The operations focused guide to digital signature software

Digital signature software has become the most effective way for companies to have customers sign papers, authorize work, etc.

Even with such wide adoption, most companies are underusing digital signature tools.

Scroll through this guide to find out:

  • Why using a digital signature program combined with payments increases your business efficiency and cash flow.
  • Three common ways to get signed contracts and capture an electronic signature.
  • Features to look for to meet your business needs with software for digital signatures.
  • Best practices for implementing digital signature solutions.
  • Insights on pricing and comparisons between the leading digital signature companies.

Why use digital signature software?

Digital signature solutions have become a necessity for most companies that do business online. Here are some of the most compelling reasons companies decide to adopt electronic signature software.


Digital signatures are the fastest way to get authorizations and move on with business. When you request an esignature, there is no need to wait for contracts to be delivered by mail or for people to download a document, sign it, and fax it back.


Digital signature software is cheaper than mail. Sending messages to an email inbox or mobile phone cuts costs paid to letter vendors or spent on paper, stamps, and employee hours preparing documents to be sent.
U.S. businesses waste $8 billion annually just managing paper. It costs an organization an average of $20 to file a document, $120 to find a misplaced document, and $220 to reproduce a lost document.
Corp Magazine

Electronic Signature Solutions Compared to Traditional Paper-Based Processes

Cost Analysis
Paper-based processes
Digital signature software
Materials (toner, paper, envelopes, stamps, etc.)
SaaS subscription fee
Benefits Analysis
Paper-based processes
Digital signature software
Physical control
Environmental impact
Customer experience
Tangible Benefits

Cost Savings: Lower operating costs by cutting out paper, postage, and labor by digitizing document delivery and signature management.

Revenue Impact: Faster turnaround times mean shorter cash flow cycles. Get faster revenue recognition from deals closed or services delivered.


Many companies send important documents like contracts through certified mail, so they know for certain the items were delivered.

Using digital signature software replaces the need for certified mail because there are other methods for tracking digital signatures. This also cuts costs because a good software service won’t charge you extra to use tracking features such as delivery method, recipient interaction, IP address, and geolocation data.


Many company documents need to be handled with care, and shouldn’t be seen by anyone other than the intended recipient. Digital messaging software should be HIPAA compliant, and come with dual-authentication and payment security measures, to ensure customer privacy and data protection.

Customer service

Digital messages aren’t optional anymore for business. Customers expect to use a digital signature tool if your company isn’t face-to-face.

It’s important to offer a fast, easy way to complete esignatures through email or text message. Don’t require customers to download an app, print out paperwork themselves, or wait for a document to come by mail.

Create a better customer experience with digital signature software.


Requesting a signature through a digital channel lets you follow every stage of the customer’s journey. Signature software can easily track the stage of a request (sent, opened, complete, failed, etc.).

Allow individuals or group emails to opt into these tracking notifications, so everyone knows what’s going on.

Organizations with no digital document processes report 10x more at-risk customers and 2x more at-risk revenue than those from other companies.


Analytics are an essential part of any digital process. Using digital signature software makes it easy to access analytics related to your messages. Reporting helps you understand larger customer trends, or to drill down based on what you need to know.
Simplify operations. One platform to send a contract, capture an esignature, and get paid.
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Common ways to use digital signature software

Every company has its own processes for getting documents signed, moving a customer from one stage of a sale to another, and managing other customer transactions.

Digital signature tools make it possible to manage all types of workflows for faster, more convenient customer interactions.

Simple signature

Sometimes, a customer doesn’t need to fill out a document, but you still may require their signature. For example, if you need a simple payment authorization, you just need to verify customers agree to your payment terms.

Document templates with an esignature

One of the most common ways to use your digital signature software is to send a document for customers to fill out, electronically sign, and send back. This is useful for:

  • Customer contracts
  • Work orders
  • Employee documents

Documents and payments together

Another common reason companies use esignature software is to get a digital signature and a payment at the same time. Some examples are:

  • Event contracts and deposit - so the right payment can be associated with the right contract.

  • Rental agreements and deposit - so renters can complete all necessary steps of the process in one message.

  • Law client agreements and retainer fees - so law offices can onboard a client and start working on their case faster.

  • Project Milestone Billing - so companies or freelancers can send the agreement and payment terms, and charge clients a portion of their total cost as each milestone of progress is made on a project.

  • Medical intake forms with a copayment - so healthcare facilities can have patients fill out and sign forms and make a copayment before the start of a visit.
eSignature Workflows for Business Infographic
Amanda Lockwood, Carlisle Wide Plank Floors
Amanda Lockwood
Sales Operations Manager, Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

74% close rate of contracts signed with a payment.

“PDCflow has automated our deposit payment and electronic signature request processes. They've consolidated a multi-step process into one easy peasy step.”
Read Full Case Study

What to look for in an electronic document and esignature solution

Sometimes it’s hard to know what software features will be the most valuable, or even what items are standard for a digital signature software. Here are some of the pieces companies ask for the most.
65% of organizations say integrating digital document processes with everyday productivity applications (like payments) is very important or a critical requirement.

Integrated payments

Many business workflows require a signature and payment at the same time. Rather than making customers go through two separate transactions, streamline the process! Payments and digitally signing together make it easier:

  • To know where customers are in their journey
  • To know whether they have completed all actions needed
  • To track what payments are associated with which customers

White labeled custom branding

For a signature and payment together, the visuals and information that you send your customers should reflect your company’s brand — colors, logo, and contact information.

Look for software that lets you add customized branding and personalized messaging to the emails and SMS you send.

Send emails, SMS, or both!

Some digital signature solutions let companies send a request through email, but require an app or other workaround to send the same requests to a mobile phone number. However, customers now expect SMS communication options if you also offer email.

You should have the option to send signature requests to both an email inbox and a mobile number to serve customers better.

Control over workflows

Not every employee needs (or should have) access to all of the templates your company might create. Companies often segment work by location, department, group, or user.

Your software should come with administrative controls that make it easy to give employees access or restrict it, based on what is relevant to their jobs.

Personalized bulk messaging

There are times when you may need to request many digital signatures or send many messages at once. This is common for companies that:

  • Send annual announcements, documents, or meeting notes to clients or customers
  • Send forms to large customer groups at one time
  • Have employees sign documents online

Your software should allow you to bulk send many personalized messages at one time via a simple method, like a CSV upload.

Message security and compliance

It’s important to know your software follows email delivery best practices and stays current with phone carrier guidelines for SMS messages. Ask the software provider what they do to keep email and text messages secure.

For companies that need to send secure documents a HIPAA compliant software is a good indication that messages will remain private and can’t be accessed by unintended parties.

Robust tracking and analytic tools

You need analytics in your digital signature software so you can view specific transactions and filter items by date or other metrics that help you learn more about workflow performance.

If you have esignatures and payments in one software, like with PDCflow, you can view all of the data and reports in one place, also making it simpler to reconcile accounts.

Digital signatures should also come with a documented audit trail, with features like multi-factor authentication, geolocation, date/time stamp, and delivery method. These pieces of information help prove your signatures are legitimate.

Legal signatures

The digital signatures that you gather should be of a type that’s considered legally binding. Make sure this is true of your digital signature software. To protect your business in the event of an issue, signed contracts gathered through your software should be done through a legal wet signature process.

Drag and drop editor

Drag and drop editor tools are the best option for user-friendly document creation. Drag and drop functionality lets employees of all skill levels create the templates they need to get work done, without spending extra time training.
40% of organizations say they link increased customer satisfaction and increased employee productivity during the pandemic with digital document processes.

Best practices of digital signature requests

Sending out signature requests or other customer messages always comes with a purpose. You may want them to sign a paper, verify a work order, or pay a bill.

For these messages to fulfill their purpose, you need to follow some basic digital communication best practices.

  • Monitor metrics - Are your requests successful? If not, do you need to extend the expiration date on the Flow?

  • Personalize messages - make it easier for customers to complete a form. Use personalized payment portals to auto-fill basic information, so customers don’t have to work so hard to complete a transaction.

  • Make opt-ins a priority - If you send digital signature requests or other digital messages, make sure your company has a reliable workflow in place to receive email and SMS opt-ins.

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Digital signature pricing

Every company is concerned about overhead. Software tools are an investment and should be worth the price you pay. Esignature software pricing should be reasonable and not block major features or functionality behind high payment tiers.

You shouldn’t have to pay for access to things you don’t need just to send the number of messages you want per month.

In addition, your software should reduce other costs for your company. Specifically, replacing printing, paper, and postage expenses should help you lower operational costs.

Many things can impact price:

  • Paying per user - Digital signage platforms that charge per user can get expensive. What’s more, if only a few people in your organization can log in to send a request or view a transaction’s status, teamwork and collaboration will suffer.
  • Template creation - Some companies cap the number of templates you can create for customers. This means businesses that want to use digital signature software for all of their workflows may have to pay more just to create the templates they need.
  • Quantity caps - Many software companies limit pricing tiers by how many requests a user can send per month. This can have an unexpected impact on your operational costs if you have a busy month and need to send more requests than expected.

  • Pay-to-access features - Some companies block services like personalized bulk messages, live customer service help, or access to API integrations behind higher pricing tiers, so your business may need to pay extra just to access them.

PDCflow vs. Docusign vs. Adobe Sign



Adobe Sign

Unlimited users
Unlimited templates
Only available with higher pricing tier.
Unlimited sends
Docusign only allows companies to send a certain number of “envelopes” per month. You must purchase extras if you run out.
Personalized bulk messaging
Only available with higher pricing tier.
Only available with higher pricing tier.
SMS available
However, there is no way to personalize the message sent in Docusign SMS.
Only available with higher pricing tier.
API integration access
Only available with a higher pricing tier.
Only available with a higher pricing tier.
Signature options
  • Simple esignature (no document required)
  • Simple esignature + payment request
  • Document with esignature
Limited workflow flexibility. Can only send a document and get a signature.
Limited workflow flexibility. Can only send a document and get a signature.
Integrated payments
  • Built for payments
  • More credit card processing choices
  • All transaction data in one place
  • Limited options
  • Can only take payments with a Braintree account
  • Need a separate account for payments
  • Only available with a higher pricing tier
  • Can’t request a payment without including a document.
  • No payment portal.

Pricing is on a per transaction basis (volume discounting applies) and includes payments and bulk sends.

No long term contract commitments.

Pricing is on a per user basis. To include payments and bulk sends, you must commit to a higher pricing tier.
Pricing is on a per user basis. To include payments and bulk sends, you must commit to a higher pricing tier.

Docusign overview

As one of the leading signature solutions, Docusign is a well-known brand used often by enterprise companies.

Companies exploring Docusign alternatives have found, though, that many plans may not work for both their workflow needs and their budget.

Some of the limitations customers routinely face in using Docusign are:

  • Prohibitively expensive for small to medium-sized companies

  • No payment portals come with Docusign payments, and there are limited payment processor options available

  • The focus is on documents and signatures, which doesn’t address other types of communication requests your company wants to send

Adobe Acrobat Sign overview

Similar to Docusign, Adobe Acrobat Sign is primarily intended for getting documents filled out and signed.

They offer other features to enhance business workflows, but the cost of Adobe Sign’s higher pricing tiers makes them unobtainable for companies who want to keep overhead low.

Some of the other limitations customers routinely face in using Adobe Acrobat Sign are:

  • Signatures are only available with a document. No way to get a quick, simple authorization.
  • No ability to send requests via SMS, which hurts customer satisfaction for those who want a text message rather than an email.
  • Most features companies want for flexibility and better processes (bulk messages, access to APIs, creating unlimited templates) are blocked behind higher pricing tiers.

PDCflow overview

PDCflow offers more digital signature options and integrated payments at a better price than competitors. What makes our software different?

1. Fully secure and configurable esignatures and contract communications

  • Send requests via email, text message, or both.
  • Send documents with no signature request.
  • Get a simple signature with or without a document, for less complex authorizations.
  • Request photo (ID), image, and file uploads.
  • Advanced security features like end-to-end encryption to keep payment data and customer information safe.

2. Better payment options

  • Send email and SMS payment requests.
  • Encourage self-serve payments with online payment portals.
  • Take payments over the phone with staff-initiated transactions.
  • Set up recurring payments and enable consumer initiated payment schedules via an online portal.

3. Exceptional service and support

  • Get in touch with in-house customer success specialists via email ticketing system and telephone support for any questions or concerns.
  • Access free personalized training – available for all customers.
  • Visit Help Center articles and product walkthroughs for self-help options.

4. Pay for what you use…and not per user

  • Get an account without signing a long-term commitment.
  • Get as many user profiles as your team needs so staff can effectively collaborate.
  • Access personalized bulk messaging, APIs, and other important features for growing your business without moving to a higher pricing tier.
See a how PDCflow compares to competitors

Digital Signatures FAQs