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Email signatures are useful for a variety of reasons, but not every organisation makes good use of them. However, they’re surprisingly easy to set up, and once you understand how it works, it’s easy to change signatures according to your needs.
Why are Email Signatures Useful?
Whether you opt for a relatively simple email signature, or set up something far more elaborate, they’re useful for several reasons. For instance:
- By adding links to individual or company profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else your organisation has a presence, you ensure recipients have multiple ways to contact you.
- An email signature can be considered as part of an organisation’s marketing plan. Creating a signature with marketing in mind gives you more opportunities to get your message seen. And by creating a company-wide email signature, you ensure all employees have the same message, and that signatures represent your brand consistently.
- Email signatures can be customised to suit virtually any purpose; for instance, to wish Season’s Greetings, or spread the word about an award the organisation is up for.
- Additional information such as a legal disclaimer or disclosure statement can also be added.
How to Set Up a Company-Wide Email Signature Using Office 365
A company-wide email signature is applied to all mail sent both within the organisation and to outside recipients. There are ways to be more selective about which emails a signature is applied to, but it’s much simpler to set up a company-wide signature that’s applied to all email. And for most organisations, a universal signature that’s applied to all email is a great first step.
Office 365 has a built-in tool for creating email signatures. It’s easy to use, and like most email signature tools, it supports the use of HTML content. So, if you wish you can format fonts, add images or tables, and other content.
Email signatures are set up in the Office 365 admin centre. To set up an email signature, you’ll make what’s called a “rule”, which means you’re creating a set of rules that dictate how and when email signatures are displayed.
Note that in Office 365, organisation-wide email signatures are referred to as disclaimers. Where instructions refer to disclaimers, it’s talking about the email signature—which can include any information you choose to add.
- In the admin centre, click Exchange.
- Go to Mail flow and choose Rules.
- Click the Add icon and choose Apply disclaimers.
- Give the new rule a name.
- Under Apply this rule, choose “Apply to all messages”.
- Under Do the following, make sure that “Append the disclaimer” is selected.
- Click Enter text to type your disclaimer. You can use plain text or HTML to enter the disclaimer.
- Choose a fallback option. This applies in situations where a disclaimer can’t be added to a specific email (for instance due to encryption). Choosing Wrap means it will be forwarded as an attachment. Ignore means the disclaimer is left off the message; Reject means the message isn’t sent. Wrap is generally the best option here.
- If you want to add more conditions or exceptions to the rule, choose More options.
- Choose Enforce to turn the disclaimer on.
- Choose Save once you’re finished.
All the email signatures you create in Office 365 are stored in the Microsoft cloud. This means you can make updates and additions quickly, and ensures your email templates and files are held securely.
Adding Custom Variables to Email Signatures
A standard company-wide signature is great if you just want to add the company’s contact information. But, if you want each staff member’s signature to have their own person information too, there’s a bit of additional setup to do.
To create email signatures that are specific to each sender, you’ll use your Office 365 Active Directory data. This data is stored for every 365 account-holder, and among other things allows you to create email signatures that use each person’s own data.
To do this you set up a new email rule as outlined above. The main difference is the disclaimer text that you use to write the actual signature. When you write the disclaimer text, you’ll use tokens to add attributes from the Active Directory accounts of each individual user. A token is a placeholder for user-specific data; when an email is sent, the user’s specific information appears at any spots where a token is placed. For instance, using the token “MobileNumber” means that the email sender’s mobile phone number is added at that point in the email signature. There are tokens for a wide range of attributes, including name, job title, email, various phone numbers, and address.
Whether you choose to create custom email signatures, or use the same simple signature for everyone, it’s definitely worthwhile doing so. It’s a simple thing to set up, and there are some important benefits to be gained.