Webinars are a great place to host trainings, product launches, group meetings, interact more directly with your customers, or generate more interest in your product or service, to name a few. There’s really no limit to the benefits that hosting a webinar can provide, but which hosting platform should you use? If you’ve already begun to research webinar hosting platforms, you’ve likely found that many of them are quite pricey and that you will be paying for features that you probably don’t even need. That being said, there are tons of free platforms that you can use to help you host a successful webinar. Let’s take a look at the top nine free or low-cost platforms available, but first, you’ll need to know what we are looking for.
What to Look for in Webinar Platforms
Not all webinar platforms are created equally, free or otherwise. There are certain characteristics you will want to look at to make sure you are choosing a platform that best suits your needs. Here are some of the things you will want to consider:
Number of Webinar Attendees
How many people do you realistically expect to attend your webinar? Each platform will have its own cap on the number of people who can join a free meeting, so you’ll need to make sure that cap works with your expectations.
Ease for Audience
You will want to make sure the platform you choose has a simple interface your audience will be able to easily navigate.
The last thing you want during a webinar is for the host to drop you or your audience to lose access mid-meeting. Make sure you are using a reliable platform with a tech support option in case you experience any difficulties.
If you want your audience to be able to interact with you, it’s imperative you choose a platform that offers tools to help you do that. These communication tools are things like chat options or polls.
In a similar vein, it will be important for you to adequately convey your message to your viewers, which might entail the use of screen sharing.
Do you intend to create a webinar that your audience can reference back to? If so, you’ll want to make sure your platform has recording capabilities.
How important is it for your brand to be displayed on the site? Most free options will not allow you to personalize the platform.
Frequency & Length of Meetings
Many free options will limit the length of time webinars may run. Also, they may limit the number of times you are able to host free webinars within a certain date range. So, be careful of this when you choose a webinar platform.
If it’s important for you to track the analytics of your webinar, you’ll need to make sure your platform can do this, as well.
Lastly, does your hosting platform have the capability to keep your attendees’ information safe and secure?
Low-Cost or Free Webinar Platforms
Now that you know what to look for, let’s dive in and learn a bit more about the top nine free or low-cost platforms you may want to consider using.
1. Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts will allow you to host up to 30 participants for free. It will automatically record your meeting and upload it to your linked YouTube account so that your audience has access to it even after the meeting is over. The simple interface makes it easy to use and no software is required. Audience participation is encouraged, as this platform supports multiple speakers and screen sharing. The downside is that there is no analytics tracker and Google does not promote paid events.
2. Facebook Live
Another great free option that has been growing in popularity is Facebook Live. Facebook will automatically record your webinar and post it directly to your feed once the meeting is complete. You also have the ability to restrict your audience, however, if you don’t, you are able to livestream to anybody (as long as they have an active Facebook account). This is all without a cap on your number of viewers. Interaction is possible through comments, though, the downside is that you are unable to see your participants as you can in some other platforms.
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3. Zoom Webinars
Zoom has grown exponentially in popularity, largely due to its quality video and ability to host a large number of people at one time. The free option will allow up to 100 attendees. These webinars allow up to 40 minutes per meeting with no cap on how many meetings you are able to host. Zoom also has fast tech support and fun features to engage your audience. Some examples of these are virtual “raise your hand”, screen sharing, and breakout rooms. Should you choose to upgrade to a paid option, there are several tiers to choose from, each with its own impressive set of benefits. They have also upgraded their security standards since the onset of Covid-19. There’s a reason why Zoom has become a household name overnight.
4. YouTube Live
You may not have thought of YouTube Live as a place to host your webinar. But, the truth is that it has all of the capabilities necessary to do so. The downside is that your viewer interaction will be quite limited, but there is no limit to the number of participants who can attend.
5. Cisco Webex
A free, personal plan on Cisco Webex will allow you to host up to 100 participants per meeting with each meeting lasting up to 50 minutes and no cap on the number of meetings you are able to host. Some of its more exceptional features are screen sharing, chat, hand raising and the ability to poll your viewers. As the host, you also have the capability to mute and unmute your guests and view them individually or as a gallery. They have implemented strong security standards and also offer great online technical support for free users.
6. Zoho Meeting
If you plan on hosting smaller webinars, Zoho is a good option. Although their free plan only allows 10 participants at a time, it also includes an analytics tool. It also includes screen share options, host controls to remove, mute, and unmute attendees and a customizable registration form.
7. Skype Webinars
Skype is another good option for hosting your webinar for free. Invite up to 50 participants without any time limit imposed. Their smart messaging feature allows your guests to continuously interact without interrupting. Additionally, the platform can be accessed from a phone, tablet, computer, and even Alexa or an Xbox. Skype also allows for call recording and the implementation of subtitles.
Although DaCast is not free (their low-priced plan starts at $19/month billed annually), it’s worth looking into if you are willing to make a small investment. It is great if you plan on hosting webinars regularly. The basic package allows for unlimited viewers and live channels, 24/7 customer support and service, enhanced security features and real-time analytics. Be careful, though. This platform charges based on data consumption. If you exceed your data bandwidth, you will incur additional costs.
Another middle-priced platform you might want to try is ClickMeeting. It’s super easy to use and, therefore, has earned credit for being one of the most popular webinar software programs available today. Attendee engagement is heightened with features like chat, interactive sessions, polls/surveys and multiple presenters. Sessions are recordable and stored directly in clouds for easy downloading. Packages start at $25/month (billed annually).
The Best Webinar Platforms For Your Needs
The easiest way to determine which of these platforms is best for you is to first identify the needs you have for your webinar platforms. So, revisit the “What to Look for” section at the beginning of this blog post if you are unsure.
Once you’ve determined your individual needs (number of attendees, level of interaction you intend to have, length and frequency of webinars, etc.), you will have a much clearer idea of which platforms will be able to most sufficiently meet them. If you try something once and it doesn’t seem like the right fit, the majority of the options we’ve discussed today are entirely free. So, don’t be afraid to start from scratch and try something new! When you find a platform you really love, you can always upgrade as you go. This ensures your needs remain met as your webinars grow and/or your intentions change.
Also, there are other platforms to choose from. If none of the options listed above look like the right fit for you, try a Google search. You will likely find some other good alternatives. And, if you need any help with your digital marketing, please let us know!
You can connect with us via the contact form below.Not all webinar platforms are created equally, free or otherwise. ~ Jillian Arena #WebinarTips #DigitalMarketing Click To Tweet