Your Email Signature is Making Me Crazy
I got an email last week from someone* who had the worst email signature I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met them in person and they’re totally lovely, courteous and professional. BUT amongst the abundance of info included in their email signature was their: office number, cell phone number and a second (!) cell number (three numbers…which one should I call first?), a link to their blog (which hadn’t been updated since 2015), a fax number (wait, people still have those?) and the kicker was their ACTUAL signature. Yes, like they had actually signed their email in pen. (How cute.)
On the flip side, I’ve gotten emails (while working with a team) from people who didn’t even have an email signature. Every time this happens I wonder: Who are you? What do you do there? Where did you come from? What kind of authority do you have on this project? Are you an intern or the super secretive CEO? Are you a ghost? (Please don’t be a ghost.) I work with most clients via email and this can be confusing so I just look them up on LinkedIn. (Fortunately, these people NEVER turn out to be ghosts. Phewf!)
So is there a happy medium when it comes to email signatures? Let’s take a look, shall we?
Here are 25 must-haves, tips and ideas to improve your email signature:
This is the bare bones of what you need in your signature (I’m looking at you business folk who don’t have one!):
- Name – Duh
- Company – Duh x2
- Job Title – Standard. I’ve also seen great ones from students that say something along the lines of “Design Candidate” which is way better than plain old “Student.” (Although I can’t guarantee if your title is CEO and you’re a one-person shop, I won’t snicker — just sayin’.)
- Primary Phone Number – Pretty simple, the best number to contact you at — that is if you want people to call you. I had a colleague who notoriously left their extension off their email signature for years because they loathed talking on the phone and this just pushed everyone to email them.
TAKING YOUR SIGNATURE ONE STEP FURTHER
Alright, you’ve got the bare bones version, but what else can you add to kick it up a notch?
- Website – This is an easy (and free!) opportunity to send people to your website.
- Secondary Phone Number – If you know you’re at your desk 50% of the time, then provide a second number where people can reach you.
- Social – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Whatever social network is relevant to your business and something that you/your company is active on, then include it. But remember you don’t need to list EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
- Title/Designation – If it’s crucial to the execution of your job and without it, you would kill a person or destroy a business, you should always include it. This includes titles that require licensing and board approval i.e. Doctor, Engineer, Nurse, Lawyer, Accountant (Esq., P.Eng, R.N., CA etc.)
- Degrees – This is up to you. I’ve seen people include their degrees M.Arch (Master of Architecture…so cool!) as well as B.A. (Bachelor of Arts…um, cool?) Again, if it’s crucial to the execution of your job, include it.
- Certificates – There’s a lot of certificates out there that open doors and show off your business expertise, like Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) and Project Management Professional (PMP), so you should always include these. But if you have a certificate in first aid or CPR and you’re a developer, maybe save that for your resume.
- Profile Photo – This one is debatable, but I worked with a salesperson in the US for months (hundreds of phone calls and emails etc.) and finally spent thousands with the company. I never met her in person, but my sales rep, Jenny, had her picture in her email and it actually made me feel like I knew and trusted her. For sales and customer service roles, I think this is a really nice touch, especially if you don’t get a lot of face time with clients.
- Upcoming Events – I love this tip. If you’re exhibiting at a trade show or attending a conference it’s a great place to mention it and provide a link. For example: “I’m attending Adobe MAX October 2018. Let’s meet!”
- Appointment Booking – If you use an appointment booking tool or calendar with clients, linking it in your signature can help save you a million back and forth emails of “When are you free?”
NEXT LEVEL SIGNATURES
You’ve got your basic and fancy info, but here are a few design touches that can take your email signature up to an 11:
- Size – Make sure it isn’t so small people are squinting to find your details.
- Colour – A pop of colour can really help certain pieces of information stand out. But don’t go crazy, two colours max should suffice (and one of those colours should be black/dark grey).
- Logo – If you can, include your business logo. It’s another way to get eyes on your brand and don’t forget to link it to your website.
- Fonts – Stick to the same one that is used in your branding or choose one that is visually similar. Use one font max, anything more and you’ll look like a crazy person.
USE AT YOUR OWN RISK
Completely up to you and your professional style, but here are a few things I’ve gotten into spirited debates over:
- Email Address – Why even include this? You can see this in the “From” section of every email program out there.
- Please Don’t Print This Email – I can’t remember the last time I printed an email. While I totally agree printing can be a huge waste of resources (think of the trees, electricity, ink!) I roll my eyes everytime I see this at the bottom of an email.
- Sent From My… – I use this on my iPhone for when I’m on the go and getting client emails. Often times when I’m onsite with clients or in a meeting and away from my business partner (aka my laptop) it’s a good reminder that I’m not 100% available.
- Fax Machine – Are you personally getting faxes at your job? No? Then remove this.
- Address – Are you expecting visitors, or are people shipping and mailing you things? Then include it. Otherwise, if it’s available on your website, leave it there.
- RSS Feed/Blog – If it’s regularly updated include it, if not, skip it.
- Personal Quotes – Unless it’s your company’s slogan, please don’t show me a Tony Robbins quote.
- Holiday Greeting – I got an email this year with this at the bottom:
*~*~*~* MERRY CHRISTMAS *~*~*~*
It was from the receptionist of a client I was working with and god bless her for getting creative, but it was really off brand, not to mention tacky.
One of my favourite signature mistakes was an employee who had just joined the organization and copied and pasted their signature from a colleague. They changed the name and phone number, but when I went to click on their LinkedIn Profile, it went to their colleagues, as did their Twitter link. Oops.
Another one of my fave blunders was when I wanted to get to know a client better, so I clicked on his Twitter account included in his signature. Well, let’s just say I got to know too much. Picture this, the Twitter header image was a very sexy Sports Illustrated model (she looked friendly), his profile pic was him taking shots (Tequila? Vodka? Water? I’ll never know) and so many retweets from the Chicago Cubs (Go Cubbies!). So I definitely got to know him better… just not in a business sense.
TIME TO REVIEW
So with those stories fresh in your mind, let’s review your email signature right now!
Open up your email right now (it’s okay, I’ll wait.) Find your company brand standards (if you have one and which generally have an email signature guide). Then open up your email program’s signature editor. If you’re unsure, here are instructions for Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo and Apple Mail.
Now follow this infographic to help determine if you’ve done everything you can for a great signature:
Don’t forget to send yourself a test email and make sure it looks awesome. Keep doing this until you’re happy.
And there you have it! 25 ways to improve your email signature. Did I miss anything? What tricks do you use to improve your signature? Let me know in the comments below.
Email signatures are just as much a part of your brand as your logo and marketing materials. What you include and how they look say a lot about your brand. We spend so much time sending and reading emails, don’t let this minor detail get overlooked. Don’t have brand guidelines or need help creating an HTML signature? Get in touch.
And because you asked so nicely, this is what my email signature looks like:
*Names and details have been changed to prevent total embarrassment.