A Guide to Use Electronic Signature Software in 2023


E-signature software allows sending, receiving, and signing documents electronically. This eliminates the need for physical distribution. For example, e-signature software makes sending a contract or document requiring electronic signatures easy. The e-signature software creates a paperless workplace. It also eliminates the need to wait for the recipient to sign the contract and send it without verifying if it has been received.

An e-signature is a digital way to put pen to paper. It can be a sound or symbol, as well as a process, according to the Electronic Signature & Records Association. E-signatures are easily captured on a tablet, mobile phone, or computer. E-signatures verify and validate the intent of the signer while also preserving records. E-signature providers are constantly improving the functionality of their products via native iOS and Android apps or mobile browsers.

E-signature software offers a more efficient way to prepare, send, sign, and verify documents, agreements, and contracts than traditional methods. E-signature software provides a better customer experience, increased workflow efficiency, and a way to stand up against legal requirements. However, because of the sensitive nature of documents that are exchanged and signed using e-signature software, most products comply with strict industry standards for authentication, security, and encryption.

The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act was enacted in 1999. This, along with the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Acts (E-SIGN Act), resulted in greater adoption of e-signature software. June 2000 saw the US Congress pass the E-SIGN Act. This law states that electronic signatures and contracts cannot be denied legal validity or enforceability simply because they are in electronic form. 

The European Union (EU), 2014, created the electronic Identification, Authentication, and Trust Services Regulation (eIDAS Regulation). This regulation, similar to the E-SIGN Act, says that electronic signatures can not be denied legal effect because they are electronic. However, the EU categorizes electronic signings. Qualified electronic signature (QES), the only e-signature with the same legal weight as a handwritten signature, is the crucial distinction between different locations.

Some eSignature solutions can be integrated (or made easier) with solutions that provide e-notary functionality. Both solutions are designed to protect sensitive documents' data integrity. However, electronic notarization does more than encrypt and sign electronic signatures. E-signature platforms also offer document generation capabilities, which can speed up the process of document creation. Both options allow for sharing and storing documents.

However, document generation enables users to create more complex document types, including text-based and graphic versions. In addition, many e-signature products can be integrated with the most popular CRM and document management tools. Integrating an e-signature product into your CRM software or Content Management System can improve the efficiency and management of contract signing.

What are Electronic Signatures?

Electronic signatures must comply with the requirements of signature laws and regulations based on location. E-signatures are available for personal and business purposes. For example, they can be used on purchase orders, sales contracts, and lease agreements. These points will provide details about the different types of electronic signatures and their differences.

"E-signature" can be used to refer to any electronic authentication method that allows you to accept or reject a contract or agreement. This method can be used to verify the identity of signers, from corporate IDs to verified email accounts. In addition, multi-factor authentication can be used to ensure that e-signatures are secure and auditable.

What are Digital Signatures?

Digital signatures are one type of eSignature. Digital signatures can be described as an enhanced version of e-signature with additional security features. A certificate-based digital identification is required for digital signatures. This adds an extra layer of encryption to identity verification methods. The digital signature is then validated by a trust service provider, commonly via certificate authorities (CAs). For various business purposes, companies can use both digital signatures and e-signatures. Digital signatures are often used for higher-risk processes. Some more highly-regulated business processes include loan approvals, bank transactions, and HR management processes.

Standard electronic signatures

An SES, also known as a simple electronic signature (or e-signature), is the most basic type recognized by the EU. These signatures are not required to use enhanced encryption or require authentication. They also do not require stringent authentication and do not require the signing party to confirm the agreement. Although an SES can still support legal requirements, fraud is more likely if the signer's identity has been made easier.

Advanced electronic Signatures (AES)

The e-signature offers additional security measures than SES. The critical difference between AES and SES is the requirement that the signer's identity is verified. eIDAS Regulation states that signatures must be uniquely linked to the signer and capable of identifying them. It can also be used to create electronic signature data they have sole control over.

This data can be linked to any data signed to detect subsequent changes. These requirements reduce the risk of fraud and increase the agreement's legality. In addition, AES can be used to make employment offers or to create a unique password to confirm identity before signing onto platforms. Although this e-signature offers greater security than SES, it is not equivalent to a handwritten signature.

Qualified electronic Signatures (QES)

This type of electronic signature provides the highest level of authentication. The EU recognizes it as an equivalent to a handwritten signature. QES is only available in the EU. There is no equivalent in the US. For a QES to be recognized, the AES and SES requirements must be met. Additional provisions concerning the device that signed the document are also required.

QES is subject to verification by Qualified Trust Service Providers (QTSP). It is created using an electronic signature device. QES has additional requirements that increase authenticity and reduce the risk of fraud or tampering. The EU only recognizes QES as an e-signature. This should be used for contracts or agreements requiring high scrutiny levels.

What types of E-Signature Software Are There?

These bullet points outline the various available types of eSignature software.


Cloud eSignature tools allow you to use a software-as-a-service (SaaS) pricing model and work within a browser. Cloud computing is where most of the new e-signature platforms were created. Cloud pricing is usually a fixed price per user per month. Cloud tools are simple to use, don't require hardware investments, and allow overtime payments based on usage.


The customer owns and maintains the hardware used for on-premises eSignature tools. Customers who use on-premises tools pay an annual fee and a perpetual license based on how many users they have. On-premises tools can be client-server tools or browser-based. You will need to invest in hardware and IT support to install and maintain on-premises tools.

What are the benefits of E-Signature Software?

E-signature software has its advantages.

Improve Workflow Efficiency 

E-signature solutions enable users to digitally create and share documents with the signer. This allows the workforce to concentrate on more complicated tasks. E-signature tools enable users to use already-designed templates and send documents electronically. They also get notified when documents are returned, signed, and seen. This saves time and effort.

Enhance Customer Experience

Instead of constantly checking mailboxes and meeting with the signatory to verify receipt, these solutions allow the signer to receive, review and sign the document electronically. This provides a better user experience for all parties. In addition, many e-signature software integrates with CRM to allow sales teams to receive notifications when agreements are received, reviewed, and signed.

Provide Compliance and Audit Trail

ESignature tools allow businesses to track the movement of documents and detect changes. This tool provides an audit trail that lets companies see who signed what document and when. It also shows where it was signed. It also allows them to know who they are sharing it with. This tool enhances business contract management and ensures compliance with various industry standards.

Improve Cost Efficiency

Esignature solutions eliminate paper trails in contracts. This reduces the need for filing and printing. This reduces the environmental impact of businesses and saves businesses money on administrative and office expenses like paper, printers, fax machines, and pens.

Increase Productivity

Another key benefit of electronic signing software is the reduction in time it takes to sign, send and process agreements or contracts. As a result, e-signature platforms allow businesses to reduce administrative costs and enable employees to concentrate on business priorities rather than sending and receiving contracts.


Businesses can quickly expand their software usage to include additional employees, teams, and the entire company. Businesses can increase their productivity by scaling up their software usage. It is much easier to train users than more complex software. E-signature software allows companies to use the same branding and documentation across their enterprise. Rather than having different departments create documents according to their needs,

Challenges using E-Signature Software

E-signature software comes with its own set of challenges. Below are a few examples.


E-signature tools can electronically sign and exchange sensitive documents. This makes it difficult to ensure safety. Businesses may need help to control or secure the cloud environment where e-signature software is hosted. In addition, companies may be concerned about the security of tools stored on vendor-specific servers and their inability to measure potential vulnerabilities.

Compliance Requirements

E-signature software can be used to sign, review and share documents and agreements across many industries and locations. There are various legal and regulatory requirements that businesses must follow. To reduce the risk of noncompliance, companies should ensure that any tools are used to meet the needs of their industry or region.

Proprietary Software

Proprietary software may cause users to be concerned that they must stay with one vendor for e-signature to avoid losing or compromising any documents they have sent through the solution. Vendors should be aware of the platform's ability to store and download documents in case they need them.

Verification Process

To certify the legality of electronic signatures, the signer must authenticate, give legal disclosure and consent, protect documents from hacking and tampering, and maintain an audit record throughout the document's life cycle. Businesses place great importance on the authentication and verification of signators.


Although many e-signature solutions can be hosted in a cloud environment, businesses still have concerns about storage volume. Some platforms restrict the number of documents that companies can store. Companies should determine how many documents they need to choose the right software.

Which Companies should buy E-Signature Software?

Any business that is required to sign legal documents or agreements can use this software. This means virtually any industry and business could benefit from e-signature software. We have listed the following types of companies according to their size. They can leverage e-signature software according to their future needs.

Small Businesses

Many smaller companies have one person who manages the contract process. This makes them well-positioned for a lower-tiered subscription to e-signature software. In addition, depending on their industry, small businesses may only need a few electronic signatures. This further illustrates how a single-user license can meet their business requirements.

Medium-Sized Businesses

Many vendors of e-signature software offer tiered plans that may appeal to small businesses with a small staff who handle most document signing and document management. These businesses can send more standardized and pre-designed documents that don't require editing or branding. This allows them to concentrate on the number of documents they send rather than the extra features of e-signature software.


Designed for businesses that have multiple stakeholders and need to manage complex document-related processes, such as large companies with sales, legal, and HR departments. This type of business will likely require unlimited documents, more licensed team members, additional templates, custom branding, and other features like different templates.

Tips for Choosing E-Signature Software

Consider the following before you decide on an electronic signature program:

Select a Team

E-signature software is widely available across organizations, from HR to legal, marketing, and sales departments. Each employee group can contribute input since each group might have different needs and software applications. To ensure compatibility, the selection team should include senior members from all departments, including legal representatives, senior sales staff, HR employees, and IT professionals. This team will assess all possible software uses and ensure compliance with potential e-signature solutions.


Reducing risk and assessing your business's requirements when negotiating software contracts is essential. Companies need to determine how many licenses they will require, as most software solutions are priced according to the number of licenses. If the company has cash flow, requesting a discount for an annual upfront payment rather than a monthly fee may be a good idea.

Buyers must determine whether they require assistance implementing the electronic signature software or integrating it with another system. In addition, businesses should decide how long they will need this software to be able to negotiate longer-term contracts.

Final Decision

All information collected should be considered when making the final decision. Prioritizing needs is critical for businesses to ensure they select the right tool. There is no perfect software. However, there is likely to be one that meets their needs.

How Much Does E-Signature Software cost?

E-signature software can be priced in tiers. Lower-tier options offer fewer users and, in some cases, limited access to the tools. The tiers are usually structured so that the lowest tier allows for a single-user license and the upload and signing of a certain volume of documents. As the tiers rise, businesses are often offered additional licenses and features that can be leveraged, such as custom branding, integration options, extra templates, and branding.

The subscription fee to use e-signature software is an ongoing cost. The subscription model for these tools is usually monthly or annually based. Some vendors charge extra for features such as API document capabilities or bulk document signings. Businesses should also take advantage of vendors' free trial offers when implementing electronic signature software before purchasing.

The prices for eSignature Software vary depending on how many users use it and what features they offer. Some providers offer a basic plan for $10 per user, while others provide a limited-functionality-free plan. The pricing of tiered plans increases in functionality and users. Projects can go up to $80-$140 per month, with the possibility of additional charges depending on the business's needs or the number of users. When negotiating pricing plans, companies should consider the number of users who intend to use e-signature. This may be a useful negotiating tool.

Return On Investment (ROI

Many factors impact the ROI of e-signature software, including time saved, administrative expenses, productivity gained, and enhanced user experience.

Below is the breakdown of the ROI estimated time based on review data from G2 as of December 21, 2020:

  • 67.09% of buyers experience an ROI within 6 months or less
  • 17.5% of buyers expect an ROI within 7-12 months
  • 4.7% of buyers expect an ROI within 13-24 months
  • 1.58% of buyers expect an ROI within 24-36 months
  • 0.2% of buyers expect a return on their investment within 37-48 months.
  • 8.84% of buyers still need to see a return on their investment after 49 months.

How does E-Signature Software work?

G2 data shows that 83.77% of users could implement and go live in less than a month. Another 7.66% could implement and go online within one to three months. These data show the widespread use of e-signature software implementation, probably due to its regulatory compliance aspects. E-signature software is available in several ways. It can be implemented by an in-house team or seller services team. A third-party consultant may also be used. Vendors often implement eSignature software through their team due to the speed of implementation and quick go-live.

Who is responsible for E-Signature Software Implementation

Many businesses have chosen to use e-signature software in-house rather than outsourcing it to a third party or using the services of a seller's team. Business leaders can also use e-signature software directly, with some help from IT professionals, to ensure compliance, security, and compatibility.

How does the Implementation Process Look for E-Signature Software?

The first step in the implementation process is to assess which systems and processes will be integrated and interact with the e-signature solution. The first step in implementing e-signature software is to assess which systems and processes the solution will interact with.

When should you Implement E-Signature Software?

Companies should make a compelling business case to acquire e-signature software, given its speed of implementation and short time to go live. After establishing a need for e-signature technology, businesses can implement it after going through the above steps. Companies should expect the implementation to take less than a month and possibly even three months, depending on compliance requirements. It is important to offer resources and training materials for users even after implementation to minimize the risk of compliance issues, learning curves, or other desired integrations.

ESignature Software Trends to Watch Out For in 2023

These are the trends that will rule the market in the coming years, thanks to the increasing use of electronic signature software

Increased Emphasis on Security and Compliance

Many vendors strive to meet or exceed industry security standards, such as the Digital Signature Algorithm adopted in 1993 by the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) for digital signatures. These measures provide guidelines for secure signature and transfer of contracts using modern encryption technology.

There are many compliance requirements for companies that use e-signature software. For example, financial institutions must keep electronic records of documents accessible for a specified period under the E-SIGN Act. HR departments must also ensure that free electronic signatures for employee onboarding comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 1996.

Many e-signature products provide detailed information about security standards and technology. If security is your primary concern, you should choose a product with advanced document encryption capabilities, secure access, and authentication features. You can compare the characteristics of each eSignature solution to ensure you select the right product for you.

Artificial Intelligence, Integration of Apps

Many e-signature software vendors are now using innovative technologies like artificial intelligence to analyze the document signing process. As a result, businesses can collect data about document signing experiences and explore the most closely scrutinized or reviewed areas.

This technology can also be used in various applications that can be integrated into e-signature solutions. This streamlines document signing and centralizes document management. Integrating e-signature software into other business applications can improve customer insight. For example, businesses can track which deals are signed fastest and cross-reference this with customer experience throughout the sales process.

Enhanced Authentication

The world is becoming more concerned about security and potential breaches. As a result, e-signature software also explores ways to secure the process further and prevent unauthentic signed documents. In addition, vendors are exploring biometric electronic signatures to prevent a user from imitating another's signature.

Handwritten biometric eSignatures are one form. This means that a user would draw their signature manually on a touch screen or use a stylus. A fingerprint-based form is also becoming more popular. In this case, a reader would use their fingerprint reader to verify their identity and sign the documents. However, these biometric authentication methods have their flaws. For example, no fingerprint scanners or touch screens are available when signing.

The most accessible fingerprint device, a smartphone, uses a 2D scan to identify the fingerprint. This technology is easy to manufacture and raises some questions about this technology. Advanced fingerprint readers use 3D scanning. These are less common and less likely to be used during the signing process. However, technology advances and security threats remain. As a result, e-signature software vendors may explore advanced authentication techniques to secure and verify digital documents.