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Webinar and Conferencing Software 2020: Complete Guide

What are Webinars and Web Conferences?

A webinar or a web-based seminar is an online presentation, conference, or event. Webinars are conducted over the web among a large number of participants who are located at different sites using computers and the internet to transmit and receive audio and video data. Webinars can be of different types - lectures, seminars, workshops, expert presentations, product demonstrations, lead generation webinars, internal webinars. Webinars can be live or on-demand webinars. On-demand webinars allow users to register and schedule webinars. Live webinars are recorded and reused as on-demand webinars for registered users. Webinars provide for interactive features such as shared screens, moderated Q&A sessions.

Web or online conferencing includes audio, web, and video conferencing to conduct online meetings, training, private video chats, and content sharing.

What is Webinar and Conferencing Software?

As video calls become more mainstream, organizations are on calls with clients, partners, and off-site employees. A Webinar and Conferencing software is a program that is used to bring together the participants of the webinar or conference, on a single platform. It offers the person leading the webinar the ability to invite, start, and conduct online conversations and remote meetings by bringing attendees together and sharing audio, video, and text.

Business video conferencing usually involves integration solutions such as Zoom, Teams, Poly StarLeaf, and LifeSize, and more. Additionally, these conferencing solutions offer Outlook and Google integrations for meeting scheduling.

Most Webinar and Conferencing software also offer tools that augment the webinar capabilities such as file sharing, live broadcasting, hosting polls, and monitoring of metrics - how many attended, when they dropped out, etc.

It’s common for both webinars and conferencing solutions to offer audio and video capabilities, which businesses can then choose to use (audio only or audio and video) based on the discussion requirement.

Webinars vs Web Conferences

The underlying technology components for webinar software and conferencing software largely overlap. So the question arises what is the difference between the two? The key distinction is the scale of users - Webinar is largely suited for live or on-demand events for large audiences. Webinars are mostly structured and planned events and need scheduling support. Typically, participants have to register to attend webinars.

Web conferences tend to be more informal and a lot more interactive and are meant for smaller group meetings and one-to-one interaction. Web conferences allow seamless interaction between the participants and the collaboration and sharing of content. Such meetings tend to be a lot more informal and personal in nature.

As such webinars are suited for lectures, seminars, product presentations, and expert presentations. Web conferencing is to be used for private meetings, online team/group meetings, product demo/presentations to small groups, small group training sessions, and discussions.

Overall, web conferencing is a broader concept, and webinars are part of this broader concept.

6 Key Benefits of Webinar and Conferencing Software

Global Workplace

Conferencing software makes it possible for global teams to work together and provide that seamless working experience. This technology has been the backbone of the working model for many of the multinational and global companies.

6 Key Benefits of  Webinar and Conferencing Software

No Limits to Attendees

Webinar and Conferencing software allow users to host meetings from two participants to any number. In fact, there are world records for the largest number of attendees of business webinars going up to approximately ten thousand. These kinds of numbers can be hard to manage without software, especially if it’s necessary to manage participant information.

Increased Productivity

A Webinar and Conferencing software allows teams from offices around the world to meet and confer in real-time without physically having to travel to a common venue. This saves enormous amounts of money and time for the organization and its employees, resulting in a significant increase in productivity.

Reduced Costs

With personal meetings, presentations, or conferences, meeting space is always required. While online calls can take care of the day to day meetings, Webinar and Conferencing software helps bring down the costs when there are multiple presentations or conferences to be handled, over a period of time, or even considering a global business scale.

The one thing people shouldn’t have any question about is that (the) online meeting will eventually replace face-to-face meeting.

D T

David Thompson

Author

Immersive Collaboration

Using AV conferencing software businesses can experience quality audio, video, and content sharing within their boardrooms. This enables widespread teams to collaborate as though they are in the same room through devices such as speakers, advanced cameras, and smartboards, and display screens.

Impact Analysis

Presentations that are made online do not offer the ability to obtain feedback. But with Webinar or Conferencing software, hosts can analyze specific data points such as how engaged viewers were, for how long, where and when they left the conference, and more.

Which industries use Webinar and Conferencing Software?

Users from a wide range of backgrounds depend on webinars for their marketing training, education, and use conferencing software for their business-wide communications. Therefore, Webinar and Conferencing software can be used by companies of all sizes to help them stay competitive and connected.

According to one GotoWebinar study, 29% of all webinars are produced by software and technology companies. Therefore, at the top of the list software and technology industries, deploy Webinar and Conferencing software followed by financial services and education. In addition, Webinar and Conferencing software is also used by Telecommunications, Pharmaceutical, and Retail.

Which Business Problems are solved by Webinar and Conferencing Software?

Which Business Problems are solved by Webinar and Conferencing Software?

Problem#1 - Global Customers and Global Workforce pose meeting challenges

We live in a highly connected world where businesses are global or multinational with both their customers and employees spread out geographically. Global businesses cannot afford to have communication gaps between offices. Plans and strategies devised in the head office must be implemented in all markets for the best results. In the Computer Technology industry, having a multisite workforce is common where these teams need to collaborate on a day-to-day basis. Customers are spread out far and wide and support personnel need not be always present in the same geography.

Conference software help businesses avoid problems that arise due to shortcomings of conventional methods of communication like email, phone, and messaging.

Problem#2 - Hard to collaborate in remote meetings

Hosting a conference is one to many or many to many activities. It often requires screens, documents, and images to be shared or content to be delivered. Doing this manually can be a huge task. However, AV conferencing software overcomes these issues with collaborative tools that allow for instant messaging, screen sharing, quick content delivery, and more. This helps make the entire process more effective and efficient.

Problem#3 - Training remote group is a challenge

It is a common problem faced by businesses wherein expert trainer is available in one location and trainee group is in a different location. Travel restrictions and budgetary restrictions make it harder to conduct face to face training. In the current COVID situation, educational institutions are increasingly finding the need to conduct classes for remote groups. Online classes are the answer to such a situation. Regular online classes can be hard to coordinate without the right software. Some Webinar software help make this easier to manage by integrating online course capabilities into their products. If the remote group is smaller, then they can use web conferencing to conduct classes and the collaborative capabilities of the software provide a seamless user experience.

Problem#4 - Managing Leadership Connect is a challenge

In a geographically diverse organization, it is a challenge for leaders to maintain the connect with their global workforce. Companies can maintain the employee connect and share their vision and thought leadership by using Webinar software to regularly host conferences and give presentations on the company matters. This is critical amidst and travel and budgetary restrictions.

Similarly, several businesses need to maintain their connect with their customer base by regularly communicating about market situations, business trends, product offerings. Emails are always not as effective. Regularly hosting webinars briefing the disperse customer base brings tremendous advantage. This is widely practiced in financial institutions where they regularly hold such sessions with their retail customer base as well as their distributors and agents.

Online collaboration has been one real bugaboo in trying to do design in a distributed world. The trend is towards online meetings that can shorten product development life cycles and take the pain out of decision making.

J M

John MacKrell

Chairman CIMdata

Problem#5 - Difficult to Support Work From Home

With global outsourcing, many companies have consultants and even full-time employees who work from home and may feel disconnected from the company. Conferencing software helps promote regular interaction with home-based workers while allowing companies to easily stay connected with employees wherever they may be based.

8 Key Features of Webinar and Conferencing Software

Chat software

Webinar and Conferencing Software often offer alternative communication channels in case bandwidth limitations compromise video and audio quality. Instant messaging or chat is one of these features. Chat discussions can usually be saved for reference later, as well.

Multi-Device Support

Both Webinar and Conferencing software can work across multiple devices. So irrespective of whether your participants are logging in from their mobile phones, laptops, or tablets, they will be able to participate. Additionally, businesses hosting the conference can also use devices such as electronic whiteboards and share images or documents to attendees.

Reusable Templates

Creating a webinar or hosting an online conference requires some coordination and material creation. Some Webinar and Conferencing software make this process easier, by offering templates for repeatable processes, such as landing pages, emails, and signup forms.

Collaboration and File Transfer

Available in both Webinar and Conferencing software this feature enables easy collaboration in the form of screen sharing, audience polling, Q&A, and file sharing.

Recording

Webinar software allows businesses to access webinar recording capabilities for later disbursal or record keeping.

Online Courses

AV conferences can be aligned with many different objectives. One of these, as mentioned earlier, includes offering regular online training. According to the Digital Marketing Community website, training is ranked as the top webinar usages with a rate of 46%. Both Webinar and Conferencing software offer online course modules to help businesses organize and manage training.

Selling and E-commerce

Several businesses drive sales by offering product demos and then providing links to sell the products. To support this some Webinar software integrate an e-commerce component to make selling easier and trackable.

Security

While calls or even video calls might seem easier to make within an office, both Webinar and Conferencing software add a layer of security encryption to your sensitive material and documents, through user authentication, permissions, and confidential attendee lists.

AI in Webinar and Conferencing Software

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, Webinar and Conferencing software can add more collaboration capabilities to make meetings more intuitive.

Let’s look at some of the ways this can happen:

  • Intelligent voice assistance can help meeting planners to “ask” Conferencing software to create, join, and add colleagues to meetings with ease.
  • Facial recognition tools can help easily identify the people on screen especially in global conferences where there are multiple participants.
  • AI-powered transcripts and meeting notes (which use speech recognition capabilities) can be made available immediately after the meeting is over.

One of the largest Webinar and Conferencing software vendors, Zoom Meetings recently announced a speech recognition technology to record meetings in real-time for posterity. Attendees can take notes directly in the Zoom interface or use live transcription for voice-enabled note-taking. Notes can even be parsed by algorithms to derive action items which are automatically fed into the Meeting Timelines interface, dramatically increasing meeting productivity. Additionally, meeting hosts can offer easy interpreters using a multi-channel audio experience that mixes the original and interpreter audio, enabling listeners to understand the interpreter while hearing the original speaker’s tone.

Buyers Guide: Guide to Choose Right Webinar and Conferencing Software

In the United States, the live webinar software market was evaluated at US$ 424.55 Mn in 2017 and is expected to reach US$ 789.86 Mn by 2027 with a CAGR of 6.43% over the forecast period. According to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research the global video conferencing market was valued at US$ 6,123.0 Mn in 2019 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 8.4% from 2020 to 2027, reaching the whopping US $11,565.4 Mn by the end of the forecast period.

But the above forecast was made before the advent of the Covid-19 Coronavirus on global markets. The category of Webinar and Conferencing software is braced to experience tremendous growth as teams worldwide, are being forced to keep critical business operations open as usual.

Let’s look at some of the key considerations before investing in Webinar or Conferencing software:

Audience Sizes

Consider the average audience size you’ll need both in the short and long-term. Big enterprises will need to consider if the Webinar software can handle a large number of live attendees as most software do come with limits.

Integrations

Does the Webinar or Conferencing software being considered has the ability to integrate with existing architecture? Ensure all your databases, calendars, and telephonic equipment can seamlessly connect.

Multi-Device Support

Users need to be able to quickly access meetings from their desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, and tablets. Check and ensure that any Webinar or Conferencing software you are considering offers mobile application features that complement the desktop versions.

Content Creation

Advanced Webinar and Conferencing software offer content creation capabilities such as registration pages and authoring tools. Ensure the software you are considering provides a sufficiently capable selection of content authoring tools to ensure your presentations are professional.

Security

Security is a very critical consideration for businesses when they choose web conferencing software or webinar software. Company meetings tend to be confidential in nature. User attendance needs to be strongly controlled through proper authentication. Similarly, webinar software needs to regulate attendance through the registration process. The data that is shared during the sessions needs to be protected.

White Labeling

Hosting webinars enable businesses to build their brand value. For larger organizations, Webinar software should offer the ability to raise brand awareness through brand and color customization on all material, interfaces, and presentations.

Analytics

Different Webinars and Conferencing software have varying sophistication levels in terms of the metrics they offer and the analytical tools provided. Do you need to know the RoI of your webinars and can you measure user conversions closely? If so, consider software that offers you advanced analytic and tracking capabilities.

Top 10 Webinar Platforms

Webinar platforms are critically needed for B2B marketing strategy, B2C consumer relationships and communication, and for corporate internal communications. Especially now, with COVID-19 situation, businesses are increasingly relying on Webinars for all their communication and marketing efforts.

Webinars give businesses and organizations the chance to build a more personal relationship with their audience, delve deeper into the topics that concern them, and for brand building and as a go-to place where people can come for important information. Mutual funds, wealth management services of banks are increasingly relying on webinars to stay connected with their audience.

We give you a list of some of the highly preferred Webinar software that you can consider for your use.

Top Free-Forever Web Conferencing Software

Web conferencing software has become a necessary tool for today’s businesses. The usage is ubiquitous across all levels of the organization. Many of the sophisticated business conferencing tools can be priced anywhere from moderate to high depending on the plan features. However, there are plenty of good tools that are free to use. Many of them are cloud-based. A lot of enterprise-grade conferencing tools like Cisco Webex have an entry-level free version with limited usage and capabilities. It is good to explore free tools especially if you are a start-up, SMB, or home-office user. In the current COVID-19 situation, many of the social communities like friends and family are also using these tools to stay connected.

We give you list of such free tools that you can explore.

What are the challenges in adopting Webinar and Conferencing Software?

Bandwidth Limitations

With the dependency of Webinar and Conferencing software on bandwidth, businesses need to ensure they accurately determine and obtain the cloud communication bandwidth needed to support the volume of interactions expected.

Infrastructure Limitations

Webinar and Conferencing software often have to provide conferencing capabilities through disparate systems such as servers, hardware, and firewalls to reach various touchpoints. Without the ability to support and traverse these various systems, the solution can be ineffective.

Maintenance

Some Conferencing software will require maintenance of special IT hardware such as smartboards or projectors. This may be an added cost or limitation if maintenance requires additional staff.

Compatibility Issues

Depending on where your audience is located and which browsers they use your technical requirements to connect to your webinar will vary. Therefore, you do not want to choose Webinar software that functions only in one browser. Consider an installation type of software that enables remote access through phone lines.

ROI of a Webinar and Conferencing Software

Time and Cost Efficiencies

One of the biggest returns on Conferencing software is time and cost-efficiency. The more users rely on the software, the less they spend on conference rooms, telephony costs, and travel.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is a critical marketing activity for any business today. And according to Inside Sales, 73% of B2B marketing leaders say webinars are the best way to generate high-quality leads as it leverages business expertise. By investing in a Webinar software enables businesses to do this scale on a recurring basis, with very low overheads.

Improve Sales

Some businesses can offer direct product links after their online product demos, which can enable customers to easily make a decision about their offerings, resulting in immediate RoI.

Record and Repurpose

Key webinars can be recorded using Webinar software. This, in turn, creates valuable content for the business, which can be repurposed and redistributed on other channels or offered as a downloadable asset for further prospects.

Webinar and Conferencing Software

Livestorm Webinar Icon

Livestorm Webinar

4.69
★★★★★
★★★★★

Livestorm | Better Webinar Software

Crowdcast Icon

Crowdcast

4.67
★★★★★
★★★★★

Crowdcast: Discover - Grow your live channel

Zoom Video Webinar Icon

Zoom Video Webinar

4.63
★★★★★
★★★★★

Zoom: Video Conferencing, Web Conferencing, Webinars, Screen ...

Interactio Icon

Interactio

4.60
★★★★★
★★★★★

Interactio | Interactio.io Mobile Solution | App that TEDx is Using?

Zoho Meeting Icon

Zoho Meeting

4.52
★★★★★
★★★★★

A web conferencing tool for hosting webinars and online meetings

24sessions Icon

24sessions

4.51
★★★★★
★★★★★

24sessions | Video calling, easy scheduling and insights

Proficonf Icon

Proficonf

4.50
★★★★★
★★★★★

Proficonf | Cutting Edge Platform for web Conferences

Verishow Icon

Verishow

4.48
★★★★★
★★★★★

VeriShow ‚Best Co-Browsing and Video Chat software

Google Hangouts Icon

Google Hangouts

4.45
★★★★★
★★★★★

Hangouts - Apps on Google Play

Uberconference Icon

Uberconference

4.41
★★★★★
★★★★★

Dialpad: Business VoIP Provider - Cloud Phone System

BrightTALK Icon

BrightTALK

4.37
★★★★★
★★★★★

BrightTALK ‚Discover and learn with the world's brightest ...

GoToMeeting Icon

GoToMeeting

4.36
★★★★★
★★★★★

GoToMeeting: Online Meeting Software with HD Video Conferencing

WebinarNinja Icon

WebinarNinja

4.36
★★★★★
★★★★★

WebinarNinja | The Best Webinar Software on The Planet

InterCall Reservationless-Plus Icon

InterCall Reservationless-Plus

4.30
★★★★★
★★★★★

InterCall Reservationless-Plus Audio Conferencing

BlueJeans Icon

BlueJeans

4.26
★★★★★
★★★★★

BlueJeans: Video Conferencing, Screen Sharing, Video Calls

Drum Icon

Drum

4.24
★★★★★
★★★★★

Instant Web Meetings – Integrate Web Collaboration ...

ON24 Platform Icon

ON24 Platform

4.23
★★★★★
★★★★★

ON24 | Webinar Marketing Software, Data-Driven Engagement.

webinarjam Icon

webinarjam

4.21
★★★★★
★★★★★

WebinarJam - Powerful Webinar Hosting Software

Ringcentral Meetings Icon

Ringcentral Meetings

4.20
★★★★★
★★★★★

Free online meetings packed full of features

BlueJeans Events Icon

BlueJeans Events

4.19
★★★★★
★★★★★

Host Large Virtual Events With Video | BlueJeans Events

Kutamo Icon

Kutamo

4.15
★★★★★
★★★★★

Kutamo - Making Meetings Matter

InterCall Unified Meeting 5 Icon

InterCall Unified Meeting 5

4.05
★★★★★
★★★★★

InterCall Unified Meeting 5 | HD Video Conferencing

Mikogo Online Meetings Icon

Mikogo Online Meetings

4.03
★★★★★
★★★★★

Mikogo: Free Screen Sharing and Online Meeting Software

EverWebinar Icon

EverWebinar

3.98
★★★★★
★★★★★

Webinar Platform

Jiminny Icon

Jiminny

4.69
★★★★★
★★★★★

Jiminny | The Platform built to help your sales team grow

TeamViewer Icon

TeamViewer

4.59
★★★★★
★★★★★

TeamViewer | Remote Access & Support?

Demodesk Icon

Demodesk

4.49
★★★★★
★★★★★

Demodesk: Cloud-based screen sharing platform

Wire Collaboration Patform Icon

Wire Collaboration Patform

4.49
★★★★★
★★★★★

The most secure collaboration platform · Wire

Ryver Icon

Ryver

4.42
★★★★★
★★★★★

Ryver: Group Chat + Task Manager + Workflow Automation IN ONE APP

Samesurf Icon

Samesurf

4.31
★★★★★
★★★★★

Samesurf Cobrowsing

Avaya Aura Platform Icon

Avaya Aura Platform

4.25
★★★★★
★★★★★

Avaya Aura Platform - Enterprise Collaboration Software ...

Adobe Connect Icon

Adobe Connect

4.24
★★★★★
★★★★★

Adobe web conferencing software | Adobe Connect

Highfive Icon

Highfive

4.21
★★★★★
★★★★★

Collaboration Software | Start a Trial Today! | Highfive

ClearSlide Platform Icon

ClearSlide Platform

4.17
★★★★★
★★★★★

ClearSlide - The Sales Engagement Platform that Closes Deals

Workplace By Facebook Icon

Workplace By Facebook

4.17
★★★★★
★★★★★

Workplace by Facebook: A work collaboration tool

Cisco Jabber Icon

Cisco Jabber

4.16
★★★★★
★★★★★

Cisco Jabber Unified Communications solution delivers ...

Rocket.Chat Icon

Rocket.Chat

4.15
★★★★★
★★★★★

Rocket.Chat - Free, Open Source, Enterprise Team Chat

Blackboard Collaborate Icon

Blackboard Collaborate

4.13
★★★★★
★★★★★

Online Collaborative Learning Solutions | Blackboard

Bitrix24 Icon

Bitrix24

4.06
★★★★★
★★★★★

Moxtra Icon

Moxtra

4.04
★★★★★
★★★★★

Moxtra - Powering Client Portals for Digital Business

AmpLive Icon

AmpLive

4.00
★★★★★
★★★★★

AmpLive - Live Stream Distribution & Audience Development