The Ultimate Guide to Webinar Software and Equipment

 

webinar software

Without a doubt, the most common question I get from newer or even intermediate level webinar hosts is “What webinar software should I use?”

I’ve been getting this question so much that I’ve decided to put together “The Ultimate Guide to Webinar Software and Equipment.”

In this guide, I will be providing the pros and cons of some of the most effective webinar tools on the market to help you make the right decisions for your business.

Think of this as a living, breathing guide.  Save it in a safe place for reference and share it with anyone who has webinar technology questions.

With that said, let’s jump into “The Ultimate Guide to Webinar Software and Equipment”

What about Facebook Live?

Facebook Live is a great tool for visibility and branding, for building your retargeting audiences, and driving people to your offers and webinars.

While I do feel that webinars and live streaming are merging, I do see a few differences in the two…

  • Casual vs business environment. When people are on social media they are looking for a casual experience. When people are on a webinar, they expect to be taught and even offered the next step program or service at the end.  
  • No email building. Building your audience on another company’s network (Facebook) and neglecting to build your audience on something you own (email) is dangerous business. When people come to your streams and leave there is no way to follow up with them and build a deeper relationship (besides retargeting).
  • Lack of teaching tools.  Currently, the standard Facebook Live doesn’t allow screen sharing or slide presentations without 3rd party software enhancements. This means you are left with talking head videos which are not the best for teaching and instruction. 
  • Poor replay quality.  This is one of the reasons that Blab co-founder Shaan Puri said that the replay watch rate was only 10%.  Certainly less than replay watch rate of a standard webinar. 
  • Poor sales conversions. Part of this has to do with the casual vs business environment mentioned above.  Webinars are more professional and business like.  Also, a good webinar software has a number of marketing features that will enhance the sales environment.  I had a friend with a huge audience run a test. She did one sales webinar via FB live and one via a traditional webinar software. According to her, the traditional webinar software blew the live stream away with 50% more sales (80 vs 120).

As of this article update, services like BeLive.tv, zoom.us, or bluejeans.com are allowing you to screen share and have multiple presenters making your Facebook Lives more teaching friendly.  Ecamm live is a new system for Mac users to make their live streams more engaging.

Now that we have discussed why using a webinar software program is important, let’s dive into some different options you can use and share some pros and cons of each.  

There are Four Main Factors When Choosing Your Webinar Software:

  1. Budget
  2. Audience Size
  3. Technical Skills
  4. Integrations

Live Webinar Software:

GotoWebinar:

2016-08-31_21-36-50

Pros: Very reliable and stable.  Solid integrations with numerous autoresponders and CRM systems

Cons: Expensive ($89/mo for just 100 attendees, and up to $500+ for 2,000 attendees). Software downloads to join the webinar.  Boring chat and live room functionality for attendees. Must download an app to attend via mobile

Budget: High $89/mo for just 100 attendees, and up to $500+ for 2,000 attendees

Audience Size: Restricted based on subscription

Technical Skills: Medium ease to set-up

Integrations: Good integrations with most autoresponders

 

Webinar Jam:

webinar traffic

Pros:  Affordable, Very engaging live room/chat, excellent analytics, numerous integrations and many deep integrations

Cons: Live only. Requires EverWebinar at an additional cost to run automated webinars. Webinar Jam branding is everywhere. Needs improvements in landing page builder.  Does integrate with Leadpages. Has a delay 10-30 seconds between what is said and what is heard by attendees. Recent Google Hangout changes have hurt their reliabilty. Currently running their new JamSession Room in beta.

Budget: Medium $397/Year

Audience Size: Unlimited audience size for the same price

Technical Skills: Medium to Hard to set up

Integrations: Good integrations with most autoresponders

 

Easy Webinar:

webinar software

Pros:  Live and Automated Webinars in one software. Affordable price. Solid marketing analytics. New live chat is much improvement. 

Cons:  Delay of 10-30 seconds between what is said and what is heard by attendees due to running on YT live. 

Budget: Medium $497/Year

Audience Size: Unlimited audience size for the same price

Technical Skills: Medium to set up

Integrations: Good integrations with most autoresponders

 

Zoom:

webinar traffic

 

 

 

Pros: No Delay. Stable and simple to set up. Quality video and audio feeds. Nice Q&A and polling options. Mobile friendly.

Cons: Expensive. Plans are based on the number of attendees you have. Very difficult to get people who register on your email list. Lacks a lot of integrations with email autoresponders. You can’t place Facebook Pixels on webinar pages. Limited registration page or thank you page customization. No offer pop-ins. Need to download the Zoom app to attend (which is fairly quick and easy).

Budget: High $15/month plus $40/month for 100 attendees, $140/month for up to 500

Audience Size: Restricted based on subscription

Technical Skills: Easy to set up

Integrations: Poor integrations with most autoresponders (some Zapier integrations)

 

Webinar Ninja:

webinar software

Pros: No Delay. Very simple to set up. Easy to customize registration pages. The live room interface is extremely engaging and fun for a live audience. Can do a four-way split screen (think Blab). Does offer live and automated webinars.

Cons: I have personally had reliability issues as I am writing this article. Requires attendees to use Chrome or Firefox to join. Automated webinars have limited functionality. 

Budget: High $45/month to $235/month for between 100-1,000 attendees

Audience Size: Restricted based on subscription

Technical Skills: Very Easy to set up

Integrations: Fairly good integrations with a number of autoresponders

 

What About WordPress Plugins or Youtube Live on My Own Web Pages?

The reason why I am not listing one-time purchase WordPress plugins here is because I generally don’t recommend them.  As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Companies that sell a webinar plugin for a one-time purchase of just $97 have no incentive to keep the plugin updated.  As you may know, WordPress updates regularly which can lead to problems. I am not saying that you can’t try one if you are on an extremely low budget but buyer beware.

Another option is to create a webinar page on your website.  You can have a place on your “live page” where you embed your Youtube live stream with a chat box below from Chatwing or Chatroll for a small fee. I know a number of people who do their webinars this way.  Here is my warning on this method.  A webinar is a campaign, a funnel not a one-time event. The campaign includes a registration page, pre-webinar reminders, live webinar execution, and post-webinar follow-up. You will have to PIECE this all together using your own systems if you self-host. This can be very complicated and time-consuming.  Plus you don’t get good webinar analytics using this method. Many of the webinar software programs recommended above, will take care of all of this for you in one place. Keep it simple. Invest a little and your entire webinar campaign will be much easier to execute.

What I am currently using and why:

I am currently using Webinar Jam Studio for my live webinars. I use it because I know it so well (having started with it in late 2013). I also use it because of the engaging live room chat, attendee accessibility across multiple browsers and devices, it’s deep integrations with ActiveCampaign (my autoresponder), and awesome analytics.  It’s also mobile friendly without downloads or other apps.

Update: Webinar Jam has experienced some reliability issues since the Google Hangout changes. Because of that, I am currently using Zoom + Zapier (to connect my CRM) to host mostly live internal webinars to my audience.

 

Automated Webinars:

EverWebinar:

webinar software

Pros: Nice attendee interface. Fairly simple to set up with deep integrations with Infusionsoft and Active Campaign. Outstanding analytics. Facebook pixels can be placed on all webinar pages. Mobile friendly without extra downloads or apps. Easily converts Webinar Jam live webinars into automated webinars with the flip of a switch.

Cons: Landing page customization is minimal. Needs improvements in landing page builder.  Does integrate with Leadpages. 

Budget: Medium $497/Year

Audience Size: Unlimited audience size for the same price

Technical Skills: Medium difficulty to set up

Integrations: Good integrations with most autoresponders

 

Stealth Seminars:

webinar software

Pros: Reliable. Been on the market for years. Outstanding support team. Numerous integrations with autoresponders. Mobile friendly across all devices.

Cons: Expensive. More difficult to set up without support

Budget: High $69.95/month to $1,250/month for between 150 to 4000 attendees

Audience Size: Restricted based on subscription

Technical Skills: Hard but support team will help you set up

Integrations: Good integrations with most autoresponders for a fee

 

EasyWebinar:

webinar software

Pros: Very cost effective.  Good analytics and marketing features.  Lots of integrations. Mobile friendly.

Cons: Medium learning curve to set up

Budget: Medium $497/Year (includes both live and automated)

Audience Size: Unlimited audience size for the same price

Technical Skills: Medium

Integrations: Good integrations with most autoresponders

 

What I am currently using and why:

I am currently using EverWebinar to host my automated webinars.  As was mentioned above in the review, the awesome marketing features coupled with a nice looking design make this one the winner for me.

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Email Autoresponders

Why Should You Use an Autoresponder?

When people sign up for your webinar, you’re going to want a way to send them pre-webinar and post-webinar emails. You can do this with some of the webinar software themselves but often their email template builders look pretty bad. Plus, one of the biggest perks of hosting webinars is building your OWN email list.  I recommend that you look to integrate an email autoresponder to your webinar software. Here are some options for you.

 

What are Some of Your Options?

Infusionsoft:

webianr software

Pros: High-level customization and tracking. Integrates with almost every landing page builder and webinar software program

Cons: Steep learning curve. Expensive with onboarding fees and high monthly fees. Complicated and easy to mess up a campaign

Budget: High with a one-time fee of $999-$2999 and monthly fees ranging $199 to $599

Technical Skills: Hard to set up and may require you to hire help

Automation: Advanced automation features

 

ActiveCampaign:

webinar software

Pros: Much less expensive than Infusionsoft with many of the same powerful email marketing features. Unlimited email sending. Lite Plans start a $9/month for up to 500 contacts

Cons: Fewer integrations with landing page builders and webinar software programs than Infusionsoft. Gets much more expensive as your list grows

Budget: Low to Medium starting at $9/month for up to 500 contacts

Technical Skills: Medium to set up

Automation: Advanced email automation features on par with much of Infusionsoft

 

Aweber:

webinar software

Pros: Excellent support and customer service. Simple to use. Unlimited email sending. Numerous integrations with landing page builders and webinar software programs

Cons: Very weak automation and “if/else” features. Limited customizability

Budget: Low $19/month to $149/month for between 500-25,000 subscribers

Technical Skills: Easy to Medium to set up

Automation: Limited automation features

 

MailChimp:

webinar software

Pros: Integrates with nearly every piece of software. Numerous integrations with landing page builders and webinar software programs

Cons: Fairly weak automation and “if/else” features. Limited customizability

Budget: Low even free to start

Technical Skills: Easy to Medium to set up

Automation: Fair with improvements particularly in e-commerce

 

Get Response:

webinar software

Pros: Includes email, landing pages, and even their own webinar software (I have not tested it). More advanced marketing automation currently in beta

Cons: Limited automation but looking to add more in beta right now

Budget: Low to Medium starting at $15/month for 1,000 subscribers

Technical Skills: Easy to Medium to set up

Automation: Limited automation features

 

What I am currently using and why:

I am currently using ActiveCampaign for all my pre-webinar and post-webinar follow-up emails. ActiveCampaign has easy and deep integrations with Webinar Jam Studio so I can pass tags and send people to different emails streams if they 1. Register but don’t attend 2. Attend but don’t buy 3. Buy my offer live on the webinar. ActiveCampaign has some of the best “if/else” features on the market for less than Infusionsoft.

 

Shopping carts

Why Should You Consider a Shopping Cart?

Shopping carts are optional when you are starting out but do help to provide a nice place to send webinar attendees when it is time to purchase your product or service.  An attractive shopping cart checkout page can help to convert more customers.  When I started out I simply sent people to a free PayPal checkout page.

 

What are Some of Your Options?

Infusionsoft:

webianr software

Pros: Has it’s own shopping cart system with easy payment processing and invoicing all in one place.  Quickly create promo offers, subscriptions, and discount coupons

Cons: Same as above. Can be expensive and complicated to set up initially.

Budget: High with a one-time fee of $999-$2999 and monthly fees ranging $199 to $599

Technical Skills: Hard to set up and may require you to hire help

Integrations: Use Paypal or a merchant account

 

Samcart:

webinar software

Pros: Fast and easy to customize checkout pages. Integrates easily with a number of email autoresponders and membership software. Accepts Stripe or PayPal. Order bumps. One click upsells. Easy to understand analytics 

Cons: Customer service is fair. Affiliate center lacks the ability to track leads (only clicks and sales). Limited to two products max per checkout page

Budget: High at $99/month

Technical Skills: Medium to set up

Integrations: PayPal and/or Stripe

 

1-Shopping Cart:

webinars

Pros: No initial set up fee. 24/7 support. Supports a large number of payment gateways. 1-click upsells. Solid conversion analytics

Cons: Expensive if you want affiliate tracking

Budget: Low to Medium at $34/month for plus package. $119/month for premium package that has affiliate tracking

Technical Skills: Medium to set up

Integrations: Supports over 50 payment gateways including PayPal

 

What I am currently using:

I am currently using Samcart to handle all of my checkout pages. Although $99/month, it allows me to easily take payments with PayPal and Stripe and also track affiliate referrals all in one place. 

 

Payment Processors

Why You Need a Payment Processor

You will quite simply need a way to take payments from your webinars. 

 

What are Some of Your Options?

Paypal:

webinar software

Pros: Free to set up. People are familiar with PayPal and used to buying with it. Can be used by itself as a shopping cart checkout page

Cons: Lacks customization. Requires “reference transactions” for recurring payments

Costs: Transaction fees can range from 2.2% to 2.9% + $0.30 USD

Technical Skills: Medium to set up

Integrations: Most shopping carts or can be used by itself

 

Stripe:

webinar software

Pros: Free to set up. Allows you to take credit card payments

Cons: Lacks customization

Costs: Transaction fees of 2.9% + $0.30 USD

Technical Skills: Medium to set up

Integrations: Less than Paypal but has many options

 

What I am currently using:

I am currently using Samcart connected with Stripe for credit card payments and PayPal.

 

Affiliate Software

Why Should You Consider Affiliate Software?

If you are going to be doing partner webinars (joint venture webinars) you are going to want a way to track clicks, leads, and sales. Your affiliate software will make sure that your partners are paid fairly and on time.

 

What Are Some of Your Options?

Infusionsoft:

webianr software

Pros: Has it’s own shopping cart system with easy payment processing and invoicing all in one place. Quickly create promo offers, subscriptions, and discount coupons

Cons: Same as above. Can be expensive and complicated to set-up initially.

Budget: High with a one-time fee of $999-$2999 and monthly fees ranging $199 to $599

Technical Skills: Hard to set up and may require you to hire help

Integrations: Use Paypal or a merchant account

 

Samcart:

webinar software

Pros: Easy to sign up affiliates.  Allows you to send affiliate traffic through any link and track all sales made through your Samcart checkout pages

Cons: Only tracks clicks and sales, not leads 

Budget: Medium at $199/month which includes a shopping cart

Technical Skills: Medium to set up

Integrations: Good with a number of email autoresponders and membership plugins

 

What I am currently using:

I am currently using Samcart as my affiliate tracking software. It is fairly easy to set up but does lack the ability to track leads directly. Only clicks and sales.

 

Landing Page Builders

Why Should You Consider Landing Page Builders?

You will want to have a way to build a sales page for your product or service. These pages will allow visitors to read about your offer and click a buy button to reach your checkout page.

 

What Are Some of Your Options?

LeadPages:

webinar software

Pros: Hundreds of landing page templates with integrations with all major email autoresponders and webinar software programs. Able to easily place Facebook pixel code in headers

Cons: Limited page customization. Recently released a drag and drop page builder

Budget: Low starting at $37/month for the standard package

Technical Skills: Medium to set up

Integrations: Good with a number of email autoresponders and membership plugins

 

Clickfunnels:

webinar software

Pros: Premade funnel sequences. Very customizable landing pages. Elite package has built in email autoresponders and affiliate center

Cons: More expensive with a larger learning curve

Budget: High starting at $97/month with the Elite package reaching $297/month

Technical Skills: Medium to Hard to set up

Integrations: Good with a number of email autoresponders and membership plugins

 

Unbounce:

webinar software

Pros: Gorgeous customizable landing pages. Integrations with many of the most popular autoresponders

Cons: Fewer integrations than Leadpages and Clickfunnels

Budget: Medium starting at $49/month for the starter package

Technical Skills: Medium to set up

Integrations: Fair, make sure to check that your autoresponder integrates

 

What I am currently using:

I am currently using LeadPages to build all my sales pages. It is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to quickly build a sales page. Integrates with my ActiveCampaign to collect email subscribers or links out to my Samcart checkout pages to take payment.

 

Other Webinar Equipment

Recommended Microphone:

Audio-Technica ATR2100

webinar software

Great microphone despite the low cost.  Plugs right into your USB port.  

Cost: $79

Recommended Webcam:

Logitech c920 (note: If you are using a Mac, make sure your operating system is compatible)

webinar software

Cost: $73

Recommended Ethernet Cord:

You never want to be hosting a webinar on wifi.  Make sure your computer is plugged directly into your router.

Mediabridge

webinar software

Cost: $9.49

If you are using a MAC without an ethernet port, use the Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter

Recommended Lights:

Umbrella Lighting Kit by LimoStudio

webinar software

Cost: $52

 

Recommended Presentation Slides:

Google Slides

PowerPoint

Keynote (Mac)

 

What Do You NEED to Get Started if You Are on a Low Budget?

While this is an extensive list of suggested items, if you are on a low budget here is what I would do.

  • I would buy an ethernet cord for $10.
  • Use Google Slides (free in Drive) to create my presentation.
  • Start with Mailchimp which has a free option for my email autoresponder.
  • I would live with using my computer’s audio quality or grab the Audio-Technica ATR2100 if I had the $79.
  • I would simply start my webinar with my slides up so I wouldn’t need a webcam or lighting.
  • I would use Paypal to gather payment.

The only other expense would be my laptop computer (which you likely already have) and my webinar software.

Honestly, the market is ripe for someone to step up and take the lead in the webinar software department. There really isn’t a clear winner.

 

What Should You Consider as Your Budget Increases?

The first thing you are going to want is a solid webinar software.  GoToWebinar is still a favorite among marketers although the cost is high and you are limited by the number of attendees. Of the other options, I like Webinar Jam for live webinars for the reasons listed above.

I am a big fan of ActiveCampaign if you are not going the Infusionsoft route. I would recommend grabbing an autoresponder that allows tagging and “if/else” behavior based automation. 

Again, if you are not going down the Infusionsoft path, I like Samcart for shopping cart and affiliate tracking.

 

What To Do Next…

Now that you understand some of the available tools you can use to host webinars, you may be wondering how you can create and sell your next program or course using webinars?  The Webinar Product Launch Action Guide will give you a step-by-step overview of how I sold $10,322 of my latest online course using webinars. Click the button below to grab yours!

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