Making your e-mail signature a marketing tool

By Peter Harrison

Dolan Media Newswires

BOSTON, MA--Signatures at the end of e-mails, like their handwritten counterparts, are judged by their neatness and aesthetic quality. But only your e-signature doubles as an efficient, powerful - and free - marketing tool for your law practice.

"Each firm has a unique story to tell, whether it's about its services, lawyers or position in a marketplace. ...Your e-mail signature can be an extension of that brand that can further the message and support the positioning of the law firm or the individual lawyer," said Keith Wewe, vice president of client service and growth at Content Pilot LLC in Dallas, a legal marketing and content management company.

Here are some tips for making your e-mail signature more effective:

Focus on how contacts can reach you

Always include your full name, title, firm name, mailing address, direct office phone number, fax (if you have one), mobile phone and e-mail address, said Deborah McMurray, the CEO of Content Pilot.

"You're making the correspondence about you so much easier, smoother and frankly, more accurate," she said. "You don't run the risk of someone mistyping an e-mail or remembering a phone number incorrectly."

Also, if someone forwards your e-mail to a third party and they decide to contact you, they'll already have your contact information in their inbox, she noted.

Market yourself but don't flaunt

If you have a web address, include it because it's essentially free advertising. But remember that your e-mail signature isn't your personal ad.

"[It's not for] anything that feels like it's taken from your resume. Honors, awards and rankings - the fact that you were a super-lawyer in 2008-2011 - absolutely not," McMurray advised.

"Stay away from the cheesy quotes," added Wewe. Inspirational quotes don't belong in the world of business.

Get technical

Standard Microsoft fonts such as Arial, Calibri and Times New Roman are best for e-mail signatures because they're preloaded on most computers and won't get distorted, McMurray said.

Also, solid colors such as black and dark gray are professional and almost universally readable. Including a small logo can increase your brand recognition.

But, "thinking your logo will somehow be missed unless it's the largest thing on the page makes it almost look comical," Wewe cautioned.

Even worse than too large of an image is a broken one.

"It's not just plopping a logo on the page, it's actually got to live somewhere," McMurray said. Failing to properly embed an image is giving an e-mail [provider] the chance to render it as an uninspiring red "X," she added.

"I think buyers of legal services want their counsel to look and be sophisticated," said Wewe. "If you're making some common mistake in your e-mail correspondence ... you risk [potential clients asking]: 'Is this the right counsel? If they can't get e-mail communication correct, what else will they get incorrect?'"

Entire contents copyrighted © 2011 by Dolan Media Company.

Published: Mon, Aug 22, 2011