Too many companies squander a simple, yet valuable, customer experience opportunity when they ignore their email signature. Some statistics estimate that the average office worker sends about ninety messages a day! Consider how many emails are sent by all of your employees combined and the reach of those emails to your customers and vendors.
When was the last time you thought about your company email signature? Years ago? It might be time for a refresh! Here are the biggest things we have noticed with company email signatures and how they fail to use valuable real estate to communicate their brand and pertinent information:
1. It looks unprofessional
First impressions are everything, and if you don’t have the luxury of meeting a new contact face to face, then your email signature is a part of your digital first impression. Open an email with the company’s signature and put yourself in the viewer’s place. What would their impression be of you and your company? An unprofessional signature could be one that uses too many fonts, the logo is blurry or misshaped, incorrect brand colors, or maybe it is too crowded and hard to read.
If your signature does not represent your company, then you should do something about it!
2. It’s not helpful
At its core, an email signature is all about contact information. Have you ever had the experience where you are late to a meeting trying to find the address for a client? You pull up a recent email hoping to find the address but are disappointed to find nothing but their name at the bottom. Now where are you going to find the address? What other information is important to have as a part of your email signature? Are you always directing customers to the same FAQ’s or online resources? Consider adding a link to in your email signature.
Email signatures are meant to be helpful. Don’t make others work hard to find what they are looking for. Give them easy access to your contact information, address, website link, and other valuable information so that it is on hand when they need it.
3. It doesn’t represent your brand
Your email signature is as important as your marketing plan, your website, or sales materials. A blurry or stretched logo is one thing that can ruin a good signature and misrepresent your company. Sometimes the colors are not accurate. An employee may use a default “red” color from the palette rather than the specific red called out in your brand guidelines.
Maybe it is the overall feel of your email signature: your website is light and airy with lots of white space but your signature uses bold fonts and is all crunched together. While email signature fonts and styles can be limiting, try to duplicate as best as you can the feeling of your company’s brand.
4. It doesn’t have a call to action
If you think about emails as small branded marketing messages, then each one has the ability to influence behavior…especially after they have been seen repeatedly by the receiver. A signature without an actionable link or button is a wasted opportunity. Do you want customers to schedule a meeting? Download a white paper your team produced? Or learn about your new offerings?
What simple call to action can you ask people to do and which one makes the most sense in the context of an email? It doesn’t need to get sales-y, just something simple like “Learn about our new product”.
5. It’s inconsistent across your company
Many companies simply do not take the time to create an official signature for their employees. They let each person put their own “creative touch” on their signature resulting in a myriad of branding missteps. Otherwise a company may have suffered from the copy and paste "telephone game" where a signature gets copied and pasted over and over from person to person and the signature has incrementally lost fonts, styles or whole sections. (That’s where our custom generator links come in handy!)
A lack of consistency can be interpreted as a lack of organization within the company. This bad first impression could lead someone to question the quality of your service. Your branding represents you and this can be used as a weapon for or against you.
6. It doesn’t have a personal touch
Let’s not forget that an email signature is supposed to represent the person sending it, as well as the company they work for. One of the best ways we have seen to add that personal touch to a signature is with a smiling portrait. We are humans and we relate to people. Putting a face to a name and knowing who you are talking to can be quite meaningful for building a relationship with a potential customer.
If an employee photo is not an option then consider giving people space to have choices within their signature. What is their typical Starbucks order? Are they a dog or cat person? Ideal vacation? Give your employees a way to show a bit of their personality in an innocuous way.
7. It’s too long (or maybe too short!)
The trick is figuring out what is "just right" for your signature, not too much and not too little. Some companies tend to be on the brief side with barely a name and a phone number showing. Others glob every available piece of information, social media icon, include all seven of their partner icons, and the kitchen sink for good measure. It is overwhelming to the viewer and hard to distinguish what is really important…and, honestly, kind of obnoxious at the bottom of every email.
Include what is helpful and valuable and nothing more. Keep your email signature to 3-4 lines. This is not your website, it is merely an introduction.
8. It’s boring
Yes your signature should be practical, but it should still be interesting to look at. Do something to make it stand out a little bit! A pop of color, a banner about your new product, some stylish icons, or a well chosen photo helps to liven it up and draw attention to it. If your signature looks interesting it is much more likely that the viewer may want to interact with it, like checking out your website to learn more about your company.
Treat your signature more like an important marketing piece than an annoying necessity. Design it, get feedback on it, and tweak it before sending it out to the company. It will be worth your time!
9. It doesn’t build credibility
Like a business card, part of the purpose of an email signature is to build the sender’s credibility along with your company. At the very least it should include a job title, but consider what else might build credibility with your audience. Number of years at the company? Number of clients served? Is there an award that the company or individual has earned that could be mentioned (or shown)?
Just displaying your logo next to an employee’s name transfers your company’s credibility to the individual and allows them to be an ambassador of your company to their contact list.
10. It takes too long to load
A number of good signatures are ruined by their technical implementation. The main problem is images and there are two mistakes many companies make. The first is using an image whose file size is too large. It may be scaled down in dimensions to fit the signature, but if the logo is still two megabytes, that means every time someone views your email they have to wait for that image to load. It slows the user down and gets frustrating because people are not used to waiting for an email to load.
The other problem is that images should be called from a web server as HTML images and should not be an attachment within the email. This slows down email but also gets frustrating when you are swapping files and pieces of an email signature get downloaded with those important documents for tomorrow’s meeting.
We know that email signatures aren’t sexy or award winning pieces of design, but we hope that this article has convinced you to treat it as an important weapon in your arsenal of marketing communications. It is worth investing in and getting right because of the reach that it has already and the low cost of implementation.
If you are looking for a solution for your email signatures, you should check out our solution: signature.email. It is a powerful, visual drag and drop email signature generator that gives you the flexibility to create the signature that fits your company best without the limitations that other email signature generators have. In addition, we help solve the problem of inconsistency. Once you have set up a signature you can convert it into a signature generator template where your employees can visit a simple link to fill in their name and contact information, upload their photo, and copy and paste their signature into their email client of choice. You control which fields are editable by employees and which fields are locked down and baked into the template.
What are you waiting for? Don’t waste an opportunity! Go create a signature.