They are an online version of your business card. They allow you to promote your site while you are taking care of everyday business, whether you are posting in discussion boards or email lists, blogs or simply sending email. Most email programs enable you to attach a "signature" to appear at the end of every email message you send. If you are using Outlook Express, hit Tools, options, and click on the signatures tab. You can set up lots of them, and use them in different situations.
People like doing business with others who they know, like and most importantly, remember. Your signature file is the first step in building a relationship. Once people know and recognize your signature file, familiarity will increase, and so will your traffic. You don't have to write "Stop by my site for more information." Simply give your readers enough information in your sig. file to compel them to contact you, either by writing to you or visiting your website.
What you should include in your sig file.
You will want to include your basic information; your name, your company or website name and your website address. Include your full url, including the http:// part, so it will be "clickable."
Opinions differ on how long to make your signature file, but I always feel shorter is better. Four lines is all you should really need. Don't include your snail mail address - people online aren't going to take the time to write down your address. If they want to contact you, they will email or call you. Include your mailing address in your site, but leave it out of your signature file.
You may want to include your email address. Be sure to put your it in this format mailto:[email protected] and it will be a "clickable" link too. People can send you a message without hitting reply.
I have seen a few companies that offer a fancy sig file program that are attached to your messages. I would not use them. It will needlessly increase the size of your email file, and attachments are where viruses live. Plain old text works just fine.
Now the hard part, a one line description of your website that provides a compelling reason for people to click on it. What would make you go and look at someone's website?
What is unique about your business? You will need to stand out from the crowd if you want to attract visitors. What do you sell? Do you offer china and glass, or do you offer "The largest collection of fine china and glass on the net"? Write down as many one line statements as you can think of that make your business stand out from all of the others. Work with them, combine them and develop your own "power catch phrase."
Some people like to include dotted lines, special formatting and little pictures. These are fun. Use anything to make your name and website stand out.
How will using a signature file help?
People typically spend the majority of their time working on emails. Having a link to your website in your customers inbox will dramatically increase the chances they will come to your site. It's a gentle, constant reminder.