Let’s assume that you write good emails. They’re short, refer to a single topic, contain clear requests of the reader and include a 3-5 word subject line. (If any of this is unfamiliar to you, review the Boost Your Email Responses newsletter published a few weeks ago.) Now it’s time for the big closing, your email signature. As an efficient user of technology, you’ve saved a signature block that gets added to each email you send. But how does it come across to your reader?
I suggest that the same rules that apply to the body of the email apply to the signature. It should be clear and concise, while giving the reader information that they need. This information consists of only two things: who you are and the best ways to contact you.
For business email, who you are includes your company name and position. If you include your company logo, remember that some email readers don’t display images, particularly after the message has been forwarded or replied to a few times. A broken image link probably isn’t the branding impression that you’re going for.
Depending on your type of business, your contact information may include phone and fax numbers (I’m told that some people still use faxes), a physical address, company website and social media accounts (if they’re relevant). Use text links for social media, rather than images. Please don’t include your email address in the signature block. It’s in the “from” field of the email, remember?
What to leave off
Everything you add to an email increases the workload on the reader and impacts their overall impression of your and your message. Think carefully before adding any of the following:
- Large, eye catching images. You probably want to focus the reader’s attention on the content of your message, not the signature. And you don’t know for sure that it will be displayed.
- Inspirational quotes. No matter how meaningful or true they may be, chances are the reader just doesn’t care.
- Disclaimers. Adding a non-disclosure clause to every one of your emails does nothing for anybody. Ask your lawyer.
- Too many fonts and colors. The signature is an extension of the main email and should not look jarringly different.
Setting up a signature block can be a time saver and help with your personal or company branding. Your reader should be able to use it as a handy location for your personal contact info. By giving them a short, clean block of useful information, you show respect for their time and attention and enhance your own credibility.