The one piece of content that can make an email stand out as professional?
It's the email signature.
Regardless of whether you are using Gmail.com or your work email not having a signature can impact the perception of your recipients.
And if you are trying to do ANY type of outreach (or even when you are answering to existing clients) the contents of your email is the ONLY thing people see.
The text you put at the end of each email you send you send is part of it.
In addition to general perception, email signatures are boasted as true ROI wonders and that's probably true.
I couldn't find any quick statistics on the exact conversion rates for 2020, but I'm sure providing people with a button to click on will have its benefits in the long run. (We're running a few tests, so we will have some data on that at some point)
Plus, I've gathered an amazing collection of email signature stats that I'll share with you in just a bit that SHOW why having one is so awesome.
So ... it's time.
We'll take a look at the latest design trends in the space and talk how (with little to no resources) you can make your signature look professional.
I hope you've already checked our LinkedIn guides if you are looking into improving your personal branding, but even if you haven't, I hope you sign up for our email blast, as we'll have NEW and AMAZING content on professional networking coming very soon.
Now, without further ado, let's talk about how you should sign off in an Email (with a professional signature) and the latest professional trends for 2020 and beyond.
An Email Signature is a commonplace element of an email. It's content that is found at the end of the email that introduces you to your recipient and quickly showcases information about you.
Branded email signatures often include a photo, your role at the company, contact information and design elements that fit within the brand identity of your company.
Unbranded email signatures are quick lines of text that mostly feature your role and direct contact information.
Depending on the use case, both branded and unbranded email signatures can have their strengths and weaknesses.
In addition, you can have multiple signatures for a variety of purposes.
Let's say you are sending an email to a colleague. Would it be really necessary to have your photo there?
Maybe, instead of your phone, a calendar link for scheduling a meeting would also be better.
On the other hand, if you are emailing a prospect for the first time, wouldn't you want to showcase your best self and introduce them to your brand and business?
A photo, telephone number or even a business address might serve a better purpose.
So let's go a bit more in-depth about the most commonplace design elements of an email signoff and talk about WHAT you should and SHOULDN'T put in yours in 2020 and beyond.
Here are a few elements of the email signature you might already be familiar with and have noticed in your inbox.
Did you know that only 1/20th of signatures used in professional emails actually have a photo? (We'll take a look at the stats in just a second)
Only 5% of PEOPLE who consider themselves professionals include a photo in their email.
Yet, when you check out the latest design trends, it's the single MOST obvious characteristic and inclusion in the whole of the design.
The second most obvious portion of your email signature is your name and the position at the company you represent.
It's often included to signify who you are and what you do.
In 2020, you might want to include a pronoun preference, so that your recipients know what to call you.
However, you might want to be more cautious with this choice, depending on the brand you want to represent.
The third design portion of an email signature in 2020 showcases your contact information.
Usually, this includes a phone, website links and an email.
Sometimes, you can also note people who include a physical address (usually the one of their business) or multiple phone options.
The next design element that's trendy, but surprisingly NOT as popular as you'll see below in the stats section, are links to Social Media profiles.
These profiles can either be personal or the ones of the brand, depending of the use case related to the email signature.
Another trend in digital circles that you might have noticed is calendar invite links included directly in the email signature.
Usually, but not always, the calendar link is tied to the call to action and leads to an app, such as Calend.ly or Vtye where the recipient can schedule a call with the person sending the email.
The next obvious element, that's often underutilized is the Call to Action button.
Usually, most signatures used in emails will have some form of a CTA, but one that's not as obvious or centric to the design idea.
It is still a design element that's becoming prevalent in the industry and more and more professionals are jumping on the bandwagon and including SOMETHING that serves the purpose of a CTA button in their email content signoff.
In 2020, you can also see EMAILS that include a signature with generic notes or motivational quotes.
The use of such quotes is usually not recommended as it doesn't increase your authenticity, but some people still choose to do it.
Other generic notes might include a tagline or other general information.
Email signatures can also have personalized notes. These are usually call outs and sign-offs found in one itself.
The use of personalized notes can also include more thoroughly thought out personalized taglines, branding or information about the professional.
It's usually suggested to have some sort of personalized notes as it makes you seem more authentic.
However, we'll talk more in-depth about how to craft your email after a few paragraphs of stats, facts and general thoughts.
Let's check them out.
You know why fun and surprising facts often get shared on social media?
Because they are fun and surprising.
I mean ... because they bring a new perspective to the person reading them.
That's how I feel when reading marketing stats about different tactics that I haven't necessarily anticipated or presumed before.
So here are a few shareable snippets for you to use in your social media channels. (Don't forget to link back to this article)
We receive more than 126 emails per day, can you imagine? When you consider the newsletters, spam and all the different email addresses you own as a business person, things might seem a bit more real.
But that's just facts.
As part of the same study, Radicati also concluded that people will continue to register emails over the next four years.
In fact, they shared that the average number of email accounts per user ratio will grow from an average of 1.7 accounts per user to an average of 1.9 accounts per user.
Now, these are not the only surprising facts about emails.
Here's something that's even more interesting, especially when it comes to email signatures and their use in professional emails as a whole.
A contact management solution going by the name of WriteThat.name did an analysis of over 700 million emails that went through its system since 2011.
Here's what they found.
(The original version of the infographic could previously be found at this address, although the website seems to be currently unavailable at the time of writing)
Okay, I know I talk a lot about facts, but here's something that's even more WOW-ing in terms of understanding how people perceive your emails.
One of the most important email signature resources you can get your hands onto right now is this eBook by eyequant and Sigstr.
It is an in-depth study of the way people react first when seeing an email depending on the email signature and formatting of that email.
I definitely suggest reading it more in-depth, if you want to learn more about crafting the perfect email, derived from insights on how people perceive your emails depending on the content.
However, for the purpose of this guide, I'll showcase the three most important points related to eye tracking and email signature perception.
The first example is a heatmap showcasing where the eyes of people go when the email signature is text-based and rather small compared to the contents of the email.
As it can be seen, little to no attention is paid to the email signature, with the person's focus falling directly to the contents of the email.
While this might seem as the thing you'd want - for people to read your email, it might not necessarily be the case in EVERY situation.
For example, in a cold outreach situation, getting straight to the point without people familiarizing themselves with who you are first might not be the best bet.
On the other hand, if people already KNOW who you are, it might be best to have a small no-nonsense signature that drives the attention towards the contents of the email.
In the second scenario, we have an email in which the signature has no graphics, but the formatting and contents are heavily focused to draw attention.
In this case, people's attention is immediately drawn to the signature.
I would presume that heavy text WITHOUT providing more information than is already given won't help you out if you put it in people's faces.
Imagine entering a meeting holding your business card in front of the faces of people without saying anything first.
I wouldn't consider this to be something that people would find to be authentic or approachable, two things you DEFINITELY want to achieve with your email signature.
The third case features an email signature that is graphics-heavy.
It's basically an advertisement within the email signature and as expected it draws the attention of the person reading the email first.
In my opinion, this is something that would be beneficial in certain scenarios.
For example, if you want people to attend your webinar and ARE sending an email about your webinar, why not show them the AD first and then introduce yourself and let them read more about WHY they should attend once they have seen the Ad?
Of course, there are more examples of this and I would suggest that in a case where you want your CTA to be the FIRST thing people see, that this doesn't necessarily ruin the approachability or authenticity.
Rather, I think this enhances the purposefulness of the email by a margin.
Imagine if you could put a heavily personalized letter that is shown to people every time after they see your ad. Wouldn't this be perfect?
Well, with this type of signature, people will FIRST see your ad and then be able to read your personalized email after.
Definitely something to keep in mind, depending on the type of email that you want to send and the person receiving the email.
Last, but not least, we have what is considered to be the "perfect" email structure and signature.
It's a balanced collection of text formatted in a way that draws the attention ACROSS the page, rather than at a specific spot of the email.
In my opinion, this type of structure can be a bit distracting.
Even in the example above, it can clearly be noted that the email SOMEWHAT lacks purpose in its delivery.
Does Balley want you to know that she's excited about your meeting or does she want you to sign up for the webinar? Maybe both?
She certainly draws attention to who she is and her company, but what should you do? Sign up for the webinar? Learn more about her or her company?
For me, this just seems unclear.
In my opinion, both the text of the email, but also your email signature should be structured in a way that clearly drives to a ONE specific purpose that is ultimately your goal.
Anything else would be just glitz and glamour that, at most times, would be slightly unnecessary.
Nevertheless, I hope the showcase of the study and its results above have given you a glimpse (and a few ideas) on why email signatures are important and how you can use different types of email signatures and email formatting to achieve your desired goal of the email.
Let's get down to business.
By now you probably have an idea of how to craft the perfect email and email signature for your specific case, based on the facts and stats that I've showcased above.
However, I'm still here to analyze and discuss HOW to do it, as well as share my own thoughts and analysis of the facts above.
Let's start simple.
Kick the Graphics for Warm Leads, Emphasise them on Cold Leads and for Cold Outreach.
Now, one of the biggest lessons I've learned is that you should have separate email signatures depending on the case.
Let's check out this example.
You have a warm lead, they already know who you are, you want them to focus on the contents of the email.
What should you do?
As we've learned, people tend to focus more on the contents of the email if there aren't any distracting and in-your-face graphics in the signature.
So, for warmer leads, I would presume it would be best to switch to a less graphic-intensive email signature.
Something like this should do.
Entering a calendar invite link is even better as it will help you seem more available and open, thus increasing your approachability as a whole.
Now when it comes to cold leads (and cold email outreach) we need to consider the stage at which this cold lead is found.
If you are doing cold outreach and sending a contact an email for the first time, I would suggest going with the graphic-intensive approach and here's why.
They don't know who you are - Familiarity is a huge aspect of the sales process that shouldn't be overlooked.
Your leads should know who you are, so having a graphic-intensive signature that draws the attention, I would believe, is the right call.
In fact, as mentioned above, only 1/20 of professionals use a profile photo in their signature, so you'll be standing out from the crowd.
And here's the reason why you should do so ...
People BUY from people.
People TRUST people they know.
So if you manage to introduce yourself in a warm manner and immediately build out trust with your signature, guess what?
You are one step closer to making that sale.
So let's talk a bit more about what the graphic should be.
A photo is a must. That's a given.
But here, I would also suggest using a tactic that we've previously discussed - using a naturally lit photo, instead of a professional one.
There's a lot that goes into a profile shot photo and how people perceive you.
And we've already discussed how to get the perfect photo on our blog before, so I'll link you to our LinkedIn profile update blog post to learn more about that.
But the gist is, that you SHOULD have a naturally lit photo with a nice background that IS professional, but not too over the top and follows a few simple photography rules, such as the rule of the thirds as a whole.
(Again, check out the blog post for more info)
Now, there are many tactics (again, that we mostly know because of LinkedIn) that you can use to improve your credibility and trust.
Most of them boil down to the same basics as the ones we suggest using in your LinkedIn cover.
Take a note of your:
Once you are done with your photo and description, take a note that you should be authentic and approachable.
To achieve this, boil down your description further to the point where it's quick, snappy, fact-based and friendly. (In a similar way to how your LinkedIn Bio should be)
Think about different facts that make you stand out from others that are quirky and fun.
This isn't advice that you would hear often, but go for it!
We live in a world where we are JUST NOW understanding that we are all human and this stands TRUE in the professional and B2B spaces as well.
People are far more likely to engage with someone authentic and approachable than someone who has a tine snapped to their neck. (Hey, if ties are your thing, I don't judge!)
That's just simple facts.
So when creating your email signature, make sure you are authentic and approachable.
Looks far better than your average email signature, right?
Ok. Let's move down the list.
It's time to also take a look at the CTA of your email signature.
Let's check it out.
Last, but not least, we have the call to action.
It should follow the same rules and principles which we have already outlined here, related to your description, photo and other messaging on the signature.
I would have said that this is the "meat and butter" of your email signature, but ... it's more of the much needed decoration.
The thing that gets your LEADS to BITE and take their first sip from YOUR coolaid.
Make sure that it's simple, concise and to the point.
Now, I've talked more in-depth about SaaS CTAs here, but here are a few generic rules to follow.
Crafting a CTA for your email signature is much like crafting a piece of content for any other use case.
Think about what the recipient would be interested in, what you can offer them and how this relates to your goal.
You should take a note that your CTA and email signature will be looked at on both desktop and mobile devices, so make sure that your graphics are flexible and visible on both.
In addition, make sure you follow the generic graphical rules of a CTA where you use typography to draw attention to the specific wording of the call to action that you want to emphasize in your signature.
PRO TIP: Do an A/B test. If you have/are sending multiple rounds of emails to long lists of cold leads, it wouldn't hurt to do an A/B test of your call to action to check your results. (Yes, you can do it with two distinct versions of your Email Signature, but usually the CTA is the thing you should A/B test as it would bring the biggest change in the results)
Of course, there are multiple other uses for an email signature where you might want to craft something that's specific to that case.
Newsletters are a great example of this, if you prefer sending out more personalized newsletters to your audience.
In-house email signatures for your team can also be more playful and fun to improve and emphasize on the culture of your company and teams.
Email signatures when addressing partner companies and stakeholders might also be specifically designed for that purpose.
Ultimately, the options are endless.
Considering the email signature stats I've mentioned in the beginning, I would go as far as to say that the EMAIL SIGNATURE is the SINGLE most underdeveloped pieces of marketing material that can improve your KPIs and numbers.
It's the most underutilized tactic, it's true.
So, how you choose to use the new found knowledge that I've just presented to you is completely ... up ... to you.
Now, of course, let's also talk about the QUICKEST and EASIEST ways to get yourself a professional signature without much effort.
One thing most professionals don't know?
Creating your Email signature with a perfect looking design is FAR easier than what most people think.
You can spend hours searching for the right app and even PAY to have a great signature made, but the truth is you can do it ALL in Google docs.
That's especially true, if you are using Gmail (or GSuite) as your main email service app.
So let's check out the steps to create a professional looking email signature with Google Docs.
First, you have to prepare your design and copy.
Unfortunately, this step can't directly be explained and will take some design decisions to get this right.
You can usually do so via Photoshop or Canva.
Let's go with this design as the example.
But most of the time, once you have the design, you don't know what to do, right?
Well here's the quick explainer of how to create your email signature with Google Docs.
Go to your Google Drive and create a new Google Docs file.
Once you open the file, click "Insert" go to table and select the number of rows and columns your design suggests.
Now add your graphics in each section of the table you've selected. Crop your graphics as necessary.
Select your table, click the right button and go to "Table Properties"
Now make sure that "Cell padding" is set to zero.
In addition, change the color of the border of the table is set to white.
Click the OK button.
With the table selected, go to Spacing.
Select the "Custom Spacing" option.
Then enter 0.06 at line spacing and make sure that the "before and "after" are at zero and click Apply.
Your Email Signature should start looking closer to its final form.
Adjust the images where needed to achieve the best effect.
Now it's time to add the info and links.
Cut out the smaller section of the images and add new table columns and rows as needed.
Once the images are broken down, link each item to its respective link.
To link the email, simply type "mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org"
(replacing email@example.com with your email)
And link it.
Now your email signature is ready.
Do note that this solution is not perfect, the design doesn't end up 100% correct most of the time and ultimately, you won't have the functionality of an HTML email signature.
However, this is BY FAR the easiest and quickest method to get your email signature in order to use with Gmail and other email services.
Now let's check out how to PUT your signature in Gmail once you've created it in a Google Docs file.
Open up your Gmail Account and click on the gear in the top right corner.
Once you do, you should see a new panel appear with "Quick Settings"
Click the "See All Settings" button in the panel to go to all settings.
In the settings, in the general settings section, scroll down to find the signature box section.
Click the create a new signature button and give it a name.
Click the create a new button and a new signature should appear next to the box.
Go back to your Google Documents file, select the table and copy it using the Keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C
Return to your Gmail signature tab and in the new signature box click and paste the signature using the Keyboard shortcut Ctrl + V
Once this is done, your email should appear in the correct alignment in the signature box.
In the signature defaults section, while your new signature is selected choose when to use it using the drop down menus in the app.
Don't forget to scroll down and click "Save Changes" for your changes to take effect.
Your new signature is ready and good to go.
All you have left to do is simply test it (by sending a test email to yourself) and make sure everything works correctly.
I hope that this has been helpful.
You are good to go.
Congratulations on your new professional Email Signature.
Share this guide with the professionals you love.