I recently conducted an email signature experiment.
In the picture below you can see exactly what I was looking for.
The responses led to what you are about to read.
My original goal was to simply find the perfect email signature and share the design elements with all of you.
Unfortunately, we are going to have to work backwards instead.
As the submissions flooded in it became clear quickly that in order to deduce perfection, I was going to need to diagnose disaster.
Having a chance to see so many email signatures, trends quickly emerged.
Disclaimer: I am not picking on anyone specifically and all participants were properly warned that there submissions would be used in this case study.
Crowd-sourcing to learn is cool. The smartest person in the room is the whole room. Here we go.
Less Is More
Below was the first submission.
The second that I saw it my first thought was there are more words in this email signature than I have in the body of most of my emails.
When I mentioned that to John his response was priceless!
I would estimate that at least 80% of the submissions were as long or longer than John’s so it was a noticeable trend.
In fact, Ira Serkes took the cake with the length of his email signature.
Takeaway? Keep It Simple – Forget about the contents of what makes these email signatures so long, we will get to what can be trimmed in a second.
Just look at your current email signature and if your first reaction is “wow that is a lot”, start there.
Lastly, there is an option with every email provider so that when you are beyond the initial email and into the reply phase of your correspondence you can disable the signature. Do that.
So What Can You Cut?
Jay Thompson uses a program called Wise Stamp for his email signature which is a great option for Gmail users.
There’s one thing that jumped out at me when I was looking at his signature.
Do we really need our email address in our email signature?
If you are emailing back and forth with someone typically the reply button is used.
I tried to remember a time where I clicked an email address in an email signature and couldn’t.
If you disagree please let me know in the comments.
I am also in favor of eliminating physical address, which was prominent in many of the submissions.
A physical address takes up two lines and we’re looking for ways to trim this down.
I am sure that some will disagree with this, but I again tried to remember finding value in having access to an address in an email address and could not recall an instance.
It is “e” mail right?
As you may have noticed in the last two email signatures featured, there were a lot of icons both social media and real estate related.
Jay’s has 7. Emmanuel’s has 5.
Here is another email signature submitted that has links instead of icons as was the case with many of the entries. There are 14 links.
While I agree that you need be be present all over the web, when it concerns the email signature this is getting out of control.
There are several fixes for this.
#1 Don’t link to anything that a consumer wouldn’t even understand. In Stephanie’s signature there are links in ABR, e-Pro, SFR and MLS Search amongst others. Most people have no idea what any of those things mean.
#2 To assist with the social media madness factor, consider looking at an option like About.me as shown below or even a dedicated page on your site to your social world.
I’m guessing that you may already have all of your social networks linked up on your main site.
The best option is to drive people there as opposed to your spokes. Consider designing a page on your site that is a “find me socially” dedicated page like this one and then linking to that in your signature.
About.me creates a nice splash page, where consumers can then connect where they prefer. It also gets rid of A LOT of the clutter from not only your email signature but your business cards, flyers and everything else as well. About.me is also a highly indexable site with Google which is always a nice perk.
There are social networks that I think work in an email signature like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Beyond that it gets blurry and messy.
Call Things What They Are
I noticed a lot of the email signatures that I went through had some type of plugin or call to action regarding market data.
People always ask how the market is. You send a lot of emails and answer it via email signature. I get it.
The issue that emerged was that many times (as pictured below) the vendor being used to power the market info was more prominently featured that the market info itself.
If you look at the sub heading on the Altos Research button it says “Real-Time Real Estate Data”.
Brilliant. Just make that the call to action and more prominent wording that than the vendors name who powers it!
Also, in the text link it says the report comes from Altos Research, I as the sender would want the credit. Just saying.
This was not an issue unique to Altos by the way.
Lesson? Read your email signature right now and see if there are phrases or verbiage that could be more consumer centric.
If so, make those stand out more, cut the rest.
Add some flava.
Another thing that really stuck with me after this, “experiment” was that everything seemed so tame.
Can your personality shine through in your email signature?
Below is Inna Hardison’s submission.
She is not a Realtor. It kinda shows.
It’s simple. It’s elegant. It says EXACTLY what she does.
It also has moxie.
Add some simple, elegant, moxie to your signature.
Phone Number Done Right
I am happy to report that just about every single email signature had a phone number included.
One quick tip on this is to be sure your number is clickable on EVERY phone.
As often as I have never clicked an email address in an email signature, I ALWAYS click phone numbers in them.
More and more of email consumption is happening via mobile.
I would advise using a standard dash as opposed to a dot when separating the digits to be certain they are easily dial-able.
Also, be wary of extensions.
I know often times when I call a number from an email that has an office extension attached it actually will not dial at all and instead I get an error message.
Frustrating and time wasting.
Don’t be the one causing those feelings.
So Who Was The Winner?
This was an email signature contest right?
I found it refreshing and ironic that when the dust settled and the likes were tallied the email signature that had the most votes clearly defied all of the logic in the other submissions.
It may be too minimal for many of you but I kinda dig it.
I want to thank everyone in the best Facebook Group on the planet who helped me mold this article.
You can see the full thread and all of the entires here.
Sharing this with your office, social networks and colleagues could really make a difference industry wide.
Thanks for reading,