With DMARC and the related technologies Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) a brand has the opportunity to make its emails clearly identifiable for an ISP and, at the same time, determine how the ISP should treat emails which only pretend to originate from the brand.
Postmaster Toolbox - (the short list)
Commissioning a mail server is initially not terribly complicated, but at the latest when it comes to keeping an eye on your reputation, or if you want to implement authentication measures like SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) or DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance), it becomes considerably more complex and there’s no way around using appropriate analytical and other tools. Fortunately, there are several free possibilities available in the Internet. The websites are all in English.
Cisco Talos Intelligence
At https://talosintelligence.com/, alongside a range of blog articles, white papers and presentations on the topic of e-mail security, there is also the possibility to check the reputation or your own domains and IP addresses and to see how the provider of a spam filter assesses your emails.
As the name says, at https://mxtoolbox.com there is a whole collection of useful tools. Ranging from multi-faceted DNS query tools to blacklisting checks, there are also tools for analyzing e-mail headers. You can find answers here to many different questions.
Free Postmaster Tools from 250ok
As well as their fee-based tools, 250ok offer a range of helpful tools free of charge at https://250ok.com/tools/. A special mention should go to the “Gmail Tab Tester,” which you can use to find out to which tab in the Gmail surface an e-mail will be sorted before sending a campaign.
On the website of the DMARC-specialists dmarcian (https://dmarcian.com) you can find tools relating in particular to DMARC and the associated technologies SPF and DKIM, which considerably simplify the implementation of DMARC.
This organization has taken on the task of encouraging the spread of DMARC. The website at https://dmarc.org/resources/deployment-tools/ contains, alongside many articles, tutorials and statistics, a collection of tools for generating, checking and parsing DMARC records, and much more.
Internet.nl email Test
An initiative of the Dutch government and industry makes a simple-to-use test available at https://internet.nl/test-mail/ to evaluate a range of standards. Are the mail servers reachable with IPv6? Is the domain signed with DNSSEC? Are my e-mails authenticated and does my mail server use transport encryption? The test provides answers to all these questions and details on the assessment and the meaning of the results for the individual points.
Sending e-mails is easy. Sending large volumes of e-mails professionally is not. The technologies necessary to ensure a well-functioning platform have their quirks.
However, with the help of the tools mentioned above they can be mastered. Given that these tools can be used free of charge, there’s no reason not to try them.
DKIM Alignment – Matching of Header Domains
In email marketing, email service providers are predominantly used for the technical creation and sending of emails.
However, the content and campaigns are developed and created by a brand. Reputable brands send the campaigns and content in their own name using their own widely recognised brand domain.
If the domains in the header of an email are signed by a DKIM, the mailbox provider knows that they have not been misused. Only a legitimate user of the domain can store the public key for the DKIM in the DNS and at the same time add the signature using the private key.
We refer to DKIM alignment as the correspondence between the domains used in the individual headers of an email (Header.From, Mail.From, Reply-To and others) and the domain “d=” of at least one DKIM signature.
Single or multiple signatures
Basically, there are no specifications as to the maximum number of DKIM signatures an email may contain. As a result, it is theoretically possible to include a DKIM signature for every single domain used.
However, if you consider the multitude of theoretically possible domains in an email header and body, such as
- From as specified in RFC5322
- From as specified in RFC5321
- list header
- link tracking
- image links
- other domains,
it becomes clear that adding the necessary DKIM signatures in the email header can make it very confusing and complex.
It is, therefore, wise to configure an email setup in such a way that there can be a meaningful use of domains and DKIM signatures.
Scope of the DKIM Alignment
Basically, we distinguish between simple, full or extended DKIM alignment:
- Simple DKIM Alignment -> DKIM domain matches the Header.From domain (RFC5322) at least at the organisational level
- Full DKIM Alignment -> DKIM domain matches the Header.From domain (RFC5322) and the Mail.From domain (RFC5321) at least at the organisational level
- Extended DKIM alignment -> DKIM domain matches the Header.From domain (RFC5322), the Mail.From domain (RFC5321) and other domains of the email header (Reply-to, List header, others) at least at the organisational level
Relaxed or strict DKIM alignment
In addition, the DKIM alignment can be set as relaxed or strict. In this further categorisation, the organisational domains of a sender or a brand, or the subdomains of these organisational domains that are used, play a role.
- Relaxed DKIM Alignment -> the correspondence of the DKIM domain with the header domains at the organisational level – E.g. example.com -> child.example.com
- Strict DKIM Alignment -> the exact match of the DKIM domain with the header domains – E.g. example.com -> example.com or child.example.com -> child.example.com
The most common best practice examples
Essential and decisive for the successful delivery of emails to the inbox are the Header.From Domain as specified by RFC5322 and Mail.From Domain as specified by RFC5321. Accordingly, a DKIM signature should be created that covers both From headers simultaneously – full DKIM alignment.
Example – simple, relaxed DKIM alignment
DKIM Domain = example.com
5322.From = child1.example.com
Example – simple, strict DKIM alignment
DKIM Domain = child.example.com
5322.From = child.example.com
Example – complete, relaxed DKIM alignment
DKIM Domain = example.com
5322.From = child1.example.com
5321.From = child2.example.com
Example – complete, strict DKIM alignment
DKIM Domain = child.example.com
5322.From = child.example.com
5321.From = child.example.com
DKIM Alignment in accordance with item 2.21 of the CSA criteria
With the update of the CSA criteria, all emails from a sender must contain a DKIM Alignment from 18.01.2022 onwards. According to item 2.21 of the CSA criteria, this means at least the relaxed match of the “d=” tag of at least one DKIM signature with the domain from the From header (RFC5322), at least at the organisational level.
Example – simple, relaxed DKIM alignment
DKIM Domain = example.com
5322.From = child1.example.com
Cybersecurity: Protecting Your Business
Email is a vital part of business communication – now so more than ever. A growing amount of confidential information is being sent through email as more and more businesses take their operations to the home. However, this growth in remote working traffic spells trouble. Cybersecurity threats have increased from attackers trying to steal confidential information and exploit vulnerabilities.
Vinet believes cybersecurity is a top priority and not something to be left down to employees or considered an afterthought. With that said, what can email recipients and senders do to protect themselves? These are our tips and tricks to guard against cybersecurity threats and point you in the right direction…
Combating Phishing and Malware
As an employee or business owner, you should be asking yourself, “would I be able to detect a phishing email or malware attack?”. If the answer is no, getting a better understanding of email security can help prevent a breach.
Phishing emails are a cyber attacker’s attempt to get you to hand over sensitive data and personal information. They are usually characterized by four tell-tale signs. Look out for:
- Immediate calls to action
- Any spelling mistakes and poor grammar
- Inconsistencies in email addresses and links
- Any suspicious attachments
Check the contact name and email address of the sender, too. With these emails, you’ll often find misspellings in the sender’s domain name and an email that doesn’t match.
Email cyberattacks – like phishing scams and malware emails – are designed to create panic. If the messaging is telling you to do something right now – either by its wording or the threat of fines – this is an immediate red flag.
Keep an eye out for emails with an attached zip or ‘.exe’ file; these can also be harboring some nasty surprises.
If you’re suspicious, just slow down and take your time looking at it. More often than not, you’ll get that ‘a-ha’ moment as one of these signs reveal themselves when looking with fresh eyes. And if you’re still worried, chat with your IT manager.
Spam, Spam, Spam…
Half of all emails are from spam senders and with billions of emails being sent daily, they can become a dangerous nuisance.
There’s not only the chance of malware finding its way into your inbox; an overload of spam can gum up the works, causing networks and servers to slow or crash. This will cost you time and money fixing a problem that could be easily avoided.
Bolster your email cybersecurity by checking your spam filter and toggling settings to redirect any questionable emails into a different folder. Filters can’t stop everything, so you should become familiar with the signs of a suspicious email to make sure you aren’t caught out.
Whatever you do, don’t reply. Responding to these emails shows those orchestrating cyber-attacks that your email address is still active.
Get some extra assistance in dealing with spam by making sure you have multiple layers of anti-virus security. Having the watchful eye of different anti-virus systems increases the likelihood of any nasty new malware, embedded within spam emails, being quickly detected and wiped.
Keep it Legal
It happens to the best of us – attaching the wrong file in an email or sending to the wrong person – but if you’re not prepared, it can have some serious legal implications.
Cyber threats aren’t relegated to just stopping malware – they can be internal too.
For example, not having a compliant email disclaimer in your signature can leave you in hot water – as discovered by an online vendor in England whose automated signature cost him £25,000 when it was considered to be ‘legally binding’.
Avoid this by removing any contract terminology in your disclaimer. Remove any terms that could be seen to be a legal agreement. We recommend you also let people know any views expressed in the email do not reflect those of the company.
Emails should also include relevant copyright and confidentiality statements for peace of mind.
If your business is located in the SA, you must comply with the SA POPIA Act. You need to make sure your email disclaimer has: a company name, registration number, the place of registration.
Other countries/regions such as the United States and the European Union (EU) have their own set of email disclaimer laws. Brushing up on these can help international businesses avoid getting caught out.
Follow the basic rules of effective email signature design, too. Include only the necessary contact details along with a small, yet recognizable color palette. Avoid putting links to private social media accounts, personal phone numbers, and addresses as these could attract some unwanted attention.
A centralized email signature management solution makes it simple for businesses to manage all employee email disclaimers, keeping them consistent even while your team is working remotely.
First Line of Defense
You can have all the right security software in place, but it won’t make a difference if your team isn’t clued-up on how to spot and stop a cybersecurity threat in its tracks.
With over 30 percent of phishing emails making it past default security software, those on the front-line need to know how to protect against a cyber attack.
Create an effective ‘human firewall’ by organizing external training or an educational seminar from a cybersecurity expert, to boost your team’s knowledge and confidence in detecting threats.
Try tailoring your training specifically to your company’s needs to keep everything relevant and streamlined. For example, small businesses relying heavily on email communication should prioritize training for avoiding phishing scams and malware, and spotting fraudulent content in real-time.
The modern move to remote working has seen a rise in ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policies. This brings many new security challenges for businesses.
Teams are now trusted to set up their own kit correctly, but it’s difficult for businesses and IT managers to stay on top of all outgoing emails.
This works both ways though. Employees often worry about logging into work apps on the same devices they use for their entertainment.
Take these steps to protect business data and confidential emails while your team works from home.
Introduce Mobile Device Management (MDM) software on personal devices. This lets businesses control the range of tech used by its people. MDM systems keep company information in one secure place, separate from personal apps. This means employees can use their devices for personal and business use, without mixing the two or compromising cloud security.
In addition, make sure basic security software is installed on all devices. Password-protected files, firewalls, and anti-virus software are a must for any devices used to access company files.
You should think of a professional email signature block as an electronic, 21st-century business card. When you create an email signature, don’t think of it just as a way to convey basic contact information; it should also be used to promote your brand’s identity, provide important marketing content, and maintain your organization’s legal compliance.
What is an email signature?
An email signature is a block of text that automatically appears at the end of an email message. It is used to provide recipients with your contact details such as your name, job title, phone number, and email address.
This guide is intended to show you what how to make an email signature that will stand out in a recipient’s inbox. If you get all the key elements right when you create your email signature, you will always present your brand professionally and improve the reach of your marketing and feedback efforts.
How to create a professional email signature
The best email signature templates are made up of eight key components. These then all work together to offer businesses of any size multiple marketing and feedback opportunities.
- Ensure your contact details in an email signature are up-to-date and correct. Tell people who you are, what you do and how to get in touch with you.
- Make your email signature as consistently on-brand with your corporate logo.
- Let recipients easily book appointments via a dedicated calendar link.
- Include a display banner to promote your key campaigns, events, and tactical offers.
- Use an appropriate email disclaimer for legal compliance.
- Quickly gain customer insight by using 1-click feedback buttons.
- Showcase your credibility with certifications and award logos.
- Link your social media accounts.
View our interactive email signature graphic to see how all of these components work together to create the best quality templates.
Let’s now look at each component individually to see how they should be used in a professional email signature.
How to present your contact information
Whenever you create an email signature, the main foundation are the contact details. You must include a minimum of standard contact attributes that are easy to read. You can then enhance these with additional elements such as gender pronouns, office hours, etc.
What contact details should be included?
- The employee’s first (given) name and surname. You’d be surprised how many people think using a nickname is acceptable. In fact, over 30% of business email signatures don’t even include a name.
- Job title. This lets recipients know what type of person they are dealing with. They may rely upon your job titles to understand the structure of your organization and the way it operates.
- Company name. Having your company name in your corporate email signature is a no-brainer. This can be done using plain-text, but we advocate using your corporate logo instead.
- Telephone number. This should be the main number that the employee can be reached on, be it a landline or business mobile.
- Email address. Some email clients like Outlook and Gmail use display names rather than email addresses. So, when forwarding on an email, the recipient might only see “John Smith” or “Sarah Green” rather than the actual address. That’s why we recommend you include your email address in your signature and link it with a “mailto:” link. That way, a recipient can simply click the link to send an email.
- Web URL. Adding a link to your company’s website is a great way to get additional online traffic, especially considering how many emails your organization sends a day.
Add a photo image to humanize email conversations
Creating a corporate email signature with a photo image can help to build extra levels of professionalism and trust with recipients. The popularity of personal photos on social media sites suggests there is value in putting a face to written communication. You can include a photo in your internal email signature, external one or both – it’s up to you!
Include your company logo and branding
Moving beyond the contact details involves ensuring your company email signature conforms to your brand guidelines. It’s important to remember that image plays a large part in any organization’s reputation. Most companies spend a long time developing their brand and taking it to market. Email signature blocks reflect your brand just as much as any other branded materials.
The best professional email signature examples will use corporate brand guidelines to convey the professionalism of a company’s brand. Email signature branding can then build and promote your organization’s brand awareness, particularly through the use of your corporate logo.
Include an appointment booking link
Adding dedicated calendar links to your email signature offers recipients an easy way to schedule meetings and demos with you.
All they need to do is click on the scheduling link and choose a time that works best for them. This avoids lengthy email conversations and makes the process of scheduling your time much easier.
Also by linking to your calendar, you can let people know your working hours. This can be used to make sure your email signature always gives accurate and helpful information to your business contacts.
Use promotional banners to turn your email signature into a marketing channel
The middle section of your email signature is the perfect location to display a graphical banner. This is used to provide a clear call to action to access new content such as a white paper, highlight special offers, etc. Even better, the signature clicks are all free.
How should you use an email signature banner?
- Always go for simplicity with the design. A banner typically goes below the contact details, so it naturally carries weight and credibility. There will be no other distractions for an engaged reader. You can tone down the intensity of the design so your message lands more effectively.
- Consider altering the banner messaging for different teams. For example, potential buyers could see an introductory special offer while a regional office could promote a local event. You could also bring up potential upsell or cross-sell opportunities. The sales message will be suggested rather than imposed or forced.
- Use display banners for internal communications. Some examples would be for internal job opportunities, company-sponsored training, corporate events, and general office reminders. Employees will then passively read and process the message without feeling pressure to take immediate action.
- Make sure your banners don’t go stale. Don’t continue promoting expired promotions or use banners that no longer conform to your brand guidelines. Keep on top of these just as much as you would any other of your marketing assets.
- Track their performance. Add tracking code or UTM parameters to the URL you embed in the banner. This will help you better understand customer engagement and conversions via an analytics platform. You can then quantify your contacts’ interest with your email signature content and how likely they are to convert to the individual level.
What to include in an email disclaimer
Even though they are a holdover from the early days of email, disclaimers are still a matter of lawful and safe operation for many organizations.
In practice this means:
- The specific content of any disclaimer text will vary according to where your emails are going and when.
- Sections of each disclaimer may require a level of personalization such as the actual sender’s name in order to fully comply with certain rules.
As best practise:
- Place the disclaimer apart from the rest of the signature, pretty much after the logo and display banner.
- Make sure the disclaimer font is small. No one wants their email completely taken over with a massive block of text.
View our content on email disclaimers to learn more about their importance, how to add them to your emails, and different geographic laws.
How to use 1-click feedback buttons in email signatures
It’s easy to turn an email signature into a customer feedback channel as well as marketing one. You can gain valuable customer insight by adding simple 1-click feedback buttons to your signature.
How do you use a survey in an email signature?
- Each button measures the level of customer satisfaction. These buttons are then represented as universal icons like smileys or stars so that they can easily be understood by anyone.
- These buttons can then be used to direct customers to different landing pages allowing them to add further comments should they wish.
As with all other email signature elements, make sure these survey buttons aren’t too large and distract when you make an email signature. You want them to be unobtrusive, yet noticeable enough that people will want to click on them.
Add company awards and corporate certifications
Corporate certifications and company awards in email signatures often provide value, but they need to be managed and leveraged correctly. Putting individual achievements on email provides employees the opportunity to make a strong statement about their expertise as well as provide them with a positive morale boost.
The same is also true if you win an industry award. It tells recipients that you are the best at what you do and that your industry has recognized you for it. Creating email signatures that actively promote award wins means they will be seen by thousands of recipients, thereby increasing their exposure.
Why use social media icons in your email signature
Finally, use company email signatures to promote your social media profiles and your latest content to the people with the highest chance of connecting with it – the people who read your corporate emails.
Combining social media accounts with email signatures is a great way to get loads of new fans for free, improve the reach of your marketing campaigns, and increase your customers’ loyalty. Social media links are basically free marketing tools.
How do email signatures and social media profiles work together?
- Email signatures have a strong situational element. A recipient is already thinking about your company when reading your email. This means they can probably spare a few minutes to take a look at your social media profiles once they’re done.
- Social media often provides the most up-to-date information from your company. Linking your profiles to your email signatures means you’re keeping your most important clients in the know easily.
- Offering recipients another way to communicate with your company. People are more likely to engage with your brand on social media if they already have an existing relationship with you. Links in your email signature can then be used as a subtle lead nurturing avenue; one that can work better than targeting them with ads and email communications.
However, you need to make sure that the social content you link to is relevant and up to date. Don’t add links to accounts you don’t use anymore. Recipients only want to read relevant and up-to-date content, so adding links to inactive social media profiles is just wasting their time.
- Email signature blocks have more value than just providing contact details.
- Include important contact information only
- Make signatures come alive by adding centrally managed user photos.
- Build and promote brand awareness by featuring your company logo.
- Use promotional banners to showcase marketing campaigns, testimonials, events or special offers.
- Win new followers by promoting your social media channels.
- Let recipients schedule meetings and demos via a dedicated calendar link.
- Comply with international email law by including an appropriate legal disclaimer.
- Boost credibility by highlighting recent company awards and certificates.
- Gain valuable customer insight with 1-click feedback buttons.
Start creating your own email signature template
So, you now understand what should go into your corporate email signature. Now, it’s time to start building one. Follow our step-by-step guides below and you’ll have a professionally branded business email signature design in no time.
- Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365)
- Exchange 2013, 2016 & 2019
- Exchange 2010
- Exchange 2007
- Outlook 2016 & 2019
- Outlook 2010 & 2013
- Outlook 2007
- G Suite
For other hints and tips on how to make an email signature, read our 17 Email Signature DOs and DON’Ts.
Why do you need to centrally manage your email signature?
You can’t create professional email signatures for all users if you can’t control them. From misspellings to out-of-date display banners, if one team doesn’t have overall control, email signature management can become a nightmare. Once you’ve lost control, you will inevitably incur costs in some way.
The most professional email signatures examples are created through the use of dedicated email signature management solution from Exclaimer. Ensure everyone in your company has a professionally branded business email signature – try it free today!