With the first #techtuesday post to kick off 2016, I thought what better way to start things off than with a topic that I know best: webinars! As some of you may (or may not) know, I manage the etouches webinar program bringing you a combination of product and best practice webinars to give you the know how of maneuvering the events industry. Over the course of about a year and a half, I have seen a handful of different webinar technologies that have eased the process for attendees, while also giving me some headaches. Webinars have been a great source for etouches to share our thought leadership with the industry and gain new relationships with presenters. However, webinars can be used for much more than just a means to distribute content, event professionals can utilize these programs pre, during or post event! You may ask, how so? Let me explain.
Are you looking to give a brief presentation before sharing your latest white paper? Maybe you want to give your event attendees the necessities for preparation before they attend your event. What about increasing your booth traffic onsite at an exhibition by streaming a webinar live from your booth! Each situation has different requirements that will allow it to run successfully, so finding the product that works best for you may take a few trial runs! I am going to walk you through 3 platforms that I have used first hand, giving you the pro’s and con’s of each that have helped & hurt me along the webinar process.
This platform was the very first platform that was utilized when I joined the team. Our process for webinars was a bit unique, considering we utilized etouches registration module. I found that the user experience with this platform was very easy-to-use because there was no need for presenters or attendees to download extra plugins for usage. The interface was extremely easy to maneuver as well because there is no need to upload a presentation beforehand with no threat of conversions losing animations or specific fonts. Also, GTW offered the ability to dial-in using a cell phone or landline, or utilize their VoIP which is extremely helpful when a shotty phone connection could hurt your sound quality. Overall, I felt that the live event broadcast was of good quality with a positive attendee experience, but the recording was another story…
Although I will say that GoToWebinar was extremely easy to use and produced great quality live webinars, the recording that would be extracted after a live webinar was extremely disappointing. The audio of presenters would not match up with the video of slides, which would result in a long editing process on our end. Along with this, if the webinar includes webcam usage, don’t expect the recording to capture that video feed. The only recording that is captured is through the presenters audio and the slides that are shared. Some other things to note: there is no back end chat capabilities for presenters to utilize so once the webinar begins, you must hope for the best. Finally, be aware that the Q&A functionality may be difficult for attendees to find, so engagement could be affected by this. While we were utilizing GTW, we would get virtually zero questions during our webinars, mainly because attendees found it difficult to find and manage the function.
From GoToWebinar, our next step in the webinar software journey took us to ReadyTalk. With an extremely simple and easy-to-use interface, ReadyTalk was the perfect tool to get our program going in the direction we were looking for. I especially enjoyed the console that they offered with an easy to access Q&A box and interactive presentation features for presenters to utilize during the live webinar. One of my favorite parts of this platform? The pricing. They break their plan down into 3 different sizing groups: 10, 25 and 100. From there, you can also pay per additional attendee so if attendance is expected to spike one month, you can worry about it during that month and that month only. Finally, a VoIP is also available for attendees and presenters, so no need to worry about an unreliable phone connection.
One of my biggest downfalls with this platform is the look and feel of it. Unless you are paying for the upgrades, the registration and event console looks pretty blah. Because of this, we continued to utilize etouches registration since we were able to customize the look and feel of the process. Another part of this platform that I didn’t enjoy was the fact that presenters and attendees needed to download a plugin for joining the webinar. This process could sometimes take up to 10 minutes, which could either take away from prep time with the presenter, or the attendee could miss that much time during the live webinar. A few other things to note is that the sound quality wasn’t great with the recording, although the slides and audio were in sync so that did get rid of the extra editing time that we would have to account for with GTW. Overall, this was a great system to support the improvements of our webinar program.
The next and current stop of our webinar journey has taken us to ON24. There are so many aspects that I can talk about this with platform, so I am going to touch on a few of my favorites (and not so favorites) starting with the registration process. We decided to move on from etouches registration to ON24’s registration to simplify the process and allow attendees to get the full webinar experience. With ON24, the look and feel of the registration page is completely customizable. The user experience is on another level from GTW and ReadyTalk, which is something that our attendees seem to love. Our attendees also love the console during our live events, which are customizable to your choosing with background images and specific widgets of your choosing! We have chosen to utilize the Q&A functionality, as well as the Twitter widget, a survey widget to get feedback regarding the webinar experience, and finally a speaker bio widget. Not only does the audience enjoy the live event, but the recording is also archived on the same page, so anyone that would like to rewatch the webinar can utilize the same registration link and have easy access to the webinar.
The most widely discussed negative feature linked to this platform is the pricing. With it being such a unique software in it’s space, it seems like ON24 can price their product at just about whatever it feels like based on their yearly subscription. My only other annoyance is that they do have quite a few best practices that they suggest presenters follow, for example being on a landline phone when presenting and utilizing certain browsers. I have personally run into a few issues with this platform, but their support has gone above and beyond to assure that our needs were met.
Our webinar program has seen a handful of different softwares with our presenters & attendees getting to experience various platforms. We have been able to find a platform that meets the criteria and needs to support our program, but other programs vary based on their needs. Whether it’s a specific registration style, a particular engagement style, or even budget restrictions, there is a platform out there for everyone!
Have you had any experience with any of these platforms? Do you use different webinar software that you love or hate? Share your thoughts below!
Written by: Melissa Lombardi