Creating an email signature template may seem like a headache best left with your IT department or your company’s technical wizard, but failing to pay adequate attention to this task could mean you miss a valuable marketing opportunity.
For many customers, an email exchange will be the first interaction they have with your company. Although finding the best email provider may be your top priority, you’ll still need to pay careful attention to the design of your email signature.
Get it right and your email signature can enhance the overall impression of your business’s professionalism. Get it wrong and your company could appear amateur, difficult to contact, or even potentially suspicious.
Preparing a professional email signature
Creating the right brand can be crucial to your professional success. Because of this, it’s a good idea to use an email signature template when considering what you want to express with your signature.
Say you work in an industry such as finance or law: in this case, your email signature should probably reflect the formal nature of the field. On the other hand, those in a start-up environment may decide a quirky sign-off better fits their professional identity.
Once you’re clear about what you’re trying to achieve, you’ll be in a much stronger position to start creating your email signature. Bear in mind: if yours is a slightly larger organization, it’s sensible to consult company branding guidelines before you begin in earnest.
From a technical point of view, the first step will normally be to choose the right provider for your business email, as many customers will be suspicious of a supposedly professional email that appears to originate from a free service.
Although the best provider for your company will depend on your specific needs, there are a number of attractive options. If you’re seeking a company with a strong reputation for security and privacy, you could opt for Swiss-based ProtonMail.
For those who’d prefer the reassurance of a big-name provider, Gmail’s paid version offers features including a customizable email address on your domain, guaranteed 99.9% uptime and 24/7 customer support.
Step 1: Choose your email address format
Only a decade ago, the majority of email addresses followed a standard format: firstname.lastname@example.org. However, this approach doesn’t suit every business, and could come across as overly formal in certain cases. If you operate a very small business for instance, you may decide the use of first names only better fits the culture of your organization.
You should also ensure your email address uses the same domain as your professional website. Say, for example, your business’s website domain is bestbusiness.com - your emails should ideally originate from email@example.com.
Step 2: Decide which information to include
One of the main, key practical considerations you’re likely to encounter when creating your email signature template is deciding which information you need to include. In most cases, your full name is clearly a given, as is your job title and the name of the company you represent.
If yours is an external-facing role, it’s also crucial your email signature includes other ways in which customers can contact you, such as your direct phone line.
But be honest with yourself about what else you should include. Do your contacts really need to know your Twitter handle or Instagram profile?
Step 3: Research email signature software
If you lack the graphic design skills to create your own email signature template or would simply like to save time, you could consider automating the process through software such as Exclaimer or Newoldstamp.
These tools will help you manage all the signatures across your organization, and in many cases you won’t need any design skills to create your template.
These software packages often include a signature generator, which will ensure email signature templates are consistent for employees across your business. Many software packages also include a template editor function, which will enable you to create a template either from scratch or from a selection of pre-existing options.
Step 4: Consider image use
When it comes to the use of images in email signature templates, experts’ views are split. While some argue too many images can distract from the message’s content, others believe that having images is vital to promote a company’s brand. Some even go as far as to include their own photograph.
If you’re not particularly confident in your design skills, many email signature software providers contain editing tools which enable you to upload, crop, and edit images such as logos.
It’s essential that you consider the size of any images you include in your email signatures, as your recipient’s data usage limits could prevent larger images from displaying correctly. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to keep images between 300 and 400 pixels in width and 70 and 100 pixels in height.
Step 5: Test device/browser compatibility
From a compatibility perspective, it’s always wise to test your potential design across as wide a range of devices and browsers as possible. Although your email signature template may look sleek and professional in Chrome, for example, you could discover it doesn’t display correctly in another browser. You should also remember to include mobile devices as part of this testing process, as an increasing number of emails are now read on these devices.
Step 6: Provide guidance for your employees
If your email provider enables each user to customize their email signature themselves, you should ensure your employees understand your company’s policy regarding signatures to guarantee consistency across your business. Although the personal and contact details will obviously differ according to the user, all other features should remain unchanged.
If you opt for email signature software you may be able to avoid this issue, as these tools often enable a single administrator to control all the signatures across a business.
Step 7: Check spelling and grammar
After entering all of your information into your email signature template, remember to check (and double-check) that the details are correct and up-to-date. As well as checking for spelling errors, you may also want to call the phone number listed to see whether it does indeed get to the right place. Any errors in your email signature could be devastating for your company’s reputation and, in a worst-case scenario, result in a loss of business.
If you’re using email signature software, the majority of providers offer a preview function which should enable you to see how your final version will appear.
For many of us, email is something we use almost every day without giving it a second thought. It’s therefore easy to overlook the time, attention and strategic planning that may have gone into getting it right. And while it may seem simple, creating a professional email sign-off could prove a huge asset to your business.
The top tip? Send your potential email signature template to a trusted proofreader before you finalize your design, and ask what impression it creates of your business. Are you professional? Reliable? Would the proofreader feel confident working with you in the future? This feedback is probably the most valuable you could receive when creating your template.