much bigger than mine, it is common for them to cut most of it off before adding it to the digest for the day.

When I send someone an email, I don't have to take up time and space telling people how to reach my web sites. The information is in the sig. And since it is always the same, I don't have to worry about making a typing blunder and giving someone a URL that doesn't work. Imagine slaving for an hour over a beautiful post to a discussion group that really establishes you as an expert on the topic at hand, and including your URL or email address that doesn't work. You've just wasted the hour and actually done yourself some damage.

More blunders to avoid
There is one more blunder that is made by enough people that we should discuss it. If you really want to brand yourself as a world class non-communicator, include some ascii art in your sig.. You've seen it. 10 lines of characters aligned in a way that you can read the result as several giant letters or some picture of something. This wastes bandwidth and is a guarantee that your entire sig will be deleted from every post you make to any list except the Geekspeak Discussion Forum. These types of sigs also usually include other subtle hints that the sender has had some developmental problems in his past (I say 'his' because I've never seen this type of sig from a woman, girl, female, Ms. - God, things were easier in the 50's.) Things like weird quotes from obscure people and and statements like 'No matter where you go, there you are'. This is all a waste of bandwidth and brands you as a communication challenged individual and guarantees that no one will take you seriously.

If you do nothing else this week beyond setting up your email program to send a great sig with every email you send, you will have taken a giant step forward towards improving results from your web efforts. I get email every day from people running beautifully developed sites that have major blunders in their sigs, if they even have one. This is too important to continue to be ignored.

Jim Wilson, founder of JimWorld, and one of the pioneers of Internet Marketing and Community Building passed away in May 2003. JimWorld continues to operate in his memory.

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