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The (new) INs and OUTs of email signatures

March 13, 2015

Remember when there were rumors going around that you'd soon have to buy "e-stamps" to send your emails? This sounds more like a high school senior telling a freshman that they could give them a pool pass or an elevator pass for $20. And could you imaging how many “stamps” you’d have to buy?

Email is the go-to tool in today's workplace, due to the number of people we communicate with in other departments, offices, businesses and time zones. In a world that's always working, your best bet to get in touch with people is through email. Which is why it's so important to have an email signature that's easily readable and conveys the necessary information. So here are the new INs and OUTs of email signatures.

Basic contact information: IN

Your email signature has to start somewhere, and that's usually with your basic contact information. Roy Cohen, career coach and author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide," says, "Always put yourself in the seat of the person reading your email. If you have reached out with a request, what information will make it as easy as possible to respond to you?”

Keep it simple with your name, title, company, phone, and email address. Cohen says. "When there is some mystery or uncertainty about who you really are, it is less likely that you will get a response. Online scams are far too common and that has produced a skepticism that is easy to appreciate."

Images and distracting fonts: OUT

"Compatibility is essential for signatures, because email is sent and received across a wide variety of mail clients and devices," says Kyle Turco, creative manager for Technology Advice. "Having elements in your signature that only work on a specific mail client will cause problems. The 'boring' fonts like Arial, Times New Roman or Verdana are your friend... They work on every system, which gives complete control over their appearance."

And never embed images in your signature. This may make you more likely to be flagged as spam, and they are usually not visible on someone else’s machine. And finally, they add unnecessary size to your email, delaying the speed of your message.

Legal disclaimers: OUT

"There is much debate about the validity of legal disclaimers," says Ricardo Trigueiro, vice president of marketing and branding for Chuva Group, a firm specializing in image and brand development. "As far as a legal disclaimer, your company will add that if necessary. If you work for yourself, chances are you do not need a legal disclaimer." Be sure to ask a legal expert if you're unsure, but often times general email communication won't disclose information that would warrant a legal disclaimer.

Email address: IN

Email addresses in your signature may feel redundant. After all, the email you're sending offers your email address, right? But by including your email address in your signature, you're making things easier for your contacts. Cohen says, "If you made the effort to reach out, then save the reader the effort of having to determine your email address. Also consider the possibility that the individual receiving it may want to create a contact file for you. You eliminate their need to scramble to gather that information by making it readily available." Your email may also be forwarded to other contacts, and including your email address ensures you're still easily reachable.

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