How to Create a Branded Email Signature in Outlook
It doesn't matter if you are a small business or a large organisation - having a standout email signature has never been more important.
Does your email signature currently consist of your name in Times New Roman (other standard fonts are available!) with no accompanying logo or links? Or are you just looking for ideas on how to make your email signature look more professional? Then keep reading, because in this blog post I explain why a great signature is so important, and how to create one in Outlook.
What is an email signature?
Quite simply, an email signature is a block of text at the bottom of an email. With systems like Outlook and Gmail, you can create a default signature that will appear when you create a new email or when you reply to an email. These types of signatures also provide you with the opportunity to add links to your social media pages and website, your logo any award badges that you have received to enhance your credibility. All of this leaves your potential client with a great first impression, able to engage with you further and provides you with a strong brand identity - essential for building trust.
What should an email signature consist of?
As a minimum you should include your name, position, company name, website, social media icons and phone number. It's important to choose the best phone number, because you may not want people contacting you via your mobile. Including your company logo, and using brand colours and fonts also ensures your email signature looks professional.
You can also add a CTA ("Call to Action") to your email signature. Keep it short and concise, with an embedded link. Examples include advertising your newsletter, a special offer or an upcoming event. I have included my email signature above which includes a link to my latest blog post. Just remember to update it regularly to reflect new posts, offers or events to keep your brand fresh.
How to create your email signature
There are three ways to create professional looking email signatures. The first is to manually create the signature for Outlook or Gmail yourself. The second way is to use an email signature generator such as WiseStamp or HubSpot. These apps are free to use and create great looking signatures easily. The only downside is that you have to pay to remove the watermark, but you do get some nice design layouts that could be inspiration for your own email signature. And the third is to get a programmer or website designer to create a
bespoke HTML email signature for you. Using HTML to create your signature allows for greater creativity and design features.
It's important to set aside some time when you initially create your email signature template because it does take time to get it right, test it and tweak the layout. In my experience this is where so many small businesses give up because it can be a little bit tricky and time consuming if you don’t know how to do it, especially if you are using Outlook.
The first thing to do is a DON’T! Do not try to create the email signature within the Outlook email signature tab. The easiest way to create your email signature is to create in Word first, then copy and paste into the email signature tab.
Outlook does have some templates that you can download and edit which is what I do. You can access the templates here.
Once you have selected your template, I would suggest copy and pasting into a separate document that you can keep and use in the future when you need to amend it. And remember to use the Paste (shortcut "Ctrl +V") option so that you keep all the formatting.
Rather than explain how to upload the signature it’s easier if you watch a tutorial, an example of which I've posted below. The video also shows you how to edit your signature and add links. Definitely worth bookmarking.
If you use the online version of Outlook, Office365, the process for creating the email signature is different. I think it’s important to remember that Office365 has limited functionality in terms of email signatures, and quite often, photos and logos don’t render, and links don’t work. This is because the email signature template works in plain text only.
The only workaround that I have so far for this involves creating the signature in the desktop version of Outlook and then copy and pasting into the online version, but you MUST remember to test it. It does take quite a bit of tweaking and doesn’t look as good as it would in the desktop version. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help if you don’t have access to the desktop version. Your best bet at this point might be to get a website designer to create a signature for you in HTML (if using Office365 is your only option).
And remember that even if you create your email signature in the desktop version of Outlook, it doesn’t get imported into the online version.
My top tips
Keep your signature on brand by incorporating your logo fonts and brand colours
Keep it simple. This is exactly the moment where less is more
Size is important – the signature needs to be less than 100kb and between 150px-200px height, 300px-600px width
Don't forget that it's a great marketing opportunity to advertise your newsletter, blog, jobs or events
You don't need to include your email address
Make sure you check the links are working
Optimise for mobile. Send a test email to yourself and open it on your phone to check the links work and the layout looks good
Don't forget to test it by sending an email to a different email account. I always send my Outlook signature to my Gmail account to check what the format looks like.
Remember to refresh the links when you have new content to share
So, there we have it; my top tips on how to create a great email signature that provides you with a valuable marketing opportunity and will leave your potential client in no doubt they are going to be working with a professional business.