The email signature channel can be used for many different avenues but aspects of the channel often require dedicated management processes to regulate – changing the email signature easily and quickly, maintaining a uniform visual style, ensuring contact details are correct, etc.
So, what email signature management methods are available and what benefits do they offer?
What do we mean by anarchy? We mean that every employee is responsible for creating and managing their own email signatures. Letting a user be in charge of email signatures can be a recipe for disaster.
Thankfully, very few businesses allow this. If you have a handful of staff, you might find email signature management easy. When your organization is so small, you probably don’t have much of a brand to speak of, especially when one person constitutes a third of your workforce.
However, as soon as any organization wants to raise itself to a professional, sustainable level, it needs to take a more reasoned approach to self-presentation. For the same reason you don’t let staff design their own business cards, you don’t want them having a say in email signature management.
If all employee emails have different signature appended to them, it’s no longer in your hands and you won’t be able to effectively use signatures for marketing campaigns. Now, you might be willing to sacrifice email signature marketing opportunities, but they’re still going to be sub-standard.
Your employees can also easily change their contact information so they have a job title that flatters or amuses them. How would you feel if someone changed their job title to ‘Supreme Being’?
Finally, email signature management essentially becomes impossible. Altering any part of the signature template or making it uniform requires at least some method of email signature management, however rudimentary.
Made By IT
This is what most organizations opt for. IT go to each PC in the office and copy/paste the email signature into a user’s Outlook manually.
Even with only 20 staff, this represents a pretty big labor cost for IT. Remember, these are employees who understand RAIDs, SANs, DAGS, etc.
These are not minds that are generally consigned to menial labor and they know it. They may not want to take on this task. You’ll have to negotiate with them every time you want to update an email signature, change a design detail, or correct a mistake.
As soon as you notice you’ve made the slightest mistake, you have to start the whole email signature process again. You’ll need more assistance from IT, another week of their time, and face another lengthy dispute over how soon they can do it. You’ll want email signature updates to be carried out immediately. The reality is that it could be weeks before IT have time to do it.
Here, email signature management is still impossible as updates become too difficult and costly. IT will always be busy, so any project turns into an uphill battle, even with the friendliest and most compliant of sys admins. This is because both parties do not want to let every tiny change to the signature become an enormous undertaking.
You can send out a professional email signature template and ask every user to copy/paste it into their email client as this avoids the IT labor cost and the chaos of DIY design. Or does it?
That clickable email address link in the signature is a time bomb. It’s a web link, just like any other. The same way you can make any given text a link e.g. ‘Exclaimer’ to ‘www.Exclaimer.com’, changing the visible text in an email signature doesn’t affect the link behind it.
When a user changes the sample text, ‘[email protected]’, they might not change the actual email address link behind it. This means clicking on ‘[email protected]’ will still open a new message addressed to ‘[email protected]’.
And what if users simply don’t like the email signature design they’ve been sent? What if they just take what they like from the design and ignore the rest of it? People are obsessed with what’s ‘professional’ or ‘impressive’, so they might think they know better.
So, to try and implement some form of management, you could ask all users to send their signature templates to you for review. Every member of staff in the company sending you an email signature design for you to proofread… does that sound quick or simple? How many signatures will you have to review? What happens when you spot an error?
You’ll have to send the correction, have them send you a new email signature template, check it again and so on. Even then, all of this is assuming they won’t just ignore your email signature template when you’re not looking.
Email signature management therefore fails again because you’ve given control over to the mob. If you’re lucky, a few of them might put something through, with a little detail or adjustment of their own, but in many cases they simply will not bother to copy and paste the email signature design.
Coded by IT
If you have them, if they’re willing, and they know how to, your IT staff can take control of email signature management by writing some HTML code into your systems that automatically add the signature to all users’ emails.
You’re still losing control with this method as you’re giving it all to IT. Your marketing department merely becomes a source of images, link URLs, and designs. Marketing will have to work within their policies and processes. If there’s a change management form or a helpdesk ticketing system, any email signature changes will happen at the IT team’s pace.
IT may also not be able to create some signature templates or layouts due to system limitations. In some cases, they might not be able to deal with your complex requests and won’t have the relevant email signature design experience.
Certain restrictions may mean you can’t put your email signature directly under a message. Instead, it will appear at the bottom of the whole email trail, under all replies. You won’t have the ability to set up one signature for replies and one for new messages, leading to email conversations getting flooded with email signatures.
Email Signature Management Software
An organization has created an email signature management software, meaning you only need to click ‘Save’ and you’re done managing or distributing a new email signature. You don’t have to negotiate with IT or review everyone’s signature designs. Centrally managing email signatures then becomes incredibly easy.
You also now have total control over the template design, along with other elements such as social media icons and legal disclaimers. You don’t need to offload the task onto someone who doesn’t understand or respect the significance of your instructions. IT might not realize that you only want a specific landing page in the signature and might link to any page on your website.
With email signature management software, you create the template yourself in a dedicated editor. You pick the colors, drag and drop, resize and preview its final appearance instantly. You are then assured that the template will always look the same in every email, even on ones sent from mobile devices.
So how do all these email signature management advantages affect the end user? Simply put, they don’t have to worry or care about signature changes as they’re done automatically. They don’t need to be involved in any part of the email signature design process.
However, they might want a little leeway in how they use email signatures. An email signature generator can give them a set of templates to choose from. If you attempted to roll out a set of two or three signatures using any of the above methods, you’ll manage to triple the workload. With email signature solutions, it’s simple. You keep total control over the whole email signature management process within your department but give the end user some control over how they are used on a day-to-day basis.
IT gets reassurance as email signature updates are all taken care of automatically. They don’t have to work hard on building some signature template or set up some complex workarounds within your infrastructure. They get to control the information system aspects of email signatures such as defining the rules used to group employees into different departments or using Active Directory to auto-complete contact information.
This way, IT keeps control of all aspects of email signature management that naturally fall under their remit ensuring they’re scalable and reliable.