This is episode three of my new show: Marketing Marvels.
It almost seems too simple: Utilizing your email signature, the thing that gets automatically attached to every single email you send, for marketing purposes.
Whether it’s an invitation to an event, a promotion for a new piece of content, a free trial, or something even bigger, the idea of creating a small visual representation within your email signature is genius.
That’s why I was so excited to chat with Dan Hanrahan from Sigstr, the company that is effectively harnessing the power of email signatures for simple marketing that works.
We use this in our emails at Convince & Convert, and I highly recommend you check it out. Pricing starts at only $3 per user per month, which seems like a pretty worthwhile investment to me! Learn more about Sigstr’s capabilities in this episode of Marketing Marvels and let me know what you think.
Jay: Hey, everybody. It’s Jay Baer, President of Convince & Convert. Welcome each and everyone of you all over the Internets to episode number three—one, two, three—of Marketing Marvels where I help you discover fantastic new technology to improve your marketing. Each and every episode of Marketing Marvels includes and overview and a quick demo of cutting-edge marketing technology that I personally endorse and recommend, plus Q&A, to help you decide whether this technology is right for you and your business.
I want you to participate too if you’re seeing this on Google+ or on our Facebook page, if you have a question, go ahead and ask it. We can also take questions offline as well, just send me a note and we’ll get those questions answered as quickly as possible.
Speaking of as quickly as possible, I want to bring right on to the show, today’s special guest on the Marketing Marvels program, he is Mr. Dan Hanrahan who’s the co-founder and CEO of Sigstr, also like me a proud Indiana Hoosier. Welcome to the program, Dan.
Dan: Jay, thanks so much. Really fired up to be on the show.
Jay: Dan, I am fired up to have Sigstr on the show. This is technology that we use everyday at Convince & Convert. I’m also a very small investor in this technology, that’s how much I believe in it. I’ve got my money on this deal. It is awesome. Also, reminder to everybody watching Marketing Marvels that Dan will have a special offer for you here in a few minutes to talk about how you can get access to this very, very cool technology. It is, in fact, a Marketing Marvel.
So, what does Sigstr do? Okay, here’s the deal. So Sigstr helps you solve a really important problem and it’s a problem that actually gets more and more difficult over the time. It vexes marketers, which is how do you get exposure for your stuff? Like, you got good content, you’ve got good events, you’ve got things. Like, how do you amplify to promote it? There is so much content out there, it’s hard to get attention.
So Sigstr helps you do that through what has historically been a really untapped resource, your employees’ email signature files. So, using Sigstr gives you the ability to take your employees’ work email signatures, not their personal, their work email signatures and insert graphical banners in those signatures that then click through to your landing page, to your sign-up page or video, your white paper, your webinar, whatever. So, as I said, we use it everyday at Convince & Convert. It’s super-duper easy to set up and control as you’ll see in just a second.
It also, in addition to sort of being able to put those kind of graphical ads in the email, it also allows you to control the email sig files of people across your organization which is super important, right? Because I’m sure everybody has experienced guy with too big of email sig file, right? Guy who’s like, “I have 22 bullet points in my signature and I want to tell you my entire life history in a series of email signature snippets.” Everybody knows that guy and using Sigstr allows you to prevent that guy from showing up in your organization. It takes five minutes to set this thing up as you will see.
So you also get, and Dan’s going to show you this too, you also get math. You also can find out which of your employees are actually generating clicks from inside their signature file, which is super, super useful. So, simply put, I’m going to say it as cleanly as I can, Sigstr unlocks a very, very powerful, overlooked marketing channel: email signatures. I want you to see it right now. Dan, are you ready to give them a little tour?
Dan: Yeah, I’d sure love that, Jay. Thanks for the kind words and for being a customer and an investor.
Jay: It is my pleasure. This is what…you’ll see. I’m not going to even talk about it. Just show them the demo and then I’ll tell you.
Dan: That’s perfect. So guys, we’re going to take a quick peak. As Jay suggested, we really unlocked the tremendous potential that sits latent in the employee email signature. Before we do that, I think we all experienced the lion share of email that we get in our inbox every single day and so just to tee up the conversation, Jay, I thought I’d ask you or the audience if you have 100 employees in your company, how many emails do you think you’ll send in a given year?
Jay: Okay. So it’s how many employees overall, sent by 100 employees in a year?
Dan: Yeah, email sent by 100 employees in a given year.
Jay: Oh, man. Okay, so if 100 employees…50,000.
Dan: You’re in the ballpark, the average employee will send 10,000 emails a year.
Jay: That’s not the ballpark, that’s like a different zip code.
Dan: The right stadium, maybe. I’ll tell you what, it’s really amazing. We all know how many emails we get everyday so the average person will send 28 emails a day, 10,000 emails a year. So it just takes 100 employees to send, really a million messages. When you sort of consider that, the employee opens up the inbox, and we do this everyday, and we hand pick the audience. And so marketing, it all starts with the right audience and reach. So when you think about that with just 100 employees, you’ve got a million opportunities to really drive awareness and engagement.
So this was sort of one of the two critical elements that lead us to launch Sigstr. The second was really the rise in content marketing and what you advocate for so well. As marketers are pouring their heart into content, your team is emailing the exact people you’re trying to reach every single day.
So what does each one of those emails include? They include an email signature. So, traditionally marketers have tried to email the entire company and encourage the company to sort of copy and paste some sort of sig file template and maybe copy and past a graphic and you end up with an all-company email with 10 different steps and it’s a total mess. Have you ever had this, Jay?
Jay: I have, many, many times in my career. Yes, this is a knowing nod, right here.
Dan: So what we did, we went away and we built a SaaS tool to, as you mentioned, just in a few minutes to allow you to control the brand signature itself and then unlock this marketing opportunity with what we call Campaigns. Campaigns is what I’m referring to in number two here and it’s a clickable image that you can assign to every group so then HR can promote your culture and your latest job opening while sales and marketing might promote a white paper or case study.
Jay: So what you’re telling me is if you’ve got somebody in your company who likes to use Comic Sans in their signature file, you can prevent that from happening.
Dan: Right. That was really the intent, is to eliminate Comic Sans altogether from life.
Jay: I don’t even care what it costs, it’s worth it just for that, it doesn’t matter.
Dan: I love it. So I thought, Jay, I’d share a really quick story and then I’ll show you how it works and show you how easy it is to use. So Angie’s List is a Sigstr customer and across their account management and their sales team, they realized that, boy, these people were emailing customers and prospects every single day and they’re hosting a big customer event called the Festival of Services and they wanted customers and prospects to join them. So they, in literally minutes, rolled out Sigstr to 270 employees. What you see on the right here is the campaign that they activated in the email signature.
So over a period of just under six months had 2 million displays and 4,500 clicks on the campaign. Actually the end result was really interesting: 38% of all attendees to the event registered via a click on Sigstr, which out-performed any other sort of tracked marketing activity like traditional email and display advertising, etc. So we were really excited about that.
Jay: So you were saying more than Facebook ads, more than paid search, more than Twitter, more than blogposts, the signature file campaigns from their employees generated more registrations for this event than anything else.
Dan: You got it, you got it. Events are really compelling use case for us especially when you’re targeting your customers and prospects that your team emails everyday.
Jay: I’ve got to tell, if something’s called the Festival of Services, I’m in.
Dan: It’s a winner.
Jay: It’s a terrific name, I don’t even know what it is, I’m like, “Yes, Festival of Services…”
Dan: I’m in.
Jay: “I’ll be there.”
Dan: So Jay, I’ll transition to show you just a bit about how we made that happen and how our customers use Sigstr. So this is the Sigstr product. This is the admin dashboard, the console where the marketer would typically log in. Very quickly you can see the signature that we’ve got set up here. You can scroll down and you can see some of the campaigns that we have active across our different groups in the organization.
Of course, like you said, math right? It’s digital marketing, let’s measure this and see if it’s actually working. So you can see displays, clicks and click-through rates at a quick glance here on the dashboard.
So as a jumping off point, I’ll show you both signatures and campaigns. Signatures again, you can have multiple signatures for your company and I’m just going to show you the live signature for Sigstr, and you can see very quickly that I can generate a template here. I can select fields, lock and unlock fields to allow employees to edit or not to edit as you like to lock things down. Marketers will typically come in here, they might change this maybe once a year if we want to add social icons or maybe we have something else that we want to change in the signature template itself.
Where the marketer is typically logging in every couple of weeks is here in the campaigns area. And in here you can see, again, a quick dashboard of the campaigns that I have active for Sigstr, along with displays, clicks and click-through rates for each of those campaigns.
Dan: So I thought maybe I’d just give you a quick example to show you what it looks like to update one of these things. So I’ve just pulled up my signature here. You can see, I’ve got the Angie’s List case study that I just mentioned live. If I go back, I’m in the marketing group and so if I come back and perhaps I want to show off the new ebook, I just come in to “Edit Groups” and assign this campaign to the marketing group. We have a message that says, “Do you want to do this in real time?” I say, “Yes, of course I do.” So then as I go back to, in this case, Gmail and hit update, you see the campaign update in real time.
Jay: Awesome. Okay, so not all employees have to have the same ads. You can set up sales has one thing, marketing has a thing, customer service has a thing, HR has a thing. Within that employee group, they can have a different campaign running.
Dan: You nailed it. There might be times where the entire company has the same campaign, something’s going on that’s really important to the entire business and that’s great. Other times of the year we want content that’s really relevant to the sender and to the recipient, and that’s how we unlock the for the marketer.
Jay: Can you run more than one at a time and sort of rotate them through? Or you sort of assigned one and then you can switch it out later?
Dan: Yes, so today, let me show you just a quick example because we’ve done this a bit at Sigstr. Here’s another version of the Angie’s List case study and we wanted to test which one of these performs better. So you can very quickly do that. The way that we do that, Jay, is we assign the content to different groups or to different employees. It might be test group one and test group two and I can activate those test to them and then roll the winner across the organization.
Jay: Inside the organization, I’m sure it depends on the size of the company a little bit, Dan, but who so far have you see kind of runs this? Is it the marketing director or is it internal comms, is it HR? Who is the keeper of the Sigstr keys?
Dan: Hey, that’s a great question. Typically, it’s somebody in the marketing or the communications world. It’s one of two people. It’s really who ever controls the brand and cares about the email signature and the vast number of impressions that are there. Or, it’s somebody in the marketing at work that’s really responsible for content activation. Of course, within Sigstr, you can have multiple admins, right? So I can have an HR admin that can update the HR campaign if she wants to do that.
It’s really simple, you don’t have to be technical or a marketer to add a new campaign. It’s simple as coming in, naming a campaign, driving it through to a URL and either selecting image or text that you’d like to display there.
Jay: And you don’t build the image inside Sigstr, though. You would import it from Photoshop or Canva or whatever?
Dan: You got it. Whatever tools you’re most comfortable in terms of building, designing campaigns, you do that there and then simply upload it to Sigstr.
Jay: Is there a defined size? Like it has to be this many pixels by this many pixels, or you do whatever you want?
Dan: It’s a great question. We actually lock things down a bit in terms of size and provide some best practices to make sure it looks good in the mobile experience. We really, really encourage our customers to consider the height; we don’t want a campaign taking up the entire screen. We typically say 75 to 100 pixels tall is about as tall as you’d like a campaign to be. The best practices are really important.
Jay: So what you’re saying is I should not have an infographic be my Sigstr campaign, that would be unnecessarily tall.
Dan: As marketers, we get a little ambitious sometimes and we’ve got to consider the recipient, the channel a bit and so this is, again, a subtle, well-designed campaign at the end of email signature tends to convert in terms of clicks, etc., much better than some of the over-the-top type of campaigns.
Jay: And the I think you said that there is a text-only version, what does that’s look like?
Dan: Yeah, there sure is. So sometimes for whatever reason, I may want to do a text campaign, perhaps I don’t have a design ready to roll, perhaps there’s other reasons I want to do a text campaign. So yeah, it’s as simple as coming in to the “Create Campaign” page and swapping this over to text and we’ve got a WYSIWYG editor to kind of design that and let you test that as well.
Jay: What’s interesting about this, and I don’t want to geek out about kind of email nuances too much, but in many cases, if you’re going to send an email newsletter to somebody based on what technology they have to receive emails, images are going to be off as a default. But because they’re sending it from one person to another person—from me to Dan, Dan to me. We’re obviously trusted senders, we’re not coming from an email list, those images are going to be on as a default so it almost sort of gets around that a little bit which is pretty interesting.
Dan: Yeah, you got it. In the Outlook world, images are not on by default if you’re not a trusted sender but yeah, you’ve got it. If I’m a trusted sender and you and I are communicating, the images are going to display. We all know that Gmail and iOS devices, etc., display images by default. We just wanted to give marketers opportunities to either do text or images depending on your audience and how you’re communicating.
Jay: You know, I know we talked earlier about using Sigstr to prevent people from using Comic Sans in their signature. But I just realized we totally, totally should have used Sigstr at Convince & Covert on April 1st to do the ultimate April Fool’s day joke and everybody is Comic Sans. From now on, that should be like on April 1st every year, everybody on Sigstr is Comic Sans, like, “Sorry, that’s just how it works.” You change the branding.
Dan: Love it.
Jay: Let’s see the stats, I want to see which employees we’ve got to get rid of because they can’t drive enough clicks with their email.
Dan: Sure. Yeah, great question, Jay. So we want to show analytics at the campaign level but we also want to dig in at the employee level. So I can very quickly come in here and I can sort employees by click rates. So as I come in here I can see which employees are sending the most emails. I can see which employees are sending the most relevant emails that are sort of driving clicks. I can also come up a level here and I can look at things by groups. So I can see, okay, how is the sales team performing as opposed to the product team, on down the line.
Jay: Nice. Do you ever look at that and say like, “Man, those guys send an awful a lot of emails.”
Dan: You know, it’s amazing and we’re just starting to peel back the onion in terms of analytics on employee email and we think there’s just a ton of opportunities because once you get in there and you see two people that might be in the same group sending vastly different numbers of emails, there’s some interesting thoughts and commentary.
Jay: Some of those click rates are pretty extraordinary, right? I mean, go back to that screen. You’re looking like 0.4, 0.8, 0.25. I mean, if you bought banner ads or Facebook ads or Twitter ads or LinkedIn ads and it said, “Hey, we’re going to give you a 0.4 or 0.5 click-through rate,” you’d be doing cartwheels, you’d be so excited.
Dan: You nailed it. It’s a channel you already own, it’s content you already have and it’s an audience that is hand-picked everyday, Jay, so it’s sort of a no brainer. As you kind of compare the click rates here in the person volume and consider the audience, the numbers get really compelling really fast.
Jay: You could set that up because I remember you showed when we had a little campaign creator there, you have the URL that you pick so you could actually use some sort of Google Analytics tag or whatever your own analytics package is to determine what happens post-click. You could say, “Look, this person came to the website, the landing page, the whatever from Sigstr and let’s see what their propensity to convert is.”
Dan: You got it. So if you forget to add your analytics tracking parameters, we’ll automatically add those for you, so the UTM parameters will be added to the URL string. But if you’re using Google Analytics or whatever analytics package you’re using, you can just tack those on to the end of the campaign URL and track them alongside anything else that might drive in conversions for you.
Jay: I want you to talk about what this cost but I want to frame this up by saying, what’s amazing about Sigstr is that you don’t charge based on volume. So if you’ve got somebody who sends a ton of email because they’re in sales, or they’re in customer service and they’re sending out 50,000 emails not a year but every couple of months, you’re not going to charge them more, you’re not charging on a per impression basis, which I think is remarkable.
Dan: No, we’re not. We wanted to keep it really easy. We want it to be super easy to set up, we don’t want it to require a capital budget process to test and see how things work. So Sigstr, depending on what level of functionality you’re using cost somewhere between $3 and $5 per user per month.
Jay: It couldn’t be any easier than that. We saw how fast it is to set it up. We saw how fast it is to set up a campaign, how do you provision employees? I’m saying like, “Yes, Dan, I’m in. I got 200 people. I want them all to be on Sigstr because . . .” I mean, why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you do this? What’s the downside other than, it’s whatever, $600, $1,000 a month but setting that part aside, like, “Yeah, we have this inventory here.”
So let’s say you’ve got 200 employees, how do you get them on the platform?
Jay: Yes. So again, we wanted to provide different options for different sizes of organizations. If you’ve got 10,000 people in your business and you’re in the Microsoft world, then we have, essentially, an integration to pull those employees from active directory and into Sigstr and so as employees are on-boarded, as employees leave the organization they come directly into Sigstr.
For smaller organizations, it’s as simple as you can copy and paste email addresses into the application. We also allow for CSV import if you’ve got your employee data that lives somewhere else, like an HIS system, etc. So lots of different ways to get employees into Sigstr depending on what’s the most important to your business. But, certainly an opportunity to get started without any IT help if you’d like to do that. Then if you’re a large organization and you want to automate some things, we can make that super easy as well.
Jay: So, how do people get started? If viewers want to get on the Sigstr express, where are they going to go?
Dan: Yes. So if you actually go to Sigstr.com. It’s S-I-G-S-T-R.com, there is an opportunity to learn a bit more, it’s resources. There’s also an opportunity to sign up for free. So as the first user… In Sigstr again, we want to prove to you how easy this is to use. So just sign up and we allow the first user to do everything that you would do in Sigstr for no cost and sort of check it out first hand.
Jay: Well, that’s pretty cool. Especially if you’re like a sole proprietor or consultant or you’re a one-person operation, just go do it. You can do it for free and it’s a free deal, might as well take advantage of that for sure.
Dan: Of course, of course. We love feedback. If we’ve got a customer really across every vertical, from one employee up to thousands. So, we’d love you to give it a try and check it out first hand.
Jay: I love it, it’s fantastic. It’s so easy to use. As I said, we use it everyday at Convince & Convert, big fans. Let me ask you a couple of questions about you, Dan. How did this happen? This is one of those technologies you’re like, “Dude, why didn’t somebody think of this sooner? Oh, my God.” And so how did this happen? Were you like drinking beers or in the shower [inaudible 00:20:42].
Dan: I love it. You know, most of my good ideas come from one of those two efforts. But the interesting thing here was really it’s a problem I experienced first hand. I was with a business called iGoDigital in 2012. We had 60 employees. We would email all 60 employees and ask them to update a campaign and email signature, and it might be, “Hey, we’re going to be on a trade show,” or “Check out our explainer video.” Or any book, etc. Anecdotally, we had incredible evidence that it really worked and we had big opportunities that arose when we were able to get employees to do that.
So I looked for a tool that made it really simple to automate that effort and measure the results. I couldn’t find one. In 2012, ExactTarget bought iGoDigital. So in my second week as an ExactTarget employee, I got an email from the marketer and it was sent to me and my 2,000 colleagues. It was like the email I showed earlier and it basically said, “Hey, guys. I need you to copy and paste this call to action to your email signature around our customer event coming up.”
So, I sort of hit my head against the table. I said, “Man there’s got to be a better way to do this.” About a year later, I actually love startups, I love marketing tech and we just went out to build the tools since we couldn’t find it out in the marketplace and it solved a problem for us with 60 employees and 2,000 employees and today actually Salesforce is a customer. Salesforce acquired ExactTarget so they’re a customer. So it’s kind of come full circle which is really exciting.
Jay: Yeah, that’s awesome. What’s on the roadmap for the future? You got some other new stuff under wraps that you’re going to roll out?
Dan: Yeah, we sure do. Everything that was sort of interested in, of course more analytics behind Sigstr to sort of show you actually who’s clicking directly within the app is in the near-term roadmap. The next opportunity is really using the email signature as an internal communications tool. So if you’ve got an open enrollment period, or maybe you have a referral program or list of candidates or job openings that you’d like to share with the organization, rather then sending another message, if the only folks that are listed in the to line are @yourcompany.com, then we should show a campaign that’s relevant to sort of internal communications. So that’s kind of the next big item on deck for us.
Jay: So, it would check anything after the @ symbol and say, “If this matches the sender, then use the internal campaign instead of the external campaign.
Dan: You got it, you got it. So we’ll dynamically swap that out based on the audience.
Jay: Man, HR folks and internal comms folks are going to be doing backflips. I mean, that’s exactly what they need. It replaces the internal company newsletter that nobody reads.
Dan: You got it, you got it. We all get so many emails and it’s just about driving efficiency in those messages or on whatever is most important to your business. Yeah, for HR and communications folks, it’s just a really easy way for them to get that message in mass out everyday.
Jay: Awesome. Last question from me before we wrap it up, Dan. Other than Sigstr, obviously which we love and delighted to have in the show, what’s your favorite marketing technology? What’s a marketing marvel for you?
Dan: Yeah, that’s a great question. We’ve really been diving into a tool called DemandJump. That’s been a revelation for us to sort of see traffic sources for Sigstr and other items. So that’s probably our latest. There’s lots. Everybody at Sigstr is a marketer; that’s what we say everyday whether you’re in the Dev team or the client success team or the sales team. We’re all out there seeing what marketers are using and trying to provide a bit more value there.
Jay: Awesome. You can take off your screen share because I’m seeing myself twice and it’s freaking me out. There we go. DemandJump, I don’t know DemandJump. I’m going to check that out, that sounds awesome. I want to give those guys a look.
Dan: It’s a cool tool to just check out, hear the biggest influences for our business might be. I think you’re top of the list, Jay. But it shows us the others as well.
Jay: Awesome, fantastic. Thanks very much. Tell people again how to get it and what it costs.
Dan: Yeah, guys. So, just Sigstr.com, S-I-G-S-T-R dot com and again, pricing starts at $3 per user per month. If you have any questions, we’d sure love to engage with you and share some of what we’ve seen out there.
Jay: Awesome. Dan, thanks so much. Congratulations, love the tool. I think the coolest part about it, other than just like, “Dude, why didn’t this happen years ago?” is it is so incredibly easy to use, as we saw in the demo. You don’t need an IT guy, you can just figure this out instantly which is really spectacular. So, great, great job. Thanks for being on Marketing Marvels.
Dan: Yeah, thanks for the audience, super exciting.
Jay: Absolutely. That was episode three of Marketing Marvels, ladies and gentlemen, one, two, three. New episodes every three weeks or so. To make sure that you know when new episodes are coming, go to the YouTube channel and subscribe. The link is right there underneath my finger but I’ll tell you what it is right now just in case, it’s bit.ly/marketingmarvels. Go there, you’ll get alerted every time there’s a new episode.
What else am I going to tell you? I think that’s it for this week’s episode other than again, bit.ly/marketingmarvels. The show is a production of Convince & Convert Media, my firm, we have a bunch of different podcasts. We have Social Pros, we have Content Pros, we have Influence Pros. We have the Business of Story, so all kinds of podcast for marketers and professionals. You can go to convinceandconvert.com/podcasts to see all of those, or just look in iTunes.
Until the next episode of Marketing Marvels, I’m Jay Baer from Convince & Convert. He is Dan Hanrahan from Sigstr. We’ll see you soon.
Dan: Thanks, Jay.
Jay: See you, man.
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