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Office 365 Signature Management with Mail Flow Rules [Part 1: Creation]

Office 365 Signature Management

Office 365 email signature management for company-wide consistency is made possible with mail flow rules. There are a number of reasons why you might want to append an email signature to your emails. The foremost reason is making it easier for customers to contact you. An Office 365 signature looks professional and consistent, distinguishes your organisation, and helps users find the contact details they require. Alternatively, you may have legal, regulatory, or marketing requirements.

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SAVE AT LEAST 5%

This includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, OneDrive for Business and the entire suite of Office 365 pricing.

However, if you are unable to consistently append a signature to your emails on different devices, or if your signature looks garbled and distorted, this leads to problems. At best it appears unprofessional, at worst it can lead to your emails being sent to a spam folder, or customers receiving incorrect contact information.

For Office 365 and Exchange Online users there is a solution that appends email signatures or disclaimers organisation wide, at the server-side. This means that when you send an email your device sends it to your email server first, which applies the signature, then sends it on to the recipient. Therefore, no matter which device you send an email from, the Office 365 signature/disclaimer will look identical. This is an ideal way to achieve company-wide email signature standardisation.

Step 1: Office 365 Signature Planning

First things first, you’ll have to decide which details you intend to include with your signature.

Most signatures will have at least one of the following:

  • Contact details (job title, phone number, extension, office address)
  • A call to action
  • Links to social media
  • Your latest latest product, events or promotion

However, there are also some limitations to consider. You should aim to keep your email signature as lightweight as possible. This means using text instead of images where possible, removing or scaling down large images, and including only the contact details which are most relevant to you, and to your organisation.

Step 2: Office 365 Signature Coding

Here’s a simple code snippet to get started. Just replace the placeholder in the 14th line to the name of your organisation. If you have already added your details into Office 365 or Exchange Online, the attributes between the percentage symbols should update automatically.


<style type="text/css">
a:hover, a:focus, a:active {color: black;}
</style>
<br>
<br>
<h1 style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:14px; text-transform:uppercase; margin-bottom:8px;">
<span style="color:#000">%%DisplayName%% </span><span style="font-size:12px; font-style:italic; font-weight:normal; text-transform:none;">%%Title%%</span></h1>
<table id="sig" width='320' cellspacing='0' cellpadding='0' border-spacing='0' style="width:320px; margin:0; padding:0;">
<tr>
<td style="margin:0; padding:0;">
<table id="sig2" cellspacing='0' cellpadding='0' border-spacing='0' style="padding:0; margin:0; font-family:'Arial',sans-serif; font-size:12px; line-height:16px; color:#000; border-collapse:collapse; -webkit-text-size-adjust:none;">
<tr style="margin:0; padding:0;">
<td style="margin:0; padding:0; font-family:'Arial',sans-serif; white-space:nowrap;">
<strong><span style="color:#000">YOUR COMPANY NAME</span></a></strong>
<br>
<span style="color:#000">%%Street%%, %%City%%, %%Zipcode%%</span>
<br>
<span style="color:#000">Direct: %%PhoneNumber%% | Mobile: %%MobileNumber%%</span>
</td>
</tr>
</table>
</td> 
</tr>
</table>
<p style="line-height:10px;"><span style="font-family:'Arial',sans-serif; font-size:10px; color:#aaa; line-height:10px;">This electronic mail transmission and any accompanying attachments contain confidential information intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. Any dissemination, distribution, copying or action taken in reliance on the contents of this communication by anyone other than the intended recipient is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error please immediately delete the E-mail and notify the sender.</span></p>
<br>

The above code creates a email signature that looks like this:

Office 365 Signature Management with Mail Flow rules

One important point to reiterate is that it’s best to keep your signature lightweight. This is for two main reasons. Firstly, Office 365 allows a maximum disclaimer length of around 5000 characters. Secondly, an overcomplicated signature can have more things that can go wrong in it. This becomes clear in the next section.

Step 3: Office 365 Signature Testing

As there is little standardisation between email clients, your email signature might look different to users using a different client on a variety of different devices. Generally, the more complicated the signature, the more difficulty you will have in getting it to display correctly in every email client.

To make sure that your email signature displays correctly, there are a number of services that allow you to see what it would look like rendered on different devices and different email clients.

The big two are Litmus and Email on Acid. Both have free trials. The Email on Acid free trial lasts for 7 days but is comprehensive in that it tests emails in a 30+  clients in a variety of operating systems and screen sizes. It also has a debugging feature in which it tells you which parts of your code are unsupported by each email client. Litmus email testing also has a free trial lasting x days and allows you to test for several email clients and browsers.

Adjust your expectations:

Bear in mind that you’ll probably never get something working perfectly in every email client that has ever existed. Some email clients block all images or links altogether so sometimes it’s better to focus on attaining compatibility with the email clients that your clients use or the most popular/most used email clients. You can find a list of the most popular ones here.

Maintain a positive outlook:

The problem child of email signature compatibility is Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2013. When Outlook 2007-13 sees HTML, it renders it as it would a Microsoft Word document. This means signatures often look garbled or distorted. Unfortunately, these email clients aren’t going away anytime soon, so it’s important to work out what they do and don’t like. Luckily Email on Acid produce a guide which includes instructions on tailor your code to achieve compatibility with most modern clients. You can find it here.

Step 4: Office 365 Signature Customisation

Most signature contain contact information that is unique and specific to each user. By using attributes, you can quickly add information such as address details, phone numbers, departments or job titles. Just make sure all your details are updated beforehand!

Here is a list of the most common attributes:

Display Name %%DisplayName%%
Phone Number %%PhoneNumber%%
Mobile Number %%MobileNumber%%
Job Title %%Title%%
Street %%Street%%
City %%City%%
Post Code %%ZipCode%%

You can find the full list and additional information here.

Step 5: Office 365 Signature Install

Once you’ve got a working html signature. Now it’s time to install it.Click here for a guide on how to apply your signature using Office 365 mail flow rules.

3 replies
  1. HP
    HP says:

    Hi there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the fantastic work!

    Reply

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