Email Signature: Make It Count! 1 Powerful Critique

I am a HUGE fan of crafting an email signature that helps communicate your brand (or value prop, or whatever).  Help people understand who you are and what you do and how they can help you by crafting a sharp email signature!

Want more of this advice? Check out my Pluralsight courses here, and my top recommendations for job seekers here.

I recently mentioned this on a webinar and I had an attendee (Kim) email me asking for my advice on her signature… and I gave it to her!

I told her to “take it with a grain of salt” because I am responding based on my initial reaction, but I know I come across as cranky and “my way or the highway.”  Really, YOU know your situation best, so perhaps something I recommend might not be what you should do.  Kim was very kind, though, and said I could blog my response to her.  Here’s her old email signature:

Kim's email signature

What do you think?  Do you like it?

Email Signature Critique

Here was my critique (my comments in yellow):

Kim Bilawchuk, MBA, MEd your creds do nothing for me… not sure if it adds value for others… unless you have a scrutinizing clientele of business people who want to know you are business savvy… but I’d rather read about your wisdom and see your advice on your blog than see the MBA (I also have an MBA but I don’t put it anywhere, I don’t think my audience cares – might be diff for you)

Career Coach, MBTI Certified Practitioner (what is MBTI?? I think this just confuses people and distracts them from your value prop… it is noise, imo)

Cell: 781.696.0926

Feeling “stuck”? Not sure what’s next? Contact me today for a free career coaching consultation. shouldn’t the punctuation be INSIDE the quotes?? Otherwise, I like the invitation… makes it clear what you do…

Exploration of career goals – career assessment – resume writing – interview preparation – networking – negotiation skills very nice list to again, clarify what you do….

One thing I didn’t mention is that she signs off with her name (Kim) right above her email signature (with the first word being… Kim)…

Anyway, thanks to Kim for letting me blog the critique… now, how is YOUR email signature?

9 thoughts on “Email Signature: Make It Count! 1 Powerful Critique”

  1. Jason, Not cranky. To the point. More useful than couched.
    You are spot on.
    Howabout a re-write demoing your recommend signature.

    My question is what does anecdotal feedback tell you
    about signature readership? I have a number of folks
    say they didn’t have my direct line phone number
    which is always part of my signature with very little
    else and one or two links. Now when I offer
    a call back (on-demand training) I put the number
    at the top of the message in bold face, large, color.
    Now they see it. Signatures can sing. I think we
    have a way to go before we all nail AND freshen
    regularly, my challenge. Thanks. sQs Your advocate!

  2. I’ve been wondering about e-mail signatures lately, actually. What do you think of adding your Twitter account if you’re okay with sharing it?

  3. Actually, in that example, the question mark belongs OUTSIDE the quotes, where she currently has it. If she were quoting a whole sentence that ended in a question mark, the question mark would go inside the quotes. But in this case, where just one word is in quotes, and the question mark isn’t part of the concept the word is conveying, she has it correct.

    I’m sure there’s a style guide that would explain this better than I just did, but the upshot is that the way she has it is right!

    Ugh, yes, I’m the grammar jerk.

  4. @Stephen, I’d rewrite someone’s signature but I don’t have time, and I’m not getting paid for it… it really takes some thought/creativity… and I don’t want to pretend to understand their business/market/prospect/customer enough to give them something that seems good enough… this excercise, I hope, helps people think critically about what message they are giving.

    Your second point is interesting… maybe the less FACTS about how to get in touch with me (so many people have their fax number!) and more about the value prop – maybe even just name and one line with a value prop is all we should be doing… ?

    @Lisa – I have my Twitter handle in my email signature, definitely. “if you’re okay with sharing it” – if you aren’t okay with sharing it, why are you on Twitter? It’s meant to be shared, isn’t it? If you are writing twitter junk, that is off-brand, then stop 🙂

    @Alison – thanks for the clarification. That’s cool she did it right. Whether she did it right or wrong, though, I’m uneducated enough that it looks wrong to me, and I know have to question her grammar capabilities, especially as a resume writer. I’ve seen resume writers held to a higher standard when it comes to writing, and even if they are right, and I PERCEIVE it to be wrong, I’m going to doubt… ah, the crazy world we live in.

    Thanks for that though, I learned something!

  5. For me personally, I want to stand out from the herd with my signature and business card.
    You be the judge.

    M. Shane Smith
    Marketing Manly Products™
    Strategy ● Marketing ● Branding
    email address here

    P.S. “The impact of telling someone they did great vs. good is enormous.” M. Shane Smith

  6. Good point! One option for her would be to get rid of the quotation marks altogether, since the phrase works without them. Then she’d eliminate that problem!

  7. It is important in marketing and self- promotion. I am seeing branding statements on many of the emails I receive daily. Jason made me acutely aware of the need to do shameless marketing on a speaking tour he did in the DC area last year.

    Steve Gallison
    Founding Director
    The Nation’s First, Oldest and Free
    Professional Outplacement Assistance Center
    Serving the re-employment needs of the
    professional, executive, technical, managerial
    and scientific communities since 1992.
    More than 188,000 served!
    Often Imitated – Never Duplicated

  8. IMO, there are no hard and fast rules regarding a signature file but there are some guidelines. There is a difference of “sigs” used in your everyday emails or sigs used for article posting, for instance. It’s important to use your good judgment. Most important for me:
    1. Your Name and the Name of Your Business. You cannot build your brand or name recognition without it.
    2. Your email address. If you have written compelling content, people will want to contact you. Having your email address immediately available (and clickable) is the best means to satisfy the need to “do it now”.
    3. Your Web Address. If you don’t have one, register with a social network like LinkedIn and put the URL of your personal page.
    4. Phone Number. Even if most people will use your email to contact you, putting your phone number motivates people to connect with you at a different level.
    5. Statement of Mission or Purpose. This is optional. If your business has a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) include it here. This is a short sentence that differentiates you from others in your business. If you don’t have a USP yet (create one!), include a descriptive tagline about you and your business.

    Take care of spelling and orthographic errors – as happened with Kim’s sig….

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