Services to Help Your Business Go Paperless

Nowadays there is a plethora of booming technology dedicated to making your office run more smoothly —and be greener. As Jen noted in her blog post a couple of months ago about giving your office an eco-friendly makeover, saving the planet and saving money can be done simultaneously. Read below on services and products that can help your office reduce its paper waste.

PDF Editors

Typically you’ll see PDF documents like contracts or applications as uneditable files. But PDFs are actually extremely versatile and can be edited, graphically manipulated and used as fillable forms if you have the right software.

There are alternatives to the pricey Adobe Acrobat, including NitroPDF, an extremely powerful editor that runs you $99 for a single license. You can quickly create PDF forms that clients can view and complete with standard software. You can also edit existing PDF documents without succumbing to printing and Liquid Eraser.

Another great paperless feature is the built-in PDF printer driver. Instead of sending an important email or website to your printer, select Nitro’s printer option and generate a full-color PDF that you can archive digitally on your hard drive.

If you don’t need NitroPDF’s full editing suite, but are looking for a way to render important documents, check out PDF995. It’s a PDF printer driver, which is an excellent way to digitally render invoices, graphic mock-ups and long text documents that you’d like clients to read, but not change—without ever having to touch a piece of paper again. Oh, and PDF995 is free.

Email Marketing Software

Do you still get those flyers and coupon books mailed to your home? I do, and they typically go straight to the recycling bin. I often wonder how much paper is being wasted on direct mail marketing campaigns. Maybe these businesses should focus on email marketing services instead. Not only does it save a ton of paper, but research conducted in 2009 by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that email outperforms all other forms of direct marketing.

What’s not to like about that? Read more about email marketing services and the features it can offer your business.

Online Contracts

Nearly every type of business uses contract agreements. This means printing out tons paper and gathering a signature in ink. However, for more than 10 years, e-signatures have been legally binding and a few companies have made the process of creating and sending electronic agreements incredibly efficient.

EchoSign is a service that generates and archives digital contracts. You simply upload an agreement to EchoSign and enter the recipient’s email address. They will receive a copy of the document with a link where they can e-sign. The signed contract is then stored in your EchoSign account for reference.

Pricing for EchoSign ranges in price from a free account that lets one user gather up to five signatures per month to unlimited signature accounts with multiple users starting at $40 per month.

Online Storage and Backup

While a lot of companies start off saving paper by using email fax, one of the biggest challenges to going paperless is how to archive your records and files.

One way to save paper and retain all your files is to digitize your records. While it might not save time and paper to digitize older records, you can start fresh by printing to PDF instead of paper and creating a web-accessible archive with a number of services, including:

Online Fax Services

Don’t fax machines feel so 1986? Jump into the 21st century and go green with online fax! You’ll never have to print out pages just to fax over documents to your client ever again. Setting up an email fax account will assign a new fax number and use a web or email interface to send and receive faxes as PDF files. Incoming faxes will come directly to your inbox instead of the dreaded machine.

In addition to breaking you free of your fax machine woes and helping out Mother Earth, email fax services can also help your pocketbook.  Check out the low monthly prices of popular email fax providers, such as MyFax, eFax, MetroFax, and more.

If you’re looking for online tools to make your small business more productive, check out a post I wrote recently about the best Google apps for businesses.

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