Some eSignature solutions provide licensing, and therefore pricing, on a per user license basis. Others are priced based on the volume of signatures or user sessions. Still others are based on a blended model of a base fee plus variable fee that depends on usage. In addition, pricing is strongly influenced by a combination of factors such as API capabilities, customer support, integrations, and other features that can add to the value –– but also the cost –– of the solution. Most importantly, when determining whether an eSignature solution’s pricing is fair, it’s important to see if the provider offers flexibility as part of the plan. That’s because a company’s need for eSignatures can vary considerably depending on market factors, seasonality, and business growth or decline. An inflexible provider can undermine a company’s customer experience efforts if demand suddenly increases, but additional sessions can’t be added to the package until much later. Likewise, if demand drops, companies don’t want to be stuck paying for something they aren’t using.

eSignature consumption pricing plans

Companies that are evaluating an eSignature solution should be very aware of what pricing model the vendor offers. Is the eSignature priced per package, per form, per transaction, per user, or is there a flat annual or monthly fee? Which model is best for a company’s needs depends on how it consumes eSignatures, and is therefore based on either a system of sender-initiated processes, or system-initiated processes. In either scenario, it’s important that companies are on the lookout for credit card lock-in. It’s been known to happen in the SaaS industry that vendors continue charging their customers each month, even once their subscription expires. So be sure to work with a reputable vendor that offers human, personal service, and keep an eye on your billing.

Sender-initiated processes:

  • Are considered “ad doc” because they require employees to manually prepare documents for eSignatures
  • Are commonly found among smaller companies that don’t have a large volume of signatures to process
  • Allow customers to test out the volume of eSignature requests before committing to a set price, which would be required from more complete, automated solutions
  • Fastest way of starting to use signatures, as users simply login when they are ready to start a session, or can be accessed through integrations such as Box and Salesforce.

System-initiated processes:

  • Automatically generate eSignature documents, and require no manual work from employees
  • Are typical for large companies with high volumes of signature requests
  • Seamlessly integrate into existing company systems
  • Commonly used for loan applications, new account opening, insurance applications, and government licenses
  • Pricing depends on needs and predicted volumes, but at the beginning it can be difficult to know the exact volume needed

Important considerations

When considering the long-term viability of an eSignature solution, be sure to look out for two critical issues that influence pricing: features and scalability. Here are some questions to ask a product specialist when evaluating an eSignature vendor:

Cost of eSignature features

  • What are the features besides the eSignature itself? Are there additional fees for extra capabilities, such as authentication, payment, and third-party integrations? If so, are they included as part of the base fee?
  • Can workflows be customized? How about the look-and-feel of the frontend?
  • What compliance measures are built in, such as audit trails?

Cost of eSignature scaling

  • How does pricing change if we wish to expand the eSignature solution across additional business units down the line?
  • Does the solution support on premise, private cloud, and public cloud while maintaining a unified code for all environments?
  • How does the solution adapt to changing IT policies, if needed?
By asking the right questions, companies can ensure they are getting the most value for their money from their eSignature provider. This will prevent issues down the line, and enable the eSignature to be an integral part of the business for years to come.

Why sessions are more effective and economical than an 'envelope'

Many eSignature providers charge per “envelope,” meaning when an eSignature is sent.  Here are some reasons that companies considering an eSignature solution might prefer to be charged by “session” rather than by “envelope.” 
  • Are sent directly to customers’ mobile phone via text message have a higher completion rate than envelopes sent to crowded email inboxes.
  • Are sent directly to customers while speaking with them are completed instantly, avoiding the time and cost to chase unsigned documents.
  • Include any number of documents over a period of time rather than a one-time envelope of documents.
  • Are not limited by number of agents. 
  • Include other consumer interactions beyond eSign/eForms including collecting IDs, documents and more.
  • Include any necessary 'resends' to correct common errors (like misspellings) that would otherwise require a new envelope.
  • For self serve and campaigns, a new envelope is charged each time the customer clicks the link to open the doc vs. unlimited interactions sessions. 
For all these reasons, a provider that charges by “session” is frequently the more fair and economical choice. 

The bottom line

The best eSignature solutions allow businesses to test their volume and usage over time, and then change the prices accordingly. They should offer a fair pricing structure, whether it is charging per transaction, per document, or a flat annual fee. The right pricing model depends on each business’s unique needs, but if chosen correctly, the provider can eventually serve more and more parts of the company in a cost-efficient and scalable way.  

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