Some Thoughts on Corporate E-Mail Signatures

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Corporate e-mail signatures are normally those oft-mandated extra bits appended to the end of our e-mails. Whether you’re an employee with full control over their e-mail signature, or a company looking to improve branding and uniformity, below are some opinions that you did not ask for on e-mail signatures that I hope you’ll take well anyway.

Use “alt” text for your images

Companies often display their logo, etc. in e-mail signatures. The only problem is, on the web, images break – the URLs change, or some technical issue renders them un-renderable.

In case this happens, you always want to use alt text. In an html Image tag, you can add alt="Company Logo" or something similar, which will cause that text to show whenever the image can’t, so the person at least knows what they would have been looking at.

…Or better yet, don’t use images in signatures at all!

Images take longer to download, are difficult to get right, can cause spam and virus filters to be triggered, and some people disable them by default.

They have a lot of downside and not too much upside. Maybe save the space and just use a link instead?

Don’t Include Your E-Mail Address in the Signatures

I already have your e-mail. It is the e-mail you e-mailed me from. I think we’ve got it covered.

Don’t Automatically Add Your Employees’ LinkedIn Information to the signature.

Ask them first. A LinkedIn profile is an employees’ personal branding; forcing them to include it is probably not the best move.

Also, this is a great way to ensure your employees get extra job offers via LinkedIn.

I will say that one exception would be recruiting and marketing companies, where it might make sense. However, in this case, I imagine a coordinated effort to brand employee LinkedIn profiles would precede these efforts, in which case it’s okay (but still a little weird.)

…Or better yet, don’t add LinkedIn Information at all!

The nice thing about LinkedIn is it makes people pretty easy to find, especially if you know their name and company. Since I theoretically would know those things, I have no problem finding you on LinkedIn if I want to connect.

Try not to Advertise.

With e-mails, you have a sort of captive audience. Don’t abuse that. Advertisements such as “sign up for our newsletter!” are really just a way to sneakily spam me with every e-mail in a way that I can’t opt out of.

Try to keep this to a minimum. One exception might be huge company events that are coming up where attendance could truly benefit a customer. These are time-specific and temporary so I could let them slide. :smile:

Hoo-boy, where to even start with this one. E-mail disclaimers do not work.

Please don’t do this. Just please, don’t. And if your lawyer told you to do this, please get a second opinion.

“Please consider the environment before printing this message.”

If someone is going to print your message, your disclaimer likely will not stop them.

Furthermore, if you use the disclaimer that includes a tree icon, chances are that when someone does print your message, they’ll be using more ink to do so in order to print the disclaimer and the tree.

So unless you’re really sure that this method is effective for the majority of your contacts (it isn’t), maybe skip the disclaimer.

Definitely still feel free to talk to your co-workers who print huge amounts of e-mail though. That’s still a dick move for the environment.

What do you think?

Am I off base here? Do these tips make sense? Drop a line in the comments.


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