It’s hard enough to get someone’s attention with a sales email. Why make it even more difficult by distracting them with an unprofessional email signature?
Email signatures create an initial impression and set the tone for each communication that you send as you work to grow your business. A professional email signature can lend gravitas and make it easier for customers to find you when it’s time to purchase. On the other hand, adding in rotating logos, bulleted resumes, or pithy quotes detracts from your sales pitch. It’s worth putting some extra thought into how to make your signature one of your most effective and professional networking tools. Here are a few email signature best practices.
What Stays In
Your name and title: It’s always worth stating the obvious, especially when emailing a contact for the first time.
Your phone number: Make it easy for your contacts to find you when they need to. Chances are that your emails are the first place they’ll look (or search) for your number, even if you’ve left it in painstaking detail on their voicemail several times. Pick just one phone number to keep things simple, and make it the one where they will most likely get a hold of a live person. The privilege of playing phone tag with you is, after all, never a selling point. Also, keep the formatting simple—use dashes or periods, or no dividers at all—since this is how they’ll most likely be searching for it. Don’t forget your area code!
Your company or product’s name: The name of your company should be linked in the text to its website (though leave out the hyperlink line in the formatting, if you can). If, for example, you work for a subsidiary of Unilever, you probably won’t want to direct the reader to the main company page. On the other hand, if you’re running a business that emphasizes the importance of company culture in philanthropy as much as your product (think TOMS Shoes), get them on your main website page before sending them to pricing. See below for why we don’t recommend inserting a logo, but feel free to color code the company name with your brand colors if that makes you feel better!
Your LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn is a more detailed equivalent of a modern-day business card. It will allow the email’s recipients to not just learn more about you, but about what you and they have in common. Certain companies in your work experience or specific names on your customer list can lend you a great deal of credibility in the sales process. Of course, for it to be truly effective, you’ll need to make sure that the profile is properly set up and kept up to date before you insert this link into your email signature. The LinkedIn profile should appear as professional as your CV itself. And if you don’t think salespeople need LinkedIn profiles, read this to get a clue.
What to Leave Out
Your email address: They already have it. There’s no point cluttering up your signature with it all over again.
Graphics: Including a graphic or logo in your email signature is always tempting, but not usually a great idea. Not all email clients show images seamlessly, they often show up as attachments instead of in the text and large graphics may cause your emails to bounce. Even if you ignore the rest of this paragraph, under no circumstances should your entire signature be a graphic. The risk of nothing showing up on the other end is far too high.
vCards: In theory, these are the pinnacle of efficiency. In reality, they show up as an attachment and take up a ton of space in the recipient’s email inbox. They’ll do nothing but create a good deal of ill will, especially when a recipient is receiving them in your email signature for tenth, eightieth, or nine hundredth time. Send vCards only when someone specifically requests them.
Your email provider’s auto add-on: Your email recipients don’t need to know that the email is coming from your pocket, iPhone, Dell, mom’s house, etc. Make sure to turn those settings off through your phone or your email client’s settings or preferences tabs.
The following are a few successful sales strategies that we’ve seen woven into good email signatures. While some of these fall into our “what to leave out” list, they could—depending on your product—do more good than harm. Incorporate them into your signature with caution, though, and we wouldn’t suggest using more than one of these at a time.
A YouTube link to a video about your company: This strategy can be hit or miss, because the link can be turned into a full-video frame in certain other email clients, which may annoy the recipient. But if you think the video would add tremendous value, it could be worth it. People are much more likely to click on videos than anything else. By the same token, though, if it’s that valuable, link to the video in the body of the email itself.
A company tagline: These could be cheesy or overkill in normal email signatures. But if they convey an important value for the sale, and if they aren’t generally included in the sales pitch emails, you may consider using them here.
Your Twitter feed or handle: Do this only if your Twitter persona is relevant to your product and if you work in an industry where being tech-forward is important. We’re guessing that your tweets are unlikely to clinch that deal for new coal-mining equipment.
A small headshot: The marketing experts at HubSpot use this technique, and it is successful at getting the recipient’s attention. It also makes you harder to ignore, now that the target can put a face to the salesperson on the other end. If you use this tactic, though, make sure that the salesperson in the picture is the same one calling the company and walking them through the sales process. Otherwise, you look just a tad tacky.
And the #1 hallmark of a good email signature? One that’s visible in the same way on both desktop and mobile devices. Go back to the beginning of this list and make sure that the email client on your smartphone is set up to include an email signature that also meets all of the above criteria.
This article was originally posted by Prialto: The Virtual Support Service for Executives. Prialto Virtual Executive Assistants are geared to actually pull your business forward and make delegating easy.