A little rant on the little images …
In today’s modern technologically led lives, email is a daily form of communication, used for both personal and business purposes. So when talking about brand building, whether in regard to you as a person or representing a company, the content of emails should be styled accordingly which is a whole subject to be explored in itself. Not one I’m qualified to discuss being a ‘pictures’ person.
However, I believe email signatures ought to be consistent no matter who you are writing to. Not just regarding brand, but in setup. As I assist brands of every nature with graphical support, I strongly advise that images are NOT included in the signature and instead they are styled using text only.
It’s not wrong as such but, in my humble opinion, it’s just not great practice or helpful for your recipients and for the following reasons …
- A plain text email starts out at about 5KB, where as an email with an image signature could already be at least 50KB. As the email conversation builds the image is sent back and forth, slowly increasing the overall email file size, filling all the recipient’s mailboxes with unnecessary attachments.
- The storage for these files costs someone, somewhere. Possibly even you, or at least will lead you to think you need to upgrade your email account as it is constantly ‘full’.
- Talking of attachments, any image embedded or attached to an email will show the ‘paperclip’ symbol. Therefore if someone is looking for a specific attachment they will have to search through all email signature images as well, which is just plain annoying! (In case you are not aware, in the case of eNewsletters/mailshots images are hosted on the web and therefore do not function directly as attachments or embedded images as they are ‘pulled’ from the internet during viewing. Email signatures setup by central company server can also support your image signature in this fashion, but hey this is about keeping things simple.)
- Furthermore, some email clients (i.e. Outlook, Lotus Notes etc) can be set by companies or individuals to block any emails with images attached or embedded, which clearly would mean that your email would not get through to your recipient. Do you want to chance that?
- Finally with the increased use of smartphones and tablets, the functionality of a nicely designed image email signature block is just counter productive. Being able to click directly on a text phone number, email address or website link is efficient and smart – as the devices would indicate. Logic would indicate that your recipients will subconsciously give you extra brownie points for ease of communications and are more likely to return, especially if you are a service.
By all means add your logo to promote your visual identity in your email communication, but please, please remember your recipient’s pain at the other end!
Top email signature tips, in my opinion:
- Keep your signature to three to five lines. Think how painful it is to scroll through long signatures on a mobile device.
- Don’t include your email address – it’s like placing two return address stickers on an envelope. Just silly!
- Include social media full links (not icon images) but only if they are active and current.
- Add a ‘call to action’ link for engagement and interest, but of course keep it short and to one line.
- Don’t forget to be consistent, and across every device you use.
- Use a different email signature for your replies and forwards. Scrolling through the same email signature over and over in an email conversation is just plain frustrating when you are looking for the facts and productive information.
- On a last note, talking of conversation … take ‘chat’ into instant messenger systems (Skype, Whatsapp etc) and keep emails for the facts and actions. Less email traffic for us to file means more time to have real life conversations in our already busy digital lives!!