Another installment in our ongoing series to showcase innovative MassChallenge companies. MassChallenge is the world’s largest startup accelerator and the first to support entrepreneurs with no strings attached. Startups can apply to the 2014 MassChallenge summer accelerator by April 2.
By Jasmeet Sawhney
When iPhone was first launched, these 4 words – “Sent from my iPhone” – were perceived by many as a way to flaunt your new device via emails. When I got my first iPhone, I made sure to remove the email signature fearing I would come across as a swagger. But, what started as an annoying display of status (or brand marketing for Apple), has become a very practical aid for professionals. This is primarily due to the fact that expectations and perceptions of the email recipient are very different when email comes from a smartphone instead of a desktop. It may not seem as apparent, but here are some unintended benefits of this ubiquitous signature, which beg the question – should this signature be included in some of your desktop email replies as well?
Improved Productivity: Poor email habits are probably the biggest enemy of a professional’s productivity. The effects are even worse for entrepreneurs who deal with email overload all the time. When you reply from your desktop, the expectation is a carefully written, complete, and, in some cases, researched response. But, for most emails, this kind of response is not required and can lead to enormous drain of your time. Brief responses are the best way to handle most of your email, so replying with your smartphone works well. Or, a great alternative is to include a ‘smartphone signature’ on your desktop replies. Even in a professional setting, smartphone email responses are expected to be brief, informal and come with a disclaimer – “I want to respond to your email (and quickly), but cannot provide a better answer because I am on the move, on a small screen, and have limited access to information.” Try doing this on a desktop without the ‘smartphone signature’ and you’ll come across as rude to email recipients.
Forgiveness for Errors: This is a huge benefit of sending emails from a smartphone – No one is expecting accuracy! Whether it is grammatical or spelling mistakes, capitalizations or typos, everything is acceptable. On desktop, you are expected to be accurate, or risk being considered lacking in communication skills. Emails with “Sent from my iPhone” signature get your point across without all the fuss.
Perception of Credibility: Not only do email recipients have higher tolerance for email sent from smartphones, they also perceive the person as more credible. This is mostly due to the fact that by default we treat smartphone email errors as human mistakes, and not incompetency issues. So, if you really struggle with grammar and spelling mistakes, this might be a good tactic to use for your desktop emails. On the other hand, if you end up writing an accurate and thoughtful email on your smartphone, you may actually want to remove the “Sent from my iPhone” signature. The signature comes with its own shortcomings in that it makes your response looks less credible because of the perception it has been sent in haste.
Deemed Responsive: When you respond quickly to emails from your smartphone, you are perceived as someone who is accessible all the time, everywhere, and cares to respond even when on-the-move. But, depending on the type of email response, you need to be careful. You don’t want to write a single sentence reply to a week old email that demands a long and detailed answer; it will only make you look careless and ignorant.
If you find these benefits appealing, start adding a “Sent from my iPhone” or “Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S5” (or your favorite device) signature to your desktop emails that can afford a quick, informal and ‘to the point’ response. For me, personally, improved productivity trumps everything else and makes this hack worthwhile. It provides an easy excuse for numerous email behaviors, which would otherwise be considered incompetent. But, use caution with tablets and iPads. “Sent from my iPad” has a very different connotation than a smartphone because you chose to reply on an iPad when you had an option to do it on your desktop. So, in most cases, I would rather remove “Sent from my iPad”.
What do you think? Do you think “Sent from my iPhone” or another smartphone signature adds any value to your email use? Or, is it just an Apple branding play that we have gotten used to? Would you rather remove it completely, or start using on some of your desktop emails as well? Let me know your thoughts in the comments or you can contact me on twitter @JASMEETio.