A webinar can be a very effective marketing and sales tool for various reasons. I discuss these reasons and the benefits of using webinars in my post You Should Be Using Webinars to Grow Your Business. If you become a believer like me, the next question becomes which webinar system or solution you should use. There are two categories of webinar solutions: traditional and marketing-based.
Traditional webinar products offered by Cisco (WebEx), GoToMeeting, and ClickMeeting are designed for mid to large size companies as teleconferencing/webinar software mainly for internal purposes, for example, online meetings. These products are useful, but they’re expensive and lack a marketing and sales punch. Traditional webinar products tend to focus on functionality more than anything else. That said, if you’re planning to run small scale webinars of about 30 registrants, you may want to check out AnyMeeting.
Marketing-based webinar products are designed for small businesses and self-employed persons in mind. They’re designed by software/internet marketers to help their customers grow their marketing and sales funnels. These products interested me since I’m a self-employed infopreneur and internet marketer.
It’s important to note that while Google Hangouts, Livestream, Blab and the like are available to broadcast webinars and live events, they’re not marketing solutions because they lack critical lead generation, list building, email marketing, and follow-up features that marketing-based webinar systems include.
In my quest to find top notch webinar software, I explored five products, tried three, returned two, and chose one. Here were the contenders:
Let’s get WebinarJam and E.B.S out of the way since I didn’t try them. WebinarJam is popular with a lot of people, but it didn’t allow for evergreen webinars (prerecorded webinars that appear to be live). On the flip side, E.B.S didn’t allow for live webinars, only evergreen. One of my requirements from the start was to have the option to do both live and evergreen events. Depending on your needs, you may still want to explore them.
I decided to try WebinarIgnition first based on price ($97) and appearance. It appeared to be a pretty good solution, so I purchased it. WI is one of many DigitalKickstart products developed by Mark Thompson, who is a serial software/internet marketer. My experience hit a snag when I saved information in a text cell only for it not to appear in the preview. From there, I felt WI was too buggy for my needs and that Mark had abandoned his product, which launched in January 2014.
Next up was RunClick ($147) developed by Walt Bayliss, another serial software/internet marketer. I bought his system because of all the high praise on his website, and someone had recommended it to me. During the setup of my webinar, I found the user interface (UI) to be very antiquated and the ability to customize email templates nonexistent. Also, RunClick’s graphics is poorly designed and difficult to remove from email notifications. I imagine WI and RunClick suffered from the same problem, developers who left their projects behind to develop the next best thing.
The Winner Is
I learned quite quickly that with webinar products, you get what you pay for. Therefore, I decided to increase my budget to $400 to purchase EasyWebinar (EW) by Casey Zeman. For starters, Casey is not a serial software developer as he’s been fully committed to his product for four years plus. EW is a WordPress plugin, which I like because I’m an enthusiastic WordPress user with multiple sites. To take a webinar solution and integrate into WordPress is right up my alley. EW does feature a webinar software provider comparison chart on their website, and I recommend that you check it out. As for things I like about EW:
Easy to navigate UI: EW’s dashboard and setup layout are easy to work with. I was able to setup my webinar within a week.
Incredible support: I had a few questions regarding evergreen configuration, and they were promptly and correctly answered. I wasn’t sure what kind of support I would get, but I give the EW team a ten out of ten in customer service.
Tutorials: setting up webinars isn’t complicated, but EW has several short tutorials targeting F.A.Qs. Also, their learning database is great for newbies.
Integration: You can integrate EW with many email marketing services and Infusionsoft to enhance your webinar and sales activities.
Templates: EW offers a few design templates for your webinar, for example, registration page, confirmation page, webinar page, etc… It’s nice to have a few options since WI and RunClick didn’t provide any.
Private Facebook group: Casey manages a private Facebook group to address all things EW (now that’s real commitment). As an owner of a couple of Facebooks groups, Casey’s private Facebook group is a value added touch. Posts from him and group members were usually about webinar marketing and sales ideas, which further supported my webinar initiatives.
It’s pretty obvious that my webinar software winner is EasyWebinar. I don’t recommend WI or RunClick, and you may want to experiment with WebinarJam and E.B.S. What’s more, comparison charts come in handy to understand who offers what. You should expect to pay between $400 to $600 annually for good webinar software and consider the amount you pay an investment in your business.