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Your Digital Handshake

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You’re talking to a customer, maybe even for the first time. You have provided the details and been cordial. Now it’s time for the graceful exit. It’s important to be memorable and professional. Will it be a high five or a handshake? Did they get your name and email?

email-signature

Just like every other interaction with a client, prospective or current, email signatures matter. You wouldn’t leave your contact information off of your business card. You wouldn’t omit the logo or company name from your corporate letterhead. You wouldn’t flub an introductory handshake (or high five) with a customer. These are all opportunities in the business world to say something about yourself. Similarly, a well-crafted email signature can make the difference between trust and confusion in your clients and associates.

However you want to slice it, there’s something impersonal about signing off with “Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse any typos.” Sure, it implies that you’re an active professional on the go, but it also misses the chance to impart some personality as well as informative reminders of key information for your contacts. No matter your preferred email program, there is an easy way to customize your signature once and have it append to your messages automatically.

If you are ready, here are ten email signature best practices to keep in mind:

  1. Conciseness is very important, just as with a website. Use no more than 4 lines of text.
  2. Many email applications have a max width of 80 characters, so it’s a must to keep each line below that if you want it visible, which you do.
  3. Never put contact information inside an image, since it can’t be copied into contact lists, searched or viewed in plain-text email programs.
  4. For advanced users that want to include an image, try uploading it to your website and inserting the absolute URL in the email code. This will avoid the inevitable conversion of your signature into an attachment when your email is forwarded.
  5. Images should be small in file size and fit dimensionally with the text you want to include.
  6. Providing named URLs instead of ambiguous hyperlinks ensures that plain-text email clients will get your info. For example, LINK isn’t as effective as www.MarketingMatters.net.
  7. To acknowledge your social media involvement, either include your one most important network or link to a biography page that has your full list. It’s almost never necessary to let everyone you communicate with know every network you engage with.
  8. Similarly, it is better to point to a detailed webpage for multiple links than to list them all in your signature. List related information on the “Our Staff” page of your corporate website. These are frequently among the most visited page, along with “Contact Us”.
  9. Adding some personality or humor is great. Anything silly or unprofessional is not.
  10. If you don’t rely on walk-in traffic or frequent in-person client meetings, it’s perfectly acceptable to skip the address. I personally skip the fax number too, and can count on zero hands the number of times anyone has replied back to ask me for those pieces of information.

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Eric Lachs is the Marketing and Public Relations Manager at Marketing Matters (www.marketingmatters.net), a communications and design firm specializing in technology, consumer and custom electronics, audio-video and related industries.