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The 5 Methods of Email Signature Management

Brought to you by Exclaimer

Email is the primary form of communication used by organizations across the planet. With this in mind,it makes sense to create the right impression with a professional email signature. However, it is common to encounter aspects of the email signature channel that require dedicated management processes to regulate – changing the signature easily and quickly, maintaining a uniform visual style, ensuring contact details are correct and many others.

Professional email signatures can be used for more than just providing contact information. However, the various aspects of the channel often require dedicated email signature management processes to regulate. This can be from changing the email signature design quickly, maintaining a uniform visual style, ensuring user data populates correctly across all templates, etc.

In the end, when it comes to email signature management, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you want signatures on staff emails that are relevant, consistent, accurate and current?
  • Do you want to gather insightful information about email recipients to inform marketing campaigns?
  • Do you want to streamline email signature management and, in doing so, save money?

So, what email signature management methods are available and what benefits do they offer?

1. Leaving it to individuals

Very few businesses allow brand compliance and email signature management to be left up to individual members of staff. This is because it would come down to individual interpretation of what looks professional and on-brand. If you let employees control their own email signatures, it becomes their marketing tool and not the company’s.

Even if the company is willing to sacrifice this valuable marketing touchpoint, email signatures will become sub-standard electronic business cards.

Employees might change their job title to one that flatters them but is misleading. They might not understand the more technical components of the signature. They probably won't have any HTML skills to build their template. Therefore, their signature design will leave a poor impression on external recipients.

Furthermore, the company cannot change signatures for communications or promotional purposes. It has become virtually impossible to manage email signatures when left to each employee.

2. Self-copying into an email client

The first email signature management option available is for the company to send out a template with instructions on how to copy and paste it into an email client. This is what a lot of organizations end up doing.

Users might decide they don’t like this version or implement some but not all the changes. You may then have individual users emailing an example for review and approval. They then potentially will amend the template before sharing it internally with colleagues.

Email signature management is often left to IT

How do you keep track of what every employee is using? How many iterations of the same signature design will end up being used for both internal and external communications?

So, to try and implement some form of control, you could ask all users to send their signature templates for review. 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 employees might send something through to review. But in most cases, they simply won't bother to copy and paste the email signature design correctly.

3. Visiting every user’s desk

Alternatively, IT can visit each user’s desk to copy and paste the email signature into the email client manually. Even with only 20 staff, this method of email signature management represents a big labor cost for IT.

IT professionals are not generally consigned to menial labor. And updating email signatures in this way is certainly tedious and repetitive.
Asking IT to visit everyone’s desk is a poor way to manage email signatures

In fact, they probably won’t want to take on this task at all. 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 must 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 conducted immediately. The reality is that it could be weeks before IT have time to do it.

4. Coded by IT

A third email signature management option is to get the IT department to take control of email signature management.

This is done by them writing some HTML code into your systems that automatically adds the signature to all users’ emails.

IT can create email signatures with HTML code.

This will have an enormous impact on IT resources and costs, even for smaller companies. It requires negotiating with IT every time the signature needs updating, a details needs changing or a mistake corrected. The entire process also must adhere to IT’s policies, service level agreement, and timescales.

IT might not be able to use HTML code to create certain email signature designs due to system limitations. In some cases, they might not be able to manage the constant user requests for updates. They may not even have the relevant design experience to build email signature templates effectively.

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.

This is a known issue when using Office 365 (now Microsoft 365) or Microsoft Exchange. You won’t have the ability to set up one signature for replies and one for new messages. This leads to email conversations getting flooded with signature content.

Email signature management can involve HTML code
Or you might find that the HTML code is too long to implement effectively. This is common in G Suite (now Google Workspace). This will cause the design to effectively break and not render correctly on emails.

Here, email signature management is still impossible as updates become too difficult and costly. IT will always have other important tasks to work on. Any project to update email signatures turns into an uphill battle, even with the friendliest and most compliant of IT admins. This is because both parties do not want to let every tiny change to the signature become an enormous undertaking.

5. Using email signature management software

Specialist software makes email signature management a walk in the park. It eliminates manual intervention and simplifies the design process. Once setup by IT and integrated into the email systems, all changes can be managed centrally.

Use email signature software to manage email signatures

Specialist software makes email signature management a walk in the park. It eliminates manual intervention and simplifies the design process. Once setup by IT and integrated into the email systems, all changes can be managed centrally.

End users won’t have to worry about email signature changes as they’re done automatically. You can offer some flexibility by providing a choice of pre-set and pre-approved templates. All while retaining central control of designs and deployment.

You also now have total control over the email signature template design. This includes other elements such as social media icons, email banners and legal disclaimers. You don’t need to offload the task onto someone who doesn’t understand or respect the significance of your instructions.

With an email signature management solution, you create the template yourself in a dedicated editor. You pick the colors, drag and drop, resize and preview its final appearance instantly. Then, the signature template will always look the same in every email, even on ones sent from mobile devices.

This scenario significantly reduces strain and dependency on IT resources. IT continues to control the information system aspects of signatures. These include defining rules used to group employees into different departments or using Active Directory/Google Directory to complete contact details.

This way, IT keeps control of all aspects of email signature management that naturally fall under their remit. All while letting other departments like the marketing team focus exclusively on the design process

For more information on email signature management, read our “The Top 10 Email Signature Headaches” white paper.

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