http://www.dreamstime.com/-image11065418Do you want a powerful marketing tool that builds your brand and your reputation? How about a free opportunity to generate social media buzz? For many small companies, the email signature is an often under-utilized marketing opportunity.

If you made a resolution to improve search rankings with social media and customer reviews, your email signature is an EASY place to start (sign-up for our free UpCity Daily Tips newsletter for other simple ways to improve your online presence). See also 10 Smart Social Media Resolutions.

Basics of Email Signatures

Email has changed our lives. Think how many emails you send each day — 20? Within a business week, that’s a 100 pieces of communication that are sent out to your circles. Within a business year (minus four weeks off), that’s 4800 free marketing messages and opportunities to connect with customers. The basics include:

  • Name | Title
  • Company
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Website (as a hyperlink to your site)

Be sure to keep all of your company’s email signatures the same. This does a good job of reflecting your brand. It also saves you having to tell a creative employee that a flash image at the end of the email block looks nice, but isn’t acceptable!

How to Use Email Signatures for Reputation Building

So you’ve got the email signature in place—styled simply in rich-text with information on how to reach you. Great. But you want people to know more about who you are and what you do, the buzz on the street. Make it easy for them to find out. This is at the core of a review-centric email signature.

Ideas to consider:

  • Social media icons that lead to your professional profile pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter*
  • Dates of an upcoming engagement
  • Incorporate other marketing initiatives such as special offers
  • Add one of the growing list of apps for your email signature including social media feeds and more. Wisestamp is fantastic and easy to use.
  • Add a trackable button that links to any page on the web and get more data on your email signature — My eSig is one solution. (Please don’t use the moving people — see ‘what to avoid’ below!)

*If you’re worried they might click over to Facebook and see a negative comment, providing them with a link won’t make any difference. They could have found it on their own so you might as well be transparent. Better off to manage negative reviews, than hope they go away.

What to Avoid

Doing nothing is the biggest mistake you can make! But since we know that’s not the case, here are a few things to avoid in your email signature.

  • Excessive use of colors and fonts (there is never a reason to do this)
  • Sharing to social media that also is used in your personal life
  • Adding images (many programs even strip these out AND can they appear as an attachment)
  • Movement and animation (this is really dated and can look unprofessional)
  • Really looong email signatures (then they see nothing)
  • Including a fax number (unless it’s critical to your business)

Keep it Fresh

If you have opted to create a more customized signature with time-sensitive information that needs updating, such as an event listing, be sure to change it as soon as the event is completed.  Perhaps a customer quote or inspirational saying is listed, change it up frequently so things don’t look stale.

Take advantage of a powerful free marketing tool, one you can have up and working for you in just a few minutes. You’re on your way to building your reputation and gaining reviews.