This article was originally published by Damian Hamp-Adams, CEO at Rocketseed.
What’s in a name? Email Signature Generator vs. Email Signature Manager
When you search for ‘email signatures’, you’ll see results showing ‘Email Signature Generator’ and ‘Email Signature Manager’ solutions. Are they radically different or really the same thing? Can you simply ‘generate’ the best email signature for your business or do the right email signatures really need ‘managing’?
Given widespread remote working, squeezed marketing budgets and the fact that the average employee sends over 10,000 emails a year, effective email signatures are more important than ever. So, for this post, I’ll highlight a few differences in features and benefits to help you decide if a ‘generator’ or ‘manager’ solution is best for you, your business and your brand.
First off, ‘The Basics’ – a few similarities
Whatever type of email signature software you choose, it should always be able to deliver:
- An on-brand email signature design containing employee contact details.
- A level of interactive linking and ‘clickability’.
- Compatibility with your email client, for example Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace.
- Correct display on every device (You mustn’t assume this as standard. Your signature MUST be optimised for mobile – it’s an essential requirement and key to our signature solution).
OK, basics covered, let’s get to the 7 key email signature generator vs. manager differences…
- Creating Email Signatures: Generator Templates vs. Professional Design
- Controlling Email Signatures: Tamper Temptation vs. Centrally Controlled Consistency
- Email Signature Technology: Copy & Paste vs. Central Secure Signature Deployment
- Email Signature Marketing: Promotional & Social Space vs. A New Campaign Channel
- Measuring Email Signature Success: Assumptions vs. Detailed Data & Real Results
- Servicing Email Signatures: On Your Own vs Ongoing Support
- Budgeting for Email Signatures: Free vs. Return on Investment
1. Creating Email Signatures: Generator Templates vs. Professional Design
When designing your email signatures, it’s essential that they’re perfectly on brand, that all employee contact details are correct and that they display perfectly on all devices.
Email signature generator templates allow you to upload your company logo, add individual employee contact details and customise colours and fonts, but the key question is… will you get professional, ‘on-brand’ signatures or just ‘near enough’? If your branding is simple and you find a template that’s a good fit then you can quickly ‘generate’ your new signature design with ease.
At the other end of the scale, an email signature manager might offer more customisation options or even a professional design service. It takes longer, but will have a more bespoke branded look and undergo more rigorous testing across devices. So, if you’ve got complex brand guidelines with a strict brand team (sorry Rocketseed brand team!), want a streamlined signature that’s optimised for mobile – and have a project time allocation – you might want to consider the email signature manager ‘designer’ option.
Can a generator give you a completely ‘compliant’ design? Omitting email signature legal disclaimers and compliance information can have significant consequences. It’s key you check with your legal advisor and then an email signature management specialist can incorporate your industry and location regulatory requirements.
Will every employee have the same on-brand email signature design?’ This is where the crucial issue of control comes in…
2. Controlling Email Signatures: Tamper Temptation vs. Centrally Controlled Consistency
This is where the size of your business, the time your IT department has to spare, and your level of commitment to company-wide brand consistency all make a big difference.
If it’s just you or a handful of staff in the same office, no problem. A simple email signature generator will give you a branded signature that each of you can apply individually. There’ll be some copying and pasting involved which can be a bit clunky to manage, and maybe some HTML knowledge required too, but that’s about it. As for staying on-brand with the correct contact details, you’d like to think you could trust your 5 co-workers to take responsibility for their own signatures, right?!
But with even a few more employees, let alone hundreds or even thousands, things start looking very different. Does anyone on your IT team have time to manually set up, update and check on more and more email signatures? And can your employees resist the temptation to tamper (motivational quote and emoji alert!) that could put your brand at risk?
That’s where you start to see benefits from an email signature manager that gives you centralised control.
That way, you can set-up and modify designs across your business in an instant, keep everyone on-brand and – with a feature such as syncing your signatures with your Active Directory – keep everyone’s contact details up to date automatically.
Importantly, you can also then start to centrally assign different signatures to different departments (such as Sales, Finance, HR and Operations), different product and service divisions or regional offices. These are the common scenarios we see where email signatures need to be ‘managed’ rather than a 1-size-fits-all generator.
Who’s in the powerful position of central control? Totally up to you. With us it normally sits with Marketing or IT. HOWEVER, maintaining brand consistency – particularly in a time of widespread remote working – has made central control an essential part of effective email signature management.
3. Email Signature Technology: Copy & Paste vs. Central Secure Signature Deployment
When it comes to email signature technology, you’re faced with issues including compatibility, set-up, security and IT support – so you need technology that gets the job done quickly, simply and is, above all, trustworthy.
We see huge amounts of time, money and resources being spent on trying to execute signatures in house or with poor generator technology that simply doesn’t suit larger scale businesses, riskily relying on individual employees copying and pasting code and falling far short of the business’s best-practice IT compliance standards.
Believe it or not, we’ve delivered email signature designs through our own email signature generator tool, simply to have the customer back to us for the signature management solution instead PURELY because they couldn’t get 50% of their fellow colleagues to update their signatures.
Again, simplicity is key – A user-friendly email signature management solution should require no user HTML coding and enable centrally-controlled email signature deployment instantly.
Managing the email flow from any environment eg. Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) and Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), email signature managers should also be able, if required, to smarthost to downstream platforms or create specialised mail routing. Adding DKIM and SPF to mails should ensure the highest deliverability rate and adding CNAMEs – so that click URLs aren’t seen as phishing attempts – can improve your marketing results massively. Your peace of mind should be paramount with the highest industry security standards, testing and troubleshooting.
On this point, email signature management tools should all work without user intervention. Just send your email – from any device – and the same signature is applied. SIMPLE. See how a business email signature management solution can work for Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace.
4. Email Signature Marketing: Promotional & Social Space vs. A New Campaign Channel
How much marketing power do business email signatures really have? Most signature template generators will let you add links to your website and social media channels so that recipients can click through to your content. You might even be able to upload a ‘banner’ to run a promotional message. But your marketers – given the option – will always want more…
Marketers need to reach the right target recipients with the right branded message at the right time… and see real results (potentially far better than bulk email marketing campaigns).
An email signature management solution should let them:
- Segment and target key recipient audiences
- Create and schedule automated banner campaigns
- Engage recipients and drive high-intent traffic direct to your site or sales platform (with banners such as these 33 great email signature marketing banner examples.)
At a time of marketing belts being tightened, your business’s email signature marketing can absolutely achieve results as a highly cost-effective campaign channel!
5. Measuring Email Signature Success: Assumptions vs. Detailed Data & Real Results
Having rolled out new email signatures, how do you know if they’re achieving anything? OK, they may appear fine but we find our customers want certainty.
As the name suggests, an email signature generator isn’t focused on producing performance insights.
However, an email signature manager should provide you with all the data analytics and reporting you need to make decisions, for example:
- Which of your employees is sending the most branded emails?
- Which banner campaign is driving the most click-through?
- What are the split test results showing?
Add in a feature like real-time click alerts and your sales and customer service teams can respond immediately to any type of recipient engagement.
As for tracking signature click-through traffic on your website and sales funnel, that’s where features such asGoogle Analytics and CRM integrations make an email signature management tool more valuable for businesses large and small.
6. Servicing Email Signatures: On Your Own vs Ongoing Support
The best email signatures aren’t static. In fact, your newly-created signatures are just the start.
As I’ve said above, there will be design updates, new employees to add, new promotional campaign banners to run or maybe full-blown brand changes and roll outs! The list goes on.
There’s also the big ‘WHAT IF’ – what if something goes wrong? A quick do-it-yourself email signature generator could leave you on your own, with headaches that your IT and marketing staff really don’t need.
An effective email signature manager is more of a software-as-a-service solution and that ‘service’ can make a big difference. We’re not just talking emergency technical support – although that’s essential – but real ‘human’ hands-on help, from developing a new signature design to making sure your banner campaigns are right on target. So keep in mind, a big factor that sets the ‘managers’ apart from the ‘generators’ is the level of support and service.
7. Budgeting for Email Signatures: Free vs. Return on Investment
Budget allocation for email signatures is also key, but does it sit within your IT or marketing budget? Could it be freed up with a ‘free’ email signature generator tool?
There’s always going to be the temptation of a free generator or simply using the standard Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace signature tools and, if they do more-or-less everything you’re looking for, then that’s great!
But if you want most of the ‘manager’ benefits described above – from company-wide brand consistency and a new marketing campaign channel to high-intent traffic and ongoing service – then you need to start seeing your email signatures as an investment that can easily ‘pay their way’ and deliver real return on investment (ROI) when used to their full potential. This isn’t a pitch piece BUT to get an instant idea of price ranges take a look at our product and pricing plans.
So which is best for you and your business? An email signature generator or an email signature manager?
Well, as you can see, it depends on a lot of factors – your design requirements, the size of your business, your marketing ambitions, your demand for data, your IT resource and your budget… not to mention the risks you’re prepared to take (or hopefully not take) with your brand image!
If you want brand consistency across your business email, a cost-effective and engaging marketing channel and an email sign-off that can drive direct sales, then I’d suggest you need a serious email signature management solution.
We work with companies across the world and offer both email signature generator and management tools. Our different products meet different needs. Known for our service and expertise, we speak the language of both IT and marketing so whatever your questions – no matter how detailed or straightforward – we’re here to talk you through what you need to know!