How to Write an Email Signature that Brings You Business

Vintage typewriter (Photo/John Froschauer), email symbol

Old typewriterThere’s an item on my to-do list that has been there a while … at least a few months.

It says, “Write your email signature.”

As a web writer, you probably know that an email signature is a block of text at the end of an email message which contains the sender’s name, phone number, and other information.

And, I realize having an effective email signature can bring in more business. In fact, a market research report found the average person sends 39 emails per day.

That number is expected to rise to 41 in 2015.

That’s 39-41 daily interactions … with each contact having the potential to produce a sale, referral, or other opportunity.

So, it’s been obvious for a while that I need an email signature, but somehow it just kept slipping to the bottom of my list.

However, I decided to get serious when I came across this opinion on Udemy.com:

“The best way to look unprofessional is to keep standard signatures. You know what I am talking about — “Sent from my iPhone.” There is no better way to tell clients you are not at your desk, and struggle with the simple task of creating your own signature. It’s simple to change this in the mail settings of your phone or tablet; spend five minutes to update it and your clients will thank you.”

Yikes!

Not only am I missing a professional email signature, but I’m also guilty of using standard signatures from my mobile devices. (There’s no telling what my clients think … )

Now it’s time to get this task knocked off my list once and for all. Will you join me?

Plain text vs. HTML

Before I sat down to craft my own email signature, I did a little research to see what others recommend …

Some say too much HTML in your email signature raises your risk of going to your recipient’s “spam” folder …

Also, inbound marketing expert, Chris Handy points out:

“ … depending on your mail client, you may not be able to create HTML signatures for use in your emails. Actually your emails will appear differently in just about everyone’s email box depending on the email client they use.”

That’s why Chris recommends, “Zero Text Formatting.”

Here’s a screenshot of his email signature:

Email-Signature-Chris-Handy

“I gamble on whether the logo will be seen or not as an attachment because it really does not matter,” Chris adds.

Udemy weighs in with an article called, “Email Signature Templates: The Art of Communicating Effectively.” The author, Travis Bennett, wrote:

“Simple plain text is best, many platforms do not correctly display image files or HTML.”

I’ve decided to follow their advice and go with plain text for several reasons. Mainly, I’m a writer — not a designer. Having a custom HTML email signature would be a learning curve and delay this task — again. Plus, the coding could cause usability issues on different browsers and platforms.

Keep It Brief

While there are many debates about “best practices” for email signatures, nearly everyone agrees about one thing: Keep it brief.

“Keep it short, and provide all necessary information (maximum of three-four lines),” Udemy recommends.

Smashing Magazine advises an even shorter signature:

“Go to two or three lines, with a maximum of 72 character per line (many email applications have a maximum width of 80 characters, so limit the length to avoid unsightly wrapping).”

If we follow their advice, we’re working with (at most) 216 characters.

Clearly our email signature is valuable space. So, here’s how to get the most out of it …

Creating an Effective Email Signature

1.  Determine a goal for your email signature.

Our email signatures need to be effective — meaning they should do something.

Ask yourself, “When someone reads my email signature, what do I want him to do?”

Whether you want your email recipient to email you back, download your e-book, follow you on Twitter, or something else, include a call-to-action in your email signature.

2. Gather your raw information.

When I started this process, I wasn’t sure what to include (other than my name and website). I did a quick Google search and found a template to follow.The template suggested:

  • Your name
  • Your title
  • Your email
  • Telephone number
  • Physical Address of your office
  • Links to your main social media profiles (3 at a maximum)

This template already exceeds our “Keep it brief” advice, but let’s go with it …

Here’s my resulting signature:

Christina Gillick
Web Strategy Consultant and Conversion Copywriter
christinagillick@gmail.com
https://twitter.com/ChrisGillick
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ChristinaGillick/posts
www.linkedin.com/in/christinagillick/

What a mess?

Even without my phone number or physical address of my “home office,” it’s still longer than most of the emails I send …

On top of that, the things I care about the most — my website and call-to-action — aren’t included.

Let’s fix that …

3. Add what’s missing …

Next, add any missing elements to your email signature. For instance, my goal for my email signature is for the recipient to visit my website. In order for that to happen, I’ll have to include my URL …

Here’s my signature after this step:

Christina Gillick
Web Strategy Consultant and Conversion Copywriter
Visit me @http://ChristinaGillick.com
christinagillick@gmail.com
https://twitter.com/ChrisGillick
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ChristinaGillick/posts
www.linkedin.com/in/christinagillick/

I’m going to stop here and check the character count. Remember, we’re aiming for fewer than 216 characters …

Email-Signature-Character-Count

This signature is too long (258 characters).

Let’s fix that …

4. Eliminate the excess.

If I’m going to stick to recommended length requirements, I need to delete 3-5 lines of text …

Here’s my revised signature:

Christina Gillick
Web Strategy Consultant and Conversion Copywriter
Visit me at ChristinaGillick.com
Twitter.com/ChrisGillick

I decided to eliminate my email address because, if they’re seeing my email signature, they already know my email address.

Also, I had to make some tough decisions about social media …

Some folks will tell you to include all your social networks … others will say to include just one — the one you use most.

Some will say to include LinkedIn because it “looks professional.”

Or, they might say, “Avoid Twitter because it’s not professional.”

Who’s right?

I’m not sure. I think my website is the best starting place for any potential client … and from there, they can click to my social media profiles.

Of course, if I were a social media writer or consultant (or similar), I would probably want several social media links in my email signature.

In the end, I removed Google+ and LinkedIn. I would rather anyone reading my email signature visit my website.

For now, I’ve decided to leave Twitter. I felt my email signature needed at least one social media network (I do work online, after all). Twitter won the spot because it’s my most active — and easiest to manage — social media profile.

My revised email signature is more concise and clean. It comes in at 130 characters:

Email-Signature-Character-Count-Cuts

It’s definitely improved, but I think it could be better …

In this article, Joe Lowmiller gives this advice:

“Rather than stretching your signature out vertically by creating a new line for every piece of information, make use of symbols, such as the vertical bar “|” or colons “::” to combine lines.”

Let’s try that with mine:

Christina Gillick | Web Strategy Consultant and Conversion Copywriter
Visit me at ChristinaGillick.com | Twitter.com/ChrisGillick

Oops — it looks like my lines are too long …

By revising my “position name” and shortening my calls-to-action, I can cut it even more:

Christina Gillick | Web Strategist
Visit me: ChristinaGillick.com
Twitter: @ChrisGillick

This isn’t 100% complete. In the near future, I intend to:

  1. Add a unique URL (landing page) for email recipients who click-through.
  2. Make that link a tracking link so I can monitor the performance of my email signature.
  3. Make a more specific call-to-action such as, “Download X here,” or “Go here for X.”

However, for now, I’m pleased with my new email signature.

How about you? Post your email signature in the comments below to share.

Avatar

Christina Gillick

3 Comments

  • Mine is a bit long, but that’s for several reasons.
    Some of it is to avoid issues with the Can-Spam act.
    (•Add your postal address to all email (section 5(a)(3) and 5(a)(5)(A)(iii)).)

    The waters can be a bit muddy as to whether your email is commercial, transactional or relationship content.
    Many contain a mix, so why take a chance?

    Canada is really cracking down on spam emails.
    Since I have clients there, I need to make sure I’m legit, no matter what I’m sending.
    Here’s my sig file:
    __________________________________
    Steve Maurer Freelance Writing – B2B Content Marketing, copywriting, editing
    Member – Professional Writers’ Alliance | AWAI’s Circle of Success
    LinkedIn Profile – http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevemaurercopywriting/
    —–
    3000 West Anne Street, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72704
    Office Phone: 479-304-1086
    Email: steve@maurer-copywriting.com
    Website: Maurer Copywriting
    http://www.maurer-copywriting.com

  • Good points Steve. It’s important to know the anti-spam laws for the countries you’re emailing.

    I’ve got the opposite issue to you Steve: I’m in Canada, but most of my clients are in the US. While I haven’t bothered putting in my mailing address in my signature, that’s mainly because I work from my home, and I don’t want to put my home address out there. Guess it may be time to rent a PO Box at the UPS store down the street! =)

    I did take a quite spin through the Canadian anti-spam law, and it allows you to put a hyperlink to the business identification information in order to save space, provided the URL is free & available to any one with any device. So for example, in my email signature I could link to a page on my freelance website that has my address on it, instead of putting it in the email itself. I couldn’t tell if the US law allows for that as well, so I may have to put it in my email signature anyways, but it’s something to look in to.

  • Hi Christina
    As a newbie i found your advise great. It took me to your website which is so unique due to its simplicity. It tells who you are. Wish i could get more advice from you :). Bong.

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