Using Exclaimer for cloud-based email signatures

A few years ago I wrote a blog piece called How to add signatures and disclaimers in Exchange Online. This utilised the out of the box capabilities of Exchange Online and for the most part was relatively functional.

At the time I knew that Exclaimer and other similar solutions existed to provide a more unified signature – however they always required either an on-premises server or client-side agent. My issue with this was that I didn’t feel there was point utilising a signature management system that only worked for Outlook on the desktop, especially when the drive to the cloud was also leading to an increase in mobility and device variance.

Since that time Exclaimer has released a cloud version of their solution, known as Exclaimer Cloud – Signatures for Office 365. I implemented this for Paradyne and we have enjoyed consistent signatures regardless of what interface we used to create emails – Outlook on the desktop, mobile, or Outlook on the web (aka OWA).

The main oddity is that for years we are so used to seeing our email signature at the bottom of the new email window – whereas after implementing Exclaimer Cloud that was no longer required, so this took a few days of getting used to.

I’ve written a guest blog piece for Exclaimer comparing the management of signatures in Exchange Online vs. Exclaimer Cloud. One of the things that IT Managers will appreciate from this solution is that after they implement Exclaimer Cloud – they can hand off control to HR or marketing to manage it, and ultimately pay for it out of their budgets. 🙂

How to add signatures and disclaimers in Exchange Online

UPDATE February 2016: I’ve written a guest blog piece for Exclaimer comparing this method vs. Exclaimer Cloud – Signatures for Office 365.

For years there have been numerous products on the market for Exchange Server that automatically add signatures to outbound emails.

These products traditionally need to run on the Exchange Server and retrieve information from Active Directory. There is also usually a PC-based console on which to create the signatures and administer the system.

These solutions also exist for Exchange Online in Office 365, however this is also possible without any on-premise systems using native Exchange Online functionality. All it takes is a little bit of reading to understand the variables involved.

Jesper Osgaard wrote a similar piece on his TechNet blog, however in this post I have gone a couple of steps further.

Before starting it is important to have your user information up to date in the Office 365 administration portal. It is assumed that first name & last name are fine, however if you want to automate things such as phone numbers, address details – these need to be present in the user properties.

The first step is to log into the Microsoft Online Portal (https://portal.microsoftonline.com) and select the option to Manage Exchange Online settings.

You’ll then need to select the Mail Control menu option which will open up in the Rules sub-section.

At this point we begin defining our rule. Select the options as per the screenshot below.

Specify the variables you want to use from the following list:

  • DisplayName
  • FirstName
  • Initials
  • LastName
  • Office
  • PhoneNumber
  • OtherPhoneNumber
  • Email
  • Street
  • POBox
  • City
  • State
  • ZipCode
  • Country
  • UserLogonName
  • HomePhoneNumber
  • OtherHomePhoneNumber
  • PagerNumber
  • MobileNumber
  • FaxNumber
  • OtherFaxNumber
  • Notes
  • Title
  • Department
  • Company
  • Manager
  • CustomAttribute1 to CutomAttribute15

This will show up as blank text, however if you have any HTML or CSS skills you can use these to improve the aesthetics. Also linking to graphics such as company logos is supported – however you may find that the recipients company may block calling external files within an email.

Select OK, and the rule is applied immediately.

Here is what the end result looks like:

The problem is if you don’t set an exception – your email signature / disclaimer will be added to each additional reply:

So going back to the Exchange Online rule, open up the signature rule you created and select More Options:

We’re now able to add an exception which allows the rule to be ignored if the email is a reply.

Under the exception menu select The subject includes… and add “RE:” to the field.

Press OK, save the rule, and now we’ll see that the rule isn’t applied on a reply:

Obviously the signature I’ve created in this example is quite plain, so it would be a good idea to get a web designer involved who can write the relevant HTML & CSS to make the signature appear more to your liking.

You now have fully functional automatic signatures! No need to configure Outlook for every new user, and a great way to keep a standard signature across all users.