By Michael Alter
The use of e-mail to communicate with clients has become commonplace, often replacing what used to be client letters or telephone conversations. E-mail is popular because it's efficient and often more effective than playing time-consuming phone tag with clients.
Because of its prevalence in business, an e-mail should be handled with the same level of care as a message leaving your office on company letterhead - it should include a signature that's professional and branded to promote your business.
Today, creating and using a branded e-mail signature line is as important as creating and using the same companywide letterhead. Everyone in the firm should use the same branded e-mail signature to ensure the company is presenting itself in a professional and uniform way, regardless of who`s behind the e-mail message going out. With branding, there's power in numbers, so it's important for everyone in the firm to get on board and implement a consistent signature.
A branded e-mail signature should include the same information you would expect to see on your business card: your full name, position or title, phone number, fax number, company name, company address, e-mail address, and company website. Even if you know the recipient of your e-mail well, don't make the assumption your message will stop at the recipient's inbox. He or she may forward your message to someone who isn't familiar with you, which leaves your message as the tool being used to make a first impression.
- Add a closing you feel comfortable with, such as "Sincerely," - with a comma - when you're creating your branded signature. This eliminates having to type a closing comment in every e-mail.
- Some e-mail spam filters are sensitive to images in the body of e-mail, such as a logo. Therefore, be conservative and follow the "less is more" approach to adding images.
- Watch a video to learn how to create a custom HTML e-mail signature for Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2011.
Many people add "extras" to their signature line, such as their social media handles for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Some choose to add a privacy statement in fine print below their signature line to ensure appropriate data privacy language is uniformly present if sending sensitive documents to clients.
Other popular additions are messages about referring a friend or colleague to your practice, promotions you're currently offering, or additional services you have available to clients. You may be able to attract new business from such messages if potential customers see a service they need that you've mentioned in your e-mail signature.
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About the author:
Michael Alter, payroll expert with an MBA from Harvard Business School, is a nationally recognized spokesperson providing thought-leadership and sensible advice to help accounting and payroll professionals build deeper more profitable relationships with clients. Alter, President of SurePayroll, writes the Managing People column on INC.com and is frequently published in Bloomberg TV, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur magazine.