What simple changes can you make to your email that will have a powerful effect how your message is received?
Today's 30-year-old marketer would've been just 14 when the most dramatic viral marketing campaign success of all time began. Back in 1996, prior to its purchase by Microsoft, Hotmail had just 500,000 registered users. Just one year later the company had grown 24-fold to 12 million users, through simply including a small advert promoting the service in every email footer. A seemingly simple tool like an email signature can have a powerful effect on companies' marketing and rocket them from a virtual unknown to a global player.
Employees often find it fun and enjoyable to personalise their email signatures. But when it comes to business, ineffective use of this simple tool means companies are giving up a potentially valuable marketing medium -- even allowing other brands to hijack this effective branding space."Sent from my smartphone"
Nine tenths of outgoing corporate correspondence is via email, yet often the only branding any corporate email carries is the email sender's address. This is further exacerbated by employees increasingly using smartphones to send business emails -- which typically only publicise the sender's preferred mobile phone handset, with messages such as 'Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device' automatically added.
There's huge marketing potential in corporate email. On average each employee sends 200 work-related emails every week -- which mounts up to a staggering one million emails every year in a business with 100 employees.Unread and unenforced
When businesses do attempt to harness the untapped marketing potential of business email, they often labour over an 'email policy' for employees that sets out all the dos and don'ts of sending emails -- but they're generally long and boring, often go unread and are rarely enforced. Marketers try to develop an effective working relationship with IT departments to make changes and updates to email signature, but this method taxes the resources of both departments.
Marketing teams are already in control of all other external communications, but remain uninvolved in corporate email branding. They should be able to use email to drive consistent, relevant and targeted marketing messages to their company's stakeholders.
Here are a few steps to ensure your company maximises the marketing potential of every email sent by every employee: 1. Give marketers total control of all outgoing email
Marketing managers have long had headaches over encouraging company employees to use corporately branded email signatures and not make their own adjustments -- such as adding personal Twitter or Facebook links, which can detract from the company's brand image. Theyve also had to contend with the amount of time it takes to get a marketing priority onto their IT department's to-do list, given the IT guys are often more interested in business operations and security issues than sales and marketing.
Preferably marketers should use a system which gives corporate marketing teams complete control of the marketing messages the company's outgoing email communications carry. Marketers should choose which marketing messages they want to go out to specific customers and tailor email signatures whenever they like. 2. Integrate every staff member into your marketing team
A key issue within companies is getting different departments to work together. For effective targeting, marketing teams should be able to directly manage every employee's email signature tailored specifically to the department they work in -- whether it be sales, accounting, legal or human resources.
Companies should also be able to measure the performance of every staff member via open and click-through data gleaned from employees' email signatures -- just as email marketing systems do. Analysis reports should then provide detailed insight into not only how many emails were sent by each employee during every campaign, but which recipients clicked-through to which senders' emails most frequently.3. Make every email from mobiles and PCs a marketing resource
An April 2011 study sponsored by Google showed that 82 per cent of smartphone users check and send email on their mobile. The majority of these mobile email messages contain no branding other than the make or model of the mobile phone the sender uses. When it comes to business use, more people are working remotely and sending corporate email from their mobile phones. Business email replies are often signed off with messages such as 'Sent from my iPhone', 'Sent whilst trying not to drop my iPad' -- the branding of which should both come with a donation from Apple -- 'Please excuse typos, I'm on my mobile' and, my personal favourite: 'Sent while on the move, typing emails, dodging lampposts.'
What would be more beneficial for marketers would be for every email sent by every company employee to automatically contain vital marketing information, such as banners, links to relevant company social media profiles, information about current promotions and recipient relevant pages of their websites -- no matter what device it's sent from. This would make every outgoing email a valuable marketing resource and every employee a relevant, targeted and accountable email marketer.4. Ensure every email legally complies with the Companies Act
Not only does corporate email lack effective and consistent marketing messages, but it often fails to comply with the legal requirements under The Companies Act 2006. This legislation requires companies to include their registered company name and registration number, place of registration and registered office address in every sent email, with penalties of up to £1,000 for non-compliance. Businesses should ensure every email that leaves the company is guaranteed to include this legally required information -- both from mobile devices and PCs.
Obviously the logistical side of each company setting up such personalised company-wide email signatures can be a nightmare, but using a cloud-based service such as Brand and Sign can enable companies to capitalise on the untapped marketing potential of the mass of emails sent by employees. Marketers simply set up employees' emails to pass through the cloud-based server -- which bypasses the need to include their IT department in the process -- transforming every corporate email sender into a relevant, targeted and accountable email marketer.Ken Bagnall is CEO of The Email Laundry