What do your emails say about you?

In my last DMA blog I made the mistake of highlighting the “branding” gap in Apple’s emails. And I was duly punished by the “Apple gods”, who caused me to drop my new iPhone 5 in the loo. Actually, a recent YouGov survey showed that 21% of people check their emails in the toilet, and I can tell you that there are literally hundreds of web posts advising on how to repair iPhone water damage. So, though it probably wasn’t a personal punishment, I’m certainly going to be more careful about what I say in future. But I would still like to explore further one of the areas that this blog touched upon, and that’s the importance of keeping consistent and relevant branding in all email communications. There’s a profusion of advice on how to optimise your email marketing, a deluge of articles about how mobile is impacting email, and a large wash of commentary about new functionality – testing, responsive design, HTML 5 etc. And this is all good stuff. But there’s not much marketing advice on how to get your employee email up to scratch, for those one-to-one customer communications, and consequently there are still many email basics that businesses are not getting right. If you were to send a mail now from your work email address to a client, what impression would that give them of your brand? Would it help reinforce your business proposition or increase awareness of your company’s services? Well, I received an email today from one of the team at the DMA and I think this is a great example of how email signatures can be used as a marketing tool. (And I haven’t turned from criticism to sycophancy out of fear of retribution before you ask….). Here’s their current email signature:-


The email footer delivers the powerful message “180 days to save your industry”, with a strong call to action “Act now”, and this links directly to the event sign-up page for the DMA Data Conference. As well as linking directly to their site, and helping to promote registrations, it also helps to demonstrate one of the core activities of the DMA – that they lobby on our behalf, and ensure DMA members are informed about the implications of any proposed marketing legislation. And what’s good about their signature is that it also works on mobiles. So if, like me, you are reading their emails on the loo, you will still experience their branding. – And, actually, you’ll get an even better experience on your phone than on Outlook…they have used an animated gif in their signature, that looks particularly good on my (new) iPhone, creating a neat “countdown effect” that shows that time is running out, and increases the urgency of their message.


Having a good email signature can make all the difference to your communications. Here are my top tips of things to think about for your email signatures plus any headers or footers that you include, to help increase the marketing potential of the thousand individual emails that each employee in your organisation will send every month. • Define your objectives: Is it to achieve a consistent corporate look? To generate sales? To increase awareness? To distribute content? Do you need to measure the results? (These factors will impact the design style plus the kind of solution you’ll need to implement your signatures.) • Aim to keep image weight under 30KB • In terms of image size, don’t make your designs wider than 650 pixels or deeper than 100 pixels. • In signatures, use web safe fonts, so that they will render consistently for all recipients • Use basic HTML without nested tables as these can cause issues with reply mail chains • Try to avoid background colours in the HTML layout as these render differently in different email clients • Try to avoid using background images as many email clients do not support them • Minimum font size should be 8pt or size 1 for best legibility

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Fiona Robson

About Fiona Robson

.As MD of Rocketseed, Fiona is a strong advocate for maximising the marketing and data opportunities from email media, as well as from email marketing. Email media is about transforming regular employee email into a marketing platform & gaining business insights through email analytics. Fiona has over 15 years’ experience in sales & marketing plus ecommerce roles, and speaks regularly at seminars and industry events.

  • http://emailblog.eu Remy Bergsma

    Imho, signatures like that take away attention from the most important part of the email:the message itself. In one-on-one email, clear communications is of utmost importance. Having distracting signatures (which, imho, the above one is) can take away attention and strength of a message. That’s the last thing you want in one-on-one communications.

    That’s not to say you should never use your email signature for company info and/or promo: just trying to say to keep it subtle and simple. It’s not a bill board.

    • http://www.rocketseed.com/ Fiona Robson

      Hi Remy, Thanks for your comment. I agree with you – the most important component of the email is the message itself.
      However, the way that email is delivered also does say something about the organisation that sends it. There’s no excuse for neglecting this area of corporate comms – and it often just requires some basic “grooming”.

      The key for me is that any branding applied is relevant and appropriate for the
      recipient. The branding included also should speak to the nature and personality of organisation, as well as the intended audience – so an accounting firm will be dignified and muted, but an advertising/media company can be more brash and loud.
      It really comes down to the talent of the marketing/design team to come up with appropriate branding and messages to achieve the right degree of impact.

  • StephenP

    Fiona, A really great article highlighting what is probably the easiest but most forgotten form of marketing. When we conducted research at our firm (which is relatively small with 50 staff), we found that that each person was sending around 60 emails a day, which believe it or not gave us a figure of just under 1 million a year! When we realised this, not only did we fix the problem to ensure that all the employees had the same style and look ultra professional, but we made them clickable to drive traffic to our website.

    Please can you ping me some details over about your solution? – I had a look on your website and it looks it does about 30 things more than ours – like the ability to do multiple ads at once and analytics? Thanks and would very keen to find out more!!!

    • http://www.rocketseed.com/ Fiona Robson

      Thanks Stephen. And great that you already took the first step. I’d be happy to discuss further what else you can do, and especially the analytics side will be a big step forward as then you can see the results as well.