Your email signature may be a tiny element in the scheme of your marketing, but it can be the most concise and consistent way to communicate who you are and where to find you. E-signatures have come so far in the past couple of years that email addicts revere and rely on them as much as any other source of contact information. Knowing this, it’s surprising that more people don’t take great care to maximize its impact. Let’s look at some basic tips for using this tiny bit of e-real estate to its fullest potential.
The Dos and Don’ts for an Email Signature that Works for You
- DO hire a designer, if possible, to lay out your e-signature or e-card. It is as much a part of your identity as your letterhead and business card, if not more so. If someone is creating a new website or stationery system for you, be sure an e-signature is included in the project.
- DON’T ignore your e-signature, though, if you can’t afford professional help. Just keep it simple and consistent—for example, use only one font in a single size and color. And keep the following dos and don’ts in mind.
- DO use a common email font, such as Arial or Calibri (both sans serif) or Times Roman (serif) for your text. For font color, use black or dark gray. If you pick an unusual font, there is no way to know how it will appear on the recipient’s monitor.
- DO include full contact information: name, title, firm, full mailing address, email link, direct-dial telephone, mobile phone and fax. Also include a V-card link.
- DO include your assistant’s name, email and phone to demonstrate your ultimate accessibility.
- DON’T include your resume, lists of awards or a list of services you provide. This is not the place—it looks unsophisticated and makes it appear that you are trying too hard.
Logos and Taglines
- DO include your logo if you have a nice one. The visual connection to your brand increases the memorability of your firm. But make certain your logo image is embedded in the email instead of linking to an image file on a public server. Your recipients’ security settings may block downloaded images, which means your logo will appear as a blank square with a small “x” in the corner.
- DON’T assume that a bigger logo is better—keep your logo tastefully small. Don’t worry, your readers will see it.
- DO include your tagline—it is tied to your brand and is a part of your positioning strategy. A designer can create a logo-tagline “lock-up” so it looks less cluttered and appears as one image.
- DON’T be tempted to include inspirational quotes and patriotic messages. Good intentions are the driver here, but it can come across as lacking in business savvy and sophistication.
Links and Social Media
- DO link to your website and include your URL. If you use smart or vanity URLs on your website for your bios and practice or industry descriptions, include them, too. An example of a smart URL is: www.rh-law.com/attorneys/christopherjwillis. A vanity URL is a bit shorter: www.jmbm.com/jimbutler. Alternatively, you may wish to hyperlink the words “Bio” and “My Practice” in place of the actual URLs.
- DON’T include too many website links. Limit yourself to just one or two that put your best professional foot forward.
- DO create additional “stickiness” by including the icon-links to your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. If you want to include Facebook, that’s fine, but including more icons than this gets into the “really?” territory.
- DO include a link to your blog if you write on topics that advance your professional brand and it helps inform clients of your subject matter expertise.
- DON’T link to your personal blog. If you blog about travel, pets, fashion or whatever, save that for your personal email correspondence.
- DO include the required disclaimers and confidentiality notices. Note that the font size and structure of these may be governed by your state bar rules.
- DO create multiple file formats of your e-signature (HTML format for HTML emails, TXT format for Plain Text emails, RTF format for Rich Text emails), so that your signature is well-optimized for different viewers.
- DON’T create your entire signature block as one image (see our earlier advice about images being blocked by some security settings).
- DO be consistent. Everyone in your firm should use the same design and email signature protocols.
Finally, a note of caution: There is a fine line—easily crossed—that will quickly take your e-signature from “desired utility” to “irritating self-promotion.” More, bigger and brighter are not always better.
Deborah McMurray is CEO and Strategy Architect of Content Pilot LLC, a strategy and technology company. Deborah and her team specialize in the design of websites and web-based proposal centers, intranets, experience databases, and other marketing technology tools and strategic initiatives. Deborah is a co-author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing on the Internet, 3rd ed. and co-editor of The Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing your Practice, 2nd ed. with James A. Durham.
Keith Wewe is Vice President of Client Service and Growth of Content Pilot LLC and the current President of the LMA–Southeastern Chapter. At Content Pilot, he works with legal marketers and lawyers to develop technologies to best leverage their expertise and unique marketing positions to build business. As LMASE President, we works to build stronger connections among LMA members.