Well, it finally happened - On the verge of being a $4 billion asset-sized bank when yesterday we got the memo that everyone in the bank is now required to use a standard email signature. While some employees might look at this as a corporate intrusion into their lives because they can no longer have the witty quote at the bottom, it is the right thing to do. Corporate email signatures are so easy to do well, yet they are often done poorly. While a bad signature serves as a distraction, a good email signature promotes the brand of the bank, while providing information on the sender to help with future contact.
Being data driven, we went to the science and analyzed more than 6,000 bank emails to determine what is done, not done and what works well.
Almost 70% of banks have made some formal or informal effort to have a designed signature (at least a name). While email signatures may vary between departments (like ours used to), the employees have at least taken it upon themselves to put a professional look forward. The other 30% however, are hurting their chances of interaction as a professional signature makes a response more than 20% more likely.
For banks, the sender’s name is obviously most important, as it psychologically presents closure to an email and thus leaves the reader with a higher satisfaction rate that translates into a higher response rate. Surprisingly, only 37% of the emails had a formal sign off such as “Sincerely,” “Regards” or other. While a standard sign off doesn’t help or hurt, a creative one, such as “Yours To Count On” helps with memory. However, get too far out there with "Defender of the Truth," and you are likely to lose credibility.
After name, 60% of emails included a telephone number (24% included cell phone) which is the single most important item to include if your are a bank after your name. The recipient will have your name and most likely organization from the email address, but not a telephone number.
After name and phone number, the organization name was found to be most important in soliciting a response. 58% of the banks included the name of the bank or holding company. Title was found next to help solicit a response and was found in 41% of emails.
Rounding out the bottom, or the least important factors, are an email address (important if your email is forwarded on as sometimes your contact handle appears in place of your email address) and postal address. These show up in bank emails 35% and 26%, respectively.
Other items include social media, which showed up in about 8% and blogs that show up in 4%.
After looking at so many emails, we have some suggestions on what helps and what doesn’t.
What helps bank signatures:
- If you are using an image, consider a service such as Wisestamp, My eSig, Sigwich, Gravatar.com or Stationery Central, so that it loads quickly without having to use attachments
- Plain text (instead of the contact information in an image), so recipients can copy and paste
- A clear, legible web font (please, no all cursive signature lines)
- Some extra space to visually separate your signature from the body of the email
- Keep your signature between four to seven lines – anymore and information gets lost
- Lines limited to 72 characters – otherwise it wraps
- Consolidated lines with a pipe ( | ) or double colon ( :: ) in between items
- Consider using an alternate short-version of your signature for replies
- Test how your signature looks (and wraps) on mobile devices
- Limit your signature to two colors maximum
What hurts bank signatures:
- Anything animated
- v-cards – nice to have the first time, but then it always looks like there is an attachment
- Quotes – it is so hard to strike the right balance between pedestrian, wit and offensiveness
A good bank email signature can do wonders. Hopefully, our research gave you some data in which to think about any changes you might want to make to your signature, just in case you would like to join us in upgrading how you sign off on your emails.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on February 19, 2014