Oddly enough, companies were using webinar software long before 2020 brought video conferencing and remote meetings into the mainstream. But now that virtual conferences are the norm, more businesses are looking into webinar software as a way to promote their products and services, or just to interact with customers directly. We’re left with a big question: What is the best webinar software to use in 2021?
First, let’s take a quick look at how webinar software differs from your typical video conferencing platform. If you think it’s just a giant Zoom meeting, guess again. There are several features that exist solely to power your webinars and make them a hit. We’ve also compared the top five webinar programs in use today so you can find the one that works best for your business.
Webinar Software vs. Video Conferencing Software
Isn’t webinar software just video conferencing with more people? That’s what most people assume, but that would be a major oversimplification. Webinars function quite differently from your average video meeting, so they have unique tools and features to address those functions.
Granted, there are many similarities. You can screen share and record a webinar just as you would a virtual meeting. There are also participation tools for your invitees that bear a striking resemblance to what you’d see in a normal video call. However, virtual meetings are generally designed to put everyone on equal footing. That is, with the exception of the host, everyone has the same privileges and abilities.
On the other hand, webinars separate everyone into two distinct groups: Panelists and Participants. Information is meant to travel vertically from the panelists or presenters down to the audience. While webinars can allow for audience participation, most of them prefer to limit the audience to text, meaning only the panelists can speak. This prevents interruptions and general shenanigans. These changes in design imply several webinar-only features on the software packages we’ll look at today.
Specific Webinar Software Features
If you’ve wondered what is the best webinar software, you need to look for key features that make for a good webinar. The best webinar software will allow you to conduct your webinar efficiently and quickly by using its webinar-focused features.
One example of a crucial webinar feature is the ability to launch a Q&A session. Webinars typically allow for a Q&A at some point in the webinar. It could be done throughout the presentation or limited to a block of time at the end. Either way, you need a way to manage questions and respond to them without missing a beat.
A typical video call just has an open chat. Questions get buried under other people’s comments and vain attempts at humor. With Q&A tools, once someone sends a question, it will remain visible until you either dismiss it or answer it. You can choose whether you want to answer it out loud or type out an answer. Your answers can be public or private depending on the query.
You’ll still have access to a private chat that you can use with other panelists, including the hosts of the webinar or any assistants you might have brought. It’s also possible for you to broadcast information to everyone through the chat if you want to.
Webinars can be a lucrative business. If you’ve got lots of industry information or insider info, people will pay you to hear it! Self-help gurus used to fill stadiums, now they pack webinars. Businesses are selling products en masse through webinars, and service providers likewise promote their work through webinars.
If you want to make extra money off your webinar, you need to choose webinar software that helps you manage sales. You can sell tickets to your webinar, giving each attendant a unique access code. You can also collect valuable customer data during this process.
When you use these tools, every attendant is a possible lead for your sales team. You’ll then want to dive into your webinar software’s follow-up tools.
Follow Up Tools
After your webinar, you’ll be able to see reports that show key metrics. For example, attendance is a vital statistic. Even more important would be to note who participated in Q&As. These active participants can be easy sales after the fact.
Some webinar programs even allow you to integrate your results into data processing programs like Google Analytics to gauge your webinar’s success and give you tips for improvement.
With all that said, let’s jump into the software. What is the best webinar software to use in 2021? You’re about to find out.
What Is the Best Webinar Software? 5 Top Services Compared
1. Zoom Webinar
Wait, Zoom is at the top of this list too? Is there anything Zoom doesn’t do? Yes everyone, if you were tired of Zoom and were hoping to try something new, we regret to inform you that Zoom is by far the leader in webinar market share. Of course, you could check out any number of webinar options, but we have to admit that Zoom really knows what it’s doing on this front as well.
Zoom Video Webinar, as it’s formally known, is not cheap, but it sure is impressive. You get all the usual zoom features you know and love (or maybe can’t stand anymore) along with CRM integrations and PayPal integration for managing sales. Audience members can even be turned into panelists if you want extra participation from the crowd.
For up to 500 attendees you’ll pay a $1,400 per year license, which definitely hurts. And it doesn’t get better if you need more, as the price actually increases more than you’d expect. 10,000 attendees require a whopping $64,900 payment. However, you can be confident that your webinar will go off without a hitch.
Second on our leaderboard is GoToWebinar, which used to be king of the webinar world until Zoom showed up and stole its lunch. LogMeIn is the parent company and you might also know them from GoToMeeting, yet another three-word-titled product that has been delivering quality results for years.
GoToWebinar’s reporting really shines, with colorful graphs and charts that illustrate how well your webinar went. In particular, we love the source tracking features that help you identify where your attendees came from. That information can help you have more successful webinars in the future.
If you thought Zoom was pricey, then GoToWebinar is going to make you cringe. At $149.25 per month for the Pro plan, which gives you 500 participants, you’re paying nearly $400 more for the same level of performance. No wonder Zoom has been stealing away market share from GoToWebinar.
3. Cisco Webex Events
Cisco had a strong foothold in the enterprise sector before Zoom started sweeping the nation. However, when it comes to massive events, nobody does it better than Cisco. If you need to host the world’s biggest webinar, or any other online event, you can’t go wrong with Webex Events.
They allow you to host up to 100,000 people! Of course, you’ll pay dearly for that privilege. Pricing is not very transparent on Cisco’s website, as they insist you contact sales and pricing varies according to how many attendees you expect to have.
If you need a host that can handle huge events, definitely call Cisco. Their network is top notch and you can count on them for even the most ambitious webinar. But if it seems like overkill, stick to other platforms.
ON24 comes in 4th and calls itself a “Digital Experience platform” which promises high levels of engagement and therefore, revenue. Where ON24 shines is in the data department. Their software tracks your attendees’ every move.
You’ll be able to review the behavior of every single participant in your webinar after the fact. This allows the platform to measure engagement in ways that others simply cannot.
However, it’s the most expensive option by far. After we requested some quotes, we were told that ON24 provides pricing “per event” and can customize a package for us according to the number of webinars and the number of attendees we expected. Quotes landed between $1,000-2000 per event! We think you should avoid these guys.
5. Adobe Connect
It might surprise you to learn that the brains behind Photoshop also have a webinar platform, but that’s exactly what Adobe Connect is all about. You can also use it in a light mode for video conferencing, so consider that a bonus to your bottom line if you need a tool that can do both.
Adobe, as you might expect, stands out for its creative features. You can build mini websites to act as landing pages and registration pages for your webinar. However, it does lack some of the easy billing features we’d like to see in a webinar program.
So, what is the best webinar software to use today? We have to tip our cap to Zoom, which has shown that it’s here to stay. Nobody else seems to have a better grasp on what the market is looking for when it comes to video conferencing and webinars. Once you use it, you’ll see why it’s #1.