young caucasian woman working at computer desk designing a professional email signature

How to Design a Professional Email Signature That Actually Works 

Creating a professional email signature is so easy. Or is it? If you want it to get your prospects to respond, it may take more effort than you think. But worry not – our guest Mark Borum, Head of Business Development at Teachable, knows some of the best tactics we’ve heard in a while, and he’s sharing them with you in this article. 

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

Isn’t that what we’re taught?

While the maxim is geared toward tales of triumph and overcoming the odds, it’s also relevant when thinking about the impression you want to leave. You were fortunate enough to send an email that beat the odds and was actually opened. Then you wrote relevant content that was just witty or compelling or engaging or valuable enough to compel your email recipients to read the whole thing.

Now what? How do you sign off? Trust me, it matters.

You wouldn’t cold call someone, give the sales pitch of your life, and then hang up before they got your name, would you?

The same holds true for your email outreach efforts. It doesn’t matter if you’re emailing from the Fortune500 you work at, the small business you founded or your crazy side hustle.

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Professional email signatures are your last shot at impressing the reader. The last-ditch effort at compelling them to respond. What’s at the bottom of your email… that seemingly simple 150×450 pixel signature block, it matters.

In fact, email signatures have shown to boost awareness by 34% and add a 25% lift in conversion rates.

And, I’m going to show you how to design a professional email signature that actually works.

How to design your professional email signature 

It wasn’t enough to just set the tone in your email. You have to continue your professional and personal brand story through your email signature. You’re going to want a beginning, middle and end. These are the things that are going to draw the eye of your email recipients into forming an opinion on you and, potentially, do a little more digging before clicking that reply button.

Let’s use my signature block from my days at my former company, Reelio.

This is what people saw when I was taking our company from pre-revenue all the way through acquisition. I’m going to break down each section of my story and tell you why this email signature template worked.

example of professional email signature from Mark Borum of Reelio

The beginning: your photo

Many companies will have their employees add their corporate logo in the signature. I don’t hate this. Having a company logo will add some credibility, but it doesn’t garner nearly as much as adding a personal photo.

Using this same email signature, you can see that there was a photo of me flashing my pearly whites (back when I was young, hopeful and ready to take on the world).

Mark Borum of Reelio illustrates an example of how to create a professional email signature

Why did I do this? Why should you?

Truthfully, we had an advisor at the time who told me to. He thought of everyone in his network and asked himself ‘what would compel them to respond to this message?’.

The obvious answer is there is a potential solution to a glaring problem that they’re facing. The not so obvious answer is that people do business with people.

It’s not your job title. It’s not your company logo. It’s your face!

Your job title suggests “is this the right person for me to talk to?”.

Your company logo suggests “is this a legitimate company?”.

But, your face says “do I trust this person enough to give them my time?”.

When professional email signatures can also show off your personality, you’ll see that response rates reward you for it.

Bonus tip: Smile! Your parents didn’t dole out all that money for braces for nothing. Just because it’s a professional photo doesn’t mean it can’t be personal. I sold books door to door in college to sharpen my chops. I worked one less week than everyone else and finished in the top 5% of sellers… I wasn’t better than anyone else. Just smiled at more doors, then they’d let me pitch.

The middle: your name, job title and contact info

As you email clients and prospective clients, the “middle” is the continuation of your story. You’ve set the stage with the beginning. They gave you a quick glance. Saw you were smiling at them and decided to read on.

Here’s what your professional signature needs to convey to the reader in as little space as possible:

  1. Who are you? Give people your name (note: it’s best to give your name based upon what you prefer to be called) and a company website link.
  2. What do you do? This would be important details like your job title and, room permitting, a blurb about what your company does. For example, if I wanted to put a personal touch in my cold email to ZeroBounce, I may say something like “guest posting for the best blogs on the internet”.
  3. How do I get in touch with you? While email recipients can obviously reply to your email, you’ll want to give basic contact information. You can add a link to your site, social media links or give contact details like your cell phone, calendar link or direct line at your company.

Here’s how I did this on my own signature:

screenshot of marketing creative call-to-action

You’ll notice that instead of a short writeup of what our company does, I used that space to include our company logo. This felt like an appropriate opportunity to give credibility through both my headshot and having a branded email signature.

The end: your call-to-action

Your professional signature is your last bit of marketing before your recipient either takes the intended action and responds or closes your email forever and forgets you ever reached out.

You’ve done the hard part. You’ve compelled them to consider you as a person. You’ve given insights into who you are and what you do. Now, you need to get them to take action. Your call to action is one of the most important parts of an email signature.

Tell them what you want them to do.

example of how to schedule a meeting

You’ll see above that, at that particular point in time, we were focused on getting people to automatically book a meeting. I used humor to give direction and elicit the action I was looking for.

Bonus tip: I no longer use calendar links in my signature. One of my favorite ways to use them today is in the body of the email, rather than the signature. I suggest times for a meeting with the following sentence “if it’s more convenient, feel free to grab a time on my calendar that works for you.” The eye is drawn to the call to action and my meeting setting rate increased by 28.6% compared to the month prior to inserting this.

Whether you want people to “subscribe to your newsletter”, “watch your YouTube channel“, “call today” or “book a meeting”, having a clear call to action will ensure that your email performance is maximized.

Now, let’s answer some of the most commonly asked questions on how to design high-converting email signatures.

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What are some professional email signature examples?

I’m of the mindset that you should treat your professional email signature as an advertisement. So use the opportunity to give more insight into you and your brand, and to deliver clear calls-to-action. And if you treat it like an advertisement, always remember that the best advertising doesn’t feel like advertising.

While I personally ascribe to the “less is more” side of things, there are plenty of great examples of professional email signatures that aren’t as simple as what I shared above.

With that here are three of the best email signature examples online:

Business Signature with personal photo and social media icons:

example of professional business email signature

Real Estate email signature with listings:

example of realtor email listing properties as a call-to-action

Business email signature with awards and recognition:

john doe example of showcasing business awards and recognitions

Where can I find a free email signature generator?

There are great email signature generators on sites like Mail Signatures or in tools like HubSpot. However, professional email signature templates are probably the best way to build your email signature and you can find more than 1,500+ templates at Canva.

What is the best professional email signature format?

Generally speaking, you’ll want to use plain text instead of HTML. This is because it’s typically more compatible with a wider range of email clients and devices. Ideally, you’ll want to keep your email signature to 3-4 lines of text (not longer than 10 lines).

When using an image, a good rule of thumb is to keep it under 200 pixels wide and less than 100 pixels in height. Keep the file size of the image under 20-30KB to ensure the image loads quickly. When in doubt, use either a JPEG or PNG file, as they are widely supported and tend to be smaller in size (though GIFs are becoming increasingly more popular).

Can I add links to my professional email signature?

Links in email signatures are generally accepted, as long as they are relevant and not spammy. For example, links to your personal or professional website, social media accounts, or as a call to action can be useful for recipients and can be a great way to provide more information about the sender.

However, it’s important to not include too many links or links to irrelevant websites, as this could lead to the recipient’s email client to mark your email as spam or block it. My advice would be to use links sparingly and intentionally.

Do I need a disclaimer in my professional email signature?

There is no hard and fast rule on this. Generally speaking, they will not hold up in court. However, check area laws and industry regulations to determine any legal requirements. If you have any questions, it’s best to consult with the appropriate legal counsel to ensure your disclaimer, should you choose to use one, is worded accurately for those identified laws or regulations.

The ending is just the beginning

The relationship you build with your customer isn’t limited to your subject line or the body of your email. It’s enriched through every touch point you have. Your email signature included.

I hope you’ll take the time to think about what story you want to tell, then build a professional email signature that drives the action you want to accomplish.

Author: Mark Borum heads business development for Teachable. His blog, 30 Days to $100K, focuses on helping budding entrepreneurs with the stories, tactics and tools for setting the foundation to grow their own businesses.