By Martin John Hadley | May 29, 2018
Content Warning: This is a navel gazing branding/workflow post.
Recently, Visible Data started using a fairly profesh looking signature in our emails. Each signature includes a link to the consultant’s availability via the excellent FreeBusy service.
Why document an email signature? Well, there are some interesting features of a signature:
Share Google Calendar free/busy availability via FreeBusy [Read more…]
Provide tools for booking meetings across multiple time zones [Read more…]
Design signatures that readers interact with through data-driven design [Read more…]
Selecting appropriate contact details and social media links [Read more…]
Programmatically update signatures (wishlist item) [Read more…]
Sharing availability with FreeBusy
Organising meetings is a pain. Regardless of whether attendees are sharing time-zones or not. There are a host of different meeting scheduling apps available, and we recently tried out a few different options from Zapier’s excellent overview of 17 of the best meeting scheduler apps and tools.
Hands down the best solution for us is FreeBusy. We synchronise the service with our GSuite Google Calendars and specify each consultant’s generally available hours in the freebusy.io/prefs page, folks can then book a consultant via a unique URL. Here’s my personal availability; email@example.com.
As makes sense, my personal life is organised through my personal Google account. There’s a calendar there called “Holidays of Martin”, which is where I add my holidays. But there’s a catch when I want to send this data to FreeBusy:
All day events don’t show as “BUSY” to FreeBusy
To prevent my calendar from looking fugly, I use Zapier.com and the following workflow:
I often work with Lynda.com & LinkedIn Learning, which means I often need to organised meetings across multiple time zones. Fortunately, timezoneninja.com/ makes this really easy! The screenshot below shows the “doable” hours for meetings involving Oxford, New York, Santa Barbara and Tallinn:
Our signature includes the following helpful hint:
💥 TimeZoneNinja will help if we inhabit different timezones 💥
Data-driven Signature Design
I’ve personally worked for several years in industry and know how often marketing folks fuss about the beauty of their email signatures, but typically they don’t collect data to iterate on the signature and create an effective marketing tool.
Visible Data currently relies 100% on our partner training providers to market our courses and primarily uses email to arrange meetings, discuss projects and other B2B stuff. This means that we definitely don’t have a large enough sample size to effectively iterate on our signature.
Fortunately, there are quite a few services dedicated to designing data-driven signature campaigns! Unfortunately, most of the services don’t choose to share their data or offer advice on designing effective signatures; instead they simply advertise their A|B testing platform.
Sigstr are a welcome surprise. They’re fairly new and in 2017 completed a $5M Series A funding round for a tool that’s almost totally geared to designing email signatures. These folks have a fairly active blog where they share some of their findings, including eye-tracking analysis of email signatures (see here).
The biggest takeaway from Sigstr’s advice is the importance of an attention grabbing call to action (CTA). Our signatures have a very simply CTA, “Want to book me for a meeting or a training course?”. There are three features of the CTA we’d like to call attention to:
Neutral coloured, round-cornered CTA body for drawing the readers attention.
Emojis add colour consistently with the user’s OS/browser.
Using emojis instead of more images reduces the complexity, footprint and reproducibility of the signature.
Visible Data currently uses GSuite to power our business, it provides our email and cloud-based storage. There are a few utilities that would allow us to programmatically modify our signatures but they are prohibitively expensive at the moment.
This means our signatures are terribly irreproducible. We have dumped the HTML template into the Github repository that powers this website.