Branding Your Email Signature: 14 Steps

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Good morning Internet fans. Ryan Perry, Simple Biz Support. Today is Thursday, December 3rd, therefore it is Internet Marketing Thursday, and I have Virginie Dorn with Business Website Center. Good morning, and happy Thursday, Virginie.

Virginie Dorn: Good morning and happy Thursday to you too. How are you in Rohnert Park?

RP: I’m doing good. It’s a little wet outside, which we definitely need. Had a great Thanksgiving, I heard you did too.

VD: Absolutely. We did prime rib this year, so no turkey.

RP: I like it, I like it. Mix it up a little bit. Today, one, we need to talk about email signatures. Very simple, easy way to brand, but I think you have something like 14 different topics you want to cover just around email signatures. And then we also want to kind of talk about the schedule because Christmas and New Year’s, I think, falls on Thursday. So just let people know that I think those two weeks, we’re going to be off the air.

VD: Yes. Plus, I’ll be in Hawaii in Christmas so no, no webinar.

RP: Shucks darn!

VD: It’s hard, I tell you.

RP: Yeah. You’ll be in Hawaii having fun, I’ll be in Los Angeles. I’m going to do the Rose Parade this year for New Year’s Day, so that should be exciting. Cold, not warm, but unique in its own.

VD: Absolutely. You’re going to have fun.

RP: Yeah. Email signature, pretty simple thing. I say, “Thank you very much, Ryan Perry.” Boom! We’re done.

VD: Well, you can.

RP: We gotta stretch this out for 15 minutes though.

VD: Oh, that will be easy. And like you mentioned, I have about 14 dos and don’ts for your email signature. First and foremost, I hope everybody knows what an email signature is. It’s not the actual signature when you write on a check, it’s actually what comes with your email when you reply to someone or you contact someone for your email. It should have at least who you are, your contact information, maybe some other things. So this is what we’re about to discuss. I see big companies with horrible email signature among their staff, and when we’re done with website, typically I will kind of, very gently, mention it to them, that maybe their logos is outdated or the phone number is wrong or there’s a misspell in their slogan, and it’s always comes as a surprise ’cause they never think about it. So let’s talk about it today.

RP: Alright, sounds good. And before we go into the 14 dos and don’ts, I want to cover a couple of quick things and I want to make sure we’re aware of our time here, but an email signature, A, is very, very important because a lot of times people miss the simple things. I mentioned, “Hey, thank you, Ryan.” What about phone number? I can’t… Even though… Even if I know you, I still want you to put the phone number in there because if I need to call you, boom, it’s right there, it’s in front of my screen, I don’t have to go to my… Look up some database or do this or do that, make it easy. And then also if people, are interested in you, and I’m sure you’re going to talk about this, there’s going to be social media links. How can I find you on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn to find more information, especially if this is a new connection. Making it easy for people to find you in other places is really, really important. And the other thing, and I’m not sure it’s in here, is I actually have two email signatures. I have my primary one when I first send an email to somebody, but I have a separate, stripped down one if I’m replying back to somebody. They don’t need all the information, just the stripped down, simple stuff.

VD: Yeah. So it’s definitely one of the 14 points. If your system allows for it, you should have one main signature that has everything, and just as you mentioned, a stripped down version when you’re replying so you don’t reply your logo and your social media icons each and every time. Still going to need that basic information, just like you mentioned, phone number, email, but it will be much more streamlined. So definitely think about it, if it’s possible in your program; and it may be GoDaddy, Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, whatever it is. Often times, they give you that capability.

RP: Okay, perfect. And so I messed up your order a little bit, but let’s go ahead and start with number one.

VD: Well, number one is you need to have one. Don’t type your name each and every time. Imagine how many… You add the seconds and it turns into minutes, how many hours in your lifetime are you going to type your name when you can have a system do it for you. So think about your life in general and try to save yourself some time. So that’s number one. Number two, is something I still see come across my email is people using their actual signature, just like they would write a check, within their signature in their email. This is so outdated. It used to be the cool thing to do maybe five, 10 years ago, but don’t do it. Plus, it’s an image and you don’t want people to steal your signature to begin with. And again, it dates you, very old school. Now the next one is the one you mentioned, customizing your email signature for sending and replying, but also, if you can, customizing your signature per the type of recipient. You might have one that is targeting customers, one that is targeting vendors, maybe another one for internal communication of your employees. So if you are able to do that, please use that ability because you can really target back the person you’re communicating with.

VD: So customers will have more marketing verbiage, while an employee will be more short and first, last name, maybe phone number with the extension, and that’s about it. So think about it. Another thing, I’m looking at my list, is use, if you can, font style color than you use in your other marketing materials such as your brochures, your websites. Really try to start a brand, just like Starbucks and Targets. They all have a brand, they use the same font each and every time, and there is a reason behind it. It’s part of your branding; not just your logo, not just your colors, but the fonts behind it too. So make sure your signature is in match with your branding.

RP: Yeah, and your graphic designer will love you for doing that, by the way.

VD: Oh, yes. They should encourage you to have that and give you a hard time if you do not. Now, it’s also old school. In the old days, they will ask the graphic designer to do one mega image that will include all the information; like your phone number, your name, and it will be a super pretty image. But it’s one image that encompass all the information. The problem with that is you take a chance then one of your recipient may not see that image. Either their system puts the image as an attachment file, and that means the email comes through and they don’t even see who just sent it. They see the email, the from, but they don’t see your first name, they don’t see your phone number, they see nothing because, again, the image is not displaying. So…

RP: Right. And if they’re pulling it up on their smart phone, having your phone number typed out, now I can just type on the… Tap on the screen and give you a call.

VD: Yes. Smart phone, tablets, even some of the touch screen PC screens nowadays. Yes, absolutely. So that’s using HTML, but you do not have to use… To know coding. Because most systems out there, when you write your signature, it opens in some sort of editor that is very similar to a Word document, or Page if you’re a mac user. And if you can bold, if you can change the color of your text in a Word document, you will be able to do the same when you prepare your signature and your system will be creating the code for you so you don’t have to worry about that. Another thing to consider, and that’s in terms of images, you don’t want to, again, put that mega image, but you definitely want an image of your logo, very important for your brand. Again, reinforcing that relationship with that customer or prospective client. And you want the logo to be the right size; not too big, not too small. If you can, maybe the same width as your signature may look nice if you have a rectangular logo. If you have a vertical logo, maybe float it to the left of your text. And again, that may get a little bit trickier for you to do and that’s when you can ask your graphic designer to help you with that. And you mentioned before the call here, the “WiseStamp” was a great resource if you didn’t have the time nor the expertise to do the signature.

RP: Yeah, you could check out I’ve looked at it, I haven’t personally used it because in Outlook… I use Outlook and they have a pretty robust editor that you can do things, but could be an option. The key thing with it, it is a cost and it’s annual cost, and they do have a free version, but then it has their “WiseStamp”, I think, logo somewhere in small text, which looks a little tacky. The other thing you talk about logos is I know a lot of people are using pictures, and if you are a sales person or something and you’re out networking a lot, incorporating a picture could be a smart idea also so that when people open up your email, they see who it is and it’s like, “Oh yeah, I remember I talked to that guy last night.”

VD: Yes. I love pictures if it’s appropriate for your position within the company. Yes, absolutely. Yes, yes, yes. Now another thing to consider as well is you want to think about the preferred method of contact for you. For instance, if you prefer to be contacted by email, that is the information you want to bold or highlight. Not highlight with a yellow highlighter, please don’t do that, it’s tacky, but maybe change the color. If you prefer to be contacted by phone, then it’s the phone number then should be bolded. So you decide, within your own signature, what is the preferred method of contacting you, that way when the client or the recipient sees your email, he sees the phone number first, for instance. So, again, staying in line with your branding in terms of the color, but that’s not a bad option. If blue is your color for your website, make the phone number bolded in blue if it’s how you want to be contacted. Now…

RP: I was going to say that’s pretty smart from a… Just it’s those subtle little hints that you can give people that will kind of get them to go down the path that you want. So I really like that one.

VD: Yeah, it’s a gentle pushing too, “Are you willing to do… ”

RP: Gentle.

VD: Gentle. Always be gentle. Also, a part of your information, we mentioned phone number, your mailing address if it’s that important. If you’re brick and mortar such as a retail store, that could be important. If you’re a virtual business like mine, maybe not so. But the website address, if you have a website it should be listed there. And just putting it there, just make sure it’s linkable. Most system nowadays will make it clickable right away. If you have a outdated type of email program, you might have to put the hyperlink behind the domain name. But again, don’t forget your website address. Especially if you have a brand new one. You might want even to add a little text in front, “Check out our new website.” Again, encourages people to go to your website where they can learn more about you and be more encouraged to do business with you.

RP: I was going to say that if you don’t ask for it or if you don’t let people know what you want, they’re not going to go and automatically do it. And I know one of the things you… I forget exactly what your tag is on yours, but it has to do with the fact that you grow your business through referrals. Providing good quality work people, then say, “Hey referrals.” And you emphasize that… In your email, that referrals are welcomed at your business.

VD: Yeah. It’s part of our “Thank You” taglines. Just, “Thank you for referring us to people who need website design or internet marketing.” We thank them and we thank them for potential referral, which our customers are our number one source of referrals for other businesses so that’s not a bad way to do that. Another items you want to include in your signature will be your social media icons and links directly to your social media platform. Now, that’s only good if you’re active in the social media accounts. If you have not visited your Twitter account in six months, please don’t put it in your email. It looks very poorly on you if people click there and then realize, “Oh, he doesn’t tweet at all.” Or they go to the LinkedIn company page and the banner is not there. So again, make sure all those social media platforms are fully optimized before you include them in your signature.

RP: Definitely a smart idea. The other thing that I do on mine is for scheduling, I have a “You Can Book Me” account. So for people that want to book an appointment with me, actually I have a link in my primary email signature so that people can automatically just boom, go. Makes it easier for them. Or, of course, if they want to, they can give me a call, but at least I’ve given them the option.

VD: Yeah. I love that, by the way, in your email signature. I think it’s great. Another thing to think about is maybe your slogan, but only if it’s appropriate to the signature and only if it brings value. So not all slogans are created equal, so just think hard before you’re going to put it. If it’s part of your brand, like Nike, “Just Do It,” yeah, I can see them. Why would they not include their slogan? It’s a sentence, it’s very short, and it’s part of their brand. If your slogan is two lines long, no. Don’t put it. You want your signature to be a little bit shorter instead of longer. But again, think about it. Now taking things a little further, some professions like the legal profession, perhaps, or people who are interested in the environment, like a lawyer might have some legalese, saying something like, “This doesn’t constitute a legal agreement by communicating by email.”

VD: And… Like for instance, we like to say, “Please consider the environment before printing that,” because protecting the environment is very strong to our team, so that’s part of our little tagline we have at the very bottom of our email. It’s a little smaller in font size than the rest because, again, our contact information is more important obviously. So again, if you’re in that type of industry, just think about as some kind of additional text and it’s kind of required or expected for your profession. And we’re kind of wrapping it up in two more points. Don’t make it too long. If you make it too long, it’s just a lot. Especially when you’re just contacted someone with one small sentence and your email signature is three paragraphs long. It’s just unbalanced, it looks like a lot.

VD: And of course, review your email signature every once in a while. We suggest to our clients to look at it every six months to make sure it remains relevant to the season and also to your business goals because maybe six months ago you were pushing printing, and now you’re pushing something else. So again, just revisit it. It only takes truly five to 15 minutes to adjust once you have a strong email signature. It’s just for you to remember to do that. So maybe you put it into your calendar every six months, “Let’s check this.”

RP: Alright, perfect. So those are 14 different steps that you can kind of use to evaluate your current email signature, and if you don’t have one… The other thing I should let you know is that if you’re creating one from scratch, every system is uniquely different. So I recommend, if you’re in Outlook, make sure you know which version of Outlook you’re in and just do a Google search for email signature “Outlook 10” or whatever version you’re on. And then the same thing for Gmail or GoDaddy because every system is going to be uniquely different. And then if you want, check out… What was it? WiseStamp is another option there, it may make things a little bit simple. But again, it’s all about creating credibility, and if one of the first times people see you or have a connection with you is through your email, then you want to make sure that first interaction is a very positive one.

RP: Virginie, we are out of time. As always, I appreciate the time and energy that you put into the show. We’re actually going to see you next week. I think we’re going to do two more shows after this, and then we’re going to take a couple of weeks off. And then we’ll be back in it for the New Year. But for today, that’s it. I very much appreciate your time, Virginie.

VD: I look forward to our next conversation. Bye.

RP: Alright, definitely. Alright, everybody, we will see you next week. Take care.


About the Author:

Ryan Perry is the founder and CEO of Simple Biz Support, Inc. Ryan started video blogging in 2009 as an alternative to written blogs to create visibility and credibility online. During the workweek, he enjoys helping small business owners harness the power of video to grow their companies. On the weekends, he enjoys hiking and searching out waterfalls throughout the state of California.

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