How often do you find yourself, only able to vaguely remember the details of someone you need to contact? But you recall that they’d sent you an email, or vice versa… so you hurriedly search through your email, find the email and then! … Nothing. There’s no real contact information, except for the email address.
That’s an everyday occurrence for me. So in an attempt to make the world an easier to reach place, I’ve compiled a list of tips on how to create a friendly and useful email signature. Friendly because it’ll be easy for your recipients to read & use, and useful because it’ll enable more people to reach you. Don’t forget that your email signature is a really important part of your marketing collateral. It’s persistent, read by almost everyone you send it to, and can be easily forwarded.
Email Signature Tips
- Include your contact details, at a minimum this means:
- Your Name; especially handy if your email address doesn’t contain it
- Your title/position/company; if this is relevant, it’s a good place to include these details. If your company name isn’t obvious from your displayed email address, it’s good practice to include it here.
- Your Email Address; lots of email clients strip this when forwarding or replying
- Your Phone Number; mobile, landline, however you’d like to reached – but don’t go overboard, nobody wants your complete emergency contact list. Remember to include a country & city code.
- Your Mailing Address; if you meet people frequently, or are in sales, then this is always useful. If not, you can probably slip this
- Your URL; this is especially relevant if you sell products or have an online catalogue. If you don’t want people looking at your website, then skip it
- If in doubt use plain text; HTML is very well supported too and allows for much nicer formatting, preferably use both (HTML with Plain Text fall-back if your system supports it)
- Include any promotions BELOW your contact details; remember the key data here is your contact information. You can include promotional information, preferably as small images below the rest of your
- Inline images not attachments; when including an image in your signature, to prevent it from accidentally being seen as an attachment by Outlook, use the HTML attribute ‘nosend’. Ir’s an old an informal technique, so your mileage may vary, but it’s worth the extra few characters: <img src=”http://www.example.com/image.png” nosend=”1″ border=”0″>
- Clickable images; if you’re including a promotional image, remember to make it clickable, so that your clients can actually take advantage of the promotion (and you can track the source).
- Don’t include your contact details in an image; it’s very hard for anyone to copy your contact details from an image, and images don’t always display correctly – especially on mobile devices (where most email gets read these days)
- Keep the width & length short; one detail per line is actually ok. Remember that most email gets read on a mobile these days, so an extra line of text is ok if it makes everything else more readable or is useful – and in the case of mobiles, more clickable. Otherwise it’s just more irritating scrolling.
- Replies need a different format; keep the same contact information, just without the images/promotions. You shouldn’t need to massively rework your signature to create your reply signature.
- Don’t include VCards, very few people understand them and those that do don’t need to receive them repeatedly. The same is true for QR Codes in your email.
- Avoid including quotes; you might offend someone. Unless it’s a personal email, I’d really avoid doing this.
- Test your email for readability; it’s surprising how different the same email looks in different email clients. Double check that your signature looks correct (or at least usable) in the most common systems used by your audience e.g. iPhone mail client, Gmail, Outlook, etc.
- One-liners; if you have to put your contact details on one line, then use pipes or a semi-colon as a separator. Don’t use whitespace or tabs! These look very different on different systems, what’s worse is that their appearance can be inconsistent!
- Avoid virus messages; remember to disable your “virus-scanned” option in your virus scanner, it just looks terrible when it’s tacked on the end of an email (and nobody really reads it).
This doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative or add personality to your signature. Just remember that the purpose is to communicate your contact information, and the creative elements shouldn’t inhibit this. So here’s the most functional email signature I can imagine, and a few more creative one’s for you to mull over:
An Example Signature:
John Smith (President | Acme Corp)
+1 (222) 555 5555 | firstname.lastname@example.org | http://www.websiteurl.com
123 John Mac Drive, Big City, My State, Country, A Postcode