By Judy Vorfeld
Have you been hearing about the importance of having of a good e-mail signature line (sig line / tag line / sig file), but you don’t have a clue as to how to create one?
Never fear! It takes time, but it will come. By incorporating several pieces of information, you can benefit from a signature line in ways that may amaze you.
When I started on the Internet, I didn’t have a signature line. After studying the comments of people in newsgroups, I noticed many of them using at least one line to give more information about their businesses. The brief phrases generally seemed to be slogans, but on closer study, many of them were not: they were part of the business’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
How can you do this? It begins with studying your niche . . . what sets you apart from other similar businesses in the eyes of the reader, potential client, or those who will refer others to you. Just as you think constantly of customer/client needs when crafting the words on your website, so must you think of these people when crafting your USP.
You can certainly say something that will make people want to ask more about your business, but be careful not to be too clever. You have a global audience, and some common American phrases are not understood in many parts of the world.
My first tag line was something like:
Judy Vorfeld, Office Support Services
Typing, Training, and Troubleshooting
There it was: my name, business name, and what I did. Wasn’t that enough? Nope. Lots of people type, train, and troubleshoot. People didn’t understand my clever little phrase. This was my first clue that something was missing. I needed a different approach, both locally and on the Internet.
Little by little I learned that there must be reasons for every word and digit in the signature line, and that by carefully crafting every part of it, I’m now better able to describe my business. Later, my major sig line reads as follows:
Judy Vorfeld - mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Support Services - http://www.ossweb.com
Online & Document Editor - Web Analyst & Renovator
Webgrammar - http://www.webgrammar.com
Arizona Phone: 623-876-8168 || eFax 801-720-4333
My second sig line is reserved when I send comments directly to newsgroups they generally restrict the sig line to 3-4 lines:
Judy Vorfeld - mailto:email@example.com http://www.ossweb.com
Copyediting, Web Design, Renovation, & Analysis
Then I went to the sig line below.
Judy Vorfeld - Editing and Writing Services - Arizona (623) 876-8168
www.EditingAndWritingServices.com | mailto:jv@EditingAndWritingServices.com
www.ossweb.com &nbs; | mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
www.webgrammar.com | mailto:email@example.com
Wait, Judy, you say. What or who is Webgrammar? Years ago, when I started on the Web, I invented Webgrammar as a way to help people with grammar, research, education, etc. It was first a part of ossweb.com, but later I bought a separate domain name, and later had it trademarked. A number of organizations and schools use Webgrammar as a resource. I created The Writing Center, and then duplicated it when I began the Editing and Writing Services website. So now, I have The Writing Center in two places, where it helps people with writing and research issues.
Back to sig/tag lines. In October, 2009, I’m using this:
Judy Vorfeld - mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
A division of Office Support Services
It’s a digital evolution out there! You may have noticed that I don’t use my phone number in the latest sig line. Yep. I have such a hearing loss that I’m likely to miss something important. That said, I do have an assistive phone (one that keeps breaking down) and I can talk on the phone. It’s just a risk with all the types of phones being used these days, and I don’t want to miss a word of what my clients have to say.
But, Judy, didn’t you use Twitter in your sig line? Yes, for about a year. And while I have a link to Twitter in my blog, after a year I saw no value in keeping it in the sig line. The people with whom I correspond don’t care. That said, some people find value in my Tweets, which are mostly brief grammar and style tips.
If you have a website with any kind of business purpose behind it, do sit down and sweat out your Unique Selling Proposition, creating a clear, effective USP. Brainstorm with friends and family. Or with me. Even if it takes days, or weeks, it will be worth it . . . and you may find that in time you can make it better.
Use it with every e-mail. There are many similarities between sig lines and websites. Be considerate of the other party. If you’re writing to someone regularly, and they suddenly decide to go to your site or give your Web address to someone else - but can’t remember your Web address (URL) - make it easy for them. They should be able to go to any of your previous letters and find that URL. It’s good business practice to leave plenty of information.
If you network often on the Internet (and I strongly recommend it), a good sig line with a clear USP should help increase your credibility, your visibility . . . and your business. It works for me!
For more information, contact Judy Vorfeld