I just received an email from a colleague. Below her email in the signature block were four words that packed the potential to do some serious damage:
“Sent from my iPhone.”
More on that in a moment. First, you must appreciate the position of the email signature. It’s the tagline of communication. The “what do you think of me now?” The lasting impression.
Some of us have signatures that do the job. Others go beyond and perform a bit of marketing magic. And a few of us are hacking away at our credibility with each message we send out. Here are five email signature don’ts that top my list:
1) Sent from my iPhone
Wow, you own an iPhone? I’m so impressed.
Whatever your reason for including this disclaimer, a good share of your audience thinks you’re a mobile snob.
No offense. The phone wars have turned many ordinary people into fiercely loyal brand evangelists. You may be proud of your preferred mobile platform, but many of your recipients have pledged allegiance to the other guys. What if they think you’re a loser for being “one of Them”?
Stupid, right? Totally. Is it worth subjecting yourself to unnecessary judgment? Totally not.
If you feel compelled to include a mobile proviso, I recommend saying, “Sent from my mobile phone.”
Tip: Check your mobile sig even if you didn’t intentionally add the mobile disclaimer. On many devices, it’s included by default.
2) Let’s talk about Jesus
That inspirational nugget of scripture in your email sig proclaims your religious pride. It also makes some of your business contacts feel squeamish as hell.
I once belonged to a business network where a handful of people would pray together before the meeting began. I asked one of them why he chose this venue to engage in the gospel. His response: “Because I owe my company’s success to Jesus.”
Crediting your business success to a deity rather than the person in your network who brought you that sweet referral last week is your choice.
Blasphemous as it may seem, some don’t share your views. Some see using religion in a business context as sacrilege. Is your position on the subject worth alienating a customer or prospect?
PS: Disregard this advice if you work in a religious organization.
PPS: The religion rule applies to politics, professional sports teams and any other personal conviction you don’t share with 100 percent of your audience.
3) “Signing” with cursive/handwriting fonts
Please respect my intelligence. It’s no coincidence that simulated-hand-scribed name at the bottom of your email happens to exactly match the Lucida Handwriting font.
Or Comic Sans. Or Brush Script. Or any other overused, silly looking typeface that doesn’t look anything like a person’s signature.
If that doesn’t convince you to change it to Arial, handwriting fonts have technical shortcomings, too. If I don’t have your particular font on my computer, it will be substituted with one that may look entirely different. In some cases, it will appear as digital gibberish.
Stick to a simple font to avoid problems.
Pro Tip: That scan of your handwritten signature may not show up at all since many email readers block images. Again, go with a plain typeface.
4) The tacky, prefab sign-off
Does your signature file include “Sincerely” above your name? Let us celebrate the time you save with that stroke of genius.
You may save one second with each email by having Sincerely, Yours truly or Have a great day prefilled. It pales in comparison to the insult you deliver.
Your recipient wants to feel your correspondence is actually sincere. If every email from you says “Thank you” at the bottom, it gets old. Unimaginative. Lazy. “Best regards” isn’t an appropriate closing after you delivered some serious news. “Best regards” also isn’t a natural way to end a message to a close friend.
Of course, sometimes the old standards fit just right. Match them to the recipient, and mix them up to show you care.
Or, eliminate the sign-off altogether. “Looking forward to seeing you Tuesday.” … “Glad to hear we’re moving forward.” … “Best of luck with the presentation.”
Bonus: Never close with, “Thanks.” The reader doesn’t perceive your gratitude nearly as effectively as when you write out, “Thank you.”
5) The MIA signature
With few exceptions, your emails should always culminate with your signature block.
Why make it harder for a person to contact you, or visit your web page, or engage with you via social media – or make a purchase from you?
Sure, your recipient may have it already. So what? Not only can you make his or her life easier at that moment, your signature:
- may trigger a desire to visit your website for the first time
- may be forwarded to a colleague who is in the market for your product
- makes you look professional always instead of sometimes
- ensures you won’t accidentally mistype your phone number or misspell your own name
If that’s not enough, the presence of your signature will never result in your recipient thinking, “Where’s his contact information?”
Exception: I did say, “with few exceptions.” If you’re conversing back and forth with a familiar contact and your e-sig appears once or more down below in the message thread, use your discretion to decide if it seems like overkill.
Did I miss any of your favorite signature killers? Do tell – in the comments section.