Email Signatures: The Old Rules and The New Rules

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Email signatures were simple when I started using email back in the 1990s. The only rule was “4 lines or less.” It was section of a loose body of rules called Netiquette.

Today Netiquette may be forgotten. Email signatures can be found in a huge variety of types and formats. Some of them are offensive. Some of them are boring legal documents. Some of them are invisible as a result of a software misconfiguration.

If you would like an email signature that gets read, you need to start with the basics and  understanding how email signatures started.


Email Signature Basics


Email signatures will be the lines that your email program automatically puts following every message. They was once limited to plain text mothers and fathers of plain-text emails, these days they can include HTML-fancy fonts, creative colors, and pretty pictures.

But I suggest that you simply stick with plain text email signatures. Why? Everybody can read plain text, but HTML only displays correctly on desktops and laptops. People who use older computers plus some Smartphones won’t have the ability to see your fancy HTML signatures.

Worse, the use of an image inside your email signatures, it’ll apt to be blocked by many spam filters-even if you’re sending an innocent message for your grandmother.


The Original Email Signatures


Email began without From addresses. When you got a note with your inbox, it was anonymous unless someone signed it. But people then were as lazy as buyers, so a lot of people innocently forgot to sign their emails.

Someone, I don’t know who, probably got fed up with this situation. I suspect he got one too many accidentally anonymous notes saying, “Hey, for those who have a moment are you able to drop by my office. It’s important.” So our forgotten frustrated programmer made the .signature file (called “dot signature” or “dot sig” by us old-timers.

The valuables in your dot signature file could be automatically inserted into any email you sent. Assuming your dot signature file included your business, because so many did, you can safely send a contact knowing the recipient would know whom it came from.


Email Signatures Evolve


Email quickly grew and yes it would eventually add the To and From address fields to permit email to transfer in one computer to a new. Yet all of the old users still had dot signature files and they also continued to use them.

By the time I got on the Internet, most people were using dedicated email programs (the earliest email users didn’t have a program for writing emails, simply for sending them-it absolutely was called Sendmail). These programs included a built-in dot signature declare email signatures.

Some people went somewhat crazy with their email signatures. In days past of text only, ASCII (text) art was popular and a few people would even include page-long text renditions of contemporary Playboy models inside their email signatures.

Somebody was required to lay down what the law states. Again, I don’t know who first made the rule, but anyone from those days can remember the four-line dot signature rule. Zealots enforced it, ridiculing anyone who dare incorporate a fifth line.


Email Signatures Today


Email signatures saw an alteration when email programs started to support HTML. Suddenly people began tinkering with email signatures again-they could now include different fonts, colors, pictures. Although I haven’t seen anything from Playboy, I have seen some woolly things in email signatures.

But the old four-line rule still has it’s proponents-including me. Four lines of plain text is enough space to talk all the essential details. Plus everyone is able to read plain text-from email programs stuck in the 1980s to Smartphone users with striped-down email programs. If you desire people to read your email signatures, four lines of text is, for me, the ultimate way to go.


Making Email Signatures Work For You


Email signatures can assist you find a new job or advertise your small business-but only if you utilize them right. Done wrong, email signatures could make people think you’re incompetent and even make them hate you.


The Work An Email Signature Can Do For You


If you are writing a good email, people aren’t just going to read it. They’re gonna wonder about the person who wrote it. They’re planning to forward that email to other people. They’re going to save that email for years to come.

But in case you don’t permit these visitors to find out more about you, they’re likely to get distracted about something more important interesting and maybe forget all about yourself. That’s a lost opportunity.

Email signatures are your chance at self promotion. (Or an opportunity to promote a cause you strongly support.)

A plain text link in the bottom of my email has driven almost as many website visitors to my website as my most popular articles do. Links in your email signatures are able to do the same for you personally.


How To Format Email Signatures


The old-school rule for email signatures is “keep to four lines max.” You don’t should follow this rule anymore, but I suggest you are attempting to-especially should you send email to email mailing lists. A four-line signature is concise and simple to see all at one time, so nothing you say will probably be missed.

Don’t make the number one email signature rookie mistake and include your email address in your email signatures-anybody who’s reading your email has your email address in the From header. Repeating your email address in your signature enables you to look like a novice.

The # 2 rookie mistake is placing a quote with your signature. There are exceptions to this particular rule, however in most cases a quote inside your email signatures will either offend, anger, or disappoint a number of your readers-or get them to think you’re pretentious.

The main exception on the above rule is quotes related for a business-customer testimonials, your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), or even a guarantee. Still-be careful about by using these quotes.


What You Want Email Signatures To Do


There are two things you need email signatures to accomplish:

1.   Help people learn more about you or your business.

2.   Get individuals to take action.

A simple text link in your home page will satisfy the first criteria. If you’re looking for a job, consider linking straight in your résumé (but be very, careful about sending email to your current boss and co-workers).

Getting people to take action is harder. The best way to get website visitors to take action is to promise them a reward-but what type of reward are you able to promise in email signatures without looking campy?

I suggest you offer them free useful advice. For example, you are able to put a link for a blog in your email signatures next for the phrase, “Read my all-time top [whatever you blog about].”

This 's what marketers and salespeople call a “call to action” and, should your call is enticing enough, every time they visit your email signatures work for you personally.

Title Post: Email Signatures: The Old Rules and The New Rules
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