The Do’s and Don’ts for Creating a Great Email Signature

  • Each message sent with an email signature doubles as a marketing opportunity within your existing online communications.
  • A professional email signature maintains a balance: It should be refined but not dull, bold but not ostentatious.
  • Forget using a standard email signature template: Follow these guidelines on how to create the best business email signature for you.

An email signature is your virtual business card. It acts as a concise, professional method to market your company and your employees, as well as communicate essential contact information.

Each workweek, office employees spend an average of 28% of their time on the clock reading, sending, and responding to emails. Such a notable percentage of time dedicated to emailing as a task comes second only to an employee’s time spent on role specific duties. The McKinsey Global Institute report on productivity in our social economy addresses the necessity of online communications and improving employee productivity.

“A good signature not only makes you look really professional, it puts a face behind the name. This is a great way to build personal interactions and gain credibility and trust with your contacts,” said Orly Izhaki, CEO and co-founder of Wisestamp (our interview with her will be published soon).

If you’re not sure how to make a signature and what to include to add the most marketing value, here we run down what you need to keep in mind:

DO keep your email signature clear and simple

In this digital age, ease of access to information is a necessity. Your business email signature should be clear and concise. Create signatures that list the basics to ensure that everything is readable. It is not necessary to list every method of communication below each professional email you send. Use discretion and decide how you would prefer to be contacted.

Nothing prevents you from including additional phone numbers or methods of contacting you in the body of a email when it is relevant to the correspondence, so save sharing your number for those who really need to use it. Don’t forget to include a country code for phone numbers if you converse with an international audience.

DON’T include your email address

Listing your professional email address as a part of the contact information in a signature is redundant. All of your email recipients can simply click Reply. There is other important information to include in your professional email signature: Don’t use limited real estate to repeat what is at the top of their screen.

DO include social media links

Unlike a business card, an email signature allows you to utilize all of your online networks easily. Including links to your social media profiles allows clients and anyone else reading your email to get a complete sense of your branding and presence. These tips can help you figure out how to make a signature that invites contacts to get to know you and your company.

Obviously, only use social media platforms that are appropriate for your business and your position. Minimize the amount of space used for this by embedding links into icons or images. If you choose to use icons when you create your email signature, make sure they are recognizable for major networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Surprisingly, the vast majority of people don’t include social media links in their signatures, so it’s a way to stand out! The most popular network to include is Twitter, but still only 7.2 percent of people include a Twitter link. According to Wisestamp, including social media links to your profile can increase your social reach by as much as 10 percent.

DON’T make it too long

Nobody likes email signatures that overpower the content of the email itself.  Knowing how to create a signature requires discretion. You should keep yours short and sweet.  These four lines are all you need for any email signature.

  1. Name
  2. Title, Company
  3. Contact info
  4. Links to social media and/or call-to-action

Keeping things simple not only looks nicer, it also makes it easier for your contacts to find your essential information.

DO include a call-to-action

This can be a great way to promote something timely happening at your company. For example, if you have an upcoming event that’s open to the general public, the end of your email signature is an appropriate place to spread the word. Maybe you have a fundraising opportunity or have a philanthropy partner and you want to extend an ask in your email correspondence without sending a separate email to all of your contacts. Just don’t forget to update or remove the link when it becomes outdated.

DON’T use different signature styles within the same company

The company expects consistent representation by its employees. In the same way that business cards follow corporate standards, professional email signatures should too. Create signatures that can be used by all of your employees.

Having a standard email signature across your company is not as easy as it might seem since each individual employee has to set up his or her own. Neither Outlook nor Gmail currently offer settings to standardize business email signatures.

A way of doing this is by using BetterCloud. It is common for employers, especially large ones to provide standards and requirements for each email signature that represent the company or organization. Some even design and provide an email signature template for their employees.  Check out this example from the University of North Carolina.

DO make it visual

Your company’s email signature can be an excellent showcase of creativity. Professional emails are often drab, two-tone conversation threads that fill your monitor. To create an email signature that stands out, add a line of colored text or your company’s logo. These tips can help draw attention to your name, title, or company without being distraction to the ongoing conversation.

It’s also worth noting that, according to Wisestamp, email signatures with a photo of the employee get 30% more replies than those without a photo.

“It helps create a personal element to your email interactions, helping to establish a relationship with the person you’re communicating with,” Orly said.

However, keep in mind that not all email readers support photos, and some people choose not to display photos.  Make sure your email signature still looks presentable even if the photo doesn’t appear correctly.

DON’T mess up the formatting

If you’re creating a dynamic email signature that includes images or special formatting, make sure that is visible on most email clients. It’s important that the width of your signature doesn’t exceed what’s visible for your readers, and ensure that image sizes appear correctly by specifying their height and width in the HTML of your email signature template.  Knowing how to create a signature means using HTML. If you are not used to working with HTML, you might considering using software that can create signatures for you. In that case, your signature would be generated with HTML best practices built in.

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