You spend a lot of time and resources paying for the design and production of antiquated business cards, letterhead, company stationery. Who sends letters anymore anyway? When it comes down to it, a big part of your branding management shows up in everyone’s inbox. One of the best ways to remind your current clients of your professionalism and stability and to develop confidence in new customers is with a professional email signature.
This Ultimate Guide to Email Signature breaks down how to create a signature that can be replicated across your business and brand in a way that is easy to manage and, dare we say, even profitable.
The Importance of a Professional Signature
When we are inundated with marketing from every which way, context remains king. Particularly when you are talking with someone for the first time, who you are and what you do gives you and your message context and meaning to the recipient.
An email signature also gives other ways of contacting you and provides more information, like a link to a website, and event or technical knowledgebase. And since often emails are used to schedule actual human contact like a face-to-face meeting, Skype or conference call, having all that information like Skype name, phone number and office location at the bottom of an email is a great point of reference.
And a professional signature creates corporate identity consistency that will get you far more mileage than those little three-and-a-half by two-inch cardstocks that end up in the bottom of desk drawers.
What does email signature design say about your business?
First and foremost your email signature is your digital business card. It shows how much detail you put into what you present to the world. And it literally says things about your business—who works there, what they take care of, how they can be contacted, what’s your branding, how social you are, and so much more.
What does bad email signature design say about your business?
A poorly designed email signature at best shows you are poorly organized. At worst, it can make you seem rude.
A bad email signature and email signature design says that you, your company and your employees lack attention to detail. When you have it as an attachment or in Times New Roman or Comic Sans, it shows you are antiquated. When you allow your employees to put whatever they want—like quotations or jokes or photos of their kids or pets—it shows your business is completely anarchic.
A bad email signature doesn’t work on the majority devices people are opening it on.
In short, an unprofessional email signature makes you look unprofessional, that you just don’t have your act together. And if you are looking to take on big-name clients or to attract venture capitalist investors, they’ll take one look at the bottom of your email and drag you to the Junk column.
What’s in the best email signature?
We could write books and blogs all day long about what makes for the best email signature—and we have!—but here’s a list of what, at a bare minimum, you should check off for a good email signature:
- KISS: Keep It Simple (and Short and Straightforward and Succinct), Silly.
- It should look Great
- Stick to the two main colors of your business
- Use normal fonts (but not Times New Roman or Comic Sans…or, for goodness sake, WingDings!)
- Is super Mobile-friendly, able to look professional on all devices. As a Fast Company article aptly points out, “Usability takes precedence over design.”
- Should be informative:
- identify the person
- identify their role, context within your business, how they serve your customers
- identify many ways to contact (but remember nobody’s going to fax!)
- identify how to become fans and social media followers
- identify where to find out more (usually a link to your homepage or About Us)
- Should be something exciting! that moves forward a sale or opens up for an upsell
- Should include anything legally necessary, but none of that if you don’t need it. How boring!
An email signature should move the recipient toward an action.
Include a clear call to action—usually a link to your website—not your homepage but something that achieves your objective. For your customer success or tech support team, this could be a link to your knowledgebase, which will save hours of time and money by enabling the customers to self-educate. A sales rep should have a link to your most awesome features or integrations. Your PR team may have a link to an award or exciting corporate news.
What’s in the worst, least professional email signature?
If you’ve read this far or read any of our other posts, you should be well-versed in answering this question. If not, these two marketing experts can put the words in your mouth.
We also just loved this Fast Company post of the “5 Common Mistakes You’re Making with Your Email Signature,” that we thought we’d offer the mistakes from business efficiency guru Stephanie Vozza:
- Email Signature Mistake #1: TMI: Too much information. People don’t want nor need your fax number nor blessing.
- Email Signature Mistake #2: Your email signature is a whole image. It won’t download or appear on many mobile devices or desktops, for that matter, with blocked images.
- Email Signature Mistake #3: Not designing for the small screen. Mobile-friendly or bust!
- Email Signature Mistake #4: Including irrelevant information. Again, KISS.
- Email Signature Mistake #5: Having a stale sign off. Automatically putting things like “Best Wishes” means you wish nothing.
These should all seem logical but now you’ll notice all the mess that’s at the tail of people’s emails.
And we couldn’t publish this book without sharing the tongue-in-cheek work entrepreneur Alyssa Gregory and her “Four Personalities of Poor Email Signatures:”
- The Novelist: This email signature spans at least one screen length.
- The Standout: Perfect for the 80s, this one is filled with font size and color changes.
- The Graphic Addict: You don’t even know what this one includes because the multiple attachments usually don’t load.
- The Mysterious: Antithesis of the first three, this one lacks any identifying information or perhaps doesn’t even have an email signature at all.
But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. It’s time for the marketing department—or, at least the IT department—to take over email signature management to put your most professional face forward!
The challenges of cross-company email signature management
It’s an almost insurmountable to manage hundreds or even thousands of email accounts across different mobile devices, emailclients and departments. When you risk leaving IT or, much worse, your employees themselves to manage their email signatures, you are left with a lot of problems. But even if you decide to implement a centralized email signature management system, you have a lot of things to overcome:
- Lack of central management of signatures
- Changes take time and waste resources
- Inconsistent email signature designs make for a corporate identity disaster
- Users fail to provide legally required details
- Signatures with incomplete and/or outdated contact information
- No control over the relationship between your business and your customers
- Marketing content not included in emails
- And a lot of wasted potential for growing your business
There’s no doubt that managing a centralized system is a pain… unless you automate it! But don’t worry, we’re building up to that blissful solution to your management whoas.
Overheard in the IT Department: Common complaints of email admins
If we’ve ever had to go down and actually talk to our sysadmins, you may have heard such whining:
- “Listen, I designed a nice template for email signature. Not my fault your team isn’t using it properly.”
- “PR keeps complaining about our email signatures. Why is no one reading the company handbook?”
- “It’s not our fault. You need to make sure your team fills out their contact details correctly.”
- “They have a job title in there. Why do we care if this it’s not the right one?”
- “Our job is to keep everything up and running. Unless a signature is keeping you from receiving an email, why should we care?”
- “What do you mean you want to put ads in the signature?!”
- “I’m sorry, updating email signatures is just not a priority, but we’ll add it to a backlog for next year.”
- “You want certain color fonts and logos? Social media buttons? Who do you think we are, marketing?”
The solution to all of this? (Hint: IT thinks this too.) An email signature is not only related with email signature management, it’s closely tied into brand management. Yes, IT or perhaps human resources should be handling hires and fires and official job titles, but then marketing should take the reigns. After all, there’s no doubt who is driving the rest of your brand management, why wouldn’t marketing be in charge of potentially your most viewed advertising space.
How can you overcome these challenges to create a cross-company professional email signature?
The only way to truly get it under control is an email signature management tool. This way you can always have the basic requirements there—name, contact info, context and logo—and then you can spend your time honing, tweaking and testing email signature marketing campaigns, scheduling them ahead and measuring all the results.
What are the benefits of centralized email signature management?
- Have one person or team in charge of all corporate email signatures, disclaimers and banners.
- Have company-wide email signature branding standardization.
- Have company-wide email signature management consolidation.
- Mean fast changes in design and content of email signatures.
- Open up a whole new marketing channel with potentially the most eyeballs.
- Ensured compliance with privacy, HIPAA, PCI and other electronic correspondence laws.
- Also help you stay compliant with IRS Circular 230 and anti-spam regulations.
- Easy management of corporate identity, branding and logos.
- Gain social media followers.
- Put a face to the name with headshots. (NOT Selfies.)
- Take advantage of not only countless emails but Forwards and Replies too.
- Are managed from one central location.
- Make sure you leave a good impression.
- Mean your employees don’t have to worry about remembering to update their professional email signatures. It’s all done for them.
- Make updates easy-breezy.
- Works on an iPhone, an Android, a Tablet, an iPad, a laptop, a desktop, a netbook, a notebook, in a house, with a mouse… You get the idea.
And besides these benefits, perhaps best of all…
Centralized email signature management means centralized email signature marketing.
Think of how many emails you send a day. It’s still the best way to market to your desired audience, as they are much more likely to open a personalized email than to click on a banner ad or read your ad in the Yellow Pages. So why not customize a professional email signature with rocking calls to action.
The ability to effortlessly update your email signatures opens up a valuable new marketing possibility. Think of all those emails that are exchanged every day with your customers and suppliers, the perfect audience for your latest promotions and company news. Did your company recently win an award? Is your company hosting an upcoming event? Why not include an announcement in your email signature to ensure that your most important contacts are in the know.
A list of all the wonderful ways you can take advantage of email signature marketing:
- Drive people to demos.
- Upsell and advertise new products.
- Offer sales, deals and coupons.
- Tell them you’re attending an event.
- Advertise an event or webinar you’re hosting.
- Cross-market. Plug your integrations and other partners and ask them to plug you, opening up to each other’s audience.
- Show off! Brag about that award, accomplishment, funding or acquisition.
- Promote new and evergreen content.
- Again, social media followers matter, but nobody has time to work actively to get them.
But these are just a few of thousands ideas! When you put the marketing department in charge of email signature management, the options are limitless.
Automate it all with an email signature generator.
An email signature generator, like Xink, is a cloud-based tool or a software as a service (SaaS) which allows you to design an email signature in the desired format for the desired email provider. An email signature generator automatically creates employees’ email signature and inserts it in the bottom of all outgoing e-mails.
How does an email signature generator work?
You start by quickly composing or modifying signature templates using a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML Editor. Don’t worry, you can do this even if you don’t have HTML skills. An email signature generator lets you get creative without getting too much so.
While completely secure but in the cloud, there’s no more need to visit IT to get it done, simply get it all done at your desk or on your iPad, managing multiple offices from wherever.
It allows you to create professional email signatures regardless of what enterprise email service provider you’re using, and, at least Xink, lets you do it in a way that is automatically responsive, still looking good, independent of mobile device usage. You can create email signature templates in HTML, RTF and Text formats.
Like most SaaS, you as the administrator can delegate user permissions and roles and who is in charge of which email signature marketing campaigns and administrative functions. You can even set up certain rules and exceptions.
This handy business app allows you to automate the email signature management across your company, but still to create separate campaigns based on your different departments and their different recipient audiences.
You can schedule it all ahead, for peak sales season, holidays, events and so much more.
You can boost marketing by adding advertising banners at the bottom of emails, running up to two campaigns at the same time, catching their attention when they are ready to read and act! Use this feature to drive high-quality traffic to your website and to close more deals.
A good email signature generator—-like any marketing tool worth its salt—-will track it all for you. If you can’t measure it, it’s not good marketing, right? This tool offers you the freedom to A/B test different messages for different audiences, and then you can tweak the templates to improve click-through rate over time, use what’s working, lose what’s not, contributing to better corporate brand management across different media and more accurate Google Analytics.
It is also possible to get different signatures for new emails, Forwards, and Replies to help move the conversation along and to keep messaging fresh.
How does professional email signature management work with Xink?
We work to enforce brand standards and an air of professionalism, while still allowing you to get creative with powerful, qualified marketing campaigns.
We work hard to follow all the tips and professional email qualities you’ve read about through this series of blogposts. And then we try to go even further to be the best signature management system out there!
Don’t forget, a good email signature generator doesn’t work alone. Like all reputable SaaS, it should integrate with your current workflow for optimal presence and productivity. Xink integrates with Zendesk, Freshdesk, your favorite customer relationship management software (CRM), WordPress, Twitter and Salesforce.
Xink has been working the longest with your Outlook signature, and thousands of companies worldwide have chosen Xink as their provider of email signatures for Office 365. The Xink browser-based user interface is intuitive and easy to navigate and you will access email signatures for Office 365 and email signature campaigns results effortlessly.
The result is consistent approved email signatures for Office 365 with each and every email.
Cloud is our Core – Xink is the perfect complement to your Office 365.
Xink also allows you to use data from Active Directory or Azure AD in your email signatures. Easily create beautiful templates with the online editor, import user data, and distribute email signatures. Alternatively, you can add employees manually and let them control some information themselves, such as: telephone numbers, pictures, social media links, and more.
Plus, in the case of Xink, this email signature generator makes sure you can do it all fast! Xink brings you quick setup that allows you to create, schedule and manage company-wide or drilled-down department specific campaigns in minutes.
And even though we know it’s fast and simple, Xink offers you live chat support, anytime, anywhere.
Try an email signature generator today!
Request a product walkthrough and a free trial, and start managing your company’s email signatures via the cloud, in minutes. Xink is email signature management software, without the software. Still unsure? Give it a go with a 14-day free trial where you can create, deploy and manage professional email signatures and marketing across your entire company for a full test.
Want more inspiration on email signature management?
Check out some of our other posts on email signature management, like 8 Reasons to Choose Xink for Email Signature Management, The Benefits of Email Signature Management by Xink or maybe this if you are a Mac user Manage Email Signatures for Mac Users.