Interesting idea: Adding your latest blog posts to your email signature

My gut says that people have learned to ignore email signatures almost completely, but maybe that is because they are almost always boring.

Matt Dunlap built a tool that adds your latest blog posts to your signature… However it only works in Thunderbird (no outlooks or web-based email client support!).

Myself, I’ve gone completely web-based for my email (I’m using Google Apps), so I went searching for a similar tool for Google Apps mail (essentially a hosted version of gmail!)… and it doesn’t exist (at least not in the form that I want), but I did learn a few interesting things:

  1. BlogSigs will do something similar for gmail, but it puts an ad the signature, although I didn’t test it out and it is not clear from their website (via LifeHacker).
  2. FeedBurner offers similar functionality through their Headline Animator product that works for many email applications, but again, it doesn’t work with Google Apps.
  3. And finally, the folks at Open Source Opportunities get me *almost* there by offering a firefox plugin that worked for me on gmail, but not my Google Apps account.
  4. It seems worth noting that I could use Matt’s solution if I ran my gmail through Thunderbird, but I’m not particularly interesting about running another app on my desktop just for this functionality…

Even if I can’t implement this solution at the moment, it seems like an interesting idea worth sharing.

14 responses

  1. Feedburner has a similar tool. I use Outlook for my email, so I am not sure if theirs works on web-based email.

  2. Hi Dustin,

    it is a simple extension which can work in both firefox or thunderbird…basically any Mozilla product. I’ll be updating it soon to be a firefox extension so you can use it with gmail. Kevin also mentioned a grease monkey script might do the trick also.

  3. I use the feedburner app with my pop3 server based email and have found that it is a good tool for driving my “competition” to my blog, lol.

    Seriously, I’ve built better relationships with several agents in the area who picked the phone up and called me about my blog – now if I can just talk them into guest posting or contributing on a regular basis I’ll be thrilled. Also a newspaper editor I emailed about an issue found my blog through my signature which led to several quotes in a recent newspaper article.

  4. Matt: extending the tool to be a gmail extension would obviously be great!

  5. Michelle: Getting other agents to bog on your platform is HARD work! 🙂

    When I started Rain City Guide, the options for agents to use a nice looking bog platform were more limited and RCG stuck out because I knew how to mess with CSS code so I could make the site look unique! Nowadays, agents have so many more good options I’d think it would be really hard to start something similar from scratch.

  6. Dustin, getting agents to blog in my area is hard period, lol. There are only 4 agent blogs in my area out of 800+- agents that I have been able to find, and 2 of those have not posted in over 3 months. We are way behing the west coast and usually about a year behind Atlanta, GA market trends.

    Although it is nice to be personally be ahead of the curve, it gets kind of lonely over here.

  7. The beauty of being ahead of the curve is that by the time your competition figures out where they want to be in the social media space you’re head start will mean it will be hard for them to catch up!

  8. Interesting idea…

  9. Great post! I’ve had eStationery with live links to my blogs for some time. I’ve also created eStationery for thousands of agents and title reps. They love the functionality and branding that comes along with eStationery. Some of my uesrs request links to open orders online, share vcards, and provide maps to their offices. I’m always looking for new ideas, formats and ways to make the installation and usage easier. Thanks for the idea and motivation to keep trying new things!

  10. This is a great idea. I am a little worried I will encounter the same problem with .mac mail that you are experiencing with Google Apps. Thanks for the heads up!

  11. I tried Blogsigs, didn’t like the add it included, I use bloglog signature, then they can go to flickr, linked in, youtube or any site I am on.

  12. Hi Dustin,

    Thanks for the link to my blog. The HTML Reply Signatures for Gmail signature plug-in should work for Google Apps users, as long as they are using the “Older” version of Gmail. I’m currently working on support for Gmail 2, but it’s moving at a snails pace due to other committments.

    This extension could easily be retrofitted to insert a blog title and the first 3 or 4 lines of a recent post! I think it’s a great idea and have not considered this! I have a few regular users who insert links to their blog in their signatures and who would love this!

    Here is a possible algorithm, assuming I’ve set up the plug-in to insert my blog articles in the signature:

    – When Firefox first starts, go out to
    – Look for the first element and parse it for the Title.
    – Look for the first tag and store the first 400 characters.
    – Format the title and first X lines as a signature, and insert it in Gmail.

    Alternatively, it may be best to use the RSS support offered by many blogging platforms to obtain the needed information, as parsing HTML is dependent on the template used, and other semantics.

    At any rate, if you’re interested in developing something like this, let me know!


  13. Dustin,

    This is an example of exactly what I’m talking about. Love the idea. Would love to implement something like this (I think I use GoogleAps for my email too), but as I read James’ tech advice my eyes glaze over and I’m lost.

  14. I agree that the tech part is just a bit too complicated. We need to make this simple! 😉

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