When I was asked to review CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365, I initially thought this would probably end up being the shortest review in history. After all, how hard is it to append a signature to an email message? Most mail clients have native signature capabilities. What most signature tools lack, however, is an ability to centrally manage email signatures across an organization, which is important for maintaining consistent branding and messaging. As I began to evaluate CodeTwo Email Signatures, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was an extremely feature-rich and yet easy-to-use application for adding signatures to messages sent from Microsoft 365 mailboxes.
The installation process
Installing CodeTwo Email Signatures is a quick and easy process. It mostly consists of accepting a license agreement, providing some credentials, and specifying your location. However, the one aspect of the deployment process that I found interesting is that it allows you to choose between three different signature modes. There is a server-side mode, a client-side mode, and a combo mode.
I won’t get into the intricacies of these various modes other than to say that server-side mode supports all mail clients. Client-side mode only works with Outlook clients (using a modern Web Add-in CodeTwo developed in close cooperation with Microsoft), but unlike server-side mode, it does not require a connector between your Microsoft 365 account and CodeTwo. This means that server-side mode is best for those who need to support a lot of different types of clients. In contrast, client-side mode is a good choice for organizations that primarily use Outlook and are concerned about having messages pass through CodeTwo’s service. It is worth noting that the CodeTwo service is actually deployed on Azure, in the same datacenter as the customer’s Microsoft 365 tenant, so emails are not routed externally. Also, everything is protected by a 4-layer security system based on Microsoft cloud technologies to provide the highest SLA. Combo mode, as you would expect, is a mashup of server-side mode and client mode.
CodeTwo does a really good job of explaining these differences during the setup process, even going so far as to provide flow charts and a table describing the differences between the various modes. The screenshot below is an excerpt from the Setup wizard. (Click on the image to see it full screen.)
Product features and capabilities
As I mentioned earlier, CodeTwo Email Signatures is extremely feature-rich. There is no way to possibly cover all of the features within the confines of a review. That being the case, I want to focus my attention on a few of the features that I was most impressed with. Before I get into that, let me quickly mention that the software does allow you to assign users separate signatures for internal and external email. Banners, logos, or other graphics can be automatically embedded into the message so that those graphical elements do not have to be downloaded by the recipient.
As I worked with CodeTwo Email Signatures, I really got the sense that CodeTwo is a company that goes above and beyond what is expected of them. One case in point is that while the company does offer a Web interface for managing signatures, it has also created a desktop application for those who would prefer an app over a browser-based experience. As if that isn’t enough, the company is also developing a separate desktop management tool for Mac users. The screenshot below shows what the signature editor looks like. Incidentally, while you can use this interface to create or edit a signature, you also have the option of directly manipulating HTML code.
The template library
As nice as the signature editor screen might be, there are those of us who lack the artistic talent to create great-looking mail signatures. Thankfully, you don’t have to generate signatures from scratch. CodeTwo provides a template library that you can use as the basis for mail signatures.
As you can see in the screenshot below, you can turn the various template elements on or off to meet your own unique needs. For instance, you might turn off some of the social media icons. Additionally, CodeTwo does not lock you into using a template verbatim. You can use a template as a starting point and then modify the signature as you see fit.
It is worth noting that regardless of whether you create a signature from scratch or from a template, you don’t have to hard code the text within the signature. Signatures are able to leverage the data that is stored within your Active Directory (both text and the user’s photo).
One of the really important things about CodeTwo Email Signatures I wanted to mention is that you are in no way locked into using the same signature format for all of your users. CodeTwo makes it possible to create groups and apply a signature to the group members. In fact, you can even delegate someone to manage the signatures for a given group. This means that individual business units can have their own signatures.
Logic within CodeTwo Email Signatures also makes it possible to assign a signature to a user’s mailbox based on a variety of factors. For example, you could use a different signature depending on which city a user resides in.
Similarly, you can create logic that tells CodeTwo Email Signatures what to do if information is missing from a user’s Active Directory account. If, for example, an organization’s standard mail signature contains each user’s mobile number, but a particular user’s account does not have a mobile number listed within the Active Directory, then logic could be created to omit the mobile number line completely rather than showing a mobile number field with blank data. As an alternative, you could substitute a different number, such as the employee’s desk phone or the organization’s main phone number.
Although CodeTwo Email Signatures is primarily intended as a tool for creating signatures, it is possible to create logic that removes unwanted signature elements from the messages that a user sends. For example, you might strip away the “Sent from my iPhone” text that is so often added to messages sent from mobile devices.
While I am on the subject of conditional logic, there was one feature in particular that I found to be especially compelling. CodeTwo allows you to use mail signatures on a scheduled basis. Imagine for a moment that your organization is going to be attending an upcoming conference. Two weeks before the conference starts, you could configure CodeTwo Email Signatures to automatically display a banner in each employee’s signature that says something like “come visit us at booth number…”. The same schedule can also automatically remove the banner once the conference is over. Because the entire process is automated, nobody has to remember to turn the banner on or off.
Whenever I write a review for TechGenix, I give the product a star rating between zero and five stars, with five stars being a perfect score. I decided to give CodeTwo Email Signatures a perfect score of five stars, which is a gold star award.
Those of you who have read the other product reviews I have written know it is extremely rare for me to give any product a perfect score. After all, there is almost always something that can be improved. In the case of CodeTwo Email Signatures, however, I legitimately could not think of a way to improve the product. CodeTwo has exceeded my expectations in every way and created a top-notch product. I enthusiastically recommend CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365 for anyone who needs to gain better control over their user’s email signatures.