True story.

The names of the parties involved have been changed to protect the innocent, and the embarrassed.

Acme Widget Corp is getting ready to announce their rebranding in just a few days. In an office in a high rise building somewhere, and after a few hours of revisions and tests, the head of marketing prepares her new email signature with the company’s new logo, tagline, as well as properly formatted links to contact info and social channels.

As part of her rebranding checklist, she dutifully sends out her signature as a template to all employees and urges (really, she requires it) all to adopt the new signature, as a way of establishing the company’s new brand. This could have easily have been delegated, but she wanted it to come from her and her title – to ensure everyone knew it was an important endeavor for them all.

With some specific language (“The cornerstone of any brand is consistency” may or may not have been her exact words), she sends off her note. End of story, right? Fast forward a couple days to launch day; she’s excited to see many (not all, however) employees using the new email signature template including the CEO (great leadership by example!). Unfortunately she also notices that a majority of the employees have simply copied and pasted her signature into their Outlook, not taking the time to update links.

So, the majority of her peers now have her email hiding in the HTML and her click-to-call phone number as their new default. Bummer.

She didn’t have 100% adoption to begin with, now that she has to send out a correction email, with new, more detailed instructions, signature adoption is hovering in the 30th percentile.  Big bummer.

Moral of the story: Managing employee email signatures is a pain. Most marketers don’t complain about it that much. They have other priorities. But it is a pain.

The most common issue that our customers solve with Xink is weak adoption rates of company-approved signatures. Employees either don’t adopt the template, or stop using it over time. Most companies don’t even bother with enforcing usage, mostly because how would they? The result? Widespread brand inconsistency and a huge missed opportunity to not only establish their new identity, but also to provide another effective communication channel for prospects and customers.

The email signature is a category of content with very high levels of relative viewership. Your employee’s emails are direct pieces of communication to your prospects and customers. These emails are rarely caught by spam filters and have open rates that any email marketer would kill for. And while you can’t control the content of every email of every employee, you can in fact control the content of every email signature. With all of this, it’s clear to see why it was part of the rebranding checklist for our friend above.  But, as we’ve shown, having the item on a checklist isn’t itself enough.

Brand consistency is the first goal of managing employee email signatures:

Enforcing the signature templates is another challenge. This is where the marketer’s pain begins. The only way to relieve that pain is by using an email signature management solution that centralizes the signature template creation, and enforces their use through their desktop clients.

And once you have such a tool deployed, and your brand protected, you can move into the Master’s session in email signature management – driving quality traffic, conversions and traffic with email signature campaigns.  Yes, campaigns.  And that’s a topic for a whole ‘nother day.

What are some of your email signature horror stories? Tell us your story in the comments below!