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Like delicious dessert after a fancy dinner, a good email signature—that block of text you automatically include at the bottom of your business emails—is the lingering last impression you will leave a professional contact. If you’re just including your name and a phone number in your signature, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to share more information about your business and highlight a recent accomplishment or initiative by your team.
In fact, your signature block is an important opportunity to make a good impression and convey important information about you and your company. Regardless of whether your email account is through Microsoft Outlook or Google for Businees or another e-mail client, you generally will have access to some basic email signature manager options in your email settings. You can set a default signature for all your outgoing emails (both for composed mesage and email replies, or just one or the other), or you can create an email signature design from scratch in an html email signature file.
While you may know it's common to include your contact information, consider what other message or image you could convey through your signature text.
Here are three tips to make your email signature stand out for the email message recipient:
1. Keep your profile visually clean
The information that appears first in your signature should be your basic contact details and contact information. Anything that is not used regularly, such as a Skype username, can be emailed when needed, as you want to keep your signature brief and clean.
Use the following hierarchy for information:
Job Title and Company
Email Address | Phone Number | Website
There are several visually interesting ways to present this information and many free tools and templates that will help you find a design-friendly way to display your digits. Here some email signature templates and examples:
2. Simplify your social media profiles
Any profile that you don’t use for professional reasons should be kept out of your email signature. Period.
Before adding a social link to your email signature, check for the following:
Inappropriate photos – Using Instagram to show off a new bikini on vacation or showcase the latest mess your kids got into? It’s better to keep this account for personal use only.
Unrelated content – Unless your Pinterest account is relevant to your work, no need to link to the living room inspiration board or slow cooker recipes you’ve been hoarding.
Politics – Has Twitter become a place to vent about political frustrations? Unless you work in DC, leave politics for after-hours conversation.
Outdated information – Does your LinkedIn profile say you still work at your last job? Take 20 minutes to freshen up your information before linking your account.
Any link you choose to include in your email signature should be relevant to your work and should be building your brand in a helpful way. If you don’t have appropriate social accounts to link, consider linking your business Twitter or Facebook page instead! You can do all three via icons and if you can custom design it so that it takes up one line, you can do this in attractive and easy-to-understand way that gives your email recipient many options for how to contact you or look up more information about you.
3. Include a call to action
Your profile is a chance to showcase the latest exciting press clip, project or social campaign you are working on. Include one sentence that links to an article, a campaign page or a social account.
Use an active call to action. Here are a few examples:
Read about us in Forbes here.
We’re halfway to our goal of $50,000! Check out our Kickstarter campaign.
Our favorite celebrity took over our Instagram account last week. Find out who.
Other things to consider if you want to create a good email signature impression are potentially adding your company logo, an HTML email signature that's eye-catching, a font that's legible and attractive, a design that looks as good on desktop as it does on your iPhone (read: don't obliterate your mobile e-mail recipients with a large image that will never come across), making your logo one that you can click through to, and a stylized signature block with the appropriate fonts and colors for your business.
The needs of a business professional for a professional email signature block and an email signature for your personal email use also need to be considered. Sometimes we might want casual and funny email signatures that are appropriate for our personal e-mail but don't belong in a more formal setting. Be careful about an email signature that's too casual for even your personal use however. You may be corresponding with potential and prospective employers using a gmail address for example, or discussing important business matters with someone via your Yahoo account. Just because it's a personal email adddress doesn't mean that the only correspondence going through your email inbox will be of a personal nature.
Length is another factor to consider in your business email signature. Many experts suggest sticking with a three to four line email signature. The idea is to force some discipine rather than provide a drop-down menu of different options for the recipient. Be sure to cut unnecessary, extraeous information. For example, do you really need to include your email address? Sure, it could hyperlink to your email address and open your e-mail client, but the email recipient could also simply hit 'reply.' Sometimes simpler really is better.
Consider how you sign off before the signature as well and how the greeting fits in with your signature. It's best to keep it varying degrees of formal and professional depending on the context. For instance, you might close your email with "Sincerely" in a job interview thank you note, while this is probably overly formal for colleagues you know.
Now that you have some email signature templates to review and thoughts on the pitfalls and opportunities for improving your email siagnture block, what are you waiting for? Clean up that old school, cluttered email signature and put give your signature a spring cleanup!
Mandy Menaker is the Head of PR and Brand Development at Shapr, a free networking app for meeting likeminded professionals near you. When not writing about networking, fitness, and travel (three very awesome things) she can be found cycling through Manhattan with her 6 lb Maltipoo catching a ride.
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