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Email Signature Marketing: 7 Expectations vs. Reality

It is clear that the email signature channel is not the most important marketing asset an organization has. But it is actually an extremely efficient, effective, and valuable tool when used intelligently. By employing effective email signature marketing with all messages that employees send, you get to harness a channel that can really boost your promotional efforts.

However, deploying email signature marketing campaigns is an art in and of itself. Remember that every email you send has an impact on a recipient. The wrong impression can sink any positive feeling they may have about your brand.

Let’s run through seven common misconceptions about email signature marketing you need to stop believing right now.

1. “Email signatures aren’t important. I don’t need to use one”

The only thing worse than a bad email signature design is not having one at all. It’s easy to think of an email signature just as a block of text with the occasional logo or splash of color added.

But looking at the wider picture, email still remains as the most critical communications channel for business worldwide.

So who sees your emails? Well, some of them will go to your colleagues, partners, and customers.

However, other emails will be seen by potential customers, prospective business partners, and new company stakeholders. And all of these messages can be used for email signature marketing purposes.

An email signature is a touchpoint that’s displayed in emails sent to senior management, employees, business contacts, and beyond. Your signature will always appear on messages that contain valuable content.

This provides numerous opportunities to use email signature marketing to land a cross-sell message, showcase your case studies, promote your latest blog post or increase your brand awareness.

2. “If I tell my employees to use a specific email signature template, they’ll all implement it correctly”

Inconsistent email signature designs

Without some element of central management, your email signature marketing strategy will fail if you get every single employee within your organization involved,

Employees might change their job title to one that flatters them but is actually misleading. They might not understand the more technical components of the signature and will therefore leave an unprofessional impression on external recipients.

How do you keep track of what individual employees are using? How many iterations of the same signature will end up being used for both internal and external communications?

Furthermore, the company will not be able to change templates with the latest promotional banners and marketing messages when needed.

Email signature marketing then becomes impossible to implement when left at the whim of every single employee.

3. “The more contact details I provide, the better”

The more options you offer, the less likely it is a recipient will engage with any of them. There is a temptation to fill a signature with lots of contact information. The assumption is that with more details available, a reader has more ways to reach out to you. However, people simply don’t have the time to read through reams of text.

Your email signature should only include necessary contact information. As a rule, it should be no more than seven lines in length. Otherwise, your signature will look messy and be hard-to-read. An abundance of contact information will also negatively impact on any email signature marketing activities you do. The content will simply get lost in an overcomplicated template.

You’ll need to include details like your full name, job title, phone number and email address. You should also consider how contact details vary depending on department, seniority, and region. For example, including direct dial numbers and location are particularly useful for companies operating in multiple countries.

4. “Customers will love this inspirational quote I found”

Inspirational quotes are for your personal Facebook page, not in a professional email signature. Pay attention to the fact that not everyone’s values align with your own. What one person thinks is inspiring, another person finds offensive or insincere.

More often than not, an inspirational quote only showcases the beliefs of an individual employee rather than a whole company. This is one of the many reasons why centralized email signature management is so important. By taking control away from employees, you put a stop to these types of quotes appearing on outgoing emails.

5. “Using Comic Sans will really showcase my fun personality”

Comic Sans was originally designed for Microsoft programs used by children. The font is for comic book-style speech bubbles, not a professional email signature. If you decide to use this font, it will be eye-catching, but it will really damage your brand reputation. It will also invalidate any email signature marketing campaigns you're running.

Additionally, there’s no guarantee that your recipient will have this font installed on their workstation. You could just end up sending them a jumbled mess that’s completely illegible.

At the same time, don’t use more than one font in your email signature design. Otherwise, it will probably be too hard to read. Always stick to your company’s brand guidelines, which will outline the type of font you should use.

Email signature marketing - too many fonts

6. “Using bold colors in my signature banner will really make my message look exciting”

Email signature marketing - bold color banner

Out of context, an email signature marketing banner with bold colors may look good. But against the white, plain background of an email, it’s distracting and overbearing.

Extremes of brightness, darkness, hue and luminosity often render poorly. Only businesses trying to evoke eccentricity, edginess or similar connotations should use colors close to or beyond these limits in an email signature marketing banner.

It’s also recommended that you avoid certain colors for your email banner campaigns. For example, any shade of gold will look like khaki on some monitors and configurations. Remember that the darkest reds often appear muddy, while pastel shades of green and yellow can take on a sickly tint.

7. “I’ll add an animated GIF to my email signature”

Now, many email clients like Gmail and Apple Mail display animated GIFs without any issues. However, it’s important to remember that not all of your recipients use these clients. This means the image animation might not play for them. This is important if you plan on using an animated GIF as part of an email signature marketing campaign.

In some versions of Outlook, animated GIFs won’t work because of the limitations of the email editor. This is because it uses Microsoft Word to edit and display emails. When you send an email out via Outlook, the editor renders all animated GIFs as static images.

CSS, JavaScript and other scripting languages also don’t quite work in email. This means that nearly all animations will either ‘break’ or disappear completely. Any web applications using Silverlight, JavaScript or Flash cannot be embedded either, nor can banners (whether GIF or Flash) that rely on animation.


Corporate email signatures can be a powerful marketing channel that offer many benefits when used effectively. However, if you don’t deploy them correctly, you email signature marketing campaigns can backfire on you in spectacular fashion

The best results are achieved with third-party email signature software. An IT admin’s time is often precious, and a good quality solution won’t require expert knowledge to use. This means any marketing professional can take ownership of this underutilized channel. They then gain the power to run dedicated email signature marketing campaigns.

End users never worry about email signature changes as they’re done automatically. You can offer some flexibility by providing a choice of approved templates while retaining central control of designs and deployment. Marketing always gets to sign off the companywide signature, just like other branded marketing communications. A dedicated solution removes the unknown quantity that is individual staff activity so there’s no room for misinterpretation or manual editing.

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