Monday Challenge: Your Email Signature

This week’s challenge is easy to work through but long reaching in impact.

It’s your email signature, and I’m sorry to say that it’s probably not optimized for 2017.

Email signatures have grown in effectiveness and impact for one simple reason: more and more email clients and operating systems are using information from your emails to connect the dots for new, missing, or out of date contacts in your system.

Before last summer, when a call went to your cell phone and the number was not in your contact list, the phone number itself was shown on your phone screen. But after last summer’s round of software updates (both Android and iOS), many users started seeing something different: “Possibly ________” with the name of somebody pulled from an email.

Often this kernel of information was found by the operating system within an email signature somewhere in the email files. It’s proof that a properly formatted signature is now more important than ever to keep your contact info fresh for those you do business with.

Things to avoid with email signatures

Quotes, commands, instructions, or inspirations: anything from “Please don’t print this email, think about the trees… ” to the all too common “Sent from my iPhone” are simply filler that people have to wade through. “Please ignore any typos” might be the worst offender of all, for typos are impossible to ignore once sent. If anything “please avoid how lazy I am when typing on my phone because I really don’t care about you” is more accurate.

On that note, it goes without saying to avoid any political quotes or topical issues within your email signature. Even something as benign as “Save the planet” can tweak some people in the wrong way.

Be careful with images: You don’t want your company or contact information in the form of an image, for the words and data cannot be read by the new systems trying to update your info. You can have the logo of your company, but be sure it’s in PNG format (not jpeg), and make sure it’s a small image around 150 pixels wide and tall.

Never have animated .gif files in your signature: They can often send your email directly into somebody’s spambox, assuming your .gif file contains a virus.

Don’t play with fonts and colors. Keep it simple, keep it clean, keep it consistent. Yes, it looks boring but that’s the point … if your email signature causes people to linger too much on it, they are avoiding the stuff they should be reading.

What to put in your email signature

At the very least, your name, best phone number (identify it as work or mobile), and email address. Some schools of thought are that you don’t put your email address in your signature because it’s redundant (you sent the email, didn’t you). But consider the new programs that are fishing your contact info out of the emails, and also consider what happens if somebody forwards your email. You want your email within your signature, trust me.

Other things to consider adding: company website, company social media links (or have a link to a page on your website with updated social media links and further contact info), and company taglines (as long as they are short and to the point).

Summary

Take a critical look at your email signature, and if you are in charge of a company make sure the signatures of your employees are consistent and clear. Simpler is better, but don’t forget that we’re in a new age of email and computing, where the info in the email is being used to automatically bring new contact info into systems and processes. Best to be clear, clean, and precise when it comes to presenting yourself.

More ideas on this topic via salesforce.com: https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/09/importance-of-email-signature.html

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