I hope, after all these years of sending emails, that nothing’s missing from your email signature. However, I thought it might be worth running through best practice, as I haven’t done so for a couple of years.
The good news, and you may have experienced this too, is that fewer emails than ever are contaminated by all that legal stuff (“nothing in this email constitutes anything worth reading”), as most companies have realised that previously they were taken for a ride by lawyers trying to justify their existence. In reality, all those legal disclaimers turned out to count for nothing. If your company still insists on all that stuff, then why not get it put on a web page and just have a link saying “legal disclaimer”?
I don’t see “please don’t print out this email, or the forest gets it” much any more either. Did anyone ever take any notice of this? Also, when people did print it out, the warning often made the printout stretch to an extra page, killing another tree in the process.
Here’s what you need – and you do need it.
Firstly, your name (of course), swiftly followed by your job title, assuming your company is large enough to warrant a job title, or that your job title is modest rather than embarrassing:
Then I would add the contact methods you prefer, in descending order of preference: an email address (optional, I guess), then a direct office telephone number, possibly a mobile number too. Don’t provide too many options. If you have voicemail, people will use that, so is a company switchboard alternative also necessary? And seriously, a fax number, in 2014? (unless you’re an accounts department which still parties like it’s 1999)
Include social media only if you really want people to look at it. I think a LinkedIn reference can be useful, but that’s usually about it for me.
Next come the company details: there’s nothing wrong with a logo, as long as it’s small, but so many people have images switched off in email by default, it’ll often just make the signature look ugly. I think that including the physical address is fine, but do ensure you have the website …and if you use Google Analytics, tag the actual link behind the address to identify it as being an email visitor, or you’ll just add to the “(direct)” entries in your visitor source reports. I’d add ?utm_source=Email%20Signature&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Email%20Signature
Finally, as far as I’m aware, it’s still a legal requirement (if widely ignored) to include your full company name, registration number and registered office details.
That’s it for the essential stuff, but it’s probably an opportunity missed if you don’t include some marketing information – perhaps a statement of what you do, some company news or just a current offer. I’d avoid doing this in graphics though, for the same reason as you might not want to include a logo. And again, don’t forget to tag any links!
Here’s how that pans out in my current email signature: