Step By Step Recipe for a Professional Email Signature

Communicate in a space you don’t have to compete with other ads. You don’t have to drop major dough to make this marketing channel work for your small business.

Gather all your employees in a room. Tell them to each choose a marketing strategy to promote your business. You would get people clamouring for social media channels, for trade shows, for a podcast, for networking events, and for car wraps. How many would sit back in their chair, think about the myriad of options, and confidently suggest, “let’s get a professional email signature”?

An email signature is a block in the email footer. Modern email signatures are digital business cards. How many emails leave your organisation daily? How many people do they land in front of? In that sweet, sweet spot of undivided attention and zero competitor ads.

Email signatures provide the real estate to

  • build your brand
  • build awareness of the breadth of what your business offers
  • promote events, new products, award announcements, or a value-add service your business offers.

All those hundreds of emails that get sent/forwarded to suppliers and clients who may only be aware of a subset of what you offer. Or staff that send emails out to their son’s teacher, their best friend who works at an ASX 200 company, or their father, to tell him to please, please stop dropping trolley loads of jokes in their inbox. All those recipients who may have a conversation about your service, or forward an email to any number of people.

If your business is not making the most of this marketing channel, it’s time to start now. Real estate this valuable is not usually free to use. Plus, you don’t have to camp overnight in a queue to nab it. Setting it up will involve a small investment in time. Money will come into play if you don’t have the time or the in-house expertise.

Ingredient list

~ Sender’s basic info : name, title and contact details
~ An image – choose 1 from logo / product image / staff profile photo / banner
~ Strain fonts until there’s 1 type left
~ 2 Font colours
~ 1 Type of “websafe” font
~ Dividers
~ Whitespace
~ Social media icons linked to profiles – if you have active, interesting accounts
~ Company website with a link
~ Office address linked to Google Maps
~ Call to action – choose what you’d like to promote
~ HTML converter tool 
~ Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac)
~ Chokkie (it’s on all our ingredient lists)

Recipe

This HTML email signature recipe includes step by step instructions.

Click the links below to quickly jump to steps.

  1. How to get your design to look professional
  2. How to convert your design into HTML so it renders properly on most device screens and the links and images are clickable

  3. How to add images

  4. How to add social media icons and link them through to all your brand’s social networking pages

  5. How to save the email signature

  6. How to install the email signature

How to get your design to look professional

  • Keep your signature to the point and tailored to your brand. Identify the sender and make it clear what their role is within the organization.
  • People don’t always scroll to the bottom, so optimize your design to communicate effectively. Prioritise the important information at the top of your design.
Example email signature
  • Keep it short and sharp. Don’t include more than 7 lines. Don’t add your cat’s name, your fave local pub, or an inspirational quote. It’s not your memoire.
  • Use scale, colour, and font weights to visually signal to your email recipients which elements of your signature they should read first.
  • Align your design to the left. The difference between a neat, organised and effective signature, and one that just looks thrown together is alignment. The step below to convert your design to HTML will use properties of a table to align elements.
  • Use only 2 font colours. Black font is easiest to read on screens plus choose a second colour from your logo/branding for spice.
  • Choose one web-safe font for your design. Choosing something fancy, means that if your reader doesn’t have that specific web font installed on their computer, they only instead see a fallback font in their email. So, go for a simple solution. Choose a web-safe typeface such as Arial or Times New Roman and use their variations. You can use bold font (a different font weight) or larger size to highlight information.
  • Separate content so readers can scan each item in your email signature. Dividers help create an easily digestible content. Options for dividers are the pipe “|” or using text colour or weight.
  • Using whitespace between the elements can ensure that your design won’t be swarming with elements and appear overpowering to the eye. This unused space helps you give your email signature design an elegant look.
  • Make sure its mobile friendly. Narrow designs work on small and large screens. Test your design on smartphones and tablets.
  • Use your email signature as a marketing tool. You can promote your podcast, services, latest article or next conference.

How to convert your design into HTML so it renders properly on most device screens and the links and images are clickable

Most email clients don’t render email signatures perfectly, even those coded with HTML. And we mean 100% perfect, not a single pixel out of place. Like viewing a web page on Chrome versus seeing it on Safari, each email app has its own way of interpreting the code.

HTML coded signatures keep mail apps playing by a standardised “uniform look” rules, even if there’s minor discrepancies in the way they render. Ensure your email signature works across most email apps by translating your design to HTML.

Use this easy to use, free tool “WordtoHTML” to translate your design.

  • Make it easy to navigate. Use Insert > Link in the Visual Editor to add links for your phone number, website, business address so they are “tappable” on phones. Being helpful at every opportunity does go a long way. Search for your address on Google Maps, click on Share, copy the Google Maps link that appears into your design.

  • The alignment of the elements in the signature should be done using HTML tables. HTML tables, although a bit cumbersome to work with, seem to render fairly consistently across many devices and is well supported. Use Insert > Table and add each element to a table cell. Use at most 2 columns because people will view emails on narrow small screen devices.

How to add images

All images in the signature need to be hosted somewhere like Google Drive or on your website. This is because the HTML image elements need a source URL and those images need to be pulled from some online server in order for the emails to render correctly.

In the WordtoHTML tool,

  • Use Insert > Image in the Visual Editor to add an image into a cell.
  • Keep “constrain proportions” ticked.

How to add social media icons and link them through to all your brand’s social networking pages

If you’re hitting goals on social media, add icons that link to your profiles.

Including social media links in your email signature provides a great opportunity to gain new followers. It makes it easier for the readers to follow you and might increase the traffic to the company’s social profiles as well. Free icons are available here.

  • Use Insert > Image in the Visual Editor to add an image into a cell.
  • Keep “constrain proportions” ticked.
  • Use Insert > Link in the Visual Editor to add a link to your social media profile page in the URL field.

How to save the email signature

Once you’ve completed your design and used the free tool “WordtoHTML” to code it into HTML, follow these steps to save it.

 

In WordtoHTML, choose “Copy to clipboard”.

If you’re a Windows person:

  • Open a new file in Notepad and Edit > Paste.
  • Go to File > Save As. In “Save as type:” choose “All Files (*.*)”
    Save the file with a name and add .htm at the end. For example, “Bill Murray.htm”

If you’re using Mac:

  • Open the TextEditapplication by clicking on it. Look for the application in the dock at the bottom of the Mac screen or in the Applications folder.
  • Choose FileNew on the menu bar.
  • Paste the contents of the clipboard. To save it without any text formatting, go to menu “Format > Make Plain Text” (or shortcut “Command+Shift+T”).
  • Save the file with a name and add .htm at the end. For example, “Bill Murray.htm”
  • Enter a name for the file in the Save As”field and add the .htm file extension. For example, “Bill Murray.htm”
  • A pop-up screen will ask if you want to append the standard extension .txt to the end. Choose “Use .htm.”

How to install the email signature

Is everyone in your office running on different email clients and mobile devices? The task can seem overwhelming, scary and unachievable.

Staff could be using Outlook 2003, Office365, Gmail, Thunderbird, as well as mail apps on their Android phone or iPad. How do they all install their email signature? Will they all need help with installation?

Most mail apps have simple instructions on setting up email signatures. Simply ask them to Google the mail app name, and “set up HTML email signature”. For example, “thunderbird HTML email signature set up”.

Important to note for laptops and PCs, opening your HTML email signature in a browser, and copying and pasting that into your email app settings will not have the desired result. Your email app will “interpret” your signature and create its own coded file. Which probably won’t be widely supported by mail apps. Instead, attach the HTM file which will use the correctly coded signature that will appear as intended on most email apps.

If you are using Windows and Outlook, click on the play button below to watch a step by step guide on how to install a HTML email signature.

Lastly, here are apps that don’t support email signatures with formatting and images

  • Outlook for Android
  • Outlook for Apple

Outlook for Android and Outlook for Apple apps do not support HTML signatures. You cannot format text and images don’t appear email signatures. Signatures can only be text based with no formatting (like Notepad).

Upgrade requests have been sent to Microsoft but we could not find a commitment or time line from them to adding it in.

At this stage, the workaround is to use a text-based email signature or choose a different email app which supports HTML signatures.

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