How to Create, Manage and Track Your Legally Binding Contract

Legally-binding-contract-steps-tomanage-create-and-track

We know how important it is to properly create, manage and track your legally binding contract, and fortunately, we have comprised a foolproof step-by-step guide on how to do just that. Read on to learn how to impress your boss and clients with your notable contract skills.
Picture this: you have an incredibly important deal hanging in the balance, all the responsibility of tracking and managing the binding contract falls on your shoulders.
What do you do?
Well, you have two options.
One, you can stick to the basics and stunt your contracts growth and potential. Similar to a seedling being neglected and kept in the dark, no matter how much work and time you invest into making and managing your legally binding contract, it will never be able to grow. We know how dedicated you are to your work, so why work harder for less payoff? Not only is this tedious and time-consuming, but it’s also risky.
Or two, you can break through the old crutch of habit and reinvent the way you manage and track your legally binding contract. This industry is evolving and with the rapid technological advancements that we are currently experiencing, it’s hard not to believe that a completely digital future is just around the corner (check out our recent post on “The Evolution and Future of Document Signing”).
So, like Yoda from Star Wars once said, “once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.” Similarly, missing the window for automating your sales operations, could mean a long and tedious future.

Allow yourself the opportunity to expand your skillset, optimize your operational and financial performance, all while reducing financial risk. You may be surprised at just how easy this is.
 

Before you start drafting your legally binding contract  


1. Work with the right people

You’re only as strong as your weakest link, so be sure your team comprises of people who are right for the job, match your company’s culture and are on the same page with your company’s mission.
According to Glassdoor’s, Top HR Statistics:
“Employees who understand their contribution to the company’s mission are more likely to bring a positive attitude and commitment to the workplace, which trickles down to company performance at every level.”
So, building a team with passionate individuals, will lead to getting more contacts signed and ultimately leads to your team’s success.

2. Do your homework
This goes without saying, but in order for the seedling to grow strong and sturdy roots, you have to put in the work.
Research the business you are creating the legally binding contract for and the legal background of the business relationship you’re entering. Systematic planning and methodology are what’s required to be successful.
Conduct interviews with the right people and collect any needed information on the present situation, as well as any decisions the outside parties’ plan on making in the future.
A couple of other important points to research are:
Who are you contracting? What steps need to be taken for the company/business to comply with requirements? What are their specific policies and procedures regarding decision-making? Does a decision have to be approved by multiple people? If so, what order? In short, familiarize yourself with the foundation and culture of that organization.
You can also use resources such as the Financial Times, Forrester Research and  Economist Intelligence Unit for general industry and market research.
 

After the research   


1. Get started on the paperwork

Creating a successful, legally binding contract can be broken into 3 main segments: Drafting, Reviewing and Finalizing.
Drafting
Ask your client to prepare and outline before you draft your contract.
According to RocketLawyer, asking your client to prepare an outline of the agreement as they understand it, not only provides you with a blueprint of the points that are important to them. But also, serves as a good starting point for discussing other critical issues that that they might not have thought of and should be addressed.

If this is not possible, be sure to include all of the important points that you made note of during your initial meetings with your client.
Reviewing
Once you have created your draft based on your client’s outline, begin reviewing the contract to make sure it is precise and focussed. Filter sentences to their basic points and substitute specific sentences with general ones to avoid future confusion.

FindLaw, a website that let’s you find information about legal topics, says that all valid, legally binding contracts have to follow some basic rules, namely, intent to make a contract; a lawful subject matter; an offer made by one party; acceptance of the offer by the other party; and an exchange of something of value.
Finalizing
To ensure that all goes well and you close your deal, prepare to work fast and make the signing experience as easy and pleasant as possible for your client.  
Fortunately, this can be done easily through Electronic Signatures.
Electronic Signatures solutions, like Signority, allow you to upload and securely send documents for eSignatures with a few clicks. This allows for a seamless experience for your client, ultimately avoiding wastage of time and money.

2. Get Tracking 

Tracking your online legally binding contract sent for signature is critical.  Tracking lets you know when the document has been viewed by the required party or if it has been forwarded. There are a few ways to track your contract:
Contract Management Systems
Contract management systems allow you to gain control of most aspects of your contract, from allowing you to access critical information and tracking, to generating reports when you need them.
eSignature platforms
Most eSignature platforms (including Signority) provide you with a tracking functionality, that lets you view crucial information, such as:  when a contract is viewed and how many times it was opened in real-time.
You can set up reminders and notification for your clients, allowing you to get your deals closed faster.
 
2. Get Paid 
After celebrating your closed deal — hopefully, with your awesome team — now comes the next challenge:

“Payments”.
Life is busy, and keeping track of all the nitty-gritty payment details of your contract can be tedious. We all have a lot on our plates and automating the payment processes can save you a time and hours of confusion.
Online payment and transaction apps such as PayPal and Stripe (we swear by Stripe at Signority), help your clients stay punctual with their payments — with minimal effort from both sides.
Besides making it easy for your clients, these platforms allow you to sync your data with most or all your management systems, to easily generate financial reports and provide you with important data for your analysis.
As the old English proverb goes: “work smarter, not harder”.
Follow these foolproof steps and guarantee that all of your hard work will reap the rewards you deserve. That little seedling will grow into a sturdy and resistant tree that can withstand any difficult contract building/management process.
Also, check out our recent article on “5 Habits of Highly Effective Insurance Brokers”.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan for 14-days.

The Ultimate List: 100+ Tools & Resources For Skyrocketing Business Growth in 2017

The-Ultimate-List-Updated-100-Best-Tools-For-Skyrocketing-Business-Growth-in-2017

However skilled a manager you might be, if you’re looking into expanding (or even just for saving time and money) then you might want to look into some tools for making everything run smoothly and easily for your business. What’s in this list you may ask? Anything from apps to platforms, to websites and analyzers allowing you to coordinate, manage and develop your marketing and business strategies, as well as help in your team’s communication and collaboration.
I’ve personally tested or used most of these tools on a daily basis at either Signority or at previous jobs. The rest have been strongly recommended by other members of the team here as well colleagues from other technology companies. A lot of them also appear in this list from LeadPages last year. So, we’ve gathered it all and made, what we think is an updated list, the list of lists if you will, to go to in 2017 when it comes to tools for explosive business growth.
This list is broken down into sections for you so you can focus easily on what your business needs today. Anything from video marketing, automation, collaboration and more. We’ve also included some of the key reads and other resources we thought were amazing in 2016 and that you should read this year. So, here it is, please read on and share.

Team Communication

Team communication is one of the most important aspects in every line of work, so you have to definitely encourage and make it easier. The best apps we found for this are:

  1. Slack – it’s the ultimate tool for team communication. You can find your team and set up common communication channels, as well as one-on-one’s. The best part of it is the integrations into almost any other tool that matters today. It will make communication with your team and with your tools a lot easier and effective. It’s heavily used here at Signority as our central hub of comms between teams and it’s also where all our apps post status updates, making our daily life at work a lot easier.If you didn’t know, Slack is considered by many one of the fastest growing startups ever, having launched in August 2013 and with a current valuation (as of Apr, 2016) of over 3.8 Billion dollars. They are doing many things right. If you’re into making software, we suggest you read up on them and learn.
  2. Trello –  divided into different cards for each phase of your project and task related to it, Trello makes for a reliable and organized way of keeping in check with your team and the success or failure of each task. Recently acquired by Attlassian for $425 million dollars, it is unclear to us what will happen to it. Asana (read below) recently featured an update to include cards taking much of the functionality of Trello inside it.
  3. Invision – if you have a designer in your team, or better yet, a design team, they should be using something like the Invision app for team collaboration. It helps make the entire design process better and it allows people to collaborate around designs easily and faster than before. They recently released Boards which adds to it. They have free plans so there’s no excuse not to use them to improve your design workflows.
  4. Asana – as its own website boasts, Asana makes it possible for you to get projects from start to finish either with tasks and projects, or with conversations and notifications. We use this at Signority for tracking all of our work outside of engineering and I’ve been a fan since the early days in 2009.
  5. Realtimeboard – A virtual whiteboard for your browser. Very neat tool to allow collaboration with your remote workers, clients or partners across the web. Lots of ready-made templates to start collaborating online.
  6. Basecamp  – Its main focus is in getting everything organized and in one place, reducing the possibility of important files getting lost in the haste to reach deadlines. This is like Asana really and both have great features that set them apart. Here’s a handy comparison between Asana vs Basecamp from Capterra.
  7. Weekdone – Weekly employee progress report for managers. It focuses on showing everyone in your team, goals and tasks. The premise is that transparency and collaboration around people’s goals ensure alignment and success.
  8. Join.me – offers screen-sharing, video conferencing and online meetings, reforming and presenting them to your team in the most comfortable of ways. There’s a plugin that needs to be downloaded to run but once you get this done you are usually set. It’s pretty easy to use even for people that are not used to software and cloud apps.
  9. Attentiv – Attentiv claims to be the ultimate decision-making and team collaboration platform. You can start a team chat, submit your input anonymously, seamlessly switch between topics, and get real-time feedback.
  10. Projects by Growth Hackers – made for teams and making them focus on the most important tasks without getting sidetracked by all the mental cluster. This was a mystery last year but it’s finally out. It is relatively new and I haven’t personally used it yet but it’s trending among the tech circles. It’s got Sean Ellis behind it who is the father of growth hacking (the term at least) and so if he’s behind it, you can expect quality.

Marketing

Next one, right along with team communication is marketing. We all know that one of the keys to making a great product or service sell is marketing it well. Tools and sites that can help your business with this particular task include:

Communities/key blogs:

  1. Inbound.org – Inbound Marketing is a community of inbound marketers that share new ideas, events, jobs, and more.
  2. HubSpot blog – They know how to do inbound marketing well and often have quality posts.
  3. GrowthHackers –  Powerful collaboration, ideas and learning resources for marketing and growth teams.

Apps and tools:

  1. Buzzsumo – it’s the most used tool for marketing your content and SEO campaigns. This tool allows you to keep track of your content and how it’s doing online (shares) as well as that of your competition (or any site for that matter). It allows you to find influencers on any particular keyword or topic and it’s very easy to use. They have a free chrome extension that allows you to see the number of shares on any website you visit.
  2. PageCloud – They claim to be the world’s most innovative website creator. If you’re like most small businesses you probably have “updating the website” marked as an outstanding task for a while. PageCloud will make the entire process of creating a website seamless and easy using their drag and drop technology. You open up a browser and start editing your website on the fly, it’s easy and fun. See what TechCrunch has to say about them.
  3. SurveyMonkey – The leaders in online form and web-based survey solutions. They have been around for a while and offer a robust tool for any of your data gathering needs. We recommend you survey your customers often and get feedback on how your business can improve.
  4. ReferralCandy – We’ve used this in the past with great results. If you would like to leverage your customers to sell more, consider starting a referral program that rewards people for their actions. This particular tool is great if you have an online store and do e-commerce in your business. By the way, here’s a great starter read on referral marketing do’s and don’ts.
  5. Curated – as its namesake suggests, this app helps you put together an appealing newsletter or weekly digest so you can engage and keep your community interested and informed.
  6. Canva – creative and engaging, Canva lets you build stunning visuals for your business proposal and everything you might need, all with the power of drag and drop. You don’t have to spend big bucks on Adobe software for image editing anymore. If you need to add a quick headline or filter to an image, this can help.
  7. SimplyCast – it’s the right tool for automating marketing campaigns. They cover anything from email, SMS, forms, live chat, surveys and other ways to do online marketing. They focus on small and medium enterprises providing great value for your money.
  8. The Stocks – Royalty free stock photos to use in your emails, website and other marketing collateral. This site aggregates some of the best free stock photo sites under one umbrella making your photo searches a breeze.
  9. Moz – the right place for SEO and digital marketing insight. Moz is the SEO toolset that’s got it all: keyword research, link building, site audits, and page optimization insights, in one. Most importantly, if you’re just getting started on SEO, their blog and Connect Community is an excellent resource for learning the ropes. They have a free browser plugin that allows you to see the ranking of any web page you are on along with other insightful information.
  10. Gnowit – Real-time media monitoring for your business that uses artificial intelligence
  11. RivalExplorer – Look and search for all emails ever sent to people by your competition.
  12. HotJar – A very comprehensive tool that gives you analytics on your website as well as an in-depth view of how your app or website is used. This means visitor recordings, heat maps and even in-website surveys.
  13. Usertesting – Let’s you get out of those discussions with your marketing team about what you think it’ll work and instead it puts it to the test. Select the target audience that matches that of your business, configure a few test plans (what you want them to achieve) and then wait while the site matches your project with potentially hundreds of people. Once they go through your site, you’ll be able to see how they interacted with it giving you tons of useful information you can use to improve your site.
  14. 5secondrule – Similar to Usertesting, this tool allows you to query a pool of unknown people to get their real feedback. A five-second test is great for understanding and measuring people’s first impressions of your business/website/brand.
  15. Klipfolio – The ultimate business dashboard. Monitor the health of your business while this dashboard connects to potentially all your online tools, giving you a full and unified picture of your business.
  16. Rare.io – A smart email marketing platform that works best for online businesses that do e-commercee. It connects with Shopify (below).  
  17. LeadPages – Generating landing pages and lots of them to test out your creative and content are some of the great ways to improve conversion rates for your business. LeadPages is one of the leading tools out there that allow you to do this quite easily.
  18. SumoMe –these guys arm you with a suite of fail-proof, site-growing solutions to help you get more traffic, build a following, and track your success every day.
  19. Optimizely – offers you the possibility of heavily experimenting to keep up with every whim of your users’.
  20. LeadChat – live chat agents 24/7 might be best for those of you whose service is time-dependent and your business’ success depends on how swift your response to a query is.
  21. Import.io – extracting info from web pages can become a great source of raw data that can be later re-purposed and presented to help you come to important conclusions and decisions.
  22. Datanyze – provides you with insight based on your technology choices. Especially if your business is tech based, this might be just what you need.
  23. ConvertKit – if you’re a professional blogger, this is the right email marketing tool for you.
  24. Crazy Egg – website analytics presented to you in a visually clear and understandable way. Heat maps for most clicked locations in your site? Check!
  25. Drip – is another automated email marketing tool that help you build workflow and infographics for your emails and newsletters.
  26. FullStory – offers detailed info on your visitor’s behavior while on your site.
  27. Shopify – We couldn’t just leave out the biggest software company in Canada that is changing the world of ecommerce, and another Ottawa-based business like us. If your business does ecommerce or even as a point of sale, please check out Shopify to boost your sales. Their blog is also another awesome resource for small businesses out there.

Social Media Marketing

With social media’s far reaching impact, it has become a given for any serious business to have its own presence in it. You should check out:

  1. CoSchedule – Plan, organize, and execute every content marketing project in one place. If you are into inbound marketing (which you should) then having a healthy content calendar and plan in place is key to your success.
  2. BuzzStream – A great tool for influencer and blogger outreach. It lets you track email opens, save templates and keep organized lists for a productive outreach campaign.
  3. Buffer – makes it super easy to share any page you’re reading and schedule posts to go out from all of your major social media channels.
  4. Quuu – lets you handpick social media posts  that interest you and your followers, great tool to keep quality content in your social media feed.
  5. RaffleCopter – Giveaways, if done well, can often bring your business a lot of awareness and even leads. Rafflecopter lets you run online giveaways and embed them on your site without an IT.
  6. Grammarly – checking your text for grammar errors, typos and punctuation so that your content is flawless before posting it on all your social media account.
  7. Awario – Know thy enemy. This app helps you scour the web and find out what your competitors are posting, as well as mentions of your business of course.

Video Marketing

  1. Showbox – Create amazing videos in your browser. It helps save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in making videos. Granted, these are not going to have actors in them, but through illustrations and other images you can make a 30 second explainer video here for a fraction of the price.
  2. Loom – Great tool to create short but impactful videos from your browser. Stop making “one-pagers” that people won’t read and start creating quick videos that explain what you do. It also has webcam and screen recording capabilities. Free chrome plugin available.
  3. SmartPixel – A video capture and editing software that is both easy and affordable.
  4. AlltheFreeStock – Free stock videos to include in your production. They also feature free stock photos.
  5. VideoScribe – High definition whiteboard like animation video

Business Management

As a business owner/founder/CEO you need to get everything together and manage your business in the best way possible. Where to turn to for help?

  1. Recurly -enterprise-class subscription billing management for thousands of businesses worldwide
  2. AlignCommerce – Forget about wire transfers. Use AlignCommerce for making global payments from the comfort of your browser. No accountants needed.
  3. HubDoc – A personal favorite. It’s a tool that automatically collects receipts from all your tools and sends them right into your accounting software of choice. No more chasing receipts or getting nagged by your accounting team.
  4. Xero – online accounting software for your small business
  5. Chart.io – cloud based data exploration and website analytics for everyone, made easy.
  6. TradeGecko -Inventory management software for eCommerce and wholesalers
  7. Segment – collecting data from your customers and sending it wherever you need it.
  8. Google Analytics – analyzing website visits and tracking every change for you.
  9. UpCounsel – easily hiring attorneys for your business’ needs.
  10. Toggl – timetracker and employee sheet software.
  11. Zirtual – virtual assistant service matching busy people with dedicated assistants.
  12. Signority – bit of self-indulging, but yes, we provide you with secure, easy-to-use and legally binding electronic signature services.
  13. DropBox – File storing in the cloud that allows sharing, editing and distributing. It has advantages over Google Drive, mostly around organizing files and presenting the file system. If your business is not on the cloud and uses Microsoft servers and software to run locally, but you need a cloud storage solution, Dropbox may be for you
  14. RescueTime – Time management software for staying productive
  15. WaveApps.com – Create and send professional invoices, receipts and more
  16. Versature – If your business requires lots of phone interactions, look to Versature for a solid VOIP system
  17. Flyta – Smarter and cheaper international shipping. No joke.
  18. ChangeJar – If you run a business in the food or hospitality industry and have customers that pay you using a POS, ChangeJar allows you to provide rewards and collect money in a way that will save you money. Read on.

Customer Service and Retention 

Providing your customer with the best service is in most cases one of the top priorities for both small and medium sized businesses, as it is for big-sized ones. How to step up your game?

  1. SatisMeter – helps you collect customer feedback and eliminate churn while accelerating growth
  2. Intercom – makes communication with your customers easy. Live chat, customer support, they have everything you need.
  3. Packs By Startup Threads – You choose what you put into the boxes, this tool takes care of its delivery until it reaches your clients. Neat, right?
  4. Zendesk – creates software for managing your relationship with your customers.
  5. UserVoice – decide on a roadmap for your product, while backing every decision with qualitative and quantitative feedback from your previous customers.
  6. GoToMeeting – offers you online HD video conferencing, making your communication that much easier.
  7. Typeform – creating online, decidedly human forms. Check out some sample surveys here!
  8. Customer.io – triggers multichannel messages according to customer response to each of them.

Outsourcing

When you’re short of staff, you might want to look into taking in freelancers or temporary employees. If you don’t know how to work with remote workers, we wrote a post that outlines some tips. Some of the best platforms where you can find them are:

  1. Upwork – was built after the merging of oDesk and Elance, the first and second biggest freelancing platforms on the internet. The result? Getting work done!
  2. Crew.co – Hire top of the line creative freelancers. Based out of Montreal but with freelancers across the globe.
  3. Scripted – almost exclusively for writing, editing and proofreading, you can get some great writing works out of this site.
  4. Fiverr – offers small freelance services for only $5. Might be just what you’re looking for, and at a cheap price at that.
  5. 99designs – find and work with the best graphic designers online. Logos, websites, ads, what have you, they do it!
  6. PeoplePerHour – here you can find freelancer for things like translations, writing, designing and programming.
  7. WriterAcess – connects you with all screened, US-based pros, star rated by customer reviews.
  8. Guru – you can either look for jobs, or post things you need done and get offers.
  9. Gun.io – the place where you can look for verified freelance developers.
  10. Gigster –they bring together the best developers, designers, and product managers from Silicon Valley and the world to form elite development teams.

HR, Employee Engagement & Appreciation 

Another important thing for the wellbeing of your team is keeping your employees happy and interested in what they are doing. To help you with that, take a look at:

  1. Fortay – this is a culture-fit screening and matching platform for hiring managers that improves hiring and engagement for growing companies.
  2. TinyPulse – gives leaders the tools to improve culture, employee performance, and engagement.
  3. AnyPerk – gives you the right solution so you can make your employees happy with coupons, free passes, etc.
  4. Kin – manages employee files and time off in a web-based exchange which is enjoyable for your team.
  5. 15Five – performing lightweight performance tests for bringing out the best in your people.
  6. GlassDoor – platform that lets you know your worth as an employee.
  7. Zenefits – all-in-one platform that helps you manage your employees and gives you tools, insight and inspiration for dealing with each of them.
  8. Kudos – gives your employees recognition and feedback.

Automation 

  1. Zapier – One of our favorite tools from this list. It allows you to hook up pretty much every other tool together and create awesome automation that saves you time and money.
  2. Process.st – Simple task and workflow automation. Similar to Zapier but different. Here you can create checklists that can then trigger automation tasks. Very cool.
  3. Prospect.io – Switching gears a bit from general business automation to sales automation, we have prospect.io which is a cool platform for modern sales teams. It helps you find leads on Linkedin, prospect and send drip email campaigns in a few minutes
  4. RevealBot – Set up automation rules for your Facebook and Instagram ads and let the bot manage and improve your ad performance for you
  5. MixMax – Track, automate, and enhance your emails with the essential productivity suite for Google Inbox.
  6. Narrow – works by interacting with Twitter users that are talking about subjects relevant to the audience you want to attract.
  7. IFTT – is a free web-based service that allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called “applets”, which are triggered based on changes to other web services such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. IFTTT is an abbreviation of “If This Then That”

BONUS: Resources & Good Reads:

There is so much content out there to make you productive and most importantly to help you and your business succeed. We only posted a few of the big guides that are must-reads below. Keep following our blog, as we’ll be posting more of these throughout the year.

  1. Ultimate Guide to Business Process Automation with Zapier by Process Street
  2. Advanced guide to content marketing by Neil Patel
  3. Content marketing Playbook by Hiten Shah
  4. A beginner’s guide to social media by Moz
  5. The Small Business Blueprint to Marketing on Twitter by Shopify
  6. Social and digital ad size guide by Ad Jelly
  7. The CEO Guide to Customer Experience by McKinsey
  8. Small Business Online Marketing Kit by HubSpot
  9. How Slack Became the Fastest Growing B2B SaaS Business (Maybe) Ever by GrowthHackers

So there you have it. Our ultimate list of tools, apps and resources to skyrocket your business growth this year. Would love to know of any other tools you think are great for SMBs that we missed. Just drop us a line at hello@signority.com and we’ll make sure review and include it next time.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan for 14-days.

Our Top 5 Business Automation Tools for Small and Medium Businesses

SME's-5-tools-for -automation-Small-and-medium-businesses

Are you part of a small and medium business?  If so, you may be making some costly mistakes.  Small and medium businesses tend to de-prioritize marketing.
Even though marketing is an exceptionally important business function, it can be seen as expensive and challenging. But don’t worry, there is hope! We have comprised a list of our top 5 inexpensive and easy to use SME tools to help you and your business succeed. Check it out below and see which one works best for you! In our next posts, we’ll be taking about marketing automation when it comes to social media, advertising and more. Stay tuned.

1. Get Response

GetResponse is an all around accomplished marketing automation tool that can drastically improve the way you handle your emails. Its “workflow builder” makes it super-easy for you to build email templates, by using drag and drop features such as filters, actions and conditions. Once this is set up, emails can be sent after each trigger, such as newsletters, account activations, welcome emails, social media links, and anything else you want your user to see.
Additionally, GetResponse provides its users with great insights. For example, since you can see how many emails are being opened and read (and how many are being sent to the trash), you can judge how successful your email campaign is. This tool can also gather information on the number of visits your website gets, so you can improve your marketing strategy accordingly. Thankfully, this information is presented in a simple way, without overwhelming you with large amounts of unprocessed data… leaving you with the time and resources to focus on more important things, like growing your business!

2. Marketo

Marketing automation beginners rejoice, Marketo is a tool geared towards marketing automation newbies. This platform can successfully generate new leads for your business through building captivating landing pages and effective ads for attracting your target group. Marketo analyzes each lead based on its marketability options and possibilities, giving you a detailed report on each one and how you can use it in the future. Additionally, this tool provides you with a personalized web experience that works cross-platform (for newbies who are unaware, according to Wikipedia, cross-platform refers to software that is implemented on multiple computing platforms).

3. HubSpot

HubSpot is a favourite among SMEs because of its predetermined recipes for successful campaigns. This tool provides a step-by-step guideline on how to improve your marketing campaign. HubSpot is well established and, consequently, has a wealth of knowledge backing its operations. As such, this tool can work as an SEO manager, giving you small tips on how to improve your sites overall ranking.

4. MailChimp

MailChimp was a given on this list, because of all of its unique features. This tool not only offers an automated way to build newsletters and emails by using drag and drop, but it’s also optimized for mobile devices. MailChimp’s multi-user features can cut your work time in half. Additionally, it also supports a number of mobile apps, such as MailChimpSnap and MailChimp Subscribe. Through these, you can send image based emails/infographics, and collect sign-ups online or offline, respectively. MailChimp is guaranteed to make your experience, and most importantly, your client’s experience a positive one.

5.  Customer.io

Customer.io allows you to send emails based on specific receiver agreements, and on your specific customer use-case. This tool is optimized for sending emails to free-trial users in order to keep them engaged and to motivate them to make a purchase.
Told you not to worry.
These simple, inexpensive, and multi-faceted tools can be easily integrated into your everyday life and business operations. Other important mentions include Zapier which makes it very easy to automate tasks between hundreds of web apps (a personal favourite). Lastly, Ziflow allows you to automate workflows between apps as well but this is more geared for marketing professionals.
Now that you have the base knowledge, explore the vast and rewarding potential of SME marketing and open a whole new world of possibilities!
Also, check out our recent article on “How to go Digital for under $1,000/month“!
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan for 14 days.

The Anatomy of an Audit Trail: Electronic Signature Simplified

The Anatomy of the Audit Trail and its Electronic Signature Implications

An audit trail can be the deciding factor between a valid and invalid electronic signature document. Going by the actively surging electronic signature adoption rates and growing number of online businesses, there’s no arguing that eSignatures are here to stay.
Since eSignatures are soon to be the new normal, we thought we should discuss what an audit trail is and why it’s an important part of an electronic signature.
You may be familiar with the difference between electronic signatures and digital signatures, in case you’re not, an electronic signature is information in electronic form (can be sound, symbol, process, etc.) that is associated or attached to a document. This means that as long one can demonstrate that the signature is associated with a person and that there was intent to sign, everything is legally binding and accepted.
A digital signature is actually a form of electronic signature that uses an encryption algorithm that helps validate who the signer is. It also ensures that the document cannot be tampered with, as the signature becomes invalid if the document is changed after signing.  You can read about the differences between electronic signatures vs. digital signatures here.
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s get to what an audit trail is and why it plays an integral part in the process of validating of a document.
Technopedia, the IT education site defines an audit trail, in the context of information technology, “as a chain of evidence in the form of hard or electronic business transactions or communications resulting from business processes, functions or programming executions.”
In other words, an audit trail is a detailed list of critical data points, pertaining to the transaction, that are recorded and reported. These data points help verify the validity of the transaction.
In terms of Electronic Signatures, an audit trail helps keep track and reports user data, furthering the validity of the signature process. Most, if not all serious eSignature vendors out there — including Signority — provide an audit trail with every electronic signature transaction.
Below is a list of important components we display in Signority’s audit trail:

  • Unique Document Title
  • Secured seal (Digital Signatures)
  • Email Address Of Signers And Viewers
  • The IP address of the involved parties
  • Documents viewed by each signer
  • Signers consent to terms of service
  • User authentication: SMS and Email
  • Signature creation (by each signer)
  • Party agreement to / acknowledgement of document
  • Document downloads after signing
  • Signer’s Status
  • GUID (or ‘Globally Unique Identifier’)

For the sake of avoiding any form of confusion, let’s go over what these components mean and what value they add to the entire electronic signature validation process.

Unique Document TitleBreaking down the Audit Trail

Unique Document Title

A unique document title is the unique file name of the document that was originally created by the document creator. The unique document name can be found in the first page of Signority’s audit trail.

Secured Seal
Secured seal (Digital Signatures)

The secured seal is native to Signority’s digital signatures audit trail, the Secured Seal is both “Tamper-proof” and “Digitally Encrypted”. Meaning that, if the audit trail document was tampered with or edited in a third-party software such as Adobe’s Photoshop, the seal would immediately break and be considered invalid.

Signority’s Secured Seal is only available with our digital signature plans. In order to make digital signatures available to our customers, we use a Hardware Security Module (HSM) provided by GlobalSign to help store and manage the digital keys used in the digital signing process.  

Want to know more about digital signature? Check out our post on the difference between electronic signature vs. digital signatures to learn more!

 

Email Address Of Signers And Viewers

The audit trail records and displays the email addresses of all parties involved, which can be either signer or viewer.

  • Signer: Signers’ are users who are required to sign a particular document. A signer could be a primary signer or a witness.        
  • Viewer: A viewer is a user with view-only capabilities.

IP address of user
The IP address of the involved parties

According to IP Location, an IP address or Internet Protocol is A unique address that computing devices such as personal computers, tablets, and smartphones use to identify itself and communicate with other devices in the IP network.”
In terms of Signority’s audit trail, the IP address associated with a particular signer or viewer, at the time of viewing the document is recorded and reported — adding an extra layer of validity to electronic signature documents.


Documents Viewed By Each Signer

The Documents viewed by the signer or viewer is displayed in the name section in the Audit trail. The audit trail also displays the exact time the document was viewed.
 

GUID (or ‘Globally Unique Identifier’)

GUID’s of Globally Unique Identifiers, are defined by BetterExplained as “Large, enormous numbers that are nearly guaranteed to be unique.”
They usually look like this:
fa06cc7a-8a32-44c2-9e4d-2192818ab076
At Signority, every document created is assigned a Globally Unique Identifier and can be viewed in the audit trail.
 

Signers consent to terms of service

cSigners consent to use terms of service, refers to the signer or viewer agreeing to abide to the rules in order to use services provided by Signority.

 

User authentication: SMS and Email

Verifying the identity of a user before granting access to secured information is the main intention of the User Authentication feature.
With Signority there are two additional methods that can used to verify signers and viewers — i.e. SMS and email — when email and /or SMS password authentication is turned on by the user, Signority sends a randomly generated unique code to the recipient. The code is required to access the document.
The type of user authentication used is displayed in the “Authentication” section of the Signority’s Audit Trail.
 

Signature creation (by each signer)

The Signature Creation section is a critical component of the audit trail, it is the original signature of the required parties.
At Signority and most other eSignature providers, a party’s signature can be created by:

  1. Using a touch pad/screen or mouse
  2. Typing their signature using a keyboard
  3. Uploading a scanned copy of their signature

 

Document downloads after signing

Once the document is finalized by all of the signers, all parties involved are notified via email with an attached copy of the finalized document for safe keeping.
 
Signers-Status

Signer’s Status

The signers status reflect the final action taken by all required signer’s, the status can be: “Rejected”, “Waiting to Open”, “In Progress”, “Finalized and “Viewed” — depending on the action taken by the signer.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

11 Essential Resources For Your New Paperless Office

11-resources-for-taking-you-business-paperless-esignatures-digital-signatures-electronic

Starting a digital office can seem a daunting task. You want to go in and go all the way – but what if you overlook a key aspect and everything stops working together? Not to worry. Here’s the list of resources you will need to utilize in your new paperless office. With nothing missing. Well, expect the paper.

Paperless invoicing

Freshbooks is a great service that can convert your billing and invoicing system to a secure electronic database. This “cloud accounting” service delivers a fast, accurate, easy to use, and professional interface for all your billing needs. Automated invoicing is available, as is integrations with Paypal and other online payment services. Use the system to generate reports, track expenses – even get the app to ride along.

  • $39.95 per month, plus $10 for each additional user; unlimited client entries and invoices.

paperless meetings 

TeamViewer lets you conduct paperless meetings and manage data within the paperless. You get remote access to any device 24/7 from ay computer or mobile device. Hijack your colleagues’ laptops to access data during meetings, plus use screen sharing, video and file sharing, included whiteboards, and teleconferencing to be effective and paperless. When meetings are over, upload slides and info to Dropbox or Basecamp easily and share the digital copies.

  • Licensing starts at $600 for three devices

Doodle and SurveyMonkey provide free service for conducting and scheduling meetings but don’t provide device connectivity and takeover capabilities.

Paperless scanning and faxing 

Turboscan is an excellent app that allows phone cameras to be used as scanners which then convert captured images to PDFs. High-quality photos are editable and may be stored and sent singularly or as large files.

  • $4.99 on iPhone or Android

Your office may also need a larger scanner for digital imaging. Here’s a PC World review of the best scanners for a paperless office.
eFax takes incoming faxes and puts them into your email box and easily-searchable emails. Send and receive faxes from any smartphone, tablet, or computer.

  • $15 per month

paperless memos and notes 

Evernote lets you organize notebooks of digital notes, tasks, and can sync all your devices. Whether you use a laptop or an Android phone, you can have all your notes and thoughts wherever you go. Circulate ideas between team members

  • Free

PAPERLESS payments 

Square and PaypalHere let you process credit cards from the convenience of any mobile device and send paperless receipts to customers.

  • Fees range from 2-3% per transaction

Shoeboxed lets you send your mass of paper receipts into the Shoeboxed office and receive digital versions in return. They’ll scan your papers and index them in your account, letting you get reports and integrate the data into your database systems.

  • Pricing starts at $9.95 per month for 50 scans

PAPERLESS signatures 

Signority streamlines the essential process of acquiring customer signatures with one seamless digital application. Send and receive signed documents via a user-friendly interface usable across any device. Great for the most agile businesses, sign PDFs instantly, edit and store documents with one touch, and move forward faster.

 
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.