Should an email signature include images?

Should an email signature include images?

How important are email signatures anyway?

Email signatures don't have the same value these days as they once did. Our general advice is not to spend too much time on making them elaborate, as most people will not see them.
But as marketing consultant Graeme Jordan of STO Consulting puts it:
‘There will be times when email signatures are useful to you in meeting your goals. Yes, we should all be using CRMs effectively, and therefore have each other’s contact details. But imagine a new client that you have sent a proposal to – if they could click on your email signature to call you with that nagging question that they have. Or if you are dealing with a new contact in a company, having their direct dial might just save you a few minutes regularly. In any case, why not treat your email like all other business communication formats and design it deliberately and professionally.’
That being said, we don’t need to over-indulge by creating anything too elaborate. Contact details with a little styling and a logo will surely suffice.

Should email signatures use images?

Our answer to this is a bit of a ‘yes, and no’, or a ‘sort of’. We certainly don’t think you should be adding all your awards, accreditations and affiliation logos into your email signature. You simply don’t have enough control over how the different email clients of the recipients will treat your signature. The last thing you want is your signature to be larger than your email. Your email content should be the most important part of the message, and shouldn’t be overshadowed by a lengthy and image intensive signature.

Our advice is to keep it simple, a couple of lines with the contact details for you and your business, a couple of links to your website and social platform of choice, and at most a single image of your logo. Imagine you’re sending a traditional paper letter, ask yourself what percentage of the paper does the letterhead take compared to the body of the letter, and apply the same ratio to your email messages.

Of course, as with letterheads, if your business is a limited company, and in some other circumstances, there are some legal requirements (such as registration number) that need to be considered.
What you really need is a specific app that is designed to manage your email signatures and has already been tested with all of the major email clients that your recipients are likely to use.

How to manage email signatures

We recommend as our chosen software for the central management of email signatures. This is specifically developed for Google Workspace but if you use a different ‘email client’ then there are other email signature managers that you could use. You can set fields for department and job titles that will be auto-filled and ensure a standard look across your organisation. Additionally, you can add timely messages that appear consistently on all signatures. This might be used for a current sales promotion or your attendance at an exhibition for example.
A good email signature management programme provides templates that are professionally designed but adaptable with your chosen colours etc. With real-time updates, those with admin permissions can set changes to the marketing message for particular time-limited campaigns. It removes the risk of some staff not adopting the chosen content and the risk of out of date information being left on signatures.
The result is consistency of presentation with dynamic features. The things that need to change (name, title, contact details, and campaign content) will. But it allows no random variations.

Should I get it designed?

We would expect that your company has a chosen font and colour palette already because it should be used elsewhere. If not, then don’t create one especially for emails – you have bigger issues to address. But, if, like most businesses, you have a strong corporate identity, why not spend a small amount of time applying it to this most common form of business communication.
Applying your brand identity to your email signature should take very little time.  
By all means, get it designed if you want to – but have the important details shown as plain text so that you can be sure they will display.
In our recommended solution (above) or maybe with other similar tools, this will be taken care of by adapting one of the templates provided or creating your own with your chosen font, colours, and logo.

Should staff be required to use standard email signatures?

‘Absolutely’, says Graeme. ‘This is not the place for amateur creativity. If your company can’t control how it looks to the outside world in the form of communication that is most commonly used, then this is not a great sign of your leadership and management. Nor does it reflect well on the quality of your work. If you have staff refusing to apply the standard signature then you have a serious problem.’
Don’t draw a false dichotomy between ‘useful’ and ‘well-designed’. This is a ‘cake and eat it’ situation. Email signature management is now a category of product. Simply find the right one for your organisation.

What’s the ideal?

Keep your email signature text-based except for the only essential image,  your logo. Like any other design work, use a consistent font and text size. Add a splash of colour for your company name by all means, as well as links to your social media profiles and website. Try to keep it to 2 or 3 lines if possible.
Whether you’re using Outlook or Google Workspace,  it’s fine to add the text and image directly into your signature editor. But with that method, you don’t get consistency across the business without manual effort. Alternatives such as linking to the image are not necessary and won't make a difference to it being displayed.
As Graeme from STO Consulting puts it:
‘Just because people say they don’t care about email signatures, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use them. People also say they are not influenced by advertising. But, really, why do people use the brands they use?’

Do you have an email signature policy in your organisation, and is it centrally managed, or do individuals create their own? Let us know your thoughts.

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