How to Improve and What to Avoid in your Email Signatures

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My friend Roland Whitehead, CEO of Quru, whom I interviewed a few months back, inspired me to write a post about email signatures.

After reading this article I had tweeted from Social Media Today, Roland wrote in an email, “I come from an age where if you had an email address that was more than 2 lines long you were abused, often viciously, for wasting bandwidth. Small signatures are good. Unformatted emails are fabulous.”  Herewith my point of view on what to do and what to avoid when creating your email signatures.

Email signature recommendations

Non-clickable email signature…. destined to cause frustration

What of the use of buttons for social media?  And, as Roland wrote, what about just writing a plain URL as opposed to “a 32×32 pixel icon that is about 500 words worth…”?  Social media button overload is highly unappealing and confusing.  This is why I personally like the about.me solution where you can congregate all your social media presence under one tidy space.  I also tend to use two different email signatures depending to whom I am writing using Wise Stamp (one that is “personal” and the other that is strictly professional).  Another handy solution is the .vcf card which conveniently uploads your address into most digital address books.

Junk email signatures

In terms of “junk” mail, as if it were not bad enough to have spam, there is a lot of junk in the way people sign off.  Some choose to have no signature whatsoever (frustrating).  Others go overboard with too many links (which means it can risk ending up in the spam folder) or too much information.  Others still use images which cannot be copy & pasted.  The email signature is clearly an undervalued part of our everyday communications, mostly because it is automated and falls off our radar.

Email signature tips & tricks

Things to avoid:

  • Don’t include a “(0)” in your telephone numbers: e..g. +44 (0)207… because, written as such, the number is not operable when used to phone from smartphones (although I note that some systems such as the recent iOS now accommodate that protocol).
  • Don’t have too many icons or links.  Make your best channels clear.
  • Don’t add your email address in the signature (as it manifest in the send from field).
  • Don’t put your details as an image (e.g. a jpg or .gif).  It is highly frustrating that you cannot copy & paste the text.  Moreover, your mail will likely end up in the recipient’s spam.
  • I don’t subscribe to putting a QR code into your email, especially if you consider how often people are reading with the device containing the QR reader! If you do use a QR code, make sure that it’s a dynamic one that allows you to update the destination as/when you update your details. You can try this service Go.QR.
  • You no longer need to write “www” before your internet address (most systems now recognize a URL with .com attached).
  • Yet, don’t be afraid to show your personality.  I like to add a phrase that might bring comic relief or pause for thought.

Things to do (choose one!):

  • Create a .vcf (here is how).
  • Congregate your social media presence and relevant links on about.me.
  • Use a service such as Wise Stamp to provide different signatures according to the recipient.
  • Change your email signature in iOS from the basic “typed on the tiny iPhone keyboard…” to something that resembles you, that is more personalized.
  • If nothing else, add your Twitter handle (@mdial).

I was reminded by Roland that, if you work for a company that is EU-based, then your work email address should, according to EU law, include your company registration details. Most people seem to ignore this rule.  I have since come clean.  {Thank you, Roland, for the heads up}.

Are you inspired to do the same?

For further reading, beyond the above mentioned SMT article, you can also check out my post about “Best automated email signatures for smartphones.

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