Email signatures are an often-overlooked aspect of effective email marketing. When done well, email signatures provide a subtle contribution to a polished marketing campaign. When done poorly, a disorganized signature can be memorable in all the wrong ways.

When you send an email, your email signature is the final impression you leave with potential customers, business partners, or followers. As such, it requires the same amount of care and thought as the larger aspects of your branding. This article will cover the fundamentals of email signature branding do’s and don’ts, specifically:

  1. Don’t let employees choose their own signature
  2. Don’t use custom elements
  3. Don’t create your signature as an image
  4. Don’t add extra flair  
  5. Do use brand guidelines
  6. Do use functional code
  7. Do embed images
  8. Do keep it simple
  9. Do make it mobile-responsive
  10. Do express your values

It can seem intimidating to get your email signature right, but following this guide will help you to brand your sign-off with ease.

1. Don’t let employees choose their own signature

While it may be tempting to let executives and employees choose their own email signature, this policy can easily lead to an unpolished and unprofessional look for your brand. For example, if some employees use photos and unique fonts, while others do not, your brand can come off as incongruous and even sloppy. 

Instead, develop a clear signature policy or template and make sure all employees stick to the script. Set clear expectations for signatures, such as what elements to include. A solid signature contains:

  • A professional name. Encourage your employees to include their preferred name. For a more elevated tone, include legal names. In all cases, discourage employees from using nicknames in their signature.
  • Title. All signatures should include the official title or position of the sender, so the recipient knows who they’re corresponding with. 
  • Email. Always include an active link to your professional email address. Preferably, this will be a company address.
  • Phone number. When applicable, include your work phone number or extension.
  • Website. Include an active link to your website. This should serve as a final call to action for your readers. 
  • Headshot. For a personal touch, include a small thumbnail or headshot.  

2. Don’t use custom elements

We have all seen email signatures that leave a bad taste with the reader. To avoid offending your followers’ senses, set rules. Once you’ve chosen a format for your brand’s email signature, be sure to enforce specifics like fonts, colors, and images. 

Avoid the signature faux pas of using an unpolished font like comic sans or a color outside of your palette by setting clear expectations for all employees from the beginning. 

A good rule of thumb is to use a font that:

  • Matches or enhances the body of your email.
  • Is a system font for a consistent reading experience.
  • Is clean and easy to read.
  • Looks great at the standard 12-point size. 
Email Signature Branding -  signatures should be clean, neat, and functional
This is an example of a clean and functional signature that includes a call to check out James Clear’s bestseller, Atomic Habits.

3. Don’t create your signature as an image

Make sure to design your email signature as text, rather than a full image. In short emails, a high image-to-text ratio may trigger a spam response. It also increases the possibility of image errors and technical difficulties like high bounce-back rates.

Instead, ensure a smooth reading experience by formatting the bulk of your signature as text. While headshots and logos may be included, relying on text will ensure the email recipient will see your signature even with any unforeseen image errors.

Beyond this, adding too many images can slow down the loading time on your messages — especially if your reader has a slow internet connection. 

4. Don’t add extra flair 

A confusing or unprofessional email signature is among one of the most important common email marketing mistakes to avoid. When creating your signature, avoid extra flair that may distract the reader from important links or a call to action.

Though they are popular, including a personal quote in your email signature is unnecessary. Unless you include a tag-line or branding message, it is best to fight the urge to add a quote. Your goal is to avoid extraneous text and let your branding speak for itself. 

Email Signature Branding - should convey your brand through text style and content
This simple West & Willow signature expresses the friendliness of the company without any extra flair.  

5. Do use brand guidelines

Your signature is just one piece of your email marketing design. Creating a great signature is as simple as following email marketing best practices from the first line of your emails to the very last. 

A great way to set clear expectations and create an email signature that complements your brand is to use your existing brand guidelines. These elements should include:

  • Fonts. A great brand identity starts with a choice as seemingly small as your font. Choose a font that reflects your business aesthetic and tone.
  • Color schemes. Colors can be make-or-break in branding. Make sure to establish your color pallette long before you need to design your email signature. 
  • Logos. In the context of your email signature, include a thumbnail or icon version of your logo to tie the email together.
  • Style. Make sure that your email branding aligns with the branding of your company. Both should be an extension of the other.
  • Branding messages. You can include short taglines or branding messages in your email signature. Avoid inspirational quotes or personal anecdotes. 

On its own, your email signature should be a clear extension of your carefully curated branding. As a part of the larger context of your branding, it should be a seamless component. 

To create a branded email signature that blends seamlessly with your brand, use Constant Contact’s Branded Email Templates to create distinct, consistent emails for your business.

6. Do test your signature

Don’t underestimate the power of clean and functional code to support your signature. If you’re familiar with coding, consider using HTML. If not, opt for plain text. 

As a failsafe, make sure to conduct plenty of testing before applying a new format to email signature branding. Test on all major email providers like Gmail, Outlook, and more. 

To make final decisions on the format of your signature — and to track click rates — use A/B testing to nail down the perfect signature for your recipients. 

7. Do embed images

To include images like logos and headshots, make sure to embed directly into the signature or provide an external link.

Always provide alt text so that, even if there is an error, recipients still know what the image should be. These elements can be made easy and efficient by email marketing technology services, which take the guesswork out of creating clean, professional email campaigns

8. Do keep it simple

While email signatures are important, they don’t have to be complex. Instead, focus on creating a clear design that is professional and provides readers with the information they need. Remember, all you need to include the essentials — name, contact info, and a link to your website. 

Constant Contact offers email marketing tools like branded email templates to keep things clean and consistent. 

9. Do make it mobile-responsive

With so much daily business conducted on phones and tablets and many people working from home, it’s no surprise that about 60% of Constant Contact opens are on mobile devices.  As such, it is more important than ever to optimize your email signature for tablets and smartphones. It should be easy for your email recipients to click the links in your signature.

Your email signatures should always be mobile-responsive — they must look just as well-designed and work just as well on a smartphone as they do on a desktop. Choose a font, size, and color that looks great on mobile devices. 

10. Do express your brand values

Ultimately, a polished email signature should reflect your credibility and values as a brand. Every detail of branding works together to promote your business in the most positive light possible.

Email Signature Branding - Should reflect your website
We love that this signature incorporates elements from this brand’s website for a beautiful and informative signature.

Now that you understand the do’s and don’ts of email signature branding, are you ready to create your own? Once you’ve developed the perfect email signature, use Constant Contact’s Email Marketing Tools to take your campaigns to the next level, from greeting to farewell. 
Your email signature works best when it is a cohesive part of your email marketing branding. Likewise, email marketing is just one piece of the greater whole of your marketing strategy. To learn more about how the pieces of marketing come together to strengthen your business and gain more loyal customers, check out The Download, a guide to online marketing.