Graphic of Email With Pen in Blue Circle making a signature.

Every email you send should have a signature in it.

• Personal emails.

• Business emails.

• Marketing emails you send through your autoresponder service.*

And no, I’m not talking about “signing” your name.

The good folks over at Webopedia tell us that an e-mail signature is a block of text that is added to the end of an e-mail message you send. Generally, a signature is used to provide the recipient with your name, e-mail address, business contact information, and/or Web site URL. A signature file — or sig as it is often called — can easily be created in most e-mail clients like Outlook or Gmail. You’ll usually have the option to always attach the signature to all outgoing e-mails, or to just add the signature in specific outgoing e-mails.

Some Email Sig Tips

Keep it short. You don’t want to write a novel for your signature and you don’t want so much there that nobody will take the time to look at it. Your signature is there so that people can engage with you. Make it as easy as possible to do so.

Don’t use images. Images can often cause troubles. Too often the internet service providers will strip out an image so it never makes it into your recipients inbox anyway. So you certainly don’t ever want to make your entire signature as a graphic. If you want to put your photo or your company logo in as part of your signature, that’s probably going to be okay. Just know that on the other end, any image will slow down the import of your email. And that can be annoying to your recipients.

Simple, plain text is always best. Skip colors, images, and special fonts. (Many fonts won’t show up on the other end anyway.)

Include your best contact info but not necessarily all your contact info. Include your name — first and last — your title if you use one, phone and fax numbers, your email address, and your website URL. If you want to get postal mail, include your postal mailing address.

But avoid using multiple email addresses and phone numbers. Pick your best (one) option and use that. Otherwise, you’ll just confuse people. And people are confused enough as it is these days. Confused people can usually only make one decision:  to make no decision at all!

You may be wondering why you would include your email address if the person could just hit ‘reply’ and reach you. Lots of emails get forwarded, and if someone wanted to contact you from a forwarded email they wouldn’t necessarily have your email address. So include it.

Links to other stuff. Like the squeeze page for your email marketing list, current specials and offerings, anything timely or seasonal, anything you want people to know about and take action on. It’s a subtle form of advertising for your goodies.

Be sure to write out the entire URL like this: http://www.somebodyswebsite.com. Cloaked links may not show up at all on the recipient’s end. The http:// signals to just about every email client out there that this is a live URL and will make it clickable. You want people to be able to just click on a link, not have to copy and paste. (Because most folks won’t go to the trouble.)

Link to your social media profiles. Do this if, and only if, you are actively engaging with the social media you include. No point in asking people to follow you on Twitter if you aren’t paying attention to it.

Separate items on a single line by using a pipe (|) or a colon (::) in between. (See sample sig below for use of a pipe.)

Don’t use HTML to format your sig. You have no idea how its really going to look on the recipients end. Plus if they don’t accept HTML emails, then they aren’t going to see it anyway. You want your sig to be seen.

Don’t include jokes or quotes. You never know whom you might offend or when you might give off the wrong impression.

Don’t use any kind of legal disclaimer. Unless you’re a lawyer and you have to.

An example of a good text sig:

—-
Martha Coach
President, Unified Coaching Group
P: 123-456-7890   |    F: 877-123-4567
E: martha@unifiedcoachinggroup.org
Join my LinkedIn Network: http://linkedin.com/in/linkedinname
Want to be the best coach you can be? Find out how: http://nameofcoaching.com

That’s really all you need.

* It’s a good idea to have some kind of highly visible email signature in any commercial email marketing message you send. (Beyond the info that is included by law at the bottom of each email.) Why? It helps people remember who you are, and it gives them — however subtle — the assurance that you’re an upfront and honest business person. You won’t see a phone number in an email message sent by a fly-by-night marketer.