Help with an effective email signature


7

I'm trying to come up with an effective email signature, but I'm undecided which has the most impact. So far I have come up with:

Joe Blogs Managing Director

www.smartcompanysoftware.com A little sparse, but should I include anything else i.e. Skype phone number, LinkedIn, company logo etc

I don't want to make the signature too big, but equally I want it to look professional and contain the RIGHT information.

Email

asked Jan 25 '10 at 13:35
Blank
Smart Company Software
1,190 points
  • I always laugh when I see people's email address in their signature... A phone number is probably all I would add. – Tim J 9 years ago
  • @Tim - I use to think the same way, until I found that when forwarding an email, addresses on our internal user list (Exchange Server) show up as, "From: Smith, John" without including their email address. Maybe I have an incorrect Outlook setting? I have other web mail clients that do not have this problem. – Jeff O 9 years ago
  • I understand. It is common, but it seems so redundant. I am not laughing AT the people (in many cases there is company policy) - I am laughing at the necessity of it. It is like calling someone's home phone (in the old days) and then asking them "where are you"? – Tim J 9 years ago
  • Suggest reading this article: [The Art And Science Of The Email Signature](http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/02/04/the-art-and-science-of-the-email-signature/) Good advice all around. – Jim Galley 9 years ago

9 Answers


18

What I like is:

  • The signature block begins with "dash dash space" ("-- "). This lets the email software know that its a signature block, and allows the email client to display it with less contrast, or not include it in replies etc, depending on the user's preferences.
  • For small companies, I'd say no titles in the signature. In large companies I think titles can be useful, because they communicate what the person is specialized in, and in which division she's working. For smaller companies, I'm just not at ease with titles -- something about my egalitarian Scandinavian upbringing, I feel they can look presumptuous (or worry that the recipient might feel that they're presumptuous). And for small businesses, most of the time the title is superfluous, so it should be left out for brevity.
  • Senders email address written out in the signature. I know it feels kind of lame, but earlier versions of Microsoft Outlook threw away all information about the original sender when forwarding, so often you'd get these emails where you had no way of contacting the original sender. To avoid this, best practice is to always have the email address in the signature.
  • Any phone number(s) you're comfortable with being contacted on, with international dialing prefix. Some people don't want to give out their phone numbers because incoming calls can be time sinks. I find that the telephone can be much faster for certain types of problems than email, so I suggest including at least the office phone number, and optionally ones mobile phone number. Do whatever works best for you.
  • Website URL(s), if you want them there.
What I dislike is:
  • Legal disclaimer. They are generally not legally enforceable, they often contain one or more clauses that are pure nonsense, and everybody ignores them anyway.
  • "Please only print this on recycled paper" or text to a similar effect in the footer. They're just lame.

And last but not least, this is a topic which founders really care about, but most other people don't even notice. As founders, we can be emotional about how our company will be perceived by others, because it touches on sales (our livelihood) and society's perception of our company (social status). For this reason, we often obsess over business cards, email signatures and the like. The rest of the world doesn't care. For them it's just a email signature, and (unless it's very amateurish and far outside accepted standards) they generally won't even notice that it's there.

Update 4. Feb: There is a nice article on Smashing Magazine with some inspirational material about email signatures.

answered Jan 25 '10 at 17:45
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Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points
  • Hate that please don't print crap. Plain stupid unless you are Al Gore – The Dictator 9 years ago
  • +1 for the info on "--", I didn't realize that was a convention respected by email clients – Jonathan Day 9 years ago

3

I'd add:

I check email every few business hours.

to get other people (and yourself) out of the habit of constantly degrading your productivity by email checking.
answered Jan 25 '10 at 13:38
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Bob Walsh
2,620 points
  • I liked Bob's info in his email footer -- because it manages my expectations with regards to how soon he'll reply – Jesper Mortensen 9 years ago
  • Tim, you're reading into what I say a lot more than what's there. I think it's reasonable and professional to let people know how soon they can expect a reply. I also think that constantly responding to emails while doing for example programming guarantees mediocre results. – Bob Walsh 9 years ago
  • To clarify, I end all email with the follow tagline, over the years it's definitely helped: I check email every few business hours. – Bob Walsh 9 years ago
  • +1 after some clarification of what part of the answer was in the signature, and was was just commentary – Tim J 9 years ago

3

Rule number 1. There are no rules. Rule number 2. It really depends on what kind of business you are in. If you are just launching a site, put it in there.

If you have just won an award, put it in there.

If you have a quote put it in there.

If you are communicating through channels like Skype put that in there too.

Just remember to distinguish between basic information (Name, Title, Phone) and dynamic information.

The basic information should always be the same. Everything else is up for experimentation, and you should experiment.

answered Jan 25 '10 at 18:59
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Thom Pete
1,296 points

1

I keep my signature on a single line. That way the quoted e-mail can remain closer to above the fold.

John Smith | Office 555-555-5555 | www.some-website-here.com

answered Jan 25 '10 at 14:08
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Oleg Barshay
2,091 points

1

Your name, title, and company are appropriate for an e-mail closing block. You may also add a closing salutation such as "Sincerely, Joe" above the closing block when this makes sense.

I'd suggest only putting your phone # on notes where you are comfortable taking calls from the recipient.

Tag lines - whether they're clever or meant to be helpful ("I only check notes every few hours" ) - are not a good idea.

answered Jan 25 '10 at 14:14
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Warren E. Hart
2,181 points
  • I hope by notes you don't mean Lotus Notes... eeeek. :-) – Tim J 9 years ago

1

I like to put the company address and website. Like so.

Jarie Bolander

Chief Head Grunt

Acme Startup

1234 Main Street

Any Town, USA 99999

http://acmestartup.com (555) 555-1212

I know it's a lot of stuff but I find that it's easier for people to find my contact info if it's right in front of them.

answered Jan 25 '10 at 15:35
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Jarie Bolander
11,421 points
  • In the UK, it is a requirement to include certain pieces of information in your correspondence; your company registered address is one of them, but few do it. – Steve Wilkinson 9 years ago

1

I have recently changed from showing my website to showing my (corporate) blog URL in my signature, nicely shown as a hyperlink with its title. I am thinking this provides a useful way of marketing the blog (especially if like me your blog currently says more about your business than your website) - it's like free advertising for blogs on every piece of correspondence.

Not for everybody but some may find useful.

answered Jan 25 '10 at 18:26
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Steve Wilkinson
2,744 points

0

One of my biggest pet peeves is an attachment in an email signature. Email. Faux. Pas! For about a year, I'd used a method of CSS design (described here ) for my Mail.app email signature so that there would be a Scraster logo in my CSS signature. It appeared as an image, but wasn't an attachment. In a perfect world, I'd still recommend this kind of signature, but sometimes they don't render correctly and also, I've come to realize that a lot of people don't like rich HTML email signatures (especially those recipients on mobiles). Now I keep it basic with two lines of text. Line 1: Name, Title Line 2: Company name, phone, URL

answered Feb 4 '10 at 04:30
Blank
Scraster
36 points

0

Personally I just put the website company name and URL. No title, no name.

Why would people put name on their signatures, it's already in the header. If it's not you should change you mail client settings anyway! I know everybody is doing it I just don't know why they are doing it :)

answered Jan 25 '10 at 18:51
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The Dictator
2,305 points

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