Office 365 Or Google Apps for Work: An Email Signature View

Microsoft WIndows had held a long standing grip on Office apps for companies of all sizes. Over the last 5 years or so, Google has made serious inroads. We thought we’d take a look at Office 365 and Google Apps for Work, from an email signature management perspective.

Published: 11-30-2014 by Bjarne Mess

Office 365 or Google Apps for Work? An Email Signature View

In my daily conversations with customers, I’m often asked about a potential move to the cloud with regards to our customers and prospect’s email infrastructure. Today, that means either Office 365 or Google Apps for Work (herein “GAW”), or “Gmail for Work” as I’ve seen it called before.

The subject comes up enough that I figured I’d put a post together on my observations of the two platforms, from an email signature management perspective. To be clear, I am not trying to convince to adopt either. Xink has the luxury of working flawlessly with each!

General notes about Google Apps for Work and Office 365

Both Google Apps for Work and Office 365 are cloud-based systems that offer email functionality. An email can be sent by accessing the software through a Web browser, such as Internet Explorer or Google Chrome. In cloud computing terms, this is known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). This SaaS technology allows an email to be sent from a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, or any other device with an active Internet connection and a Web browser.

Those might seem like big words for such a simple solution. You are likely well aware of all of these different devices having a different format for the email signature. Let us use an example; while it might look great on your desktop, it is quite possible that your beautiful new signature may not look quite as nice on a different device. In fact, it may even be completely different.

While you certainly could ignore this and just leave your default signature, your name followed by “Sent from my iPhone” may not be the most business-appropriate signature. The recipient likely does not care how or where you sent the message from.

So, what do you do when you get employed with a new company or get a new workstation? You will want to set the signature right away. You definitely will not want to send an email without a signature. You will probably try to add it to your tablet or smartphone as well, but chances are you will struggle adding the logo and any other HTML content.

With Microsoft Exchange, you expect your signature to just work. Why should you have to change it on every device you use, hoping they are all the same? The answer is – you shouldn’t!

Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook is able to connect to both GAW and Office 365. While Outlook may be installed on your workstation, GAW and Office 365 can be used on every device, including that same workstation. This is a common setup and is fully supported with Xink.

In today’s post, Microsoft Outlook is the only program that allows users to select from multiple signatures. Users can have an email signature for new email and another (or the same) for a reply. You may even want to use different signatures depending on whether your email is internal or external, personal or business-related, etc. This can be done by right-clicking on your signature and selecting the signature that you would like to use.

Email Signatures for Gmail

 

 

Outlook Web App (OWA)

Perhaps you prefer to use the Web browser or you do not have Microsoft Outlook installed on your computer. A lot of users prefer to use the Outlook Web App (OWA) over Microsoft Outlook. The OWA for Office 365 is nearly identical to that of Outlook. The big difference in regards to email signatures is that you cannot have different signatures to choose from, but will have to edit one single signature. This functionality is also supported by Xink.

Now, if you have ever used OWA, you may have noticed that adding a logo to your signature can be quite a task. In fact, it can frustrate many users and have them resort to using text-only signatures. Other users are able to add a logo, but it does not show up correctly on the recipient’s end. Xink allows the full signature, including your graphics, for all users. In fact, users will automatically have the same signature in OWA as they would in Microsoft Outlook.

Email signature management for Gmail

 

 Office 365 and Mobile

Microsoft has developed an app for Office 365, named “OWA,” which is supported by iOS and Android in the Apple App Store and Android Market, respectively. We will discuss Windows Phone after the first two.

The OWA app is well-designed and has the classic Microsoft Office 2013 user-interface with the new, flat icons. However, users are not able to add a centrally-managed email signature with support of images. In fact, the app does not even allow HTML email signatures. That’s right; only plain text signatures are allowed even if the email itself is set to HTML. So, here is what the email signature in the OWA app for iPhone will look like:

Business signatures for Gmail

Since Microsoft designed the operating system, email integration is supported right from the phone without the need for an app. However, for some reason Microsoft decided not to include email signatures. So, when using Office 365, not even a plain text signature will be pushed from Office 365; you will have to completely create your own exclusive email signature for Windows Phone. With that being said, from an email signature perspective, the built-in email integration is pretty useless, as there is no control at all.

Office 365 – Transport Agents

As expected, 3rd party installations on Office 365 are not supported. If you have Xink’s on-premise mobile solution for on-premise Exchange servers, it is not possible to move the solution to Office 365. The only way to even tamper with emails in Office 365 would be to reroute all emails. However, this is an entirely different topic. For now, we will conclude that this is not possible.

So, let us go over what we have learned in regards to Office 365 and the mobile applications. If you are using iOS or Android and desire a centrally-managed email signature, then you will need to use the OWA app. The built-in email apps do not support centrally-managed email signatures; only email signatures that users would need to update themselves. The OWA app, on the other hand, allows text-only centrally-managed email signatures. If Microsoft would update their app to support HTML email signatures in the OWA app, then this would be much better.

On Windows Phone, you simply are not going to get an email signature until Microsoft updates the Windows Phone OS built-in application to allow email signature integration. We are confident that Microsoft will add this feature eventually. For now, it is simply a waiting game.

Gmail for Business/Google Apps for Work

As one might expect from Google, setting up a Google Apps account is quite simple. All that is required is adding a few DNS entries and you are all set. With GAW – just like Office 365 – you can create users, add employee details, and log on to Gmail instantly.

As with Office 365, GAW allows users to add a Gmail signature manually. However, just like Office 365, it is difficult to add images. So, in regards to email signatures, GAW and Office 365 behave very similar.

Gmail for Business and Mobile

As you might have guessed, Google also made an email application like Microsoft did. Instead of using the built-in email integration, users can use a more detailed and functional version by installing the app.

It is at this time that we would like to stress that we are not here to give these apps reviews, but to look at them from an email signature perspective only. The Gmail app is able to grab your Gmail signature from the full version of Gmail by changing just one setting. Under ‘Settings,’ you will find the screen shown below. You will want to make sure the ‘Mobile Signature’ setting is set to ‘Off.’ This way, it will use the Gmail signature in your Gmail account instead of the ‘Sent from Gmail Mobile’ default signature.

Gmail signature for business

 

So, what exactly does this mean? Well, by using your full Gmail signature, you now have full support of HTML signatures, including any logos and other images you might have. The only downside is that you cannot actually see the signature while composing the email, but you can double-check and make sure it is there by e-mailing yourself a test email.

Xink is able to deploy the Gmail signature into Gmail, where it is constantly updated as you amend information and make changes to campaigns in Xink.

In order to receive email signatures – just like OWA app for Office 365 – you will need to have all users use the Gmail app in order to get their Gmail signatures. The apps have more functionality and features anyway, so this should not be too difficult to adjust to as compared to any built-in email integration.

As stated before, using GAW with only the built-in email integration, they will only be able to manage their own email signatures. The Gmail app allows for central management of the signatures.

Google Apps for Work vs Office 365 – Quick Overview Chart

 

Still a little confused as to what all of this means? Charts depicting a brief overview between GAW and Office 365 are displayed below:

 

Google Apps for Work

Xink / Platform

Gmail via web browser Mobile with Gmail app Mobile with other app

Outlook on Mac or Windows (connected to Google Apps)

Email signature management

Full support including all graphics (html) Full support including all graphics with ‘GMAIL’ app. No support* Full support for html and plain text signatures.

Signature selection

One signature only set by Xink admin One signature only set by Xink admin No support* Multiple signatures available for use and selection

Different reply/forward signature

Not possible. Only one sig for new emails Not possible. Only one sig for new emails No Support* Full support for different reply/forward sigs**

Marketing Campaigns

All campaign graphics supported All campaign graphics supported No support* All campaign graphics supported
 

 

Office 365

 

Xink / Platform

OWA in web browser Mobile with OWA app Mobile with other app

Outlook on Mac or Windows (connected to Office 365)

Email signature management

Full support including all graphics (html) Support for plain text signature only (only with OWA app). No support* Yes all formats supported.

Signature selection

One signature only set by Xink admin. One signature only set by Xink admin No support* Multiple signatures available for use and selection

Different reply/forward signature

Not possible. Only one sig for new emails Not possible. Only one sig for new emails No support* Full support for different reply/forward sigs**

Campaigns

All campaign graphics supported All campaign graphics supported No support* All campaign graphics supported
 

 

*: Only possible to let the app user create a personal signature on the phone.
**: Windows only

It is important to note that this is not a full description and analysis between GAW and Office 365. These comparisons were drawn purely on the perspective on usability and functionality with email signatures. Furthermore, there are way more than just these two email apps; we simply decided to focus on the two most popular.