Recently I was asked about designing email signatures. I had designed (and redesigned) my own sig block long ago, complete with logo and links to my social channels. I had also designed a few for clients, keeping the design very simple, with just the basic elements included.

As the years have passed, however, I’ve begun to receive a few emails with elaborate signature blocks, including images, even video or animations (GIFs). And I’ve reminded more than one client that not including a testimonial, links to reviews, or an event announcement, was a missed marketing opportunity. Do you want to miss marketing opportunities?

Why Email Signatures are Important

Simply put, your email signature is a connection to a prospect or client which provides the opportunity to reinforce your brand. Done well, they make a strong, positive impression, reinforcing the notion that the recipient should be doing business with you.

Email signatures can be valuable marketing tools because you can track their digital success via Google Analytics and other tools. And they’re automated; once setup, you don’t have to do anything as you send email after email to prospects and clients.

Email Signature Pitfalls

You’ve created a beautiful email signature block only to receive a disgruntled reply from the recipient that they couldn’t read it. What happened?

First, you need to understand that many email servers strip out images before delivering email to recipients. When that happens, your beautiful email signature may arrive looking like this:

Images blocked picture

Not exactly helpful, is it?

On my end, my own signature block looks like this:

Marcia Signature block

But I am certain that many recipients only see this version when servers strip out the HTML:

HTML-less sig block

Further, you may have attached links from the image icons for your Facebook or Instagram account, but instead, all the recipient sees is one of those boxes shown in the top example. A few other pitfalls may include:

  • messy or overloaded design
  • hard to read fonts
  • light colored text on a white background
  • too small point size to read
  • non responsive design (i.e. it looks like a mess on your phone but looks great on a desktop)

Worst of all, the combined design infractions may generate a negative reaction from the recipient, turning them off from doing business with you.

What to include

Getting you started on the right foot, be sure to include these items in your email signature:

  • Name, Title, Company
  • Address (Snail mail and Email)
  • Phone Numbers
  • Website
  • Social Channels
  • CTAs
  • Disclaimers (optional)

Some argue it’s superfluous to include your email address in your signature block because the recipient can see the email address in the “TO” field of the message. But here’s my argument for including the email address: When your clients love you, they’ll share your signature block with friends and associates who may also need your expertise. Make it easier for them to copy and paste your signature block to share with others by including the email with it.

Design Your Email Signature

Drill down on your goals for your email signature:

  • Are you building a personal relationship? Then include a headshot.
  • Is building trust an imperative? Include legal disclaimers.
  • Is brand awareness paramount? Include the company logo.

What if it’s all three? Good design can incorporate all of the above. But as you work through the process, continue asking yourself if you’re overdoing it. Simple is best.

Your email program will come with a basic signature design module. If you don’t know where to look in Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo or other email program like Thunderbird, simply search help for “Email Signature” and follow the links to find the module.

Here you will find a basic WYSIWYG editor allowing you to choose font, color, point size, bold, italic and underline. You may also add HTML (!). Don’t worry, I’m not teaching coding here.

Include a CTA (Call to Action)

In addition to whatever request you are making in the body of each email message, your signature block may include more subtle CTAs to further market your business. Some options include:

  • Subscribe
  • Write a review
  • Read a review/testimonial
  • Visit
  • Watch
  • Buy
  • Take Our Survey
  • Give Feedback/Rate
  • View My Tip
  • Request ____________

Tips for Email Signature Design Success

First, get all the basics typed out (name, title, company, etc.) so that you can be looking at how it appears as you make adjustments to the design. Is it already overwhelming? Are you using line breaks?

Second, keep the layout simple: Use only one font and perhaps a second for an accent. Stick to one main color and one point size. Can you simplify by changing “Mobile:” to “M:”? Do pipes “|” look better than colons “:”, bullets or arrows “>” as separators? Does it help to use ALL CAPS for labels?

What if you’ve been fiddling with your design for an hour or more and still don’t like it?

I have an easy solution!

Use an Email Signature Generator

These days you don’t have to design and format your own email signature. Many companies offer free and premium apps for generating email signature blocks. Simply upload the needed contact information and test out their numerous designs until you find what you like.

Benefits of Professional Email Signature Generators

There are numerous reasons this solution may be best for your business:

  • Save time
  • Build brand awareness
  • Be consistent
  • Ensure everyone in your company uses a uniform email signature
  • Track link success through various analytics tools
  • Project a more professional image
  • Include more advanced features such as:
    • Clickable appointment calendars
    • Animated GIFs
    • Run campaigns
    • Add videos
  • Ensure sig blocks display responsively across all servers and devices

Detractions from Email Signature Generators

Price would be most business people’s objection to using one of these companies. While many of the providers I found offered free designs, they often came with a “Generated by XYZ Company” promotional line within the sig block. If you don’t mind advertising for them, then dig in. If not, then premium pricing plans ranged from as little as $3.25/month for one signature to more than $120/year for one signature. And they’ll remove the advertising line for you.

Lastly, an over-designed signature block can generate negative repercussions. I’ve received more than one email with sig blocks that were so over the top, I rejected the sender’s qualifications for putting too much “lipstick on a pig.”

If your sig block is drawing more attention than the content of your email, you’re doing something wrong.

Email Signature Generators

Though not a definitive list, here are a few I found while researching this story:

Here are a few, great articles to provide further guidance and inspiration: