In the time you spend reading this sentence, 20 million emails have been created. Incredible, isn’t it?
Email has taken the world by storm, over 144 billion are sent every day. Individually, we all send thousands every year. Ask yourself, are you using email to connect, generate new business and engage with your customers? Are you communicating effectively in your emails? If not, I recommend studying proper business email etiquette. A short thirty minutes and you learn a fantastic base for your messages.
Once you understand the basics, your signature is the final chance to leave a great impression. As strange as it seems, even having an email signature is a controversial topic. So many people are just getting it wrong. Supporters believe not having an email signature is like forgetting your business card at a networking event. Networking is vital to being successful in business, if you are new in the field you can learn more on effective face-to-face networking here. Email is a fantastic tool helping build your virtual network. An email signature can promote your brand, give more information, and leave a great impression with every message sent. Unfortunately, there are many people that complain 90% of the information in a signature is irrelevant, wasting time, resources and adding frustration to the reader.
So what should you do?
This guide has a template for a great email signature, demonstrating what to include and what to avoid. It’s common courtesy to include your name when you finish a letter, an email should be no different.
You should definitely have:
Contact details! Sign off with your name and title, a telephone number, and the location of your office. Some people like to include their email address, however you don’t have to. When you send a message, the receiver has your details already so this one is up to you. I like to include my email, just in case my message is forwarded and it doesn’t have my info in the header.
Social links are great, and it is common to have websites, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles all linked in your signature. YouTube is a well known site, with a little known secret. With your own channel, you can drive traffic and brand visibility. For more information Deltina Hay has a great course on promotion via YouTube. Following her advice, a well set up channel should also be linked in your email signature. Don’t forget the rule with social sites, link only those you are active on, and are comfortable for your clients to see!
This is simple advice, so why are so many people getting it wrong?
Unfortunately, there are many bad practises in email signatures. Avoid these common mistakes, and you won’t annoy everyone you send an email to.
Please don’t have a motivational quote. No one cares about cut-and-paste one liners, despite how insightful or witty you think they are. They add no value and worse, can often backfire if your reader disagrees. Take my advice on this, there is no benefit to be gained including a generic quotation in every email you send.
Don’t have image files. They link to your email as an attachment and many programs do not automatically download images. More often than not, your email displays incorrectly. If your mail is forwarded, you don’t know if the attachments have also been forwarded. Again, your email is not going to look right. If your business requires a logo in the signature, make the file as small as possible (10-25 KB) so that it is not clogging up every mail you send. My advice, stick to a simple text structure, and have consistency in your messages.
The best way to look unprofessional is to keep standard signatures. You know what I am talking about – “Sent from my iPhone.” There is no better way to tell clients you are not at your desk, and struggle with the simple task of creating your own signature. It’s simple to change this in the mail settings of your phone or tablet, spend five minutes to update and your clients will thank you.
Finally, don’t write a story. A large signature is the single worst thing you can create. Imagine you have 10 or 15 back-and-forward emails, a large signature makes the chain impossible to read, and wastes a ton of paper when it gets printed out! Stick with main contact points, and keep your whole signature between 3-4 lines. As an added tip, make an email signature for reply mail only, when your full signature is already in the email chain. The key is to be effective, not over the top.
Email signatures are simple, here is a set of instructions and a template to help you build your own. The information you will need:
Physical Address of your office
Links to your main social media profiles (3 at a maximum)
* I have purposely included an email in the template. It’s a personal preference, because the benefit to have this “just in case” is better than a potential client not being able to reach me.
Email Signature Template (Full Details)
John Smith | Managing Director
+1 415 555 1234 | firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Infinite Loop | Cupertino, CA 95014
Email Signature Template (for Replies)
+1 415 555 1234
Having the same signature across your devices and your company is professional. It builds a stronger brand, and shows your consistency. It is also very easy to do!
If you get lost in setting this up, here are two courses to get started on to the most commonly used email programs. Click here if Microsoft Outlook is your go-to choice, this course will fast turn you into an Outlook expert. Once you have set it up, it is by far the best program to manage a business email account. I use Gmail for my personal account, Scott Britton’s course on learning Gmail is fantastic as he also teaches strategies for being more productive in your email communication. Once you have a handle on your email accounts, using our template, it takes less than five minutes to have a crisp and professional signature created for all of your accounts.
It is not difficult to create a signature, what are you waiting for?
Keep it short, and provide all necessary information (max. of 3-4 lines).
Have a main contact point. Choose your preferred number, and get rid of the rest.
Put more details on one line using semi-colons :: or pipes |
Simple plain text is best, many platforms do not correctly display image files or HTML.
Have two signatures, for your first message and another for follow up replies.
Include two dashes at the top –, this ensures email platforms recognize your signature.