Are you wondering how to use e-signatures effectively in your small business? in today’s guest post, Melanie Attia shares seven best tips.

It’s clear; e-signature adoption is a trend that is gaining momentum. For small businesses interacting with customers and clients virtually, opting to incorporate a quality e-signature cloud solution into everyday business is a wise choice both in terms of budget and time.  There is no chasing after parties for “wet” signatures, and no copying, mailing, or physical filing. And federal law makes electronic contracts and electronic signatures as legal and enforceable as those on paper.

To date, the early e-signature adopters have been in finance and insurance, but businesses spanning all industries are realizing the potential for electronic signatures.

When evaluating your e-signature options, consider these seven tips in your final decision. They are crucial to ensuring your e-signature is a cost-effective, secure solution rather than a sinful misstep for your business:

1. Make it easy to sign – Ease of use should be the first priority when it comes to choosing e-signature software. If signers need to jump through hoops to identify themselves, can’t print before signing, or are required to install software or change browsers, they might abandon the process before the document is signed.

2. Ensure security for all parties – Not all e-signature services are the same. When choosing your solution double check that the technology properly encrypts the e-signature within your document. Reliable and secure e-signature solutions embed digital signatures along with detailed audit trail information right into the document so that tampering is immediately visible. Without this, the contract may not hold up in court.

3. Capture the signer’s intent and consent – Just as with a traditional pen and paper, the onus is on your business to show that an e-signer clearly understands and accepts the conditions of the contract. Robust e-signature solutions create online documents that look the same as their paper counterparts, present them in the correct order, and record how much time was spent on each section before it was signed.

4. Gather enough evidence – Make sure that the electronic signature solution you choose uses a thorough and reliable system for recording the data relevant to the signing process. If the contract is ever called into question, it will be important to be able to quickly retrieve this data and present it in an easy-to-view format.

5. Streamline the document process flow – It takes valuable time to prepare documents for signing. A good e-signature solution simplifies the process by creating easy-to-use templates that you can access in just a few clicks. You should only need to enter the signer’s information once!

6. Certify Proof of Delivery – Emails are great for informal exchanges, but they can be breached, or lost to spam filters, so they’re not a secure way to send documents. Be sure to look at e-signature solutions that use emails only as a means to take you to a secure site for signing.

7. Understand that electronic signatures are within your reach – Gone are the days when electronic signatures were just for corporations with big IT departments. Now, cloud-computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) products mean that even the smallest enterprises can benefit from hassle-free and secure e-signature solutions for a very friendly price.

Melanie Attia is the director of SaaS Marketing for e-SignLive. She channels her extensive Web marketing experience and business acumen into delivering e-signature technology to small and midsize businesses and government organizations that are regulated and compliance-driven, and where security, legal evidence, auditability and trust matter. For more information, contact her at melanie_attia@silanis.com.