Webinar Tools

Small Business Webinar Tools

When combined with great resources, useful downloads, and soft sell approaches, webinars offer a way to engage prospects and customers at a higher level.

Here are a few webinar services for you to consider.  Most of these define meetings differently from webinars, in both number of participants and pricing,  so if you simply want to run an internal meeting with remote users there are affordable options within this set of providers.

imagesMost of these offer the ability for you to present from a video camera (web cam) or just from your computer microphone via VOIP or via a regular phone. Most do not recommend calling in from a cell phone if you’re the presenter/moderator.  All of these allow you to share your screen, which is usually at the core of any webinar presentation.

The first five are the well-known heavy hitters in the webinar platform world.  They offer a track record and stability that you have to admire, but if you happen to need other options, we include 21 more.

 

Go To Webinar
GoToWebinar is probably one of the most popular services for Internet Marketers and online business owners. Their pricing model increased recently and that is probably the only deterrent for small business.  For up to 100 attendees, it is now $100/month.  For up to 15 people, you can use the GoToMeeting service at $49/month. Free trial for 30 days.
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Verizon
Verizon Small Business Web Conferencing is part of the Verizon Business focus. You can join the collaboration centre and get online meetings and more starting at $24/month, but you need to call a small business representative to get pricing on the web conferencing platform.
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Adobe Connect Pro
Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro has a reputation of being one of the most elegant conferencing solutions and wins awards regularly.  It works as a webinar tool, but adds e-learning components if you need to track how people interact with your material and if they complete certain courses. They offer a 30-day free trial. Monthly fees start at $45, but they also offer a pay-per-use pricing plan which is nice.
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Cisco Web Ex
Cisco WebEx offers unlimited meetings a month for up to 25 people is $49/month.  They are one of the best known web conferencing solutions and offer mobile access (even from an iPhone or iPad), attendee polls, and all the other cool features you hope for in a webinar. Great for one-on-one meetings with sales prospects. Offers a 14-day free trial.
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Gather Place
GatherPlace focus on small business and has a simple-to-understand pricing model.  They offer a free trial with no credit card. Pricing starts at $29/month for up to 5 users.  You can run it in a java-enabled browser or download a small application from them.
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Mikogo
Mikogo is a desktop sharing tool full of features to assist you in conducting the perfect online meeting or web conference. Take advantage of the opportunity to share any screen content or application over the Internet in true colour quality with up to 25 participants simultaneously, while still sitting at your desk. Relatively inexpensive too.
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Tok Box
Tokbox defines itself as a video chat service, but it does most of the same, if not all, of the things a webinar service offers.  Basic video chat for up to 20 people is free.  Share presentations, documents and videos.  Send pre-recorded video messages.
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Dim Dim
Dimdim is one of the new webinar players on the market. They have created an open platform with a forever free plan for up to 20 users.  Paid plan starts at $25 for up to 50 people.
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Brain Shark
These guys are in a category all their own. They are a webinar platform, but one that offers major tracking capabilities. You don’t conduct live meetings with them, but create the material and then allow people to consume it as they want, on-demand.  You can then see what and how your attendee uses and moves through the content.  Sort of like Slideshare, on steroids.
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Glance
This software is not free but is a widely used, reliable and particularly simple screen-sharing application. Presenters install a piece of software, and can then share PC or Mac desktops with participants on PC, Mac or Linux, who view the desktop through a browser without installing.
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Fuze
Fuze is figuring out the mobile aspect of running a meeting better than almost any of the other webinar platforms.  You can instantly start a meeting from your iPhone or certain Blackberry models.  You can snap a photo and share it in your meeting, too.  Runs great from a desktop.  30-day Free trial, then starts at $29/month for up to 25 users.  Oh, last cool feature Fuze Fetch: You give them attendee phone numbers and they call them for you.
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Ready Talk
ReadyTalk calls itself a white glove solution.  It offers a 30-day free trial and then $49/month for up to 15 users.  They call it white glove because they offer an event support for your important high value events, so you’re not alone in trying to coordinate the many details that often go with supporting a webinar. ReadyTalk is reliable and widely used by nonprofits. It offers strong voice conferencing solutions at additional cost, and voice and visual recording features which integrate fully with the Web solutions, but no support for VOIP conferencing, white-boarding or video conferencing.
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Pow Wow
There are times when you don’t want all the screensharing and video options and just need a conference calling option, so I’ve included one that looks pretty dependable and robust.  Also, you may have some screen sharing capability and only need the phone portion. This would be one to look at.
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Any Meeting
They have a forever free plan for up to 150 people per meeting/webinar. Unlimited number of meetings.  They have an advertiser-based model to support the forever free plan.  Browser based and also has custom registration form options, which is a good feature.
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Mega Meeting
MegaMeeting is a high end web conferencing platform that offers a standard subscription that’s good for small business. They also offer the software for purchase and use on your own servers. It comes at a high price point, but if your business depends on webinars it might be worth a look. Offer a free trial and then plans start at $45/month for up to 3 users.
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Zoho
Zoho offers a completely free one-on-one online meeting option and then prices start at $12/month for up to five users.  That is one of the best prices in the market.  They also offer a cool feature called Embed Meeting so you can insert the meeting details into your website or blog and actually conduct the meeting right there.
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IBM Lotus
IBM Lotus Unyte.  Okay, these guys are clearly 800 pound gorillas and should be listed above, but hardly anyone I knew realized IBM had a webinar platform.  They offer a free 30-day trial with unlimited use for up to 14 people.  They also offer a completely free one-on-one option that you can use for desktop sharing.  Events subscription starts at $99/month.
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Yugma
Yugma is one of the innovators in the small business webinar space. They offer a completely free option and then prices start at 14.95/month for up to 20 users.  It also supports VOIP conferencing, including a feature that integrates seminars with Skype calls. Presenters can use PC, Macs or Linux. Participants can use almost any system or browser by downloading a Java applet.
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Intercall
Intercall is an audio, video and web conference tool and I was impressed with the iPhone and Blackberry add-ons they have built into it.  They have a Small Business Plan section that they just introduced for unlimited webinars.  Free 30 day trial, of course, they also offer a pay-as-you-go for 10 cents per minute/per user which might appeal when you only need something every now and then.
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Saba
Saba has an eMeetings option which is good for up to 20 people at $15/month and then bigger packages, if you need them, there is a free option too. They offer mobile phone options as well.
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Nefsis
Nefsis makes some bold claims that they are more powerful than Webex and so it made me pay closer attention.  Having done a bunch of webinars,  many platforms can have issues with audio feedback.  This is when you have someone with an open microphone somewhere and it causes static and screeching.  Nefsis states they’ve solved this.  They offer a free trial but their pricing is at the higher end of the scale.  It might fit a specific need for the advanced small business owner doing remote meetings and webinars.
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iLinc
iLinc offers e-learning, webinars, meetings and a way to tie it all into Salesforce.com and create a great customer tracking option.  This will be an important option for many small businesses that have automated much of their marketing work.  They offer a free 30-day trial.
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Inter Call
STREAM57 now part of Inter call, is a Flash webcasting software product that appears to be quite robust and high quality, the demos look like professional newscasts.
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Dialcom
Dialcom offers a collaboration software tool called Spontania that is a client-server solution.  It is used by many large corporations and some smaller ones.  They offer some useful case studies to show how banks, healthcare, and manufacturers have used their video conferencing and collaboration software.
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PGI
PGi Better Meetings appears to offer several solutions its own, plus Adobe, Microsoft and other webinar products as part of its custom approach.
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Desktop Sharing Software

Simple desktop and application sharing tools have fewer features than full online seminar tools, but are often easier for participants to use. They offer a less cluttered interface, making them a good choice for straightforward sharing. Presenters typically install the software on their computers, and share the information on their screens with others at a specific Internet address.

Screen Stream
Free for anyone to use, Screenstream allows Windows PC presenters to share their desktop with participants on PCs, Macs or Linux, who view the desktop through a browser with no install required.
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Team Viewer
While focused more on desktop support situations, Team Viewer allows presenters to share PC or Mac desktops. Both presenters and viewers must download and install an application, making it more appropriate for internal teams than more public situations. A free version of the tool is available for private use.
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Choosing a Webinar Service

There are many things To Consider When Choosing A Webinar Service, allow me to explain.

There are so many webinar services that you may feel overwhelmed when trying to choose one. If you ask yourself three questions when looking for a webinar service you may find that the decision to choose webinar software is easier than you thought.

What are the objectives of my webinar?

Knowing what your objectives are can help you determine the type of webinar service you need.  Are you looking to promote your business, educate clients, establish relationships, and build leads? If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you will need a webinar service that allows you to have large groups of people in attendance and also allows some sort of interaction with your audience.

You may want to look for a webinar service that lets you sell your products with one click.  If you are looking to build leads, a webinar service that has social media built in can help.  Looking to educate your clients? Look for a webinar solution that allows for more than one moderator/speaker.  When there are more speakers involved in a webinar your audience will become more engaged.

Will I use this webinar for marketing purposes?

You may have people come in late to your webinar event or not attend at all.  In these cases, do you want a webinar recording sent them? Do you want to send a recording to those that attended so they have something to refer back to at a later date?  You may also want to put this recording on your website or social media outlets to gain interest from people who didn’t attend the webinar event and might want to attend your next one.

For whatever reason, if you want to record your webinar you will need to look for a webinar platform that allows you to do so.  It would be a waste not to record your webinar event. Believe it or not there are many webinar services that do not automatically record your session.

What’s my budget?

Knowing your budget will help you narrow the list of webinar services available. What is the greatest number of attendees that you expect? Don’t purchase a webinar service that maxes out at 500 if you are only ever going to have 100 attendees.  Most webinar solutions worth looking at will cost anywhere from $20 to a $1000 a month. When analysing your budget for a webinar service, make sure the platform the webinar software runs on will work for all your clients. To get the most bang for your buck look at webinar services that have as many of the features you want.

Choosing a webinar service can be difficult, but if you ask yourself these three questions, the answers should help you reach your decision.  There are many webinar software solutions available to business owners, but there is only one solution for you.

Tips For Using The Right Service

If you want to grow your business and connect with your clients, then it’s time you thought of hosting live webinars.  Live events are exciting to those who attend and allow you interaction with clients.

Here are 4 tips to get you started with your webinar service.

Practice

Whichever webinar service you choose, make use of the videos, tutorials and training manuals that service offers.  Those guides will ensure that you know your webinar software inside and out.  If your webinar provider offers in-person training, take them up on it.  The more training you receive with your new webinar service the better!

Make sure that your office technology matches the specifications that the webinar company specifies.  Practice using your new webinar software.  Practice on colleagues in the office or with family at home.  Practice as a presenter and as a listener.  Record yourself to see how you sound.  Make sure you are ready for questions from your audience when hosting a live webinar; don’t let yourself be caught off guard.

Co-Presenters

Collaborating on live webinar events makes your material more exciting to the audience and helps to increase your conversation rate. No one wants to listen to the same person talk for two hours.  Having a co-presenter also helps; one person can answer questions and another to take care of any technical things going on in the background. It may also give you some level of comfort to know you are not alone.  A co-presenter might also spark interest from different demographics and help you gain more participants and market your webinar to a wider audience.

Visuals

You need visuals when hosting a webinar. Make sure your webinar service lets you use many different types of visual formats.  You don’t want to just read your PowerPoint slides to your audience. Throw in fun graphs and images. Show graphs, graphics and slides of interest pertaining to your webinar.  Make sure you are adept in toggling back and forth between different pictures and slides.  If you are presenting have a picture of yourself at the beginning of the webinar.  It will help make a connection between you and your audience.

Interact

If you don’t interact with your audience during your webinar event, you will lose their attention.  Keep them engaged.  Ask questions during the presentation; don’t wait until the end to address your guests.  Encourage them to ask questions through whatever means the webinar platform offers and answer them during the webinar.  If your webinar service allows, try and have some discussion where attendees can talk with each other.  Run a poll during your webinar and then in real-time give the results of the poll.

Webinars can be an advantage to your business if given correctly.  Using these tips should help you in having a successful webinar presentation.

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