In the course of running a blog or owning a business, there is probably going to come a time when putting on a webinar is necessary. This could be for any number of reasons: teaching a course, training employees, running a workshop, conducting an online panel discussion, hosting distributed events, or any other reason you might be able to think of.
In today’s post we’re going to go over the best software currently available for making all of those things possible.
The 15 Best Webinar Software Available
To be clear, in case anyone is unfamiliar with the term webinar, they are nothing more than an online conference or meeting–in whatever flavor you may choose.
The list of software options below will all help you conduct meetings of various types. Some are better for certain use cases than others, but the list as a whole is not in any sort of ranking order; such as best to worst or anything like that.
Basically, if it made the list it is worth checking out. Only you will know if one solution suites your personal needs better than the others. That said, I have a brief note below that is also worth checking out in light of all the reviews I read while researching this post.
1. Google+ Hangouts
Google+ Hangout is the breakout video calling/chat feature of the Google+ social platform. It’s been baked into Google Chat, Gmail, and the standard Google+ Profile. All you need to use it is have a free Google+ account.
While not your standard premium webinar platform, it comes with a remarkable number of features for collaborative meetings, presentations, workshops, etc. About the only thing it doesn’t do (yet) is allow you to charge your audience to hangout or sell within a hangout.
- Up to 10 people in a single video/audio call. Gsuite subscribers can have up to 25 people per call.
- Ability to live stream straight to your attached YouTube Channel and/or a website. All while live at the hangout link too.
- Can automatically record and publish hangouts to YouTube.
- Works on all devices and platforms.
- Send photos, emoji, and chat messages during hangout.
- Screen share
Skype is one of the world’s most popular calling and video conferencing apps already. Which is why many choose to use it for group meetings, coaching, workshopping, etc.
- Skype to Skype calls
- Group Voice Calls (up to 25 people)
- Group Video Calls
- File Sharing
- Screen Sharing
- Group Screen Sharing
- Contact Sending
- Multiple Third-Party Apps to Extend Functionality
GoToWebinar is by the folks at GoToMeeting, the popular meeting and screen sharing application/service. The webinar version is, as you can probably guess, catered specifically to the needs of people putting webinars on as products/services in and of themselves.
- Full Services Attendee Registration
- HD Video Recording
- Archived Recordings
- Polls & Surveys
Price: Starts at $89/month per organizer with up to 100 attendees
4. Facebook or YouTube Live
Both Facebook and YouTube are two of the largest streaming platforms out there. They both also offer a number of ways for you to reach a broad swath of viewers, as well as having the built-in ability to interact directly with your audience.
- Massive audience because everyone has accounts already
- Platforms are set up automatically for audience interaction
- Can schedule streams on both platforms
- On Facebook, you can limit privacy of your streams by posting to groups only your registrants are members of
- YouTube has a stable URL for live video where a dedicated audience can always find your streams
- Massive support by third-party apps that extend functionality by API to make them competitive for even large-scale clients
- Absolutely no viewer limit
- In-depth analytics buried within the platform dashboards
- Ability to stream natively from mobile devices
- API access lets you either stream from within the platform itself or by third-party client that gives extra features (such as Wirecast or OBS)
Price: Free. Third-party extensibility (such as Restream.io) varies by company
5. Cisco WebEx
Cisco WebEx is part of a whole family of Cisco products for remote collaborative work. Specifically, their Event Center product is used for putting on events and webinars.
This is one of a handful of higher end options–including GoToWebinar above and a few more–that scale well but are not for those with a tight budget. That said, you get a lot of great features for what you pay for.
- Branded Registration and Invites
- Registration tracking
- Lead generation tools
- Display 5 panelists at a time plus slides/data
- Hight Quality Video/Audio
- Professional Webinar Planning & Production (add-ons)
Price: starts at $19 monthly for 8 people up to $39.99 per month for up to 200 people.
6. Adobe Connect
Most of you are familiar with Adobe’s Creative Suite of products, but through their product Adobe Connect they also empower organizations to put on impressive webinars and events.
- Complete mobile collaboration
- Rich multimedia options
- High-quality audio/video
- Video conferencing integration
- Real-time collaboration with presenters
- Invitation and privilege management
- Breakout rooms to focus discussion
- Broad set of collaboration capabilities
- Streaming video integration
- Microsoft Outlook integration
- Analytics and tracking
- And more
Price: starts at $50/month per host with up to 25 attendees
MegaMeeting is for online training, seminars, product demonstrations, and more. It’s 100% browser based and mobile-ready to make collaboration easy.
- Video streaming
- Multiple ways to join a meeting
- Secure conferencing
- Text Chat
- Works across multiple platforms (Mac/Pc)
- Share powerpoints, docs & websites
- Screen sharing
- Polls & Surveys
- PayPal integration
- Multiple meeting rooms
- Mobile apps for iOS and Android
Price: starting at $39/month (no stated attendee limit)
ReadyTalk has a suite of products for everything from web conferencing, to audio conferencing, video conferencing, mobile conferencing, webinars and events, recordings and archiving.
- Customized branding
- “Add to Calendar” invitation links for Outlook and Google
- Customized registration forms
- Flexible confirmation options
- One-click recording
- Chat/Q&A sessions
- Sharing options
- Social promotion tools
- Follow-up emails
- Archive hosting and distribution
- And more
Price: starting at $24/month with up to 10 attendees
AnyMeeting is aimed at providing a solid web conferencing solution to small businesses.
- Hold large or small meetings
- Share your screen
- 6-way video conferencing (or 6 different presenters per webinar)
- Custom meeting branding
- Audience interaction and reactions
- Phone support
- Play YouTube videos
- Built-in conference calling
- Present powerpoint slides
- Mobile friendly
- Facebook and Twitter integration
- Personalized meeting url
Price: FREE up to 4 attendees (ad supported). $18/month for 10 attendees.
OnStream Media has a number of cloud-based solutions for media hosting, webcasting, and webinars. Their specific webinar product is enterprise-grade, meaning it’s meant to scale dramatically.
- Cloud-based platform
- Event management
- Messaging and chat
- Live audio and video streaming
- Live and on-demand webinars
- Screen sharing
- File sharing
- Participant list and rights management
- Recording and archiving
- Real-time polling
- 128-bit end-to-end enncrypted streams
Price: $49 per 300 attendees with 10 webcams for the presenter. Or $0.04/minute for conference calling
ClickWebinar is by the same folks who created ClickMeeting. ClickWebinar aims to be a high end (but at a low(er) price) solution for anyone needing to collaborate remotely for events and webinars.
- Global web conferencing
- Webinar rebranding
- Full desktop and browser sharing
- Moderation tools
- Simultaneous chat translation
- ClickMeeting API
- Social Sharing
- User ratings
- Attendee analytics and statistics
- Integration with the following tools/services:
- Microsoft Office
- Google Calendar
- And more
Price: Free 30-day trial. Plans start at $25/month with up to 25 attendees
omNovia is a powerful presentation platform for creating high-quality online events. This includes webinars, webcasting, services (such as coaching or training), and more.
- Co-browsing (take control of user screens with permission)
- Slide show presentations
- Instant polling
- Event registration
- Fully customizable interface
- Credit card integration
- Chat and Q&A
- Twitter integration
- Documents sharing
Price: Starting at $119 per month if billed annually, or $170 monthly, for 100 participants and 600 on-demand views).
Crowdcast is a professional live streaming and webinar platform that is designed for the audience and the presenter to interact in real-time in order to promote conversion and relationship building through interaction.
- Incredibly in-depth analytics
- Unlimited registrations, but you can limit seats, if you prefer
- Accept Stripe payments
- Events over multiple sessions for a single registration
- Facebook Pixel
- Stream to Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Periscope, and more
- Obtain referral sources
- Zapier integration, as well as 750+ other apps
- And more
Price: Starting at $49 per month for 100 attendees, with additional available on a by-user fee.
14. Blackboard Collaborate
Blackboard Collaborate is a webinar software designed with a focus on education. They have specific services and resources for K-12, Higher Education, Government, and Business.
- Web conferencing
- Voice authoring
- Mobile collaboration
- LMS integration
- Enterprise instant messaging
- Online Classrooms
- HD broadcasts
- Live whiteboard and screen-writing
- Interaction with audience
- Entirely browser-based
- And more
Price: Free trial. Pricing plans upon request.
Zoom has made a name for itself with stable, high-quality conferencing and webinar software that can handle loads at scale for enterprise use, while also providing quick-and-easy service for personal and small-business use as well.
- Browser-based or desktop app, depending on your needs
- Mobile apps seamlessly integrate with calls
- Screen sharing
- Slack integration
- Local and cloud recording
- Vanity URL/custom meeting ID
- Telephone integration with VOIP and video conferencing
- Mobile app sharing for hosts on tablets or phones
- AES 256-bit end-to-end encryption as well as SSL secured meetings
- And more
Price: Free for up to 100 participants on unlimited calls, but limited to 40 minutes per call. Paid plans start at $14.99 per month to include reporting, recording, and other features.
A Note on Quality & Finding the Right Fit
I have a confession to make. When I made the title of this post “The Best Webinar Software Available” I may have misled some of you to believe that there is such a thing as really great, all-purpose webinar software to begin with.
According to my personal experience and the wider range of experiences I’ve read about via reviews and similar posts–that doesn’t exist.
The general consensus of all the posts, comments, and reviews I read was that GoToWebinar is the most reliable choice–but it’s also clunky, ugly, and not that fun to use.
Others hold lots of promise in terms of design, usability, etc. but fail to meet expectations in a few key places: reliability, scalability, cost, and flexibility. But of course not necessarily all at once or to the same degree across the board.
What I mean when I say “reliable” should be pretty straight forward. They simply don’t work reliably. They might work great during a practice run, then bug out and wreck a live presentation.
Scalability and cost are often linked. Many of these services are capable of reaching large groups of people with all of the features a user may want–but they’re too expensive at that level.
And finally, flexibility is an issue for many of these programs because of the nature of the problem they’re trying to solve.
You may have noticed that at the top of this post I mentioned a handful of reasons someone might want to put on a webinar–which means many of these programs are designed for specific niches or are trying to be too many things at once.
It’s a tough nut to crack, I’m sure. I’m not an enterprise software developer so I don’t know all of the inherent problems they face when attempting to create this type of software, but it doesn’t seem like anyone has created that breakthrough product in this field yet.
At least not that I could find.
So please, if you have, tell us about it in the comments section.
So What’s My Conclusion?
For those of us who are actively doing webinars right now or have plans to do them in the future, some of us will have to choose a platform based solely on features. Whether or not we like the design, usability, or cost.
This is because when it comes right down to it, we have to make money via our efforts and whether that means charging for attendee spots, selling products during a webinar, or improving the sales of our business through effective training–we may not get the perfect package.
The Content Team here at ET uses Google Hangouts for our weekly meetings, while some other teams use Zoom for theirs. With our live streaming efforts, we make use of OBS combined with Restream.io to reach audiences on Facebook and YouTube both live and on-demand.
It is hard to recommend OBS as a single solution to anyone because it requires lots of set up, third-party integration, and has a steep learning curve; however, as part the suite we use, it has worked pretty well. I don’t think an enterprise client would have the same results. Before that, we had used Wirecast, and we ran into those same reliability issues I mentioned earlier. Like I said, it’s a hard nut to crack.
But that’s just my personal situation. I know a lot of people who do something similar, and still more for whom this sort of solution just doesn’t meet their needs.
What is your webinar solution? Do you have a software you’d recommend? Did seeing any in the list above make you want to try something new?
Please share your thoughts and experiences with the community in the comments below.
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