Email Signature Guidelines

Along with text and graphic style guides, one of the way to help unify your digital church communications is with a common email signature style. Without it, you will find that people will get “creative” and you will end up all over the board. There are other opportunities for personal expression…email signatures are are not one of them.

Here are my suggestions:

DO NOT INCLUDE…

  1. Graphics –  In the article 5 Common Mistakes You’re Making with Your Email Signature, Stephanie Vazza points out that “Some email providers or devices have default settings that block images in emails. If your signature is an image that includes your name, title, and logo, you run the chance that the recipient won’t see anything.” Not being able to see your email signature helps no one.
  2. Wallpaper – Never use Microsoft’s email wallpaper for professional communications. It’s cute when a teenager uses “Hello Kitty” backgrounds, not when your church secretary uses it to email the entire church leadership team about your upcoming training.
  3. standoutColors – If you are using color consistently as understated branding element, then I say go for it. But if not, you will be surprised how “creative” people will get. I saw one person color each line of their email signature a different color. UGLY.
  4. Legalese – Unless you work for a law firm or some secret government organization, there is no need to include small print about confidentially, liability about potential viruses, etc. It only clutters and gets in the way.
  5. Too Much Information – Alyssa Gregory in her article The 4 Personalities of Poor Email Signatures calls this person the “Novelist.” Does everyone need to know every single method of contacting you? Email signatures, cell phone, social media, address, websites. Limit the information you need to share. The rest is on your website. (It is, isn’t it?)

MAKE SURE YOU…

  1. Use only  “Safe Fonts” – As I wrote in my post Why Use Web Safe Fonts In Your Email, you never know what people might pick…or what the user will see if they don’t have that font on their computer.
  2. Follow your style guidelines – Do you use parenthesis or dashes in phone numbers. How do you show extensions? What is your church name? In our case, I’ve seen Trinity, Trinity EV Free, Trinity Evangelical Free Church, Trinity Redlands…none of which we use for public communications!
  3. Think Internally AND Externally – Sometimes it’s easier to pick up the phone and call someone…and there is no better time when you just received an email. Make sure you include your phone extension, especially if you have to navigate a phone tree.
  4. Include a link to your website – Why someone would include their email in their signature, but not their website is beyond me. If someone received your email, they HAVE your email. I have no proof of this, but by definition, email companies (Google, AOL, Yahoo, etc) are known, trusted sources. I can’t image that having thousands of sent emails linking back to your website won’t give you some “Google points” and help increase your Google search rankings.
  5. Be Consistent  – The key to consistency is, well, being consistent! Everyone from the top of your organization to your janitor should use the guidelines. No lone wolfs. Once you make an exception, people get “creative” and pretty soon you are back to email anarchy. You’re best bet for consistency sake is if your computer department can set signatures for for people.
  6. Use the Same Size As The Text – Your signature should have the same “look” as the rest of your email…not larger or smaller. Since Outlook defaults to Calibri, 11 pt, so do we.

What I Recommend.

To my eye, this is the perfect blend of the right amount of information without being overwhelming.

Name (bolded)
Title
Church Name – City, State
Phone number and extension
www.website.com

Bruce Herwig
Pastor of Communications
Trinity Church – Redlands, CA
(909) 335-7333, x151
www.trinityonline.org

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