A story once circulated that while the Americans spent millions of dollars to produce a pen that could write in space, the Russians simply used a pencil.
Although a myth, this tale serves as a useful reminder that the quickest and easiest way to solve a problem can often be to keep things simple.
If you are a fan of simplicity, then chances are that you’re already using an e-signature solution to manage your document workflow. But with so many different e-sign products out there, how can you be sure that you’re using the right one for your specific needs?
In this article, we’ll make an honest comparison of how the e-signature solution market leaders perform in three key areas. You’ll gain valuable insight that will make choosing your first e-signature solution or reviewing your current service provider simple.
Although proud of the e-signature solution offered by SignRequest, we've strived to approach this subject from an independent viewpoint and to fairly and accurately present the services offered by each company referenced below.
Who Offers the Best Signing Solutions?
With the e-signature market set to be worth $5.5 billion by 2023, it should come as no surprise that more than one mouth is after a bite of the e-signing pie.
Set aside the small-scale operations and there are in fact seven major players offering e-signature solutions and they are SignRequest, DocuSign, PandaDoc, SignNow, Hello Sign, AdobeSign and Eversign.
From a distance, it may seem that the services offered by these companies all mirror each other closely but in truth, they vary quite considerably. While each provider offers the convenience of e-signing, some are more focused on security while others pride themselves on offering a dazzling array of features.
And, while some services are aimed specifically at meeting the needs of behemoth multi-nationals, others are designed to principally benefit Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) or even individual freelancers.
E-Signature Services by Category
Broadly speaking, the electronic signature market is made up of three core segments:
- Big Business Integrators
- Security Safeguarders
- Feature Fanatics
They each have their own up- and downsides.
Big Business Integrators
The first segment consists of firms that offer e-signature solutions for specific companies or job functions. These service providers specialize in integrating their solution into a company’s existing system without disturbing that company’s workflow. Their main clients are massive corporations for whom the mere idea of downtime would be an impossibility.
E-signature service providers that fall within this category are DocuSign and PandaDoc. Both these companies target their products to either large companies or to specific companies that will provide a good financial return on the investment required to facilitate the seamless integration of the e-signature service.
The second segment of e-signature service providers comprises companies that place a heavy emphasis on security. These organizations store data behind a wall of cybersecurity safeguards and go to every effort to ensure that the e-signature process proceeds safely.
Companies that fall into this category are SignNow, which has acquired numerous certifications for security and HelloSign, which uses encryption and multi-factor authentication plus a raft of other safety features.
SignRequest strikes a good balance by offering great security with minimal fuss. Instead of an exhaustive list of security features, the company uses only high-quality providers and advanced encryption to minimize risk.
The third and final segment is made up from companies that offer an e-signature solution with lots of features and product differences as part of a wider functionality.
Nestled within this segment is AdobeSign which is packed full of features and boasts a great many integrations including one with PayPal that enables payments to be collected from customers as they fill and complete forms. Also, in this category, Eversign offers a wide variety of ways to sign.
Designed for maximum productivity, SignRequest avoids adding in features that distract while offering few benefits. This functional approach will find favor with those whose biggest priority is to get the job done.
Some companies will straddle more than one category, for example, PandaDoc offers e-signing as part of a comprehensive document management system to large organizations.
The Lone Ranger
As a provider that offers a secure, streamlined and affordable e-signature service to a truly diverse range of customers, SignRequest stands in its own separate category.
Integrations and features are available in moderation and security is a top priority. However, our biggest focus is on providing a service that is easy and super user-friendly to use.
How do the Big Seven Compare?
All seven major e-signature service providers present their products in a way that is unique to them, making it impossible to carry out a direct comparison of their services simply by looking at each organization’s website.
So, to give you a clearer idea of how the different service providers stack up, we will be comparing them in three key areas: the option to sample, the number of features and pricing.
Sampling the Service
A practical way to decide whether or not an e-signature solution is right for you is to sample it. Signing up for a free trial gives you the opportunity to address any concerns you may have before you part with any of your hard-earned cash.
Sampling an e-signature solution will give you an idea of how easy (or difficult!) it is to navigate. It will also give you an understanding of what features you can access and how they work. Give as many as you can a good test drive so you can decide which ones will be genuinely useful to you and which ones you can very easily do without.
Completing a free trial has the additional benefit of giving you valuable insight into the standard of customer service which you can expect to receive from a particular provider. If a company is unreliable, rude or pushy in this initial period of interaction, then you’d be wise to take your business elsewhere.
Which Free Trial Gives You the Most Value?
Out of all the seven leading e-signature service providers, EverSign is the only company that doesn’t offer potential customers any type of free trial whatsoever. However, the company does offer a free subscription service which you can start using immediately to send up to five documents a month.
Of the remaining six companies, Adobe Sign offers the shortest free trial. Potential customers have the option to sample either an annual prepaid plan or a monthly plan for one week before making a financial commitment.
With a free trial period that’s 14 days long, SignRequest gives potential customers twice as much time to decide if the service is right for them. Two subscription services are available to sample – the Professional and the Business. A free trial of either one will grant you access to all the available features of that particular subscription so you can work out which ones are useful to you.
By offering a completely free subscription service that you can start using straight away to securely send up to ten documents a month from any device, SignRequest offers the best value.
We truly believe that an electronic signing solution is an essential business tool that should be within the grasp of everyone, from the entrepreneur who is just starting out to the biggest multinational – that's why we give you a valuable SignRequest experience even when you simply opt for a free subscription.
Start a free SignRequest Professional or Business trial right away on our website.
PandaDoc doesn’t offer a free service option, but it does let you sample three of the company’s subscription service options - Individual, eSignature or Business – for 14 days free of charge.
SignNow offers a longer free trial period of 30 days but it only covers its Business Premium subscription service. HelloSign also offers a 30-day free trial, as does DocuSign though of which specific subscription service is not stated.
An Avalanche of Features
All seven of the e-signature service providers invite you to do more with your documents than simply get them signed.
Additional features range from practical and time-saving options like the ability to create templates for the documents you use most frequently right up to more niche extras like being able to sign documents when your internet browser is in kiosk mode.
What features you need will depend on what you want to do, but if you are seeking a service that represents good value for money then it’s worth checking that you will regularly use any extra features that you have to pay more money to access. That might mean looking up some of the more obscure ones which you may not have encountered before during your day-to-day life.
With just 16 features, HelloSign offers the most basic service and it’s one which is centered completely on e-signing. Options like adding your company logo into email communications are offered, but a few features which many people would find useful, such as being able to bulk-send one document out to multiple people for signature simultaneously, are absent.
SignRequest is a dedicated e-signing service also. As a result of this, the company keeps things blissfully uncomplicated by offering a modest 34 different features, all of which are genuinely useful.
Users can bulk send, add attachments, take advantage of two-factor authentication and add creative touches like adding in company colors and branding. All the essentials, for example, integration with universally popular software, are covered but with no unnecessary fluff or gimmicks.
EverSign follows suit with just 39 features which fit into six main and primarily practical categories which include Audit Trail, Documents & Security and Templates. The features are designed with business users in mind and include options to assist team management and integrate with specific apps.
Adobe offers 42 features including useful integrations with business applications such as Salesforce, Workday and Ariba. This particular e-signing company also lets you collect payments from customers as they fill in and sign forms with a Braintree account.
At DocuSign, e-signing is offered as just one service among many. A total of 82 additional features are offered, grouped by category to prevent you from getting lost. The various categories include Data, Documents, Workflow and International with specific features aimed at everyone from universities to massive multi-national organizations.
PandaDoc also caters to a whole raft of services beyond e-signing such as proposals, quotes, contracts, and payments. The total number of features offered by this company is 98 so it is likely to include some you haven’t heard of, though they may be just the ticket for your particular business.
The e-signature service provider offering the largest number of features – a whopping 112 – is SignNow. If you are after a very particular niche feature, then these guys represent your best chance of finding it as they have all the bells and whistles.
The services of this provider are skewed away from the individual freelancer or small business towards larger commercial concerns, which means they might not be the right choice if you like to keep things straightforward and functional.
SignRequest has a more targeted approach to features. Instead of confronting users with a mass of gimmicky add-ons, we offer a streamlined service that focuses purely on what you need to get the job done. Designed around the demands of real-world business, SignRequest’s easy-to-use features menu will speed up your workflow instead of distracting you from the task at hand. The result is a clutter-free digital workspace for your document management needs.
As far as pricing goes, it may come as a very pleasant surprise to learn that three of the big seven e-signature service providers offer a free subscription service. Choose SignRequest, EverSign or HelloSign and you can create an account and start sending documents out for signature straight away.
Of course, the free subscription service offered by these three providers comes with restrictions limiting the number of documents you can send per month. With SignRequest you can send up to 10 documents for free each month.
EverSign will only allow you to send 5 per month, of which three can be automated using the company’s API. With HelloSign you can only send 3 documents per month, though usefully, the service, just like SignRequest, is integrated with Google Drive and does come with status notifications and an audit trail.
SignRequest’s ‘free forever’ subscription service comes with no time limit. Users of this service can send and sign documents from any device. The service, which supports 16 different languages, offers integrations with Google, Zapier, Formdesk, Salesforce and more. It also provides the user with a secure audit trail.
The drawback of free subscription services is that they restrict how many documents can be sent per month and they don’t allow the user to access many features which they would probably find extremely useful. However, if you are a self-employed freelancer or you are running a small part-time business/hobby type concern, then they are a great place to start and may even be sufficient for your needs.
Our vision is to keep things simple; we don't want to overload you with complicated features that you don't need. Instead, we keep e-signing simple with a carefully chosen selection of easy-to-use features.
The Best Budget-Busters
As far as paid-for plans go, in this article, we’re going to focus on the most affordable basic subscription services available. It’s worth noting that all the following plans cost more if paid for on a monthly rather than an annual basis.
With our Professional plan, you will be able to access 15 different features in addition to those that come with the free plan. These features include being able to create 5 templates, customize landing pages for your clients, add your company branding to email communications and send attachments and reminders.
This plan is integrated with Slack and Zapier. With it you will receive notifications on the status of all the documents you send out for signature and you can also send multiple documents to be signed at the same time.
The cost of the SignRequest Professional plan starts at €7/$7 if paid for on a yearly basis. Depending on how you choose to pay, you can add additional users to the Pro plan to facilitate team-work.
At $7.99 per month, if billed yearly, EverSign’s Basic plan is the second most reasonably priced subscription service. With this plan, a user plus one team member can create three templates and send an unlimited number of documents, ten of which can be automated using API.
The third most affordable subscription is the Business plan offered by SignNow, which, like SignRequest, also makes it possible for a team of multiple users to work together by sharing access to the same account.
The plan costs $8 per user per month on an annual subscription. This plan places no limits on the number of templates you can create nor on the number of documents you can send. It can be accessed from your iPhone or iPad or by using an Android app and offers password-protected signing for multiple signers.
PandaDoc offers an Individual Plan for a maximum of two users for $9 per month per user if you purchase a one-year subscription. This plan is a basic one that allows only 60 documents to be sent per year.
AdobeSign offers a plan that costs $9.99. The Individual plan allows you to send documents and request e-signatures from any device. Priced at $14.99 unless you purchase a one-year subscription, it also lets you receive reminders and notifications.
At $10 per month, the Personal plan offered by DocuSign is ever so slightly more expensive. This subscription allows one user to send just 5 documents out for e-signature per month. It is integrated with Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Microsoft Office and Google Drive and you can download a free iOS or Android app to send documents from your mobile device.
The priciest of the basic plans is offered by HelloSign. Their Professional plan costs $13 a month when paid annually. This plan comes with status notifications and is integrated with Google Drive. The number of documents you can send per month is unlimited, but you can only use one template and only one sender can access the account.
The most budget-friendly paid for service is the Professional plan offered by SignRequest. This plan, which costs just €7/$7 per month if paid for via an annual subscription, gives you access to a variety of features and will allow you to send an unlimited number of documents.
The Low Down
As you can see, there is a huge variation between the services offered by the seven big e-signature service providers in terms of free trials, features and pricing.
Big businesses with multiple teams who are looking for multi-faceted integration and an overflowing cup of features will likely find a good fit with DocuSign, PandaDoc or AdobeSign.
HelloSign and SignNow are more suited to smaller enterprises but their basic plans come with definite restrictions. Choose either of these options and you will most likely find yourself paying out for more expensive plans to access all the features you need to get the job done.
Although EverSign is a good option for those on a tight budget, users who don’t work solo may become frustrated with the limitations of the company’s cheapest plan which allows for only 1 additional person to be added to an account as a team worker.
SignRequest represents the best value for money by far. Users can pick between a free plan, perfectly shaped to meet all basic e-signature needs and a purpose-built Professional plan with just the right number of features to make document management efficient, straightforward and cost-effective.
By offering a carefully curated selection of features, SignRequest prevents users from having to wade through content that isn’t relevant to them. Its slick streamlined service is time-efficient, cost-effective and easy to navigate. And, best of all, you can try any SignRequest plan for free now for 30 days by visiting our website.