Note: Upon her indictment on federal money laundering charges and her arrest February 8, 2022, Inc. dismissed Heather Morgan as a contributing columnist. As is our practice, we do not unpublish editorial content, and rather have added this note for full transparency.
What does your email signature say about you?
Does it make you look impressive or does it send mixed messages that undermine your credibility?
After writing, testing, and sending tens of thousands of emails for sales and marketing campaigns in the last decade, I've scrutinized every aspect of email to learn the best ways to connect and build trust with people through the inbox.
Everyone talks a lot about subject lines and introductions, but there's a crucial part of the email that's often forgotten: the signature.
Here's what I've learned from running more than 138 different A/B tests on email signatures:
1. Keep it short
This is true for pretty much everything related to email, especially if you're reaching out to strangers to ask for a favor, or trying to convince them to talk to you.
Try to condense your signature so that people will actually see it and read it. That means cutting out extra details you don't need, and keeping only the most valuable and relevant information, such as name, title, company, and a few other essentials.
I personally prefer to keep my personal information on one line because it looks cleaner, but I don't have clear evidence that this outperforms having it on multiple lines.
Here's an example of how I constructed the first line of my signature:
Heather R Morgan |CEO of Salesfolk | @HeatherReyhan | Add me on Linkedin
2. Make yourself memorable with an unforgettable quote
No one remembers boring people. Adding a quote to your email is an easy way to add personality that gives people another reason to remember you.
Don't just add your marketing team's jargony pitch to your signature with some quote marks, and call it good. You want to pick (or create) a quote that people won't forget. You want it to speak to your values and your character. It could be from an industry leader, your favorite author, or philosopher. Depending on you and your industry, you can use humor and make it light-hearted, or you could do something that's more serious and thoughtful.
My signature uses a quote from Lao Tzu that I modified to fit my own philosophies on life and business. It says: "A journey of a thousand miles all begins with one good cold email."
Feel free to test different things and see what works for you.
3. Don't use images
While a picture might be worth a thousand words, using images in your emails can easily trip up spam filters and prevent your message from getting inside the priority inbox. Even if you make it past the spam filters, the image might not even render, which is one more reason to not do it.
Bottom line: don't attach your company's logo or your profile picture in your personal email signature, or reduce the chances of your email being seen.
4. Link to social profiles to build credibility and your network
You don't have to link to every single social network you've ever been on, but it's probably a good idea to at least link to your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, assuming you have them.
This is an easy way to give social proof and let people know more about you and your business, which makes it even more important to think about how you're representing yourself on these channels.
If you don't have much of a presence on LinkedIn, don't try to hide, since people can always Google your name and find you anyways. Instead, include an actionable link to make it easier for people to see your profile. This helps your connections remember who you are, while also making it easier for people who don't know you to trust you and see that you're a real person. At the same time, this is an easy way to increase your connections and followers on social.
5. Show them your best side
I realize that not everyone writes or creates digital content, but if you do, you should be making it easier to share. Even if you don't, maybe your marketing team has a great blog post or something else useful that you could include in your signature.
Actionable content that has social proof is always the best thing to link to in your signature. Great examples of these are blog posts or video tutorials that people will find helpful and interesting.
This will get more eyeballs on your content and also subtly let people know that you're valuable and insightful.
I regularly alternate which content I use in my own signature, but here are a few examples of one-liners that I've used for passively sharing content.
"Watch me tear apart crummy cold emails on NBC."
"Learn how to get anyone to respond to your cold emails"
6. Test different calls to action
What do you want your connections to do the most?
Whether you just want them to read one of your best blog posts or check out the big event your company is sponsoring next month, including a call to action below your signature is free real estate where you can subtly remind everyone of that one thing you want them to do.
Here are a few potential examples of text you could use for your calls to action:
"Come to the best Dreamforce after-party. We have champagne and goats."
"Learn 5 ways you can close more deals now"
Be careful that your call to action is not boring or obnoxious, though.
7. Try "sent from my iPhone"
Do you ever have typos in your emails? Hopefully not, but if you do, including "sent from my iPhone," or "sent from my Android" (or whatever phone you use) can help your recipients be more forgiving of these.
Even if you don't have grammar errors, using this one-liner in your signature can make your business emails feel more human and personal.
I've seen some people completely remove all other information from their email signature, and just use this success, but you don't have to.
You can always do something like this:
Sent from my iphone
Heather R Morgan |CEO of Salesfolk | @HeatherReyhan | Add me on Linkedin?
What are the worst and best email signatures you've seen? I'd love to hear about them.