Email signatures come in all shapes and sizes. I have seen everything from having NO signature to having more information than necessary. Some large companies incorporate standards for all employees which keep a stable look and feel as well as consistency with the details provided. For those that have their own business it is also good to keep signatures similar – whether you are a company of one or one hundred.
The basics of a professional email signature normally include: name, company name and/or title, and phone number. However, people are now including items like website URL and social network links. So, let’s take a look at the pieces that can be included and when/how to use them.
- Name. This is pretty obvious, but should always include first and last name. If you would like to sign your email with just your first name, you can do so but it is always best to include your full name within your signature.
- Company Name and/or Title. This tends to be seen more within larger companies or businesses, than if you work for yourself. However, if you have a company name and/or title you should include one or the other or both. This allows the recipient to know exactly with whom they are communicating.
- Phone and Fax Number(s). Those working in the office normally have that number and some even include their cell phone number as well. Phone numbers can be crucial for instances where there is a client emergency or you cannot access your email when someone is trying to reach you. Just remember that if you are including more than one phone number you should designate which is which. For example, (O) for Office and (C) for Cell or something similar. If (and only if) your industry still uses fax machines or fax services heavily, then definitely remember to include a fax number.
- Email Address. I know what you are thinking. “Why do I have to put my email address in my signature when they can see it in the ‘From’ field of the email?” Although this is true, it is still good to include it in the signature so that your recipient has all of your contact information in one location, especially if they are saving it to another application (copy/paste).
- Website URL(s). This has become a key piece of information to have in email signatures. You should definitely include your company or personal site(s) if you are on your own. If you can, create the link directly to it in your signature instead of just showing the URL. Aside from providing a way for customer’s to view your product or service, it is a simple marketing tool.
- Social Network Links. This has become a very popular inclusion. Many companies may not allow this, but if you are working for yourself you should include an area for it because it is even more important. If you can, create the links directly to the networks within your signature instead of just showing the URLs. Always providing your contacts and email recipients a way to connect with you provides further marketing and networking avenues.
- Logo. Including your company logo can be a great brand identifier. Just remember that those receiving your emails as text instead of HTML will not be able to view the images.
- Virtual Business Cards. Depending on which email client you are using, you may consider attaching a virtual business card. For example, Outlook allows you to add one directly to the signature which includes all of your contact information. This allows your recipient to save it easily and allows you to include all information rather than just certain items.
The key to good email signature is including pertinent information and friendly formatting.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Do not overdo it so that your signature is 15 lines long. Include the most important items. If you are attaching a Virtual Business Card, you can use that for all details while just including the most important ones in the actual signature.
- Try different looks and feels with different fonts, font sizes, and item placement. Play around with both text and HTML.
- View them in various email clients such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, and Hotmail as well as on both computers and mobile devices. Remember not all email clients and devices display emails the same way.
- If using direct links to your website, social media networks, or even email address, be sure to test that all links work.
If you do not have an email signature currently set up, take some time to do so. This is not only professional but can assist with marketing your brand, networking with others, and showing that you want to be contacted.