How to Manage Email Signatures Manually

Here’s a common scenario…

Customer: “We will manage our email signatures manually. That’s no problem for us, as we only have 50 employees.”
Xink: “Ah, ok, no problem. Good luck! We’ll speak to you in two weeks!”

The email signature is a living space. Content changes, your information changes, different email signature campaigns regularly get updated and changed… needless to say, your signatures change often. You can try to manage them manually, but we think you’ll be surprised at the amount of work involved.

To illustrate this, let us provide you with a non-nonsense list of steps you’ll need to go through every time your corporate signature changes. This should help you decide if managing your email signatures manually is really in your best interests.

Manage email signatures manually

Let me present the ultimate time-waster’s checklist – in this example, these steps are all part of managing email signatures for “just” a 50-employee company:

1. Transform Your Signature from a Picture to html

This needs to be done anyway, so this actually isn’t a waste of time! To help speed up this process, we have built a neat signature generator that will build you custom html signatures based off of predesigned templates. But what if none of these templates are right for you? If so, then you need to build your own signature using html, and make sure that it looks great in all email programs. Not so easy, let us assure you.

Alternatively, you can also just save each person’s signature as a picture. At least then you only need to save the signature once. Of course, if you go down this route, then you have in effect decided that the signature will never ever change. Not very flexible an option, is it? Finally, you also need to know how to apply the image correctly into the signature. Just pasting it into the signature editor will not produce the desired results.

That’s the first step. Now let’s discuss Step Two.

2. Construct Each Person’s Signature with Personal Details

Needless to say, you need to add each employee’s personal information to their email signature, so you’ll need to find their details in your Active Directory and add them manually. Tedious but doable, we suppose. Of course, what if you don’t have your Active Directory up to date (because that’s often the case if you do these things manually)? Then you’ve wasted your time and are also missing vital components that could have been automated… Am I right? 🙂

Let’s say you decide to proceed anyway. Oops… you made a design mistake in the signature and just found out that it looks incorrect on Android phones. SO now you need to redo all 50 of them, but what the heck… you have time enough! Right?!

Maybe you have written a script instead that that will generate all these signature files? Clever guy!

3. Now Find Out Where to Put the Files

Chances are good that your users use a variety of email programs (but primarily, they likely use Outlook on Windows and Mac). How do you ensure that signatures appear as they should across all of these email platforms? Maybe you don’t care about programs other than Outlook, because they are quite difficult to update manually. If so let’s focus on Outlook. It’s not our recommendation, but let’s explore that.

So where do you put the signature? Well, it depends on your OS version, language version, and Outlook version. But as the clever and cost-efficient IT guy you are, you will take this case-by-case once you access each individual’s PC or Mac. Right? Right?! Do you now see the difficulties you might run into?

Side Note: What About Mac?

You won’t be able to manually manage Mac signatures with your signature files, because the file system is inaccessible for normal people, even you. You can paste in the signature using the signature editor, but then the end result is very likely going to look odd. Of course, maybe your Mac users aren’t that important (except when you speak with us about your requirements, right?!). All right then, we’ll leave Mac out of it for now.

4. Make Sure Your Images are Added Correctly as Well

If there is one instance where an image is missing or you see a red x, then your business will go broke. At least that’s what you tell us! We get it, red X’s look bad. Thankfully, we have cracked this with our automated solution (and with our patented technology). On the other hand, you might need to consult your friend ‘Google’ if you want to get it right.

Do you know exactly where to put the images so they are either embedded or linked correctly? And so they display correctly to your recipients? We’ve built this into Xink, but you might quickly find out yourself how difficult it can be.

5. What About Reply and Optional Signatures?

Oops, you probably forgot about that. You have already nailed your default signature and sent it out, but all of a sudden, your users want a different Reply signature, along with a bunch of other signatures to choose from. What do you do? No problem, you’ll simply create these email signatures manually as well!

So you decide to create additional signatures. Don’t forget to include the campaign that Marketing has instructed you to include, and then add the appropriate link. Sounds simple, right? No? Okay, perhaps you’ll offer a compromise: There will be one extra Reply signature only, along with 5 additional signatures for each user. Of course, now you have a total of 350 signature files to manage, not simply 50. But that’s no problem at all, as you’ve got time!

6. What About Plain Text Signatures?

Oh yeah, that’s right, you need plain text signatures also. But why? Because Outlook will create a plain text signature automatically if there is no such format present. Just remember that Outlook does a terrible job in converting a signature from html to plain text, and further more, these poorly formatted signatures will stay there permanently without ever being updated. Just ugly email signatures, horribly formatted and with old information.

But perhaps you have a solution? You’ll just create a set of plain text signatures for all of your available email signatures. This brings your total number of signature files up to 700. No problem, you have all the time in the world!

Are you starting to see how difficult manually managing email signatures manually can be?

So Now You Have Everything, Right?

Yup, it seems so. You have covered Outlook on Windows in both formats, and only spent maybe 40 hours in total to do so. Never mind that this doesn’t take into account mobile devices, Mac, tablets, or other systems sending emails. After all, those aren’t that important. With your manual labor, you have solved your email signature challenge a quarter of the way, and you only need to go through this whole process again once the design changes or a new signature campaign is added. Good work, buddy! You just saved your company a lot of money by managing the signature manually.

But wait, there’s a solution that will save you time and energy! You’ll simply…

7. Send a Manual to Everyone with Signature Instructions

Admit it, no you won’t. You may attempt to document the process and distribute a guide so that your employees do your work for you, but we both know this won’t ever happen. Even if you do manage to create and send out such a document, your employees won’t follow it.

In conclusion, here is the ultimate guide for installing email signatures manually

So with the aspirations and thoughts above, here is the complete guide to manage your email signatures manually (we have even provided you with a tip on each subject):

  1. Convert your email signature design to html.
  2. Save all images you are going to use and either link them or add them as embedded images in Outlook.
  3. If you have the signature files, open them in a browser and copy the design, then paste it into the Outlook signature editor (if you can find it).
  4. If you do not have the signature files, then copy the design from somewhere else and update the contact details manually in the Outlook signature editor (if you can find it).
  5. Remember to update the links in the signature so the recipient doesn’t send an email to another person when clicking the email in the signature.
  6. Repeat all of the above for all the signatures you need to add.
  7. Remember to create the similar plain text versions. You need these when you reply to an email sent from an iPhone with the iPhone email app.
  8. In fact, the Outlook signature editor cannot handle the plain text format so you need to locate the signature path and then create at least the default signature in plain text format.
  9. Remember that the path is different depending on OS, language, and Outlook versions.
  10. Repeat all of the above every time you need to change marketing information or personal details.
  11. Repeat all of the above for each person in your company.
  12. If you are located in the same building, it is easy to go from desk to desk to update the signatures. We’ll throw in a Starbucks gift card*.
  13. You can also do it remotely. We’ll throw in a Starbucks gift card anyways**.
  14. The users using Mac will need to be updated also. Be careful with the images. It is literally impossible to edit the signature html on Mac manually.
  15. Now do the same thing on Gmail/’Outlook on the web’. Ask each user to log in and then you can update the signature. Just remember to change the embedded images to linked images because embedded images are not supported in the web-based email programs. Maybe you need to redo the first session if you did not already do this.
  16. Now on to mobile devices. You need to find a way to get the signature on to the phone. Send an email to the user and check it on the email app on the phone. Then copy the signature.
  17. Now enter ‘settings’ for the email app and paste in this signature you just copied. This will add images as well, but there is no guarantee that you will not see a red X or blue ‘?’ on Mac.
  18. If the user is using another email app than the iPhone’s built-in one, you need to figure out how to update this yourself. They are all different.
  19. Remember iPads and other tablets as well, and do the exact same thing on those devices.
  20. You’d better have thought about testing the signature design in different email programs before your even start. If not then you need to redo it all again.
  21. Last but not least, if you have cloud solutions such as salesforce.com or other CRM systems, you can easily update the signature in these tools as well by logging on as the individual user. So you’ll only have to do this 50 times.
  22. Job done. Now you know what to do next time your marketing manager wants you to change a signature campaign or make different advertising for different groups or audiences.
  23. Finally post a job ad on LinkedIn and other places so you can hire a permanent Signature Manager.

Here is a good and relevant link.

So that’s your 23-step (or so) process for manually managing email signatures for a 50-person organization. Enjoy sending beautiful emails! Of course, using Xink makes everything so much easier. Why not give it a try? It’s free to do so!

*: Actually, no we won’t
**: Again, we won’t actually do this

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