Email signatures may be the most overlooked, under-appreciated and cost-effective marketing tool at any company’s disposal. The benefits of a well-executed signature are substantial enough that companies of all sizes should view them as an essential component of any company’s marketing and branding strategy.
So what are the do’s and don’ts for a corporate email signature? Here are 10 tips for creating professional email signatures:
1. Include Email Signature Essentials
A signature includes the sender’s details such as the sender’s name, job title, company name, company URL, and contact information – usually phone numbers and address. Be sure to differentiate when using multiple phone numbers with the preferred one listed first. Include the company logo in your email signature – it is great for branding purposes and will help recipients visualize and remember your company.
Don’t use a signature that is completely made up of an image. This means the recipient will not be able to copy and paste from your signature.
2. Pay Attention to the Email Signature Length
The generally accepted number of lines for a corporate email signature ranges from four to seven. Consolidating all the information into four to seven lines can prove to be a challenge. One helpful solution is the use of colons or pipes. For example, jsmithconsulting.com | firstname.lastname@example.org or jsmithconsulting.com : email@example.com.
3. Keep the Email Signature Professional
Avoid hard-to-read fonts, overly large or small text size and silly graphics. Stick to black or blue for a font. Unless the company is Skittles or Lucky Charms, it’s never good to have an email signature resemble the rainbow.
A common mistake is to add a favorite quote for the last line. While this is perfectly acceptable for personal messages with friends, quotations should be left off company signatures. It’s not worth the risk of offending a recipient who the sender may not have a personal relationship with. Instead include the company tag line.
Include a professional closing statement such as Sincerely or Kind Regards.
4. Include Links to Social Media
A great way to build your social media following is to include links to the company’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages. If you use an email signature management program such as Policy Patrol you can even automatically include your latest tweet or blog post in your email signature.
If your employees have a bio or LinkedIn profile that is relevant to their work, include a link in their email signature. For instance for lawyers and accountants, a bio can be very useful to get an idea of the person’s expertise.
But be sure to only use company profiles and accounts. Don’t give links to personal profiles. No business recipient cares what you and your friends did over the weekend, nor should you want them to know.
5. Add Timely or Seasonal Messages
Is your company organizing an event or do you have any seasonal business? Is this your 10th year in business? Use your email signature to communicate this. After all, it is free advertising space.
6. For EU Companies: Make sure you add the required information
According to EU law, companies must include the following information in their signatures: company registration number, registered company address, place of registration, and VAT number if applicable. Make sure each email includes this information.
7. Include a shorter email signature on replies and forwards
It is good practice to include a longer email signature on your first email, for instance including your job title, full address, EU-required information if any and company logo and/or promotional message. Any subsequent signatures could include just the essentials such as name, company, phone, email address and website URL. Some email disclaimer and email signature programs can detect that a long signature already exists in the email and then only add shorter signatures.
8. Proofread for spelling and punctuation errors
Proofread your email signature for spelling and grammatical errors. Check that links to websites, bios and vCards are correct.
9. Include an email disclaimer
Make sure that you always include a disclaimer on each email that is sent out. Check out our email disclaimer tips for more information.
10. Consistency is King
Once you’ve designed a great email signature, it’s time to make sure that all employees within the company are using the same signature. There are email signature tools for Outlook and hosted email systems such as Office 365 and Google Apps that allow you to centrally configure a company wide signature that is automatically applied for each Outlook user. Since you can easily update the email signature for all users, it makes it much easier to add timely messages about upcoming events and promotions. There are also Exchange email signature tools (for Microsoft Exchange Server) that add the email signature at server level.