The Simplest Email Signatures are often the BestThese days, email is arguably the most common form of “first contact” with a potential customer, client or colleague. People spend quite a bit of time refining the content of these communications, pushing them through both public relations and legal departments and checkpoints but very few people bother to check beyond the content, specifically ... their signatures.
The aim of this post is to,
- Prompt you to do some basic checks.
- Give you some ideas on how you can improve your signature
- Document how to create a Signature in IBM Verse.
- When was the last time you sent a work-email to your Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo account to see how the signature looks and to find out what your signature looks like with any legalese added by your corporate gateway?
- When was the last time you checked out how your signature renders from a mobile device.
- Have you recently checked all phone, mobile and fax numbers and email addresses for accuracy? If for example, your company changed their main switch number a few years ago, how confident are you (without checking) that your signature contains the right number now?
Once you've done these checks, consider scheduling an annual task in your calendar to check your email signature.
Critical Information for your SignatureThere’s essentially three pieces of information which are absolutely critical for your email signature;
- Your Name
- Your Position Title
- Your Company Name
- Your Contact Number(s)
- Your Email Address
Redundant InformationTechnically you don’t need to include your company name if your company already includes it as part of their standard legal footer. You also don’t need to include your email address because if a person hits reply (or hovers their mouse over the To: field in your email), they will get it.
Personally though, I prefer to include these two bits of information with the rest of the signature. That way, if the email gets forwarded or fragmented, your sections will be clearly identified.
The trick of course, is to limit yourself to three lines of information. If you can't fit it in three lines, then it's too much.
Non-Critical InformationThe following items are non-critical and should generally not appear on your personal signature;
- Company Switchboard Numbers
- Company Addresses
- Company Website
- Redirects (if you are out of the office)
- Social Networking Pages
- Skype or Hangouts Contacts
- Favourite Quotes or trite phrases.
- Personal Profiles (life stories)
- Pictures (particularly Company Logos)
All company information including switch and fax numbers, the website and Legalese should appear in a separate company footer.
If you don’t have a company footer, then you should at least allow enough spacing between your personal signature and the company signature that it is perceived as separate.
Pictures of any sort are to be discouraged but if a company logo is used, it’s part of the company signature, not part of yours. Keep logos with the company footer.
The only picture that could be attached to your personal signature might be a mugshot of you. If your business requires a lot of face-to-face contact, then this may be okay but otherwise, it’s a bit excessive.
Permanent redirects such as "if you can't reach me please contact my secretary on ...." should also be avoided. If your phone is unattended, calls should go to either a monitored messagebank or to a designated backup person. Don’t make your customers do your communications routing for you.
Unless you’re in the habit of doing business over facebook and linkedin, these social networks do not need to be part of your signature.
Choosing Sensible FormattingThings that work very reliably on the internet include boldface, italics and coloured lettering. Things that don’t work so well include spacing, the use of multiple typefaces and the use of multiple sizes of typeface. The other thing to remember is that some typefaces, like Comic Sans, never convey a business-like feel.
With that in mind, a good signature will emphasise important words with boldface, highlight key areas in colour and depreciate less critical data in lighter shades.
Here’s a couple of examples.
X-Wing Pilot | The Rebel Alliance
t: 61 7 0806 0546
m: 0447 879 216
Master Yoda | Jedi Master and Friend | The Galactic Republic
t: 75 0889 4647 | f: 61 2 0549 0897 | e: email@example.com
You might notice that the colours also match their business branding… Luke’s is red, like the Rebel Alliance colours while Yoda has green.
How to Set a Signature in IBM VerseTo set your signature in Verse, click on your person icon in the top right hand corner and then select Mail Signature. You’ll be given a dialog box in which to create your signature. Don’t forget to use the colours and the link tool to create links. (if you need to).
If you tried (and failed) setting a signature in Verse any time prior to about April 2016, give it another shot. The signature functionality was still under development then. It should be stable now.
Signature GeneratorsOf course, if you really, desperately have to have a complicated signature with all the bells and whistles, you can do that. Simply hop on to one of the many online signature generators. To find them, simply google email signature generators.
One that I found is called htmlsig (https://htmlsig.com/)
The catch with these programs is usually that they want to charge you to store an image. The good thing however is that they often generate html which you can easily edit.
HTMLSig creates html output. You can save this into Notepad and then save as a local HTML File (eg: C:\TEMP\MYSIG.HTML).
Double-click on the file to open it in your browser of choice -- naturally for me, that's Chrome, then highlight everything and do a copy. Go to the mail signature in IBM Verse and paste your text in. It works well.
Of course, for the best results, you'll want to retain control of your images. To do that, edit the HTML and look for all the lines that contain IMG SRC=" This will tell you where the images are stored. Go to those URLs and save a copy of each of those files elsewhere online and publicly accessible (your web server or your Google drive can be used for this).