For many organizations, it is often preferable that all email messages contain a specific signature or disclaimer that is consistent for all users. If a company is using Office 365 (now Microsoft 365), Office 365 Transport Rules within the Exchange admin center are used for centralized email signature control.
The reason behind using Office 365 Transport Rules is simple; it avoids have to rely on each employee to take charge of their own email signature design. IT administrators then find it easier to create an email signature template and apply it from one central location.
What are Office 365 Transport Rules?
In basic terms, Office 365 Transport Rules, also known as mail flow rules, look for specific conditions within emails to identify and take action on. They are like inbox rules used by many email clients like Outlook in that they take action on messages you specify.
However, an Office 365 Transport Rule will only take actions on an outgoing message that is in transit rather than after it is delivered. Essentially the mail flow rule is applied to all messages that flow through your organization that are then sent externally.
Using Office 365 Transport Rules
The main reason that Office 365 Transport Rules are used is for business compliance and security requirements. For example, you could decide that you want to block anyone from receiving emails with attachments for legal requirements. This means you would set up a Transport Rule to modify a mail flow and block all messages with an attachment.
Other reasons to use Transport Rules include filtering confidential information, redirecting emails before delivery and applying Office 365 email signatures to all messages.
Limitations of using Office 365 Transport Rules for email signature management
Using Office 365 Transport Rules lets an organization set up and apply a disclaimer when processing messages. Notice that we say disclaimer rather than email signature; Office 365 only lets you create a plain-text disclaimer.
If you want your email signature to include images, you need to use HTML. Assuming you’re comfortable with HTML, you will have to paste the code straight into the Office 365 disclaimer editor and ensure that all images are web-hosted (embedded images won’t work).
You’ll then want to see how the signature looks and see if it functions correctly. However, using just Office 365 Transport Rules means you won’t be able to test how your email signature design ‘behaves’ before deploying it to all users.
Different email clients render HTML in different ways. Just because your template works in Outlook doesn’t mean it’ll work in Gmail. It’s important to also note that HTML in email signatures operates differently to HTML on websites. Your signature could end up looking quite different to what you planned when it goes live.
You might want to give different signature templates to different departments. This means creating a new rule for each team. Depending on the size of your organization, this could lead to hundreds of different rules you need to keep track of.
Then, there are other issues like blank spaces appearing within contact information, the fact that signatures won’t work on mobiles or that you won’t be able to create separate reply signatures to consider.
To find out more about what you can and can’t do when creating an Office 365 signature, visit this article.
Is there an easier way?
Without using a third-party solution, you’re going to find email signature management a chore if you rely on Office 365 Transport Rules alone. You’ll find that this task will take up time you’d rather spend on other more important jobs. That's why you should choose Exclaimer to make this task simple.