VCards in email signatures

While most people consider vCards as obsolete (or have no idea what they are) others use it on a daily basis in their email communication. So what exactly are those vCards? Why use QR-coded vCards in email signatures? And how to do that? Read on to find out.

How to add vCards to email signatures

What is a vCard?

A vCard is a kind of electronic business card. Basically, it is a simple text file which contains certain fields inside. A vCard has a .VCF extension and is supported by Microsoft Outlook (98-2019), Mozilla Thunderbird as well as most mobile clients. Which makes it a surprisingly well supported format for storing contact info.

A sample vCard has the following structure:

BEGIN:VCARD
VERSION:3.0
N:Lynch;Natalie
FN:Natalie Lynch
TITLE:Sales Representative
ORG:pencloud
URL:https://my-company.url/
EMAIL;TYPE=INTERNET:natalie.lynch@pencloud.com
TEL;TYPE=voice,work,pref:+ 1 202 555 0141
TEL;TYPE=voice,cell,pref:+1 504 899 7214
ADR:;648;S.Sobieski Ave., Richmond Hill, 11418 NY
END:VCARD 

Reasons for using vCards

Since vCards contain contact information, adding them to an email signature might seem as adding a second email signature to an existing one. So why would you even consider using a vCard? There are some valid reasons for that:

  • vCards can be used to quickly add a contact to different kinds of address books (desktop and mobile contact apps, email clients, etc.).
  • They are supported by pretty much every email client and mobile device.
  • If a vCard is added in the form of a QR code, it usually fits the signature design pretty well.

At the same time, you certainly can design a good and functional email signature without using a vCard. In other words – the choice to use vCards or not is absolutely up to you.

How to use vCards?

There are a few possible ways of using a vCard. You can:

  • attach a VCF file to an email/message,
  • host your vCard on the Web and include a hyperlink in the signature,
  • host a vCard and link to it using a QR code, or
  • encode a vCard directly in the QR code.

Now, the last point is probably the most interesting one, because it allows your recipients to scan the code to automatically add the associated contact info to their mobile phone. Since the QR code is an image, it can also be hyperlinked directly to the vCard, which gives both mobile and desktop users the easiest way to add a specific contact.

Email signature with QR code vCard

How to create a vCard in Outlook?

Go to your contacts view, pick the contact you want to export to the VCF file (create a contact if you don’t have one) and go to the File tab:

Export contact to vCard in Outlook

On the File tab, click Save As:

Save contact as a vCard

Finally, choose where to save the vCard. Make sure to use the VCF extension:

Save contact as a vCard - Adam

Now, you can send the vCard as an attachment, or add it to your email signature. To add a vCard to the signature, you first need to upload it (preferably on your website, but a file sharing platform might work, as well).

QR code vCard in email signatures

Now, you can use either a hyperlink or a QR code to make your VCF file accessible to others. While adding a hyperlink is straightforward, a QR code might be a mystery for someone who never created one. Fortunately, with the free CodeTwo QR Code Desktop Reader & Generator, creating (and reading) QR codes is as easy as possible.

Simply turn on the generate mode on and insert your vCard link. The app will automatically generate the right QR code:

QR code to your vCard

Then, the QR code can be copied and pasted into your signature, as an image. Mind to add an icon or text suggesting the QR code links to your contact information in a vCard, for example:

QR code with a contact icon

Such QR codes can be scanned from the screen with your mobile phone or by our free QR code reader and generator. This method, however, is not always optimal – since a QR code is resolved as a link to the vCard, mobile users will not be able to add contacts automatically by scanning this QR code. If you want the QR code to trigger a contacts app on your device, it’s better to encode a vCard directly in the QR code.

Encode a vCard in the QR code

Encoding a vCard is quite simple, instead of using the QR code reader & generator to encode a link, encode the syntax from the sample vCard instead. You can open the VCF file in a plain text editor and copy its contents to the generator:

Encoded vCard in QR code

If you are using Office 365 or Exchange Server, it is also possible to add a personalized QR code to all users in a company with a single rule. All you need is the right email signature management tool.

Add a vCard QR code for all users in Office 365

With CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365, you can easily and quickly create a unified email signature design, which:

  • looks professional,
  • strengthens your brand,
  • is automatically personalized for each user,
  • is a great marketing opportunity to promote your hottest offers,
  • and much more…

But for now, let’s focus on the vCard QR codes:

Method 1: generate links to vCards

If you upload QR Codes for each of your users to the same location and name them according to, for example, their display name, all you need to do is to insert the QR Code image placeholder:

QR code in CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365

Then, in the new window, paste the link to the vCard location, and add a {Display name} placeholder. This placeholder will be replaced with the sender’s Display name when an email is sent.

QR code to vCard in CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365

As a result, all users who have this kind of signature added by the CodeTwo software will get their own, personalized QR code, linking to their vCard. For example, John Doe will get a QR code linking to https://example.com/vCards/John Doe.vcf

Method 2: Generate vCards directly

An even better way to use placeholders is to automatically generate a vCard for all users directly in the QR code:

BEGIN:VCARD
VERSION:3.0
N:{Last name};{First name}
FN:{First name} {Last name}
TITLE:{Title}
ORG:{Company}
URL:https://my-company.url/
EMAIL;TYPE=INTERNET:{E-mail}
TEL;TYPE=voice,work,pref:{Phone}
TEL;TYPE=voice,cell,pref:{Mobile}
ADR:;;{Street}, {City}, {Postal Code} {State}
END:VCARD 

This method allows you to use vCards without having to create and host them, first.

This is only a single example showing how CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365 makes a marketing specialist or brand manager’s job easier. To see more features, visit the product’s website.

For a detailed guide on how to add personalized QR codes to mail signatures in Office 365 or Exchange Server, visit this Knowledge Base article.

Further reading:

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