So, how can you get started? Here are the ten best eSignature solutions in 2018. But let’s clarify a few things, first.
What is Electronic Signature?
An electronic signature is a digital mark indicating agreement to a contract or document. For example, when you sign your name on a courier’s mobile device -- that’s an electronic signature.
eSignature software makes it easy to collect and store these kinds of signatures, usually by enabling you to put entry forms in your documents. They also add an extra level of security by ensuring signatures can be verified.
But what about digital signatures? Are the terms interchangeable?
A digital signature is not the same as an electronic signature. It’s an encrypted “packet” associated with a document.
Digital signature software will create a condensed version of a document -- called a hash -- which will be encrypted using a key in a signatory certificate. This encrypted “hash” is the signature. To validate the signature, the hash is decrypted with the signatory’s key and compared the original document.
Many of the solutions below offer features for both electronic and digital signatures, so you don’t have to pick between the two.
Are Electronic Signatures Legally Binding?
In a word, yes.
There are many cases in which judges have ruled in favor of the veracity of eSignatures. Whenever there’s consent and intent, which is almost always the case, eSignatures are legally binding.
Trusted software providers also add an additional level of security by providing authentication and audit logs, among other features.
Award-winning online software PandaDoc is known for its streamlined user interface and ease-of-use. Its eSignature solution is offered as part of a larger document management tool that includes drag-and-drop form integration, automated workflows, and full audit histories. A number of integrations are also available, including CRM, payment, and file storage apps.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive solution for the management of contracts and documents, all with a built-in eSignature feature, PandaDoc is worth considering.
Price: The professional plan costs $19.99/month per user. Business plans, which include automation, payment collection, and CRM integrations, start at $39.99/month per user. All options include a 14-day free trial.
With over 200,000 users, DocuSign is, hands-down, the most popular eSignature solution on the market. The software is intuitive and easy-to-use and integrates with a wide range of third-party tools. A suite of APIs even allows for custom integrations with your current systems. If integration is at the forefront of your mind, this is the solution to go with.
DocuSign also places a strong emphasis on security, both for the storage of data and the eSignature process and has many high-level security certifications in both Europe and the US.
Price: The standard plan is $25/month per user. More advanced plans, which include payment collection and bulk send, begin at $40/month per user. All come with a 30-day free trial.
Adobe was one of the first software companies to enter the e-signature space, and they are still a huge player. The feature-rich platform gives you the power to manage signing workflows from any location with any device.
Adobe Sign is notable for the breadth of integrations with third-party tools (Microsoft, Salesforce, Workday, and more) and its emphasis on global compliance. Adobe sign offers features for both electronic and digital signatures.
Price: The small business plan is $24.99/month per user. Business and enterprise plans, with more exhaustive features, begin at $39.99/month per user. A 14-day free trial is included.
HelloSign brings a unique angle to the market by focusing on customization, customer service, and the web’s first entirely free eSignature plan. Their business plans are also among the best-priced on the market.
HelloSign’s powerful API allows you to embed and fully brand signing options into your documents. The company is also compliant with all major worldwide eSignature laws and offers an array of extensions.
Price: Free plan for up to three documents a month. Pro plan is $13/month and includes five senders. The business plan is $40/month and allows for up to five senders. Enterprise plans are available. All plans come with a 30-day free trial.
eSignLive positions itself as the eSignature software of choice for large enterprises with a need for strong security features. The company has an enviable client list, which includes BMW and IBM.
One intriguing selling point is the option for businesses to use the software on their premises or as part of a cloud-based service. Many integrations and APIs are offered, and the software is both mobile and desktop compatible.
Despite its positioning for larger enterprises, eSignLive is undoubtedly for small businesses, and its mobile apps are particularly easy-to-use.
Price: Only two plans are available. The “Professional” plan is $20/month per user. The “Enterprise” plan works on an individual basis based on volume.
SignNow has garnered numerous awards for its simple, mobile-friendly software. It’s a reliable option for small businesses because of the straightforward interface, the extent of its integrations (including a custom API), and its focused set of features.
SignNow’s main USP, however, is its price. At $5/month per user for unlimited document sending and templates, it’s easily the best-priced option on this list. The more feature-rich “Business Premium” plan comes in at only $15/month per user.
SignNow’s apps for Android and iOS are used by over 40% of Fortune 1000 companies, for good reason. If you're intending to use eSignature software on your phone, you won’t find a better solution.
Price: The entry-level plan is $5/month per user. Full-feature plans come in for $15/month per user. Enterprise plans are available.
SignEasy differentiates itself by offering a minimal user interface intended to be easy to use (as you can guess from the name).
Their tools allow you to create documents from within the platform or integrate drag-and-drop functionality with a variety of third-party tools. Other features allow for self-signing, in-person, and remote signing.
Price: Standard plan with document signing (no in-person signing) is $10/month. Plus plan for small business is $15/month. Premium plan for up to three users is $60/month, and $20/month for each additional user.
RightSignature is Citrix’s contribution to the eSignature space, and the biggest benefit is the speed in which documents can be sent to clients. RightSignature’s apps and desktop solutions enable users to upload, format, and send documents in only a few clicks. A suite of integrations and an API are also offered.
Price: The personal plan is $12/month for one user. The “most popular” business plan is $60/month and allows up to three people. Additional plans start at $90/month.
We’re finishing our list with Signable. It’s the only software used on a pay-as-you-go basis (along with monthly options). The company caters mainly to the U.K. and European market, making it uniquely placed to keep up-to-date with E.U. law. Signable boasts many high-profile European clients.
If you’re looking for simple eSignature software with access to U.K. support and the flexibility of a pay-as-you-go model, Signable is the one for you.
Price: Pay-as-you-go costs £1 per document. Small business plan (for up to 50 documents) costs £19/month. Corporate plan (for up to 750 documents) costs £149/month.
Conclusion: Ditch Paper Signatures for the Faster Alternative
Many people are reluctant to transition from physical signatures to electronic signatures. There’s something inherently satisfying about squiggling that mark at the bottom of a page. But there’s an important point to make, beyond the time both you and your team will save.
There are also many positive benefits for your customers. Making it easy for them to quickly sign contracts, coupled with your ability to track activity and send reminders, will often directly impact your bottom-line for the better. Something as simple as offering the option to use eSignature can lead to more customers, fewer mistakes, and more secure agreements.
That’s difficult to argue against -- satisfying squiggle or not.
Originally published Jun 14, 2018 8:30:00 AM, updated June 14 2018