3 Ways To Use Your Email Signature to Market Yourself

Remember how, in the “old” days, folks would “call on” others and, if they weren’t at home, they’d leave their calling card behind? I haven’t been able to find an academic reference to it, but it makes sense that the modern-day practice of exchanging business cards stems from there. And even in this highly electronic day and age, there’s still room for business cards, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

But are you maximizing the use of your most basic calling card? And that’s nothing more than your email signature.

We all suffer from email overload – I’ve long since stopped counting how many emails I get in a day. Even when I’m not working or on vacation, I use my BlackBerry to delete unnecessary emails from my inbox, in an effort to keep on top of the traffic (sigh, it never stops!).

But I also know that when I send an email out, it’s a unique way to remind others of what I do, particular affiliations I have and things that are important to me.

Here are three tips to maximize your email signature as a marketing tool:

1. Proclaim yourself.

You normally include your contact information in your e-signature, right? Why not include hyperlinks to all the relevant data you think people should have access to? For example, these could be your website, blog or Twitter handle. How about your Etsy site or another storefront? If it’s in your signature, it’s right there for the recipients to click through to, yet you’re not hitting them over the head with it.

2. Add a visual touch.

Go one step further and add some visual pizazz to your e-signature; and a terrific way of doing this is by using a program such as WiseStamp. What’s cool about this is that you can actually embed the hyperlinks rather than simply include them, and you can also include select social profiles such as Twitter, SlideShare, etc. at the bottom of your signature. Here’s a screenshot from their site:


3. Put a shortening service to work for you.

Working on a special promotion? Use a URL-shortening service such as tr.im, bit.ly, ow.ly (or several others) to draw attention to it just above your signature block. For example, I used this as a way to raise funds around my birthday: “Why I’d like you to know how old I am: http://tr.im/K6Yi.”

Granted, it’s not often that a woman is proclaiming her age for all and sundry to hear, but if you use short but sweet copy and a dedicated URL, it’s an easy way to add to your marketing mix with almost no effort.

What other ways do you use your e-signature “real estate” to market yourself? Please share by leaving a comment below.

Image: Rich Bowen, Creative Commons

IMA Conference: Need a Reason To Register?

Here is a preview of just one session from the 2010 IMA Conference….

rick wilson

Have you ever shopped on a website and couldn’t find the checkout link? Have you wanted to add another product and couldn’t figure out how to do it? Were you required to fill out a lengthy registration form that seemed to never end? And then you finally got to the end only to find out that the products were out of stock? Does this describe YOUR checkout process?

Customers want to buy your products and they want the process to be quick and easy without any hassles. Rick Wilson, MIVA Merchant will be presenting “Top 10 Tips for Designing a Great Checkout Process” at the Internet Merchants Association Conference in Las Vegas, March 2-3, 2010. This is just one topic that you don’t want to miss!

Sign up today at the discounted Early Bird rates, but hurry – this offer ends Sunday, January 17th.

IMA Member Spotlight: The Gentle Bath & Company

Brenda Collins owns The Gentle Bath & Company, and is a textbook case study in branding and marketing an e-commerce business. We sat down and talked with her.

How and why did you start selling online?

Before launching my business, I was an RN. I suffered an injury which forced me to “retire” from nursing, so to amuse myself, I sold items from around my house on eBay. That, coupled with the computer and marketing skills I’d learned in Hospital Education, and the design skills I developed through scrap booking when my son was born, set the stage for my launching an e-business.

Initially I opened an eBay store in the Bath/Spa category in March 2007 – and began to sell items within an hour! I chose that segment because I had a very hard time finding quality items when redecorating my own master bath. I ordered a set of Bamboo Blend bath towels on a whim; I ended up loving them so much they became the foundation of my store. I started out with less than 20 items, gradually adding to them (now I carry around 250 items). After the first year, which was full of growing pains, I launched my own website, and sales soon surpassed those of my eBay store. I closed the eBay store in 2009 at the end of last year and am concentrating on my own website now.

Tell us about your company.

The Gentle Bath & Company offers luxury bath items at affordable prices. Our tagline, “Transform your bath into an oasis”,  says it all. We carry a variety of bath-related items from luxury towels to bath caddies to Lady Primrose Bath and Body. We aim to provide our customer with an exceptional internet buying experience.

What were some of your biggest mistakes? How did you overcome them?

I’ve had some white elephant products in my inventory; it’s been hard to pinpoint exactly why they don’t sell. I’ve found that sticking with more “known” brands helps with search and sales. I have a clearance category and put some of the items in that, which I’ve been able to return other items to the manufacturere even though I had to pay a restocking fee.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when first starting your business?

Where do I begin?! Probably the biggest thing would be building a website sooner than I did. Starting a store on eBay is a great way to begin with a limited investment, but now there are so many quick and easy website options that I think I could have opened a website sooner than I did.

Another would be how much time a good shipping program can save you. When I implemented my shipping system (Shipworks) with a dedicated thermal label printer, I cut my package processing time by 200% or MORE!

“It is vital when choosing your shopping cart that you investigate the shipping processes available for the cart.”

What three things would you tell aspiring entrepreneurs?

a. Research research research – your products, your choice of carts and your choice of payments, everything about your business should be researched and then chosen based on what is the best fit.

b. Always try to exceed your customers’ expectations; they will remember you for it and refer their friends and family to you if they trust you will treat them right.

c. Join groups such as IMA and the Internet Retailer Association. You can learn so much from others who’ve been there longer than you, and get feedback and information about many cutting-edge practices in the field of Internet sales.

What has been your greatest business success?

I think the “branding” and “packaging” that I’ve built is what I am known for.  In addition to my products it is my packaging that stands out from many other Internet companies.  I have often talked to customers about their orders, and apart from my products it’s the packaging that they remember and is what stands out when they think about their order.  It is this attention to detail that often leads a customer to refer their friends and family to my store.

What are your goals for your company?

My goals are always changing as my business evolves.  My long-term goal for my company is to maintain profitability as I focus on my website for my sole source of income.  My short-term goals for 2010 are to:

  • change my merchant account from PayPal to one that is more economical,
  • choose and implement an email marketing  program, and
  • take advantage of my new WordPress blog theme and implement all the Google advertising opportunities that are built into the themes framework.

What are some of your favorite business resources?

1. IMA – they have so much to offer on their website in addition to one of the most helpful member forums available for the Internet retailer.

2. Facebook Fan Pages – one of the best free advertising you can get for your business.  I also think their paid ads have some of the best returns for the money.  You can build your fan base and then have a captive audience to communicate with directly regarding all facets of your business. In fact, I find the Facebook interface to be one of the most powerful and easiest to use of all the social networks out there.

3. SCORE – Service Corps of Retired Executives will provide a small business counselor free of charge.  I have met with mine a few times and that’s been very helpful for me.  Their website is also loaded with resources for the small business owner.

Finally: why did you join IMA and has it been worth it?

YES YES YES!!  I was looking for a group that both understood eBay but also focused on business outside of eBay. I found all of that and more in the IMA.  In fact, the member forum is the most helpful forum that I  belong to.  They’ve also started offering more education and that has been very helpful as well.  For the small internet business owner there is no better group to belong to than the IMA!

Brenda, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. Best wishes in 2010 and beyond for The Gentle Bath & Company!

Edited by Shonali

IMA Announces 3rd Annual Conference Agenda

The Internet Merchants Association has announced their conference agenda for 2009 in Las Vegas, NV in conjunction with the ASD/AMD Trade Show.  There is still plenty of time to register, so be sure to go to www.imalasvegas.com right now and get signed up. You do not want to miss this conference packed full of information for increasing your online sales!

AGENDA: Updated 3/11/09

NOTE – The IMA is still adding more speakers, so times and speakers are subject to change.  In addition to the agenda below, there will be a Networking Suite open at Bally’s on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights where you can meet the speakers and ask more questions!

March 16-18 Internet Merchants Assn. Las Vegas register @ , www.imamerchant.org & www.imalasvegas.com Don’t miss out – Register TODAY!

Monday, March 16, 2009 – Internet Merchants Assn Workshops for ASD/AMD
Conference @ Sands Expo Convention Center Rm 107

8am – Marketing My Website on a Budget – Crystal Wells-Miller,Senior Marketing Manager, Vendio
930am – Successful Email Marketing –Charlie Bass, President, Las Vegas Int. Chamber of
Commerce
11am – Make Shipping Easy With Today’s Tools – Seth Birnbaum, Endicia
1230pm – Understanding Search Engine Marketing – Chris Finke,  Orange Soda

FIRST IMA EVENT:
ZAPPOS ON SITE TOUR:
3:30 p.m – 5:30 IMA Pre-conference on-site tour, Zappos.com
Meet in front of Bally’s hotel for transportation, reservations must be made in advance and are first come, first serve.

Hospitality Suite Open, Ballys Resort : 8 p.m. – midnight

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 – Sands Expo Convention Center Rooms 302/303

7:30 – 8 :15 am exhibits open & coffee

8 :15 am – 8: 45  YES WE CAN –case history, Mike Terpin, Social Radi’us Agency

9am-9:40am – Maximizing profit: How to make more money despite the economy – Sarah Brubacher senior manager of eBay’s top sellers programs,
Seth Birnbaum, Endicia and Charles Steinmetz, regional director CISCO

9: 45am-10 15 – Multi-channel Selling, Anthony Musselwhite, AuctionBlox

10: 15am- 10:30am – snack break

10 30-11: 00 am –  How to cash in on TWITTERMANIA , Dan Hollings Twitter Guru

11: 00 – 12:00 ROUNDTABLE #1 & exhibits area open

12 – 1:00 Lunch Exhibits open

2:30- 2:45 pm Snack break

2:45pm-3:30 pm – Driving traffic & attention with Video & Podcasts & online radio
in your marketing & ad mix: Mariana Danilovic, Hollywood Portfolio( former EVP Mediazone). Networks, Andrea Mitchell, Podcast Go, Charlie Bass, Host Vegas Talk Radio

3:30pm-4 00pm – Comparison Shopping Sites; Greg Haslam, Become.com

4:00pm- 4:30 pm Joyce Schwarz, Matchmaking for Business, JCOM, www.joycecom.com Marketing, PR & Joint Ventures

4:30 – 5:30  pm ROUNDTABLES #2

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 – Sands Expo Convention Center

8 am- 8:45 a.m. Morning Networking/continental breakfast

9am-10am – IMA Business Meeting /elections

10am-10:30am – Getting the Most from Your Websites –  Michael Levit, EVP Marketing & Business Development, Vendio

1045am-11:00am – snack break

11:00am-11 45am – “Rich” Email Marketing & Video that sells  Ron Cates, Regional Director, Constant Contact, Dave Boufford, creator of the viral video “THE DASH” 40 million views & counting.

12 pm to 12:45 LUNCH inspirational speaker. Author & poet, Linda Ellis,www.lindaellis.netTHE DASH which sold 200,000 books (only online) and online film that attracted 40 million viewers and counting.

1- 2 p.m. Zappos Keynote: Business Development 2.0 Business Development
at the cross-section of commerce, content & community, Aaron Magness, Zappos, www.zappos.com

2: 15 – 2:45  Subject TBA – Phillip Mulloy, CEO frooition, www.frooition.com  & Burne Hill, US Regiion Manager, frooition

3 – 4:45 Roundtables, workshops & demos & exhibits open

4: 45pm-515pm –-“SEO Link Building Techniques“, Alex McArthur, VP of Search, Orange Soda

5:15 – 5:30 – Closing Comments & Awards

Register today!  Get your business on the fast track to success! www.imalasvegas.com

Third Annual IMA Conference Registration

The Internet Merchants Association is pleased to announce their third annual conference being held in Las Vegas, March 17-18, 2009. This leading e-Commerce conference is presented in conjunction with the ASD/AMD Variety Merchandise Show, the ASD/AMD Gift Expo and the ASD/AMD Jewelry Show being held March 15-18th. Register Here

“With the economy being a challenge to many in business, this year IMA is proud to offer free classes in conjunction with the ASD/AMD show on Monday, March 16th,” announced Steve Grossberg, IMA President. “We are excited to offer the free classes such as ‘Marketing My Website on a Budget’, ‘Successful Email Marketing’, ‘Make Shipping Easy Online’ and ‘Understanding Search Engine Marketing.” Registration with ASD/AMD is required for these free classes.

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IMA Announces Feedback Initiative Website

The Internet Merchants Association recently announced the launch of their new website – LeavingFeedback.com.

This new website is a Public Service Initiative to give all eBay sellers a one stop link to include in their correspondence with eBay buyers in order to help educate buyers on the effects of eBay’s new feedback system, including DSR’s and neutral feedback.

From what I can tell, the only education eBay has done to help buyers understand the new feedback system is to include a pop-up when a buyer leaves feedback, that encourages them to leave negative feedback by pointing out the seller can no longer retailiate in kind.  That’s eBay’s kind of buyer education.

The Internet Merchants Association felt that more education was needed and took the initiative to publish the LeavingFeedback.com site which has been received very positively in the seller community.  IMA is encouraging sellers to include the link in their correspondence with buyers and post it on various sites in order to get it out to the public at large.

Auctionbytes has picked up on the leavingfeedback.com site and Ina’s blog post can be read here.

After the site was posted on various eBay boards, IMA was asked permission to have it reposted in Dutch, French and other languages. Several eBay Certified Education Specialists have requested permission to print the site and use it in their classes.   We are pleased to oblige!

What Is Your Business Goal For 2008?

Like individuals who make New Year’s resolutions, most business owners take time to set new goals and/or revise old goals at the beginning of each year. As more and more consumers and sellers become comfortable with ecommerce, merchants are branching out and adopting a multichannel selling approach, whether branching out to sell on Amazon (or another site or sites) in addition to eBay or whether opening a brick and mortar or starting up their own website.

One of IMA’s most recent polls asked sellers what their business goals were for 2008. The poll choices were:

Expand into other online selling venues

Expand current product line/number of listings

Add new products to business

Open up or expand brick and mortar retail store

As we had expected, the majority of respondents said they planned to expand into other online selling venues. In fact, 67/112 (59.8%) said this was true. From an informal survey of the IMA and other message boards, it appears that Amazon is fast becoming the most popular online venue for sellers looking to branch out. It will be interesting to see how Amazon and sellers deal with the influx of sellers to Amazon. Will Amazon experience some of the growing pains eBay has? Will Amazon be able to continue and sustain its growth? Will sellers remain enchanted with Amazon or will they become disillusioned if Amazon decides to raise fees or implement new policies like eBay has?

The second most popular goal for 2008 (21/112 or 18.8%) according to our respondents was expand current product line/number of listings. It is not clear whether this means these respondents are expanding their current product line/number of listings on eBay or whether they are adopting a multichannel approach and branching out to Amazon and/or their own website. So many sellers focus on expanding their current product line/number of listings, but doing so often presents another set of business challenges such as how to keep growing your business yet maintaining and improving your profit margins, how to handle the increased listing/shipping volume, etc.

Adding new products to business (19/112 or 17%) was the third most popular business goal of our respondents. While adding new products may offer another potential income source, it may also mean having to find and deal with new suppliers, having to research and evaluate profit margins for the new products, possibly dealing with some new buyer challenges related to the products, etc. Again, in the haste to grow, sellers must find a balance between growth and keeping their business running efficiently.

Lastly, 4.5% (5/112) of respondents planned to open up or expand their brick and mortar retail store. Given the rumblings about the economy being in trouble and people and corporations tightening their finances, this is an interesting response. It would also help to know where these sellers live as often, the cost of acquiring and operating a brick and mortar retail store is significantly cheaper in some areas than it is in others.

What do these poll results mean in the grand scheme of things? As has been the trend for the past few years, it appears that sellers are constantly adapting to the world of ecommerce and rules of various selling venues and in order to expand their businesses and remain competitive, sellers are branching out and remaining nimble.

Jennifer

Best Match – Podcast with IMA Member Larry

In my opinion, Best Match is one of the most significant changes that eBay has introduced in the last few years. It is designed to change the Buyer experience in a big way. And every time the buyer experiences changes, it presents a challenge for sellers.

There are three types of people in the world of ebay; those that watch a change, those that complain about a change, and those who find a way to make that change work to their benefit. For those of you in the third category, I strongly suggest you listen to a podcast that I had the pleasure to record with Ina Steiner of AuctionBytes. Here’s a link to the article, which will allow you to connect to the podcast:

http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y08/m04/i11/s01

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Last Day of the IMA Conference

Good morning from San Antonio. It is good to be home, but now I have to get to work putting all this new information to work in my business!

If you missed the last day of the conference, you missed out on some great information. Michael Levit from Vendio was the first presenter “Cross Channel Selling Costs and the Effects of eBay’s New Pricing.”

Vendio

Mike spoke about the importance of creating and running your own website store. Get your webstore established now, as internet retailing is only going to get more competitive in the future. He gave us valuable information on how to market a webstore through SEO, SEM and CSE’s (comparison shopping engines).

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Day 3 of the IMA Conference

Good morning again from Vegas. Day 3 of the conference was a whirlwind of new information and new people. Some of the presentations were very detailed, while others were more basic. I was happy to find out we had registered several new members of IMA as a result of our free seminars for ASD/AMD members on “Getting Started in E-Commerce”! Great job everyone!

The first presentation was on Market Intelligence, by Tim Williams from QL2. QL2 is a company that has helped many very large, well known retailers with market intelligence in order to increase their market share.

QL2

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