Email Signatures: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

As mobile technology and digital communications become more prevalent, we at MDPM work with our clients to keep abreast of the latest trends and developments in marketing. An estimated 30 percent of adults access email exclusively on mobile devices, and nearly half of all emails are opened on a tablet or smartphone. What do iPhones, iPads, Kindles, Blackberry, and Android devices all have in common? Small screens. A smaller screen size, often coupled with lower resolution, means each pixel must count, each sentence should inform, and each email should be optimized accordingly. I could write a book about email marketing, but right now I’d like to focus on just one aspect of the ideal email: the signature.

Creating and Configuring Your Email Signature

The image below shows the signature panel for a Gmail account. The process for setting up your signature will vary by email provider, but most are fairly similar.

 

sigblog

Why does this signature work? It’s clean and informative, and it gives the recipient three options—email, telephone, and via your website—to communicate with you. Now, why not make it even easier to get in touch? Add hyperlinks by highlighting the appropriate text, then click the Link button indicated by the red arrow. A window will pop up prompting you to input the text to display (what the recipient sees) and the URL of your website. I recommend testing the link, which takes only a second. Use the same process to create a link for your email address.

Add Visual Interest With an Image

A small graphic adds a pop of color to your signature. I cringe when I see random images of kittens and dancing flowers. It’s not that I don’t like kittens and dancing flowers—I love them—but they have no place in professional correspondence. Keep it simple with a bold logo or monogram. If you use a headshot in your signature, choose a photo with a solid, light colored background. Think small, about 180 pixels. If the image is too large, the message will take longer to load when opened. The image you choose must be hosted on your website or blog. Select the “Upload Image” icon, indicated by the blue arrow, then paste the URL for the image when prompted.

Make Your Signature Social Media Friendly

Including social media icons in your signature is a no-brainer and one of the easiest ways to generate Likes and followers. I recommend icons over text links; it looks cleaner and there’s instant recognition. See those social media icons on your blog or website? You can embed them in your signature using the process outlined above.

Good: Clean Design and Informative Text

  • You don’t have to use the default font, but simple is better. Think Arial, Georgia, Verdana. Stick with one or two.
  • Use the same font in the body and signature of your email. Continuity is aesthetically pleasing.
  • Include only the most important information. You needn’t include a list of every service you provide, although you can summarize with general, family, cosmetic dentistry, and similar descriptors.
  • Always test links and images before saving your new signature. Broken links create more work for your would-be site visitors and social media followers. The broken image icon is an eyesore, and it looks sloppy.
  • Lengthy quotes are a no-go, no matter how much they inspire you.
  • Same for political statements and other potentially incendiary sentiments.
  • Curlicue and cursive fonts are hard enough to read on a full-size PC screen, much less a tiny smartphone screen. If you absolutely must have the fancy fonts, limit them to the desktop version of your website. Don’t include them in your email signature, the body of your email, or your mobile site.
  • Creative palettes are great for websites. Email signatures? Not so much. Light or neon fonts make for difficult viewing on all screen sizes, and they appear unprofessional.

Bad: Botched Links, Broken Images, TMI

  • Always test links and images before saving your new signature. Broken links create more work for your would-be site visitors and social media followers. The broken image icon is an eyesore, and it looks sloppy.
  • Lengthy quotes are a no-go, no matter how much they inspire you.
  • Same for political statements and other potentially incendiary sentiments.

Ugly: Funky Fonts and Colors

  • Curlicue and cursive fonts are hard enough to read on a full-size PC screen, much less a tiny smartphone screen. If you absolutely must have the fancy fonts, limit them to the desktop version of your website. Don’t include them in your email signature, the body of your email, or your mobile site.
  • Creative palettes are great for websites. Email signatures? Not so much. Light or neon fonts make for difficult viewing on all screen sizes, and they appear unprofessional.

About the author: Jill Nastasia, CEO of MDPM Consulting, considers herself the Van Gogh of email signatures, but has turned down many requests to feature her work in the Louvre. She really does love kittens and dancing flowers, but she prefers dancing kittens. Once, she claimed that her signature was better than Jill’s. Things got messy.