If you spend as much time in email as I do, you’ve probably seen many email signatures. These bits of text (and sometimes images) are automatically added to the bottom of every email to identify the sender. Often, the signature is also used to promote the person’s company or latest projects.
For at least the last two years, my signature has looked like this:
Though instead of direct links, I used Bitly to track the clicks. That was because I wondered whether anyone actually read and followed the content in my signature.
Well, over the years I’ve learned that people definitely notice the signature. One element of it specifically has received attention in replies, as well as in person.
Though I try really hard not to buy domains I never use, I lined up on opening day of availability of the .coffee domain extension to grab adam.coffee. At around $30 a year, it felt like I should use the domain rather than just sit on it (sadly, over 60% of .coffee domains are parked, meaning they aren’t being used). I’m not enough of a coffee snob to review coffees or perform tastings. Without any more creative ideas, I simply hooked it up to my calendar and let people book time wth me on certain days.
Frequently, I’ll get replies like this to emails:
"I want to sign up for coffee with Adam! I just followed the adam.coffee link and that’s cool.”
"I’ll use your coffee link (which is brilliant btw 👌)”
And periodically, friends lament the robotic approach of spending time together:
“I assume I now have to navigate your adam.coffee link. 😛”
Every three days or so, one of the links in my signature gets a click. The coffee site and my vanity website both get about the same interest. My Twitter page gets about half as many clicks. That could be because it has middle position, or because it’s the least interesting.
Of course, I don’t send the same amount of email every month. Looking back over the last two years, I counted the number of threads in my sent folder. This isn’t quite the same as messages sent, but it’ll do for spitballing. September, 2016, I sent to the most threads (182) and my signature received the most clicks that month (25). However, a few months later in February, 2017, when I sent to 158 threads, only eight links were clicked.
Curious, I plugged the numbers into the CORREL spreadsheet function, and mustered the remnants of my statistics knowledge. The resulting 0.33 p value is a pretty weak correlation.
Reading this, you may want to perform similar navel gazing. Perhaps you have a professional or business reason to care about the clicks. That’s even better.
Here’s what you need:
- At least one link to embed in your signature
- A free Bitly account
- Patience while you wait for results
While logged into Bitly, create a new Bitlink, which converts the link into a shortened (and trackable) Bitly version. Now you’ll have something like this: bit.ly/1mWVMEg
Now you can create a signature in your email program. The best option is if you can have a rich text signature, which can include the link embedded. Remember to use the Bitly link, not the original link!
One thing to try for easy formatting is to create your signature in a visual editor like Word or Google Docs. Then copy and paste it to your email program—in many cases, the formatting will come along for the ride.
Maybe it’s the programmer in me, but I always like to test things out. Go ahead and send yourself an email with the new signature enabled. No need to send it to a different email address. You can just send it to yourself. While you’re at it, give yourself a nice pep talk, the modern equivalent of a conversation in the mirror.
When you receive the email, click the link to make sure it shows up in the right spot. Then check your stats for the Bitlink in Bitly (it may not be immediate—remember patience is required here).
Did you create trackable links in your email signature? I want to see it! Send me an email and I’ll be sure to click.