One of the major benefits of my executive business writing coaching work is hearing first hand what bothers executives about business email, mobile communication, and all business writing issues.
I learned something recently while working with a very smart, very mobile, technology executive.
"It drives me crazy when people don't include their full contact information in their mobile signatures. If I receive an email on my mobile phone and need to call the sender, I often have to waste ten minutes digging somewhere for their phone number. I don't care what kind of device they sent the message from. I just want the information I need to quickly contact them."
Indicate in Your Mobile Signature that You're Sending from a Mobile Device
I had to send four urgent emails while on the train from New York City to my office in Princeton recently. I was wedged in tightly on a shared seat between two napping passengers. I was careful not to move my arms much because I didn't want to wake up my napping seat neighbors. Writing these emails with my elbows hugged in fully was challenging.
I just noticed I mistyped two words in one of the messages I sent. Typos do happen more on mobile devices. Stating you sent a message from your mobile device does inherently convey a "cut me some slack" request. And, it lets readers know you are out of the office. We should send the clearest message possible, even by email, so I don't intend this advice as a free pass for good grammar and punctuation. An email, even sent by mobile device, is still a business document. It's discoverable in a lawsuit or investigation. Accuracy matters.
Interestingly, when I researched this topic on technology and writing sites, there was some controversy:
- Some felt it was pretentious to include a statement that the message came from a mobile device, as if it showed off your technology status. Wow, he has an iPad!
- Others felt it conveyed a sense of care. You're so valued I'm answering you right now.
- I'm more concerned about conveying accurate information that helps your reader and increases the ease of information flow.
Professional Email Signature Format
- Include your phone number in your signature.
- Yes, include your email address in your signature. Often, in a forwarded message, a second recipient will only see your name, not your email address, in the To: or Cc: lines.
- Include any other information relevant to your readers, such as your company website and time zone.
- If you receive an email on your mobile device that requires immediate response and length, reply with a quick summary and tell your reader you will respond fully when you are back at your office.
- When you are faced with the speed vs. accuracy dilemma when mobile, always lean to accuracy.
Business Email Mobile Signature Cautions
- No need to state the brand of your phone. As much as I love my iPhone, many of my clients work closely with Microsoft and Google, so it's not appropriate - or even relevant - to name my phone. You likely email to a wide range of industries, too. Simply use the neutral statement "Sent from my mobile device."
- I received an email recently with the signature, "Sent from my blackberry please excuse any typos." Even without the ironic capitalization, comma, and missing word errors, this feels careless. Mentioning the mobile device is enough. Don't highlight that you'll likely make typos.
Sent from my mobile device.
Mobile phone: 609-555-5555 (if you share this widely)
Office phone: 609-555-5556
Any other information relevant to your industry, such as website, special login page, or time zone.
Omit any sentimental statements: Please consider the environment before printing this email, or Today's the day to soar, or any other inspirational statements.
Remember, a mobile signature should enhance information flow. If particular information in your mobile signature helps information flow, include it. If information is irrelevant, omit it. As always, think about what works best for your reader.
To learn all aspects of business email, consider our email course.