There’s no doubt that some people annoy customers and colleagues by not including their contact information at the end of an email. On numerous occasions, it’s certainly irritated me. On the other hand, I’m noticing more emails which really look messy, with just too much information in and alongside their ‘signature’. There must be a happy medium.
As I’ve written here before, including the complete ‘signoff’ in the ‘signature’ section can lead to some inappropriate language. There’s no one-size-fits-all signoff, although something like “With best regards” seems to be accepted as fairly close. Even so, it may not be suitable, and as we’ve also seen, if you’re asking someone to do something, “Thanks in advance” works really well. So that part needs to be left open.
I’ve now standardised on an ‘information card’ at the end of my emails, with a ‘signoff’ above, which I change on a per-email basis as appropriate. It looks something like this:
Business Marketing Online (BMON)
Direct line: ▦▦▦▦▦▦▦▦▦▦▦▦▦
I can then change the “regards – Chris” part to suit the message and whoever I’m writing to. It’s all neat enough such that anything which follows the contact details (such as the legally-required company address which most businesses ignore, and any promotional banners or text) don’t swamp the important contact details above. I think an ‘information card’ like this, sectioned off, works for any recipient, even if it’s someone you know well who doesn’t need your contact information.
What should go in the information card part? I think that your name, job title (if appropriate) and company are fairly obvious. Your company website is simply very helpful to many recipients, and therefore essential. Your telephone number should be included unless you really don’t want people calling. Your email address is optional – of course it’s in the ‘from’ box at the top of the message – but it can be useful in the middle of long threads. And then there’s social media. I’ve never been inspired to follow someone on Twitter or Facebook as a result of an email exchange, so I don’t include these myself, but you might disagree. LinkedIn is different, I feel: it can give strangers some easy background about me in the format I want them to see it in.
Finally, if you’re going to include promotional text or banners at the very end of your emails, please make them timeless, or update them regularly. I have some regular correspondents who don’t seem to have noticed they’re telling me to come and visit them at an exhibition which was last year. That’s not the professional image they want to convey.