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An Enterprise Horror Story – Managing Company Email Signatures

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The humble email signature is a beautiful thing. It has the power to increase your personal or company brand image. But at the same time, it can destroy it, if not implemented correctly. When you have a small number of employees, managing your company email signatures is easy. But it’s when your company has over 10 staff that the horror story begins. You can no longer check everyone’s email signature to ensure consistency with your company brand and messages.

If everyone has control of their own email signature, you might find yourself in a situation similar to the following horror story. The following is a true horror story about one company’s shocking experience with email signature management. All of the details of the people and company involved have been changed. What I can tell you is that the company is very well-known brand, with over 5000 employees. For this story, let’s call the company ‘Compact’.

This story starts where most companies do when they are looking to implement a company-wide email signature. The IT team created a well-designed, professional looking template and emailed to every employee. It was then up to all 5000 staff members to add the email signature template to their Outlook account and update it with their own contact details. You can see what is going to happen, right? You simply can’t reply on 5000 people to do something correctly.

A few months down the track, the IT team was chuffed with their efforts and Marketing was noticing a good click-through rate from the email signature. It was all going nicely. Until Nicole (not her real name) started working as a consultant at ‘Compact’.

Nicole was a Marketing Consultant with a wealth of knowledge, specifically in the branding and communications areas. Of course she was excited about working with such a well-known brand. The first few months were going well for Nicole and ‘Compact’. Then she meet Mike (not his real name). Mike was a mid-level marketer at ‘Compact’ and he developed a crush on Nicole.

Mike decided that a mid-level marketer wasn’t going to be enough to impress Nicole. If only he could appear to be more important. His email signature was the answer. Thanks to the ignorance of the IT department, Mike could easily change his job title on any email that he sent. This was brilliant for Mike and his mission to impress Nicole.

It was simple, every time he emailed Nicole he would change his job title to something more important than his actual position. First he started small, just changing it slightly. But as his confidence grew, so did his job title. Soon Mike, the mid-level marketer was on the Executive team at ‘Compact’. As a seasoned marketing expert, Nicole wasn’t silly. She noticed what was happening straight away.

Mike continued to alter his job title on his email signature for the duration of Nicole’s time at ‘Compact’. She retold the story to me about a year after she finished her contract with ‘Compact’.

Mike was just one person in a 5000 employee company, imagine how many others were doing something similar. It’s not just job titles and contact details that can be changed. Everything about the company brand could be significantly impacted.

The first horror I noticed when hearing this story is the reliance on everyone to implement the email signature themselves. A company of that size would send thousands of emails every day. If just 5% of people did not update the email signature template correctly there could be hundreds of miss-branded emails going out.

Companies of that size spend millions of dollars creating and nurturing their brand. The fact that they let something so simple go un-noticed was shocking.

The Moral of the Story

Don’t let employees have control of their email signature. Use a third party email signature product to easily control the email signature of your entire company from one central database.

Most products will integrate with your company directory to ensure that contact details (including job titles) are always up to date.

About the Author

This article was written by Henry McIntosh, Marketing Manager at Crossware. Crossware is a business software company, specializing in corporate email signature management. Henry is a ‘serial guest-poster’, so you might see him around some other tech sites. Follow him on Twitter here.

Photo credit: Marco Orazi

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