Webinars are a great way to market your small business online because they build:
- Trust while you demonstrate your subject matter expertise;
- Goodwill because you’re giving away a piece of that expertise for free;
- Your email marketing list because you capture a prospect’s customer details (name, e-mail address, etc.) when they register to attend; and
- Your library of re-usable content if the session is recorded.
There are a number of solid webinar services available online for hosting webinars. The best offer a full suite of features, each of which will help you plan, create, schedule, promote, run, and follow-up on your webinars.
To help you find the solution that’s right for you, we’ve compiled a list of webinar services for small business owners.
First, Think About What You Need
The features and functionality available can vary a lot from tool to tool, so before you check out our list of webinar services below, consider the following to determine your webinar solution’s “must haves.”
You see, while almost all webinar solutions offer a basic set of functionality for holding a webinar (e.g. the ability to share your screen, set up a phone conference line, and change presenters during the webinar), many offer additional features such as:
- A branded registration page and lobby (the spot where folks who dial in a little early wait for the webinar to begin);
- Automated emails – registration confirmation, reminders and follow-ups;
- Audience interaction – via raised hands, mood emoticons (e.g. happy, confused, too fast, too slow, etc.) and live polls;
- Text chat and “ask a question” boxes;
- In-webinar reporting – how many people are attending and of that number, how many people are paying attention (i.e. the webinar is the top screen on their desktop);
- On-screen annotation – the ability to use an onscreen pen, highlighter, spotlight and whiteboard functionality;
- After-webinar reporting – how many people attended, who they were, how long they watched, questions they asked, etc.; and
- Recording – once you record a webinar, you can offer it over and over to attract, educate and entice your prospects.
Webinar Services for Small Business
To help you make the most of this list, we’ve sorted the webinar services into four categories:
- Top of the line webinar services – these tools offer tons of features and functionality however, you’ll often, but not always, pay more;
- Budget webinar services – these tools offer less features and functionality however, you’ll often, though not always, pay less;
- Automated webinar services – though “automated webinar” may sound like an oxymoron, this new breed of tools is changing the way small businesses are using webinars to market online; and
- Cutting edge webinar services – live streaming is hot and these tools help you do it right.
It’s important to note that the number of webinars you can hold per month and the number of people who can attend each webinar can vary greatly from solution to solution, even within the “top of the line” category. Before committing, make sure that the webinar tool you like can meet your demand for both.
Top of the Line Webinar Tools
Some of the webinar services for small business in this section are well known however, there were a couple of surprise contenders are well.
One of the most well known webinar tools on the market, GoToWebinar offers it all at a price that’s reasonable for what you get. The company sweetens the pot by offering a free subscription to their popular web-meeting service, GoToMeeting, as part of the deal.
WebEx Event Center
Another big contender in the webinar services space, WebEx Event Center is chock-full of all the webinar goodies you need to market your business online including multiple video feeds.
Adobe Connect Webinars
Known more for their design applications than for webinars, Adobe offers a fairly complete package with its Adobe Connect Webinars tool.
Less well known, though just as robust as the webinar services above, AnyMeeting offers a number of plans, most of which include the features you’d love to have. They’re also focused on small businesses which means that they may understand your challenges better. One thing that’s weird however – they don’t offer screen sharing on the higher-attendee plans. Perhaps it’s a matter of bandwidth but that’s definitely a ding against them.
Offering almost all the features you’ll need, ClickWebinar is a robust solution with a lower price tag so be sure to check them out as an option for your small business webinars.
Though not a well known webinar tool, Onstream Webinars offers a fully-loaded package at a lower price than most. For that reason alone, they’re certainly worth a look.
Our final top of the line webinar tool, ReadyTalk offers a robust set of features that integrate with many marketing automation systems.
Budget Webinar Tools
Be forewarned, the “budget” in this sections header often means a lower price however, that’s not always the case. The webinar services for small business in this section are a mixed bag, offering a wide variety of features and functionality so make sure a tool fits your needs before committing to it.
Thanks to their free online meeting service, Zoom has become quite popular. Not many people know that they also offer a video webinar service that can handle up to 3,000 attendees.
Also known for its free meeting offering, Join.me offers a webinar solution for up to 250 participants.
The good news is that anyone can hold a Google+ hangout webinar for free. The bad news is that as far as webinar tools go, it’s lacking in both features and functionality. That all changes with the next two entrants on our list…
Webinars OnAir is a suite of webinar functionality built around Google+ hangouts. In other words, the tool adds the features and functionality you want that Google+ hangouts is missing. The best part? Thanks to Google+ hangouts free price, Webinar’s OnAir is inexpensive.
Another webinar tool built around Google+ hangouts, WebinarJam offers amazing features and functionality for a very low price. This is definitely one solution to check out.
If you’re looking for a well-priced basic entrepreneur webinar tool, then EZTalks may be the solution for you. Primarily a videoconferencing system, they offer webinar-sized plans as well.
One of the more robust budget webinar tools, Yugma offers plans that might fit your budget.
If you only plan to share your screen and not a video feed, then GatherPlace is worth a look. They focus on screen sharing over video conferencing and offer a nice set of features as well.
ON24 offers a good set of webinar features and functionality, even some tailored for marketing webinars. Unfortunately, they do not list their prices online so you’ll need to contact them to find out how much the solution costs.
iLinc offers another good set of webinar features including integration with Salesforce CRM. Once again, we could not find any pricing on this site so contact the vendor if you’re interested.
Webinars on Fire
Last but not least in this section, Webinars on Fire offers a solid set of features for a very attractive price. What’s more, owner Gary Jesch seems to be very hands-on, something that many of his customers seem to appreciate.
Automated Webinar Tools
The webinar services for small business in this section are like the solutions above except they offer one thing more: automation.
Small business folks love automation because it saves them lots of time and effort. In the case of webinars, the trick is to make an automated webinar seem live, functionality that each of the tools in this section offer.
Imagine: recorded webinars that attendees need to register for just like a regular event. When the event time arrives, the webinar kicks off, offering the same information and offer as it did the first time around except, you’re not there. You’re doing something else to advance your business and that’s where the power of these solutions really shines.
Stealth Seminar claims that it offers the “Only Automated Hybrid Webinar System on the Planet”. What this means is that you can automate the webinar and then go live during the Q&A session at the end. Or, you can start live, kick off an automated presentation and then comes in at the end. How cool is that?
JetWebinar focuses on your marketing funnel – moving a prospect from registration to accepting your offer. Their solution to the Q&A dilemma is also unique:
If you want to turn your recorded webinars into a constantly available stream of content, then EverWebinar is worth a look. Not only can you automate your webinars with this tool, you can also hold “Just In Time Webinars” that kick off right after a prospect registers. They also offer a robust scheduling system that automatically assures that your webinar does not run at a weird time, such as the middle of the night.
Yet another automated webinar system, OfficeVP even offers a payment gateway for people to attend your webinars.
Auto Webinar Player
Auto Webinar Player focuses on recorded webinars only. Once you hold your webinar, you upload its recording to their servers to schedule automated times for it to run again and again.
Webinato is a full-featured webinar tool that also offers Autopilot, “AutoPilot replays the session with all its interactivity! Attendees watching an AutoPilot replay will not miss a beat and can fully interact through chat, polls, documents folder, etc as in a live session.” Now that’s useful!
Finally, we come to MeetingBurner. MeetingBurner is robust webinar solution that also offers an Autopilot feature. Unlike a recording, attendees will:
- Have to register to attend at a fixed day and time;
- Join the webinar to get your content, deal, etc.;
- Be in a live MeetingBurner meeting room with other attendees; and
- Be able to take advantage of an actual offer with genuine urgency.
Cutting Edge Entrepreneur Webinar Tools
The webinar services for small business in our final section highlight the growing power of easy-to-use live streaming solutions that may one day replace the webinar as the hallmark of online interaction.
Spreecast is a robust live streaming tool that lets you display a video feed while interacting with your watchers via chat. You casts are recorded and saved for future viewing – you can even embed them on your website.
Periscope enables you to stream live from your mobile device wherever and whenever you’d like. You can learn more about this tool by clicking here …
Blab is like a talk show that your audience can tune into and watch. Better yet, they can participate as well.
As you can see from the list above, there are many webinar services for small business owners available.
The key to avoiding overwhelm and finding the solution that’s right for your business is to head into your search prepared – if you know what you want, and what you don’t need, you’ll be able to trim down the list of appropriate webinar tools quickly.
Webinar Photo via Shutterstock