Your email signature says a lot about you. The best tools to create it easily
By the time you read this, you’ve probably already checked your email accounts dozens of times. You may even check them again while you’re reading, and you definitely will when you finish. Each day, we receive and send dozens of emails, using email as an essential work tool. And, although on a personal level we use it with much less frequency since the emergence of instant messaging tools such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Slack, etc., it is one of our favorite tools.
According to data from Statista, 333 billion emails are sent each day worldwide, making it an essential tool for all marketing departments and a key aspect in the Inbound strategy of any company.
When was the very first email sent?
The first email dates back to 1971. It was the American engineer Roy Tomlinson who, without knowing it, invented one of today’s most popular forms of communication. Tomlinson modified an operating system used by the military to send communications to make it available to others. He used the “@” symbol, which is still used today.
The @ in emails provides information about where recipient’s server is located, but its origin is much older, being found in 16th-century documents to represent units of measurement, mainly referring to grain and wine. In fact, according to certain theories, the pictogram represents an amphora used to transport food and drinks. Today, it has been recycled, now used both in emails and to tag users on different social media. It has even become one of the representative symbols of the Internet.
In 1988, Microsoft launched the first email software called Microsoft Mail. This represented a global revolution. The emergence of free services open to any operating system increased its use to the nth degree. This was how Hotmail came to be in 1996, achieving 100,000 users in the very first months. The following year, its creators sold it to Microsoft, becoming the most popular provider across the globe. Later, on April 1, 2004, Google launched its own email service, Gmail. Since 2012, Gmail has been the most widely used email service in the world.
Given that email is something we use so frequently, on an everyday basis, it is important to look at how we are doing it, and how others see us. It is our cover letter, based on which the recipient may draw certain conclusions about us or our company.
As you won’t want to give the impression of being boring, messy, or chaotic, keep reading because below we’ll give you some tips and examples about how to create the perfect email signature, how to have an impact on the person receiving your email and how to achieve a quicker and more satisfactory response.
A good email signature is simple, informative, professional, and places all the information in the forefront. But that doesn’t mean that your signature has to be boring. There are lots of ways to make the very most out of the design of your email signature.
What should an email signature include?
The email signature must be precise while containing all the necessary information. The following elements should be included:
- Name, surname, and position: This is basic information; the person who receives your email should know who you are, which company you represent and your role at the company. Likewise, if you’re a freelancer, they should know the name of your commercial or personal brand and what you do.
- Contact information: Depending on the characteristics of our job and our communication preferences, the contact information should include a telephone number, the address of our office or headquarters, where applicable if we prefer communication by Whatsapp, Telegram, email, a profile or link for video calls, etc., as well as our website or alternative email addresses. It is also a good idea to include a link to schedule in meetings in our calendar.
- Social Media: We are increasingly more active on different social media, and not only on a personal level, as their use is also becoming more frequent professionally. That’s why it makes sense to give your contacts access to them. We have to avoid social media that we no longer use and that have not been updated and it’s a good idea to monitor who visits them or how many users access our social media from our email. One of the most important social networks is LinkedIn and, depending on our profession, we can also include others such as Behance, Dribble, and Pinterest.You can find hundreds of styles of icons for social media on Flaticon. You’ll find linear icons, solid linear icons in black or in color, and even icons with a gradient effect. And you can download these icons in different formats depending on your needs. From SVG to PNG and EPS, available to edit using any graphic design software. You’ll also find HTML and CSS, particularly useful for web or mail environments, in this case. Furthermore, on Freepik, you’ll find different collections to give the same style to all your social media icons.
- Logo: As we already mentioned above in relation to our position and website, our signature must also include the logo of the company where we work, whether our personal brand or our company.
- Photo: Although we should not feel an obligation to include a photo, we think it’s interesting to do so to personalize communications, as you feel greater empathy when talking to somebody that you know.
- Legal requirements: Privacy in communications is a basic aspect, and companies now have the obligation to have people responsible for data management. That’s why it’s necessary to include legal texts at the end of the email signature.
At Freepik we offer you email signature templates to inspire your designs. They’re all ready to use, with different styles inspired by current trends. You simply have to introduce your personal information, change the corporate colors and logos and enjoy a professional signature.
Some tips to keep in mind
Once you know which elements you want to include in your email signature, you have to think about how to display them. Here are a few tips:
- Simplicity: We are talking about the importance of your contact knowing who you are. But the communication itself is even more important: what you want to say and how you say it. Therefore, we don’t want the email signature to stand out more than the content itself. That’s why the signature must be clear, concise, and simple. It must include all the necessary elements but without being too overloaded, to avoid over-informing and saturating the reader.
- Hierarchy: At the end of the day, the email signature is nothing other than a design with information. But not all the information it contains carries the same weight, so we should structure the information according to its importance. This is known as hierarchy. There are many ways of organizing information in order of importance, from the font used, its size, or different styles (light, regular, bold, black…) to its placement within the design, following the rule of thirds, readability, etc. The first thing that should be included and with the greatest visual weight is your name and surname, followed by your position within the company and, finally, your contact details.
- Separation: To help to arrange the information, it is a good idea to use separators, in other words, simple elements such as lines, line breaks, or black spaces to separate and organize all the information.
- Tastefulness: Just as we should be concise, we should also be tasteful in the use of fonts and colors. It’s not a good idea to use more than 2 or 3 different fonts or to be too “cheerful” in the use of color, as otherwise, we might draw attention away from the message. Furthermore, we have to take into account the company’s visual look and maintain it as a form of communication.
- Personification: The latest trends in email signatures are somewhat dynamic. It’s common to see a GIF that includes a photo of the person in movement, or the photo of a person and a logo. It’s a good idea to personify the communication, but to do so you’ll need a good photo with a neutral background, a close-up showing the face, etc. The photo shouldn’t be too heavy so that the signature doesn’t take too long to load.
- Call to action: The signature must have a call to action that induces the reader to perform a specific action. This call to action will change depending on our goals, from closing a meeting to inviting them to view our profile, answer us or give us a call.
- Responsive: We have to be very aware of where our email will be read and therefore where our signature will be seen. Nowadays, it is out of the question to use a signature that can only be displayed on one device, given that almost 50% of emails are displayed on mobile devices. Therefore, we will have to ensure that the signature can be read perfectly both on desktop computers, as well as on tablets and mobiles. It is both interesting and fun to tell the user which device we’re writing from in our signature so that, if we send an email from our cell phone, the reader will be more forgiving and understanding if we make a spelling mistake or error. We can joke about it and earn some support because, after all, it happens to the best of us, right?Finally, there are a few things that are not advisable, such as inserting or attaching an image as an email signature or including the signature in all our replies.
How to build your email signature
The ideal way to build your email signature is to convert the design to HTML/CSS. This way, the signature will be displayed correctly on the majority of email clients.
Given that HTML is designed to add lines of text or visual content one below the other, tables must be used to keep everything organized. This will ensure that the email signature is not separated when sent to different email clients.
All images must be added through links, not attached to the email, as this would overload the communication. It is good practice to use the a href and img src commands to insert links and images. The image’s alt label must also be included. This way, the images won’t be loaded in the email itself and we can get around Spam filters.
But don’t fear if you’re not familiar with HTML; there are hundreds of email signature generators online with clean and simple editors on which, visually, anything can be done. Once complete, the tool will automatically convert everything to HTML.
5 free email signature editors that help to solve problems
- Hubspot: This is one of the most frequently used online editors. It has a simple and user-friendly interface. You simply have to select a template, fill out your personal information, give it some style and load the images. The tool will then give you the code to be cut and pasted.
- Signature.email: This is a flexible email signature design tool. You start with a template where you can change colors, fonts, spacing, etc. You can also add different fields or sections.
- Htmlsig: This is a basic signature editor with sufficient information and without unnecessary frills. Several signatures can be administered and it is possible to monitor statistics and share them with other team members.
- HoneyBook: This tool offers a 100% free email signature generator. You can create a signature from scratch or select a template from the collection.
… and now we know which elements to include in our signature and how to build it, it’s time to install it in our email client. The most frequently used email clients are Outlook by Microsoft and Gmail by Google.
Installing the email signature in Outlook
Although it may vary slightly depending on the version, the following steps should be taken to insert the signature:
- Open a new email message.
- Click on the “Signatures” tab in the horizontal navigation bar of your new email message.
- Click on “Create a new signature”, give it a name, and click on “Accept”.
- Now you can fill out your signature and include the code generated earlier through the editors.
- You can assign the signature to different emails and even decide when the signature will be sent, if it will only appear when sending a new message or if, by contrast, you prefer that it also appears when answering an email.
You can get more information on the steps indicated above on the official Microsoft website.
Installing the email signature in Gmail
Installing a signature in Gmail is much simpler. Simply go to “Settings” and search for the “Signature” field. You can add anything there, from plain text to HTML code or images. Here, you’ll find the steps to install your signature in Gmail.
Although companies do appear to be increasingly more aware of the proper use of their corporate image, the email signature is as simple as it is important and not something that can wait until tomorrow. So, take a few minutes and look at it as a cheap marketing technique with good results. And now, go to your inbox, I think you’ve got mail.