Among the best webinar platforms in today's market, you are bound to find some interesting differences. For this reason alone, choosing the right webinar software platform is never easy for everyone.
Regardless of your industry, business model, professional background, or job title, you have experienced the effectiveness of getting different business results by hosting webinars. Interestingly, getting the best results in this context requires carefully selecting the best webinar tool that will suit your specific preferences. And that's what this guide will help you to do.
Besides the price of webinar software, we'll be looking into the key features to consider before you sign up for one. Even when you are looking for a free webinar platform, it's not impossible to find something that fits your needs.
However, those free options might not be the best tool to get the business results you need now. Before we get into the details of how to choose a webinar platform, let's look at some of the important basics.
Types of webinars and their use cases
If you think hosting live webinars is just about marketing purposes, think again. Below are some of the significant types of webinars and their use cases. From here, you can begin to think about your intended use cases and other possible uses while getting insightful tips on how to choose webinar software.
Employee training webinars
Based on the interactive nature of online meetings and virtual events, many businesses now use webinars to provide employee training. Interestingly, one of the key benefits of hosting webinars is that your employees don't have to be physically present in a particular location before participating in the training.
Also, in this context, there will be no need for employees or your company to pay for transportation, just for some people to take advantage of the training.
From sales to marketing, finance, customer success, and engineering, many companies now deliver quality training sessions to their workers cost-effectively. In addition to replacing text-based employee manuals, evergreen webinars foster deep and beneficial knowledge sharing between your past, present and future employees.
Assuming you are interested in hosting webinars for this specific purpose, what are the core features to look at for? Read on to find out.
Customer onboarding webinars
Especially for subscription-based businesses like software as a service (SaaS), first-time customer onboarding experience often impacts retention rate and lifetime value. by choosing the best webinar software, you can help your new customers -
- Eliminate product user bottlenecks
- Start getting value from your product as soon as possible
- Deliver delightful customer experiences worth sharing
In case you are still contemplating the benefits of building a customer success team to help your business achieve these things, now might be the best time. And that's one of the best things you can do with webinar presentation software.
Internal communication webinars
Depending on the features of the video conferencing software, you can also use this tool for internal company communications. The interactive nature of webinars makes it a perfect fit for communication with employees and other stakeholders. In terms of internal company communication, you can use your chosen webinar platform for things like –
- Annual meetings
- Weekly meetings
- Team feedback sessions
- Performance reviews
- Product updates
Except for these options listed above, there is a chance you'll find other interesting internal communications uses. Specifically for companies working with a geographically distributed remote workforce, internal communication is one of the best uses of a webinar.
Product update webinars
If you are running a software company, there is a chance that you've established this culture of sharing product updates from time to time. Within this context, I am talking about the regular product updates geared toward your existing and potential customers.
When you commit to continually updating customers about your product use cases and how to get value from it, the value you deliver will help you or your team increase your retention rate.
As noted earlier, remote team members working across different time zones can also use webinars for product updates.
Product demo webinars
This type of webinar is usually targeted at potential customers interested in buying your product. Done very well; product demos increase the chances of converting prospects into free trial users and paying customers. Whether you are using paid advertising, search engine optimization, or social media marketing to generate website traffic and leads, hosting live webinars is a proven way to convert some people into customers without being pushy.
Panel discussion webinars
Here is another type of webinar that many companies are now leveraging to grow brand awareness, generate quality leads, and acquire new customers. In this case, you can use a live webinar room to host events like expert-driven panel discussions.
Depending on your preferences, you can start with a discussion among your team members. However, making it more effective may warrant connecting with different experts in your industry to provide convincingly valuable content to your audience. By leveraging other people's expertise, you no longer depend on your team members' limited expertise and professional experience.
Another unique benefit of hosting webinars in a podcast style is allowing you to tap into the audience already built by another brand or expert. And that, my friend, is a proven strategy for growing your brand awareness with webinar content.
Lead nurturing webinars
Regardless of the channel from which your business generates the highest volume of sales leads, most are hardly equal regarding conversion potential. Hence, lead nurturing makes a big difference in terms of conversion rate. When we get into the core differences among the best webinar tools and how to choose the right one, you'll understand the importance of lead nurturing and the specific features required.
Within the context of a SaaS business model, providing educational lead-nurturing webinars to your free trial users can help you convert some of them into paying customers. But then, you must get the best tool before delivering the content that will give you the highest audience engagement.
Thought leadership webinars
Thought leadership is another proven way of using a webinar tool. Instead of relying on written texts in white papers or ebooks, video content offers better audience engagement.
What is thought leadership?
Simply put, it is the proactive practice of leveraging attractive and influential content to promote an idea, product, brand, or expertise within a specific field of endeavour. Beyond your company's blog or owned media channels, hosting interactive webinars can help you become an influential authority around a specific niche, profession, or expertise.
Automated webinars vs live webinars: What are the differences?
Automated webinars are pre-recorded types of online events set up to deliver content automatically without the involvement of a presenter. One of the key benefits of automated webinars is that you can set up the system to continue engaging an audience while you are busy doing other things that matter to you. Depending on the webinar hosting platform you choose, the automation capabilities of the best platforms in the market will enable you to do things like –
- Start a presentation after an audience trigger
- End a presentation at a specific set duration
- Play a video during the presentation
- Present call to action buttons (CTA)
- Redirect viewers to a chosen destination URL
- Send an integrated email sequence after the presentation
Unlike live webinars, you may not be able to present a poll or interact with webinar attendees when you are using the automated version. However, some of the best webinar software tools in the market will have all the features required to use automated or live online meetings. With on demand webinars, attendees can view the content and take subsequent actions at any time of their choice.
How to choose the best webinar software platform
Whether you are buying for a small team or a large enterprise, here is a detailed guide on how to choose the best webinar hosting software. Considering these points, you'll be positioned to make the best purchase decision when you are ready to use it.
Clarify your specific use cases for hosting webinars
Looking at the types of webinars and use cases discussed earlier, the first thing to answer the question is – what do I want to accomplish with this type of business software?
As I have noted in the previous sections, most people use webinar software for different purposes besides acquiring potential customers. Based on this fact, what is suitable for company A might differ for company B. Another thing worth noting is that this type of software often comes with many features that may only be useful for some customer segments.
As you think through the best webinar software comparison, having more clarity regarding your high-priority use cases will put you in the right direction.
Determine the expected audience size for hosting live webinars
How many people do you expect to attend your webinar at any time? That's the next question you should be thinking about.
The thing is that using a software pricing plan meant for 100 attendees to host 1,000 attendees will not deliver the best virtual event experience for everyone involved. Even when the hosting platform can host as many people as possible, you must be clear on the webinar software pricing plan that will suit your expected audience size.
Regarding the expected audience size, you consider the size of your email list, free trial user count, or existing customer base. When the expected audience size is known, looking into the best webinar software comparison will become easier.
Interestingly, it is important to only go for some high-end product features if your audience size is minimal.
Explore the live chat features and audience engagement polls
For all the use cases you can think of, interactive audience engagement is one major thing that makes webinars exceptionally effective. But first, you must find the best tools with all the required features. In most cases, the free webinar software you'll discover online might have all these features. The most popular means of engaging an audience in this context include the following –
Check if the software has chat features and the pricing plan that contains it
If you need to get helpful insights about your audience, then you should consider polls
Besides polls, the best webinar tools should have features to get questions directly from the audience and answer them during the live event.
User-friendly registration templates
Besides looking at how the core user interface works, understanding the user registration workflow is also essential. While most of the providers in the market will use sweet copywriting to promote their products as the best, almost all of them are very different.
Regardless of how you send traffic to your webinar registration page, the best software tools in the market should allow you to run A/B tests. When you run some tests, it becomes easier to identify the best combination of variables that will give you and your team the highest conversion rates.
Unfortunately, if the attendee registration pages are not user-friendly, you might lose prospects in your webinar funnel without noticing it. And that's one reason why the attendance rate might be low when you want to host a webinar.
Check for integration of other marketing tools, among other key features
How integrated is the webinar software with other relevant tools?
Within some specific business contexts, seamless integration with other marketing tools is usually a high priority among many users. When you have your webinar features natively integrated with other tools, it makes many things to become easier for the users. Assuming you have specific integration needs now, you should remember to check this feature when looking into the top-rated webinar software comparison.
Looking at the integration capabilities within the best webinar software platforms, some of the major use cases to consider are the following –
- Email marketing
- Lead nurturing
- Sales CRM
- Payment gateways
- Landing page builders
- Project management
- Online advertising
- Appointment calendars
Is webinar analytics important to your company?
Especially if you are buying for a company with a large audience, webinar analytics is another interesting feature you don't have to ignore when looking into the best software for the job. With the native features built for in-depth analytics, the data and insights you'll get will help your team make continuous improvements in different ways.
On the other hand, if you end up choosing software without the features built for analytics, you'll continue to miss out on the benefits of getting valuable insights. Below are some of the best ways to look at analytics when trying to compare the best webinar software in 2023.
If you send traffic to your free webinar registration pages from different sources, it might not be easy to identify the best sources of high-quality leads for your business. With seamless integration into the lead online advertising platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads, you'll start getting better insights into attendee registration and other valuable data points.
Beyond what is obtainable from a free trial, requesting a demo of the analytics and other interesting features of the webinar app will guide you on how to get even more value in this regard.
How your audience is engaged during and after the presentation is another area where you may likely get more value in analytics. For example, what your team learns from audience segmentation and engagement might prove helpful for creating even better content.
Depending on the person in charge of your overall webinar marketing strategy, conversion rate optimization is another area in integrated analytics that can help uncover more value.
From page registration to audience segmentation, lead nurturing, traffic generation, and sales conversion, there is a whole lot your team can do with the best webinar platforms with powerful deep analytics features.
Assuming the software you chose doesn't have the features for native analytics, then you may have to resort to technical integration with other third-party tools and platforms. In most cases, you can do this through an API or webhooks.
Compare the webinar replay features
Based on the recent webinar hosting statistics we have seen, it has been reported widely that only about 40 – 60% of your registrants will attend the live event. And that's why you should endeavor to get a webinar solution that will allow you or your team to take full advantage of the replay content.
Even though everything about replay is among the basic features, how it works is hardly the same when you compare the budget webinar tools in today's market. For example, some software providers in this space will limit the number of people who can view your replay content over a specified period.
However, the most important thing is understanding how each webinar software pricing plan offers replay features.
The other key factors worth considering are the replay viewer registration page (for lead generation) and the automated email sequence sent to the registrants who didn't make it into the live presentation.
Done very well; your past replay content could become a constant source of quality leads.
But then, you need to have a method of getting eyeballs on your content.
Understand the webinar session duration
What is the session duration allowed in each pricing plan?
Understanding your specific use cases will make it easier to determine the session duration that will be suitable. From 20 minutes to 12 hours, many webinar hosting platforms will offer different durations. In a situation whereby there isn't any need to host long-lasting virtual events, going for the pricing plans that provide the longest duration at a higher price might not be in your best interest.
Before signing up for any of these tools, note that the maximum event duration allowed has nothing to do with the maximum number of live attendees. Looking at the best webinar software pricing packages will make it clearer before you sign up for a free plan or premium package.
The other thing about session duration is recording. Technically, long webinars with high-definition video content will consume more resources. But if you need long-duration recording, the best option is to go for software solutions and pricing packages suitable for that.
Does the webinar hosting platform have a mobile app?
As you'll find in the process of comparing webinar software solutions, it is only some providers in the market that offer a mobile app version. But why is this important, you may ask?
Having a mobile app will give potential attendees who registered for the event access to connect from any location, especially during the live presentation. And that's one thing you should consider if you want to boost your attendance rate without many obstacles.
When the solution you are using has a mobile app, it will give these attendees access to the live event content without needing to switch on their computers at home or in the office. Moreover, some team members who may have something to present at the event can connect from anywhere without needing to be at a particular location. Just visit Apple or Google Play Store, and you'll find some mobile versions of the best webinar software. The interesting part is that audio and video content quality are usually the same.
What is your team size?
The number of users allowed in each webinar software pricing plan often differs from one provider to another. After clarifying why your company needs this type of marketing software, it is also important to determine the number of team members using the tools for different purposes.
For example, a company may use the same webinar software provider for HR operations, weekly team meetings, customer support, and employee training. Assuming you have different teams of varying sizes for each business function, getting a webinar tool that supports only a single user account might not give you the best value for money.
Most importantly, you must be absolutely clear on your intended use cases and the number of team members using the software in different contexts to host a successful webinar.
When you buy into a suitable pricing plan, your team members can create new events, manage settings, moderate webinar sessions, and manage replay content and relevant integrations. Consider these core features when looking into the best webinar platform comparison.
Whatever platform you choose, you'll find great options supporting 1 – 12 users simultaneously.
Explore the webinar breakout room features
Breakout rooms are smaller groups of interactive attendees of online events. Depending on how you want to use the software, this feature allows users to invite attendees into small groups for deeper online discussions and team-building activities. Regarding the core differences between these software platforms, the breakout room features often work differently. While some tools will allow you to create up to 100 breakout rooms, some other competitors will enable you to have access to create only 20 rooms.
On the other hand, the total number of live event attendees you can invite into breakout rooms also differs from one platform to the other. In this case, larger companies with varying use cases with a sizable number of attendees may find this feature a high priority.
For relatively large companies that provide online training through video conferencing, a breakout room is one feature you shouldn't ignore when trying to compare the best webinar platforms.
Webinar recording storage
Irrespective of how you want to use the software, webinar recording is another important feature that determines the value you'll get after your subscription. Whether you are hosting on demand webinars or live training sessions, recording audio and video conferencing is a proven way to generate leads for your business. For companies that want to use the tool to train employees or provide customer support, recording is one of the things that should be a high priority.
Interestingly, the most important thing to consider is the duration of recording allowed in each pricing plan. From 30 minutes to 12 hours, you'll find varying options about the best webinar hosting platforms. To experience the quality of recorded content, you should sign up for a free trial tool that appeals most to you. In some cases, you'll find providers that offer unlimited recording.
Browser-based vs. downloadable webinar software
If you are not technically savvy, it might not be easy to notice the difference between these models of offering webinar software. But just as the name sounds, you have to download one into your device before using it, while you can use the other type by connecting directly through a web or mobile browser. Did I tell you that's not all about the difference?
Based on my experience and other webinar software reviews I have read, browser-based solutions are usually vulnerable to internet connectivity fluctuations. However, it depends on the nature of the internet connection used by most of your expected attendees.
In some countries, this might not be an issue. But if you want to engage attendees from around the world, you have to consider the difference.
On the other hand, downloadable versions tend to be more stable because of the technology used in building the software. The other caveat is that many big corporations do not allow employees to download any software into their work-related devices. For these set of people, they may not be able to attend your events if downloading software is a requirement while they are at work. So when you want to host a webinar, it is crucial to consider this fact as well.
Choosing webinar software platform: how much should you pay?
After every other consideration, affordability remains a crucial factor when it's time to choose the best software to host a webinar. However, deciding what you can afford to pay shouldn't be hard, especially if you have narrowed down the core features needed to accomplish the business goals that matter most to your company.
Unless you are buying for a relatively big enterprise, price comparison shouldn't take much time. But the big question is – how do you decide how much to pay? Irrespective of company size, below are the specific ways to look at the price of webinar software.
Free Webinar Software: Yes, it's possible to find some free webinar tools online. Looking at it from an open-source perspective, you'll also see many interesting options. But the big challenge is that most of these free tools often have limitations.
Free Trial Options: Most of the providers in the space will give you entirely free or free trial plans. With the free trial plans, you can sign up to explore and experience the core webinar features needed to achieve your goals. The challenge is that such plans may not have advanced marketing automation features that come with the integration into other platforms.
The duration of a free trial in this context is usually between 1 – 30 days. Within this period, you can try the most important features to see how it works and the value you'll get from using the software.
Premium Pricing Plans: At the end of a free trial period, you may upgrade to a premium pricing plan which will require monthly subscription payments. Webinar software pricing often starts around $9 and goes up to $390 monthly. How much you pay depends on your audience size, the most important webinar features you want and what to do with them.
Frequently asked questions about webinar software platforms
What is a webinar room?
A webinar room is a virtual space where presenters can leverage screen sharing, audio and video conferencing tools to share knowledge or information. The right webinar platform will also give you great tools to host your content after the live event. And that's what most people call on-demand or evergreen webinars.
How do I create a webinar registration form?
Some of the best platforms in this space will give you the tools to create high-converting landing pages with user-friendly registration forms. To make it even faster, they provide great templates to get you started in no time.
Is analytics important for hosting future webinars?
If you have been ignoring this before, great webinar software could help you take things to the next level. From the registration page templates to audience engagement metrics, there are lots of benefits you'll experience when you start leveraging analytics to get insights into your virtual event.
What is a pre-recorded webinar?
A pre-recorded webinar is a type of webinar you can record and automate the presentation without being present when your audience is viewing the content. In some cases, many people also refer to this type as on demand webinar.
Even though this type is usually not interactive, getting your prospects to register before viewing the content is a proven lead generation strategy. In other words, you can use your pre-recorded webinar for ongoing lead generation.
What are the key benefits of webinar marketing?
- Save employee traveling costs.
- Share practical sales and marketing knowledge within your company
- Increase brand awareness with evergreen webinars
- Build through leadership and brand authority
- Generate quality leads for your business
- Nurture your existing leads toward conversion to paying customers
- Increase audience engagement while delivering value
- Leverage webinar marketing to eliminate buyer objections
Do I need marketing tools on webinar platforms?
Yes, you'll need email marketing tools to convert some of your live attendees into paying customers. But the usual process is to do the integration by yourself. With CRM integration, you'll be able to take advantage of other marketing automation tools as well.
Before you proceed, it is worth noting that this webinar software buyer guide was not meant to be exhaustive. However, the sole intent is to make you understand the more important factors to help you compare the best webinar platforms. As indicated earlier, what suits Company A might not be suitable for Company B. Hence, the reason for clarifying the types of webinars and their use cases.
Remember, it is not only affordability or price that should determine the one you choose. Even when considering and comparing the price, it is also helpful to consider the long-term value of the content you'll create with these tools.
From the number of team members to audience size, recording storage, and everything in between, most of these platforms work differently. Your best bet is to narrow down your company's priorities and decide the best suitable webinar software for the job.