Web Conferencing and Webinar Software: Bundle or Best-of-Breed?

Most B2B tech companies use Web Conferencing software for both sales presentations and marketing webinars. Both activities use the same coreĀ  functionality: sharing a slide deck or sharing your desktop. But there are many additional features that are unique to each type of meeting. For example, a ‘meet now’ feature is important for sales presentations, and a ‘Q&A’ feature is essential for webinars.

However, it seems that many B2B companies have a single web conferencing solution, rather than a specific one for sales purposes, and a specific one for webinars. I wonder whether selecting two solutions wouldn’t be a better option.

Webinar Platforms

Ken Molay at Webinar Success has a top-3 of preferred webinar platforms:

All three include standard or optional features that are required for webinars:

  • Support for large audiences (100+)
  • Registration pages
  • Hiding attendee list from attendees
  • Collecting attendee feedback (e.g. speed up / slow down)
  • Polling
  • Q&A
  • Recordings
  • Practice-mode
  • Voice over the Internet
  • Reporting (attendance, chat transcript)

Yesterday I stumbled upon a company called BrightTALK that offers a solution specifically for webinars. Next week I will attend a webinar hosted on their platform to see what that looks like. One 30-minute webinar per month is free, while their premium package supports unlimited 90-minute webinars (one at a time).

In addition to the technology providers there are many service providers such as On24, but that doesn’t match with my DIY marketing philosophy ;- )

Web Conferencing Platforms

Ken’s top-3 vendors also a solution for sales presentations. Webex offers Meeting Center and MeetMeNow, Citrix offers GoToMeeting, and in Adobe Connect Pro you can configure a meeting room specifically for sales presentations.

In my experience sales people love simplicity: just click a button to start a meeting, and automatically provide a conference call number. Also, they prefer desktop sharing over uploading a PPT. This is how WebEx MeetMeNow and GoToMeeting work, while Adobe uses a permanent and personal meeting room URL, and does not integrate conference calling. Our sales people were much happier with GoToMeeting than with Adobe Connect Pro.

For our specific situation we need fast desktop sharing, because we are showing very dynamic demos. In our experience GoToMeeting is superior for this, with WebEx as a close second. Connect is trailing, just like a whole range of more affordable (or free) solutions. I’ve tried DimDim, and their desktop sharing was a little choppy.

After some research I came up with this list of affordable vendors:

And these companies provide a free service:

The Budget Solution

If speedy desktop sharing is not so important to you, you can save a lot of money by using any of these cheap or free web conferencing solutions and work with WebEx, Citrix, Adobe or BrightTALK for webinars. Especially Citrix provides great value with unlimited webinars for $99 per month.

The All-in-One Solution

When you go for a corporate deal with one of the top-3 providers, you often get both Web Conferencing and Webinar functionality in one package. WebEx, GoToMeeting Corporate and Adobe Connect Pro are all in the $4000+ per year range. If you spend that amount of money, it makes sense to make good use of the offered functionality. However, no solution is perfect for all needs: for example, we found Adobe Connect Pro ideal for online training, good for webinars, and so-so for sales presentations. And we found GoToMeeting Corporate ideal for sales presentations, average for webinars, and not so good for online training.

The Best-of-Breed Solution

When you have high demands for both sales presentations and webinars, it may be better to go with best-of-breed vendors. We will probably go with GoToMeeting for sales presentations, while we still have to make a choice for webinars. We like the price of GoToWebinar, but not the quality of the recordings. So maybe we’ll use Brainshark or Articulate to create stand-alone recordings, rather than posting the live event as-is.

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3 thoughts on “Web Conferencing and Webinar Software: Bundle or Best-of-Breed?

  1. Cece Salomon-Lee

    Hi Jep, I wanted to chime in about ON24. We do offer a self-service offering. Since our platform is very robust, it requires training which isn’t a prerequisite for some of the companies you mentioned in your post.

    Furthermore, our underlying technology is webcasting – which is the audio and visuals streaming via your computer. The advantages are better sound and video quality and the ability to scale to hundreds and thousands of people. This is especially true if your get more people than you anticipated which can be an unexpected cost when you’re charged per minute, per user.

    I would be happy to chat with you more about ON24 and our capabilities for live and on-demand events. I think you’ll be surprised with our capabilities.

    Best,
    Cece Salomon-Lee
    ON24 Inc.

    Reply
  2. Michael Clark

    Great list of web conferencing tools. Additionally, RHUB web conferencing appliances can be deployed in order to conduct webinars, web conferences, webinars, free audio conferencing, video conferencing etc.

    Reply

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