The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has significantly affected the daily life for all of us, and with all the lockdowns and social distancing in place, most events were canceled or postponed. Everyone is switching to video conferencing and video chat programs for team meetings and gatherings.
If you consider hosting a virtual event, however, you probably do not want to host a meeting but rather let one or more speakers present to a (passive) audience. This audience is watching and optionally interacting via chat or joining Q&As. The presenter can moderate and control the chat and displays the presentation and slides by sharing the screen. If this sounds close to what you have in mind, consider using webinar software solutions.
Thanks to Shane Melaugh from ActiveGrowth, who reviewed 10 webinar software providers and even tested them for a real webinar with 100 participants, we learn that the most expensive solutions are not necessarily the best (and most reliable) ones.
Let’s have a look at his 4 recommendations:
The most budget-friendly solution - Zoom Meetings / Zoom Webinars
Zoom has become well-known in the last weeks and everyone has been using it for quick video conference calls and team meetings but has actually been around since 2011. Zoom also has a more expensive webinar add-on with more features. These, however, are not worth paying for according to Shane. Many users like Zoom’s user-friendly interface. Its main advantage compared to its competitors: it is the cheapest option for single webinars, yet highly reliable.
Zoom is missing certain marketing features that can be useful before and during a webinar compared to its competitors, however, it still qualifies for a recommendation due to its attractive price. Note: April 2020: Zoom has faced a drawback due to security concerns and hacking incidents which have become known as Zoombombing. Some security glitches have been addressed and fixed by now. If you use Zoom, switch on the recommended privacy settings.
Conditional recommendation – Crowdcast and Social Selling
CrowdCast is a webinar solution that has been on the market since 2014. It puts its main focus on social engagement by creating a mini social network. This also means that it is not big on marketing features. It is best if you want to host exclusive webinars as a Patreon creator for your audience. Additionally, it has a pay to watch feature that makes it suitable to host educational events or events that hope to generate sales. However, it works best for smaller audiences, so Shane does not recommend using it for webinars with 500 or more attendees.
Conditional recommendation - BigMarker – The All-Rounder
BigMarker is a webinar solution that can provide you with all the features you would expect from a webinar tool, such as guest chat, Q&A, polls, and document sharing. It allows the user to create 7 types of webinars and it is easy to build a landing page to generate leads using the templates provided. BigMarker is recommended because it covers most use cases although the features are not the best-executed ones. BigMarker has a relatively high cost, it therefore only makes sense if you use the offered marketing features so you won’t need to purchase other solutions to complement your virtual event.
Recommendation - Webinarjam – Best Marketing Features
Shane’s top recommendation is Webinarjam. Apart from having all webinar features you would expect, it puts its focus on marketing and conversion features. During a webinar, you can show one or more offers with timers to create scarcity and it comes with a decent set of funnel and registration pages. Additionally, the webinar can be replayed anytime in real-time mode which means that offers and polls will be visible during a replay as well. WebinarJam is also one of the most cost-effective solutions if you plan to host multiple events annually. It, however, does not offer a monthly plan.
Worth looking at: Vimeo Livestream
Vimeo’s annual live streaming plan has originally been built to live stream to a large audience, but it now also comes with basic webinar features. If you plan to live stream to a bigger crowd or do not want any viewer limitations, this solution may be worth looking at as well.
Watch Shane’s full summary here: