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A blog about branding, marketing, and design, mostly through the lens of practical psychology, intended to be a resource to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Unless otherwise noted, all articles are written by Nyla Smith, owner of n-Vision Designs. {Subscribe to the RSS feed here: RSS}

Stop Annoying People with your Email Signature

Nyla Smith | Tuesday, June 16, 2015

annoyed at computerEmail signatures help to tell your contacts about your company and more importantly, how to stay in touch with you! When used correctly, they can be a very valuable marketing tool. When used the wrong way, they can have a negative impact on how people view your professional image.

What are the Most Common Mistakes Made with Email Signatures?

Embedding or copying and pasting images into your signature instead of linking them:

There are two ways to include an image in an email signature. For those that don't know how to do it the "correct" way, they find that they can copy and paste an image into their email composer and they instantly have an image in their signature. Not quite! The problem with this is that it will frequently cause your images to be sent as standalone attachments to your email instead of placing them in the body of your signature.

The better way is to link to an image that is hosted somewhere, such as your web server. That way, when your email is loaded, it pulls the image from your web server and doesn't serve it as an attachment. This will give it a much more professional look. Neither method is 100% foolproof, but linking is a better option than embedding.

Using your entire email signature as an image:

Another amateur move is to create a big image block of your entire signature. Again, if inserted the wrong way, this will be sent as an attachment, not read as a signature.

Images are frequently blocked in email messages until the user allows them to be loaded. So, it is possible that your entire email signature could get blocked and then nobody can see your contact information. That could lead to missed business and connection opportunities.

Putting too much information:

Keep in mind that the signature you design will be going into every email you send out. You should focus on pertinent information so you don't overload or annoy frequent recipients. Remember that less is more! Long email signatures are particularly frustrating in ongoing email threads where you have to scroll through entire blocks of signatures to filter out the actual message — which may just be a one-word response! Email is a communication medium. Your signature should not hinder the message you're trying to communicate. Branding can support your email, but should not overtake it.

Another decision you'll need to make is how many social media accounts you need to include in your email. Only focus on the ones that you are actively trying to build audiences for.

In the example below, the purpose of the email signature was actually to push people to her social media accounts to support a major marketing goal, so they were included, while all other information was kept minimal.

You should take a look at your own marketing goals and consider what to do on a case-by-case basis.

Is that inspirational song/quotation/lyric/poem really necessary?

It may mean a lot to you, and you may think it is truly profound, or it may be your favorite song of all time, but it likely doesn't have a place in your professional brand and only serves as a distraction to your recipient. You may want to include your tagline, but that's probably about it.

Not accounting for mobile:

As the rise of mobile device continues, we need to make sure our email signatures are adapted for those who check their email on-the-go. This means no more long horizontal signatures. Your entire signature needs to be able to fit in a maximum 320 pixel width, as demonstrated in the following two examples.

Scrolling on mobile is a bit more laborious than on a desktop computer. Long/complex email signatures are frequently a cause for unnecessary scrolling for your recipient. This is a major factor when considering user experience, as more people are using mobile devices than ever before! So, while you may need to reformat your email signature to make it vertical, you may also need to consider cutting down on what it contains so as not to make it too long.

Put Your Best (Digital) Foot Forward

Are you guilty of any of these email signature sins? No worries, the best time to change is now! If you follow these guidelines, then you can stop constantly irritating people with obtrusive email correspondence. Make a conscious effort to communicate more effectively and be aware of the professional presentation you are making to others — yep, even with your email.

Wondering how to start with an email signature? Find out more here.

Nyla Smith is a Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Front-End Web Developer and Consultant with over 13 years of experience. She is the owner of n-Vision Designs, LLC in Hampton, Virginia, which exists to provide marketing support and brand consulting to small- and medium-sized businesses needing creative solutions. Contact Nyla if you'd like to discuss your next creative project. She can usually be bribed to a meeting with a cup of green tea and an oatmeal cookie.
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