An e-mail signature is a small snippet that often appears in the end of an e-mail, in most of the cases, business and official e-mails, although, some private individuals also use e-mail signature to signify who they are and what they do. This is a good example of a well-defined e-mail signature:
Why should you use an e-mail signature?
It acts as a business card. When you’re sending someone an e-mail and if that person doesn’t know you properly, your e-mail signature will be able to help him or her know who you are, where you work, and what are the other alternative ways to reach you. An e-mail signature may include:
- Your full name
- Your company and its logo
- Your designation/profession
- Link to your website
- Your e-mail (although this doesn’t make sense)
- Your phone numbers including voice and fax if applicable
- Your instant messenger like Skype and MSN IDs
- Links to your social profiles on Twitter, Google Plus or Facebook
You may not include all of the above details, but often it is different combinations of these bits of information.
There was a time when official correspondence took place via postal services and this entails sending messages on official letterheads. A letterhead carries your company details that makes it easier for the recipient to identify you and to preserve your contact details. The same goes with the e-mail signature. It helps you brand your e-mail message.
Should you have a text-only e-mail signature or an HTML?
Depends on your preference actually. It also depends on how many people prefer text-only e-mails and how many can accommodate HTML formatted e-mails. If your recipients have no problem receiving HTML e-mails then go ahead and create highly attractive signatures. Using different colors and font types attract attention and also look more professional. On the other hand, even text-only e-mail signatures can be made attractive and the great benefit of using text-only signatures is that they will be viewable across multiple devices whether they can access HTML content or not. For instance, on BlackBerry phones, people don’t prefer HTML messages.
Should you use images in your e-mail signature?
Ideally, you shouldn’t, but provided you can create an alternative, it is good that you use an image, such as your photograph or a logo. Most of the businesses and companies use official logos in their e-mail signatures. E-mail services like Gmail don’t show images by default and you specifically have to click “Show images” in order to view them so your e-mail signature may appear botched up if it solely depends on an image. So always design your e-mail signature in such a manner that even if the image is not viewable, your signature appears decent and in its complete form.
Here is a nice infographic from WriteThatName.name that explains the perfect anatomy of a great e-mail signature.