Curious About Webinars?
Whether it’s an online class, webinar, or conference, chances are you have taken part in a virtual event of some kind. A virtual event is simply one where the participants experience the event and it’s content online as opposed to in-person. If your organization has not yet ventured into the world of hosting virtual events, there has never been a better time to start. But before you dive in, you need to know which webinar platform to choose. In this post, we’ll compare some of the virtual event platforms out there today: GoToWebinar, Zoom Webinars, WebEx, MS Teams Live Events, and Google Hangouts.
Why Host a Webinar?
With the current global pandemic keeping everyone home, organizations are increasingly turning to virtual events as in-person gatherings are cancelled. However, the value of hosting a webinar goes far beyond social distancing. Hosting a webinar allows you to establish your organization as a thought leader and make connections in your industry to a wide audience, without geographical constraints. It gives you a chance to connect to existing and potential customers wherever they are. If your webinar platform allows you to collect feedback, it can also help you better understand your audience. And, as an added bonus, after your webinar, you are left with the recording – high-quality, low-cost evergreen content that can be reused.
Virtual Event Platforms
If your organization has an Office 365 subscription or uses G Suite, the live event programs built into those ecosystems may seem like an attractive option.
MS Teams Live Events are essentially fancy MS Teams meetings that can host up to 10,000 attendees and last up to 4 hours. These meetings are meant for one-to-many communications where the host of the event is leading the interactions and audience participation is primarily to view the content shared by a host. When you choose a public event (the viewers do not need to be part of your organization) you can opt-in to receive an attendee engagement report and enable Q&A functionality.
Google Hangouts allows you to host a webinar for up to 250 guests or stream it to YouTube for a wider audience. It allows several people to speak and share their screen during the webinar, and record the meetings.
There are also dedicated virtual event and webinar platforms that offer a bit more in terms of marketing assets, but generally have an extra cost associated with them.
Cisco WebEx is a virtual event platform offering integrated video, audio, and content sharing. It allows users to easily join and record online meetings and share files. It even comes with built-in intelligence to detect background noises – something that’s key for those working from home.
GoToWebinar is another virtual event platform. It allows users to share recordings, send automated emails to attendees, share files, and live chat with members of the audience. It also allows audience members to join the discussion, ask live questions and answer polls during the presentation.
Zoom is one of the leading video enterprise solutions. You’re probably most familiar with Zoom for meetings, but it also allows you to host video webinars and other virtual events. It also has a chat feature to share messages and files with other people on the call. Zoom has many integrations with other apps you’re likely using as well.
What to Consider When Choosing a Webinar Platform
So what factors are important when trying to choose a webinar platform? Some of that will be dependent on your specific needs. A dedicated virtual event program typically has a lot more built-in bells and whistles, such as various marketing assets and enhanced reporting. However, they can be expensive. If your organization already uses Teams or G Suite, perhaps it’s worth saving the money you would spend on a webinar platform and create the assets yourself. Here are some of the factors we think are important when making your decision:
- Does the webinar platform include a landing page for the webinar or do you still need to create your own? GoToWebinar, Zoom, and WebEx include sign-up landing pages, while at the time of publishing this blog, MS Teams Live Events and Hangouts do not.
- Does each attendee get a unique attendee link to join the webinar? A unique link for each attendee helps ensure that each attendee has signed up themselves, as opposed to one person signing up and sharing the URL with their friends. It also allows for more accurate tracking. With Zoom, WebEx, and GoToWebinar, you have the option to send unique links to participants. With Google Hangouts and MS Teams Live Events, there is no way to send unique links at the time of publishing this blog.
- Does the platform support the sending of webinar reminder emails? WebEx, Zoom, and GoToWebinar all have built-in functionality that allows you to send emails to attendees both before and after the webinar. Again, at the time of publishing this blog, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams Live Events do not.
- Does the platform support poll capabilities to engage with the audience throughout the webinar? Again, Teams and Hangouts do not have this (at the time of publishing this blog), whereas WebEx, GoToWebinar, and Zoom provide this option.
- Does the platform include the ability to display a feedback survey to attendees at the end of the webinar? WebEx, GoToWebinar, and Zoom all have this feature. Google Hangouts and MS Teams Live Events do not have this feature at the time of publishing this blog.
- How good are the reporting capabilities? What kind of data do you need to know about the virtual event? With Zoom, GoToWebinar and WebEx provide detailed analytics reports post-webinar. While MS Teams Live Events, a live event usage report in the admin center shows you the activity overview for live events. This includes event status, start time, views, and production type for each event.
New To Webinar Marketing?
At Maven Collective Marketing, we have been providing end-to-end webinar services for clients from planning, webinar platform selection, event promotion, registration management, on-demand webinar enablement, webinar follow-up and business development.
Now is the Perfect Time to Get Started!
Whether you choose to go with a webinar platform that offers extra features – for an extra cost – or you stick with the ecosystem your organization is comfortable with, there has never been a better time to test out webinars! There is no better way to connect to a wide, non-geographically bound audience than to host a virtual event, especially now. With more people working from home, or in many cases not working at all, your webinars will reach a more receptive audience than ever before.
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