Spend some time working across companies and it becomes apparent very quickly that email signatures say a lot more than the correct spelling of your name. Spend time reading and responding to email and you may arrive at the same observations:
- The only people who should NOT have an email signature are people who can sign off as Barack, Cher or Mom. Other than that, please people: create an email signature. (I have found a tremendous correlation between companies that do not have a strong customer focus and people within the company that do not have decent email signatures.)
- The more “Deputy”,”Assistant” or “Junior” is in the title, the more frequently that a full title will be given in the email. BTW: A title or some indication of functional expertise is extremely helpful – even if it just says “Kim – Marketing.“
- Give me some credit. If I see your [email protected] I KNOW its your email. (already in the FROM section of your email BTW.) Similarly, (XXX) XXX-XXXX is a phone number. I don’t need you to tell me that. However, it is appreciated when international contacts include the international country dialing codes for their European or Asian mobile numbers – Thanks!
- Here is what I could do without: office numbers (Chicago, LA and NY), cell number, fax number, internal PBX number, AND postal address with mail stop. Why don’t you just give me your pony express stage stop as well, grandpa? If you really have so many different ways to reach you, maybe you should consider an internet forwarding plan like Ring Central or Onebox.
- A word about inspirational quotes: please stop. One person’s Bible is another person’s Battlestar Gallactica. I’m sure you have been inspired by both. But I just don’t care.
- Of course, I will think about the environment before I print. (Truth in journalism disclosure. My email signature says : “Please print responsibly. Use a remanufactured ink cartridge.” But when you realize that I have two clients in the remanufactured ink cartridge industry AND that it is at least clever enough that you haven’t read it before, I think I get a pass.)
Other ways your email signature “speaks” for you:
- If you have an animated waving hand, American flag or filling beer mug it says you do not understand limited bandwidth or length of time to load an email.
- If you use pink or yellow in your signature it says you are NOT gunning for the CEO position.
- If you use the company motto in your signature it says you ARE gunning for the CMO position.
- If your name and contact information is in the same font as the rest of your email message it says you are either gunning for the CFO position or you are too lazy or boring to change fonts in the signature creation wizard.
- If you remind us that all the information in the email is the copyrighted product of your company and that we are strictly prohibited from copying or distributing the information it says you are in the Legal department or you work for a pretentious consulting firm.
- If you include your Second Life avatar, World of Warcraft guild ranking or XBox Live account name in your signature it says you are either an IT contractor or you work in the creative department.
Finally, there is the sign off.
There are a couple of ways to go that I think are safe:
1) Never use a sign off. Finish your last sentence and let your name in the signature line be the sign off.
2) Use an authentic, positive sign off when it is appropriate only. My favorite is All My Best which I reserve for those times and people when I really do wish them all the best in their lives or pursuit. It is truthful and not as overused and trite as Sincerely, Yours Truly or Have a Nice Day.
If you use a signoff, make it genuine and targeted in a way that the reader actually thinks you meant it just for them. (Consider the always appropriate Go Packers! for anyone in Wisconsin, for example.)
People who embed generic sign offs in their signature (like Thanks!) instantly erode their credibility. As in “Jim: Are you the one who backed up the third floor toilet? Thanks! Reggie”