Business Email Signatures – Don’t be that guy…

OK, here comes a big rant on something that I have to put up with on a daily basis and annoys me like an electronic form of a paper cut. This past weekend I spent about 5 minutes on the computer (which equals 2 lifetimes) searching for this person’s phone number. I ended up having to go to LinkedIn, to get it.

The most important thing to remember is that business email signatures are 98% functional (like Caller ID on a phone.) If you are doing business you want to make it as easy as possible for people to get your info and back in touch.

Don’t be that guy. Follow these rules and you’ll be grade A in my book (or iPhone.)

Email Signatures Rules (for business email accounts)

  1. Include your @#$@# phone number! I shouldn’t have to work to figure out how to call you back. And don’t get cute with your number format, use something that my iPhone can dial if I click on it or (xxx) xxx-xxxx.
  2. Make your info easy for email programs (like Apple Mail) to create a new contact for you. Spell out Mobile, iPhone, Work, so the address books can put your numbers in the right spot.
  3. Images – OK here’s the thing. We all know you want to put your company logo in there (and/or facebook, twitter, linked in, etc) so people can see your brand. STOP IT! In my email box it shows up as an attachment so when I actually try to find emails from you and sort by attachments guess what… Just put a text link so I can click on it.
  4. Attaching your vcard: I think the easiest way to get someone your contact info is to attach a vcard (assuming they want you in their address book.) I think that it’s cool on the first email or an “introduction” email. But this does NOT belong as part of your signature. If you want to make it easy through vcards (which is a good thing), just keep a folder on your desktop called “reference files” and put a copy of your vcard in it. When you meet someone or introduce yourself add it, (which will show up as an attachment.) But again this does NOT belong in your standard signature as every email you send shows up with an attachment.
  5. NDA – Confidential Info: OK, unless you’re a lawyer or you work for a company with that is publically traded, you need to delete your super long confidential statement. If you’re worried about someone else seeing the email don’t send it in the first place or use PGP email encryption. However if you do have a specific email that contains sensitive info, it’s OK to put your mark (e.g. “Livio Confidential”) on the subject and in the body to mark the email. But it doesn’t belong in your signature.
  6. Sent from iPhone – There are two sides to this argument. The first is that if you are sending an email from your mobile phone, it can be a reason to tell people that your spelling is wrong and you are sending more of a “text message over email” than an actual email. This may be fine for internal emails to people you work with. I strongly recommend using your standard signature. You can copy and paste it into your signature field on your phone or tablet. One great benefit from this is that your boss or customers will never know that that 2PM Thursday email sent from the Tigers club level seats is actually coming from your phone in-between innings. Unless you want an “excuse” to send crappy emails, change it.
  7. Quotes of the day: unless you’re sending from a account or you live in a van down by the river, there is no reason in business to have it in your signature.
  8. Advertising: It’s OK as long as it is text based (no HTML markup, images or attachments), short, and to the point.
  9. Something new I just learned: Don’t use links in your email signatures for links to products. It will put you in SPAM boxes.