Scoping email signature projects for a corporate entity
Having been at this for some time, we know that there are a number of pitfalls that can occur when setting up an email signature project, and as a result, we have devised steps that can ensure a better experience. Projects can vary in difficulty, from being extremely basic to being highly complex, but whatever the scenario might be, we can ensure your success. For the purposes of this article, let’s split the scope into Branding and Campaigning. Let’s get started scoping email signature projects..
You want to unify the look and feel of corporate emails. Or you may have recently rebranded, or are looking to solidify your brand’s recognition. If so, a branding campaign is right for your organization.
Email signatures are seen by every email recipient from your Exchange Server. Why this element has evaded the branding team for so long is likely still a mystery, but this can be easily resolved, through centralized email signature management. The process, long as it may seem, will go something like this.
Getting Into the Nuts and Bolts
These next steps may seem daunting but know that if you have a defined look for your signatures in mind, and can answer the questions posed below, this doesn’t need to be a long-winded venture. Making assumptions, at this point, has pushed back a number of deployments at the actual rollout stage, so knowing the answers up front can help expedite the sign off process. Here’s how to do it:
- Gather the stakeholders for a meeting of the minds. Doing work in a vacuum, only to find it doesn’t gain the approval you need, is a quick way to an unsuccessful deployment. Take input and gain sign off as you go. Hitting a moving target is much tougher.
- While you have the decision makers in the room, ask how willing they are to allow users to modify the content and layouts they have access to. The more choices you supply, the more complex the roll out. Our tool can be used to enforce compliance by removing all signatures that exist prior to a refresh. Is this something management would like to see occur? Knowing certain groups will require flexibility is also best known early on.
- We can also provide a mechanism for end users to change field content (IE: mobile phone number, first name, etc.). The decision can be made per field, and can be changed later on as well. Unlocked fields can be edited through the user applet; locked fields are only accessible to the Admin or via the original data source. Define what fields you are willing to be edited by the end user.
- Gather graphic content. Get feedback on desired layout and request logos and graphics be sized appropriately. Many browsers fight % scaling. Providing correctly sized and defined graphics, in Pixels, in the HTML code will prevent a number of scaling issues later on. Corporate standards for FONT choice (and replacement fonts for browser replacement in the event your font of choice is not available), Font SIZE, and variables like background color, table borders, and minimum content, will also need to be defined.
- Where is your data held? If the content is sufficient, we can connect to your Active Directory (IT) quite easily. Identify if your account directory holds accurate data, and if not, define a data source to hold the field data we need to build dynamic signatures, such as an HR database. We can push user data in via XLSX spreadsheet if an AD isn’t available or complete. We can also define fields in the Cloud version. These UDFs can be populated by mapping AD fields, the Signature Admin, or via the end user applet, if you choose.
- Define a corporate-wide standard for Email Signatures. What logo should be included? What field data do you want displayed? What is the preferred layout? Do you want Social Media icons included? If so, should they be hardcoded to corporate landing pages, or should we allow the content to be built dynamically, offering personal LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook page links?
- Additionally, define a standard for Reply/Forward emails. Many clients opt for a stripped version of the signature for RE/FWD emails, to prevent a repetition of logos in a longer conversation thread. Field content can also be reduced at your discretion. For example, why reiterate your email address in an email signature? Your recipient is already in correspondence with you at this point. Do you need all phone numbers listed in every reply, or is your direct contact details in the original email enough? These answers will vary by client.
- Do you have situations where additional versions will need to be defined? If you have multiple locations, is the varying field content enough to satisfy the required result? We can deploy different signature definitions via RULE to users in different locations, departments, or using any consistent piece of data, around which we can define a deployment rule. Our email signature management software is by definition flexible.
- With Xink’s EMS, you can: build out approved signature mockups for each unique deployment Rule; include a matrix for field values that we can build RULES to test for; and provide or include different logos if the logos vary by country/market/job role, etc.
| Dept.|| Signature|
|o Marketing and Sales||o Campaign Signature|
|o HR||o Corp Standard (no campaigns)|
|o Support||o Support signature|
- Xink can provide optional signatures to users running local Outlook clients. You can have signatures with alternate job titles, office contact details, or marketing content defined and delivered as non-default signatures. These can be accessed by the end user, as they author the email using Microsoft Outlook’s Signature Picker. Build out mockups for each scenario required, and a Matrix describing which users should have which optional content.
- Provide content based on Logic within a single template. Our tool has the ability to hide empty content and its associate label. (IE: When the value for FAX is NULL in a user record, the field disappears and the space is reclaimed.) There is also a CASE/WHEN/ELSE function that allows for content to be driven by the presence of known values in a field. (IE: Display a Tax Disclaimer [CASE] if field equals tax, or ELSE display a corporate disclaimer; WHEN state equals MA, include Massachusetts office details, otherwise include default office details.)
With the information outlined above, we know what signatures you want defined, to whom you would like them offered, which should be the defaults for each deployment group (department, country, state, etc.), and the amount of flexibility you are willing to extend to an end user. We also know where we are sourcing the data from to build the dynamic content, and we have the graphics required to start work. Having this information ahead of time can greatly expedite the setup and scoping process.
Now that you have signatures defined, which signatures should receive Campaign banners? “Campaigns” is the label we use to define the content that can be optionally appended to any signature. If you want to include a Marketing Banner and a Corporate Disclaimer below that, it’s best to define the Disclaimer as a Campaign. This allows you to define the content once and assign it to as many signature definitions as required. With a Campaign, any and all edits occur in a single location, and are then applied to all templates to which the disclaimer (or Campaign) is assigned.
The scoping steps for Campaigns are similar to those for scoping the Signature Templates. Let’s take a look.
- What content do you want to provide?
- Disclaimers: Provide the content and the signature definitions to which it needs to be applied to. Schedules on Disclaimers tend to be ALWAYS ENABLED, but the decision to apply the disclaimer to all emails, or all but RE/FWD emails, is up to you.
- Marketing Campaigns: Like signature definitions, we need the graphics correctly sized and the text which will be included. If logos/text should link to URLs, we need those paths as well.
- As noted above, anything can be appended to the signatures. Event announcements with links to registrations, legal content, or direct sales advertising are all fair game. The links can be tracked for click-through metrics and geolocation, and we have articles noting how to tie into Google Analytics.
- How long should the campaign content be visible?
- The tool allows us to define the date that content should appear and subsequently be removed from signatures (recurring schedules can be defined if needed), and which signatures which should receive the content. Generally, disclaimers run all the time, while true Campaign content is usually a shorter deployment with a defined start and end date.
- Multiple campaigns can run concurrently on a single Signature. The order they will appear is dictated by the order the Campaigns are listed in the WYSIWYG. Click and drag the Campaign definitions to reorder.
- What Signatures should receive content?
- Simple deployments require only that the signature definition be checked off in the Campaign’s Signature Tab.
- If you need to deploy a signature to a particular group of users, and not others, you can accomplish this by creating a copy of an approved Signature, authoring a rule to assign that signature to the group of users, and assign the Campaign to the same signature definition. Plans to expand Rules to affect Campaign assignment are on the development plan, but it’s easily done now by using the Copy Signature function.