The most widely-read article I’ve written in this series was almost five years ago to the day, and it’s a great example of how, if you write enough material, some of it will unexpectedly prove a hit in Google. The article was about email signatures, and looking at it now, I notice that things have changed slightly since 2009.
Specifically, I rarely now receive emails which include a page of legal jargon about disclaimers and confidentiality at the end of them. And good riddance too. I’m glad that’s being consigned to history. If some officious jobsworth at your company is still insisting on all that nonsense, why not suggest that the mumbo-jumbo is put on a web page, and the email just has a one-word link (“Disclaimer” or something) to that page?
To the best of my knowledge, the advice still stands that a business email is a business letter, and therefore needs to include your company’s registered name, place of registration in the UK, registration number and the address of its registered office. Other than that, it’s up to you. So what should your email signature include?
A logo is good, as it enables recipients to see something at a glance that they recognise, or which you’d like them to. Keep it small though. Naturally, you’ll have your name, your job title and the company name (don’t forget the logo will be hidden in some email applications). But what contact information should you include? I think that it can be a mistake to try to cover every possibility nowadays, especially with all the social media options. Instead, focus on those which you’d prefer people to use.
Direct dial number or company switchboard? Whichever you find is the more practical option, but not both. And state clearly which it is. Fax? Of course not, it’s 2014. Email address? Probably unnecessary – recipients will just click “reply”. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn? Sure, but only if you’re happy with what people will see, and – crucially – only if you monitor these frequently, so the email recipient will get a prompt response if they contact you this way. Don’t put them on just to “show off” that you’ve got them all. We have a Facebook page and a Google+ page, but I don’t want people going to them in preference to our website, so I simply don’t include links to them.
There’s an opportunity to put a promotional message at the end of your emails which shouldn’t be missed, but it needs to be updated often, and constantly rotated. The message should always be a call to action which links to more information, otherwise you’re wasting your time. And “tag” the link so you can see in your web analytics application if it’s having any impact.
And that’s it really. Other than a reminder not to fall into the trap of including the silliest signoff line of all: “Please consider the environment before printing this email”. How many people has that line resulted in them thinking: “I was going to print it out, but I won’t now”? None. How many trees have died unnecessarily to provide the extra paper wasted when that extra line has caused an email to require two pages to be printed out instead of one? Far too many.