Web-based seminars are virtual events in which a presenter shares information with large audiences online through recorded media.
Webinars can feature PowerPoint presentations, videos, or webpages that stream live over the internet to viewers who can participate in real-time by sharing their thoughts or questions via chat rooms and social media platforms such as Google+ and Twitter.
A webinar is a method of sharing knowledge and information through an online presentation. Webinars go beyond simple chats and lectures to engage the audience in a powerful, two-way dialogue with the presenter.
The first step toward running a successful webinar is learning how they work: what problems you will face and how to resolve them.
How a Webinar Works
A webinar is “presented live over the Internet using webinar software”. The webinar presenter is the host and invites attendees through links to a landing page or personal invitation.
The webinar can be a pay-per-view event, or free.
At the pre-scheduled time, attendees, and the host, log in. The host presents and monitors real-time questions throughout the webinar.
Webinars can include files, PowerPoint presentations, polls, and interactive content.
On many webinar platforms, a co-host may be added to help facilitate the broadcast.
There are many webinar platforms available to help you host a successful webinar. The three industry-leading companies—GoToWebinar, Zoom, and Webinarjam—offer the same essential services, but each implements those services differently.
The price range for these products is relatively similar. Their main difference lies in the ease of use and functionality:
• GoToWebinar – offers free accounts for users who wish to host up to five sessions a month along with paid accounts allowing for larger audiences and more simultaneous attendees.
• Zoom – offers free accounts for users who wish to host up to 100 participants along with paid accounts allowing for larger audiences and more simultaneous attendees.
• Webinarjam offers free accounts on its Starter Plan, which allows users to host only one session every 30 days, though they offer a Premium Plan with fewer restrictions.
All three of these companies allow your webinars to:
- integrate with social media
- track the number of registrants and attendees
- edit webinar slides remotely through mobile devices
- record the live streams in HD video
- poll attendees for feedback during sessions
- share files or documents during presentations
- integrate chat windows into their applications
- Share participant lists before the event starts
- provide phone numbers for attendees to dial into the event.
These companies also have similar reporting measures available after the webinar has ended to allow you to analyze how your audience responded.
Zoom offers storage space on its servers, allowing users more options for archiving their recordings.
In contrast, both Zoom and GoToWebinar offer sharing options in the forms of a link, an embed code, or a download for a file to distribute your recording.
Zoom offers users the power to record their sessions within the software without requiring a separate program.
The user can turn on the record feature during webinar set-up through Presenter Mode, which allows you to control your presentation while also viewing participants’ real-time feedback.
GoToWebinar does not present this option as readily—you must first contact customer service requesting that it be enabled since it is available only to paid accounts with “Expert” level support.
Once enabled, you may start your webinar through GoToWebinar’s application to record it, or you can use its embedded web browser to create your presentation.
This precludes you from starting your presentation through the web interface and forces participants who wish to dial in and participate to download and install the WebinarJam Studio as well.
Social Media Integration
All three companies provide users with integrated social media tools that simultaneously promote their events across several platforms.
Zoom provides this feature using “Zoom Social,” while GoToWebinar uses a similar product called “GoToWebinar Connect.” Webinar jam offers no such built-in software but does allow users to share their webinar events with several social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
Tracking and Analytics
Webinar jam – Offers attendee reports.
Zoom: Offers heat maps that track where participants were clicking and charts illustrating how many people joined at different times before the presentation was live.
Zoom also provides a unique recording feature that allows users to record presentations as if they were watching them through their personal devices (desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone).
GoToWebinar: Includes detailed information such as number of registrants versus those who attended the live session at any given time, number of attendees who accessed the recording once it was published online after the event, and heat maps showing where participants were clicking.
GoToWebinar offers both options and scheduling webinars automatically for you using a pre-determined schedule based on login times and length of sessions.
This feature allows you to maximize your reach while also making it easy for attendees to register when they can attend without having to go back in through the sign-up process again.
Zoom: Only offers scheduling capabilities through its embedded web browser meaning attendees must be already signed up to access the URL where they can sign up for your presentation at that time.
Webinar Invitations and Registration
Webinarjam and Webinarjam Studio: Allows you to send out invitations through email or social media, set up automatic reminders about registration deadlines, and make the sign-up process available only during a limited time window.
GoToWebinar: Again offers both options and an option for pre-determined scheduling, which lets you decide when your webinar will go live based on login times.
Zoom: Offers both invitation methods and pre-determined scheduling that can be adjusted using date/time or the number of registrants at different login times during the event.
It also features an invitation tool that can invite any contact within your personal address book, including those on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Gmail.
Live Viewer Interaction
Webinarjam: Allows easy interaction between presenter and audience with a touch-enabled interface that allows users to ask questions via typing or speaking into their computer’s microphone. It also provides a chat window to interact with other participants in a more private conversation format.
GoToWebinar: Offers only the ability to text-based chat during presentations and an integrated help desk feature where attendees can submit their questions immediately.
The help desk function also has an automated feature that lets you route those questions directly to your support team, so you don’t have to answer them yourself during your event.
Zoom: Supports both options and built-in polling and screen sharing functionality so that attendees can see the presentation and where other participants are clicking on their device.
Automatic Recording and On-Demand Viewing
Webinarjam: Records all webinar presentations automatically for those who were unable to attend offline but makes no guarantees about the availability of those recordings for those who did not attend live.
GoToWebinar: Offers a built-in recording function that lets you schedule your recording for publishing or record it live during your event.
You can also download the recording after it has been published online to your device at any time so you can share it with others offline.
Zoom: Offers automatic recording and scheduling options that allow you to decide when the webinar will be recorded and made available for on-demand viewing. It also allows you to download recordings whenever you want through an easy interface.
Charging for a Webinar
Webinarjam – Now offers a revenue generation model and tools for tracking the number of unique viewers watching each event.
It also offers a complete set of reports which can help you understand your audience’s online behavior and create better webinars in the future.
GoToWebinar: Offers several pricing options to select when creating an account, including monthly, 10-use, and unique enterprise plans with different access levels to advanced features such as international dialing and pre-recorded events.
You can also use GoToWebinar to collect payment information through secure forms linked directly through your e-commerce platform or website.
Zoom: Allows you to create a free account with limited access to core features such as recording and publishing while offering paid subscriptions with full access to all of Zoom’s advanced capabilities.
You can also automatically track your number of viewers through Zoom Analytics which lets you know how many attendees are joining the presentation at any given time.
Zoom: Provides a moderated chat function just like Webinarjam but also offers an additional Live Chat feature.
The feature lets you interact with viewers who are watching from their mobile devices or tablets anytime during an event, making it easier to take advantage of those who may be joining multiple locations or want to participate from home.
GoToWebinar: Offers a moderated chat function during live events but no live chat for viewers watching remotely through their mobile devices or tablets.
Webinarjam Studio: Allows you to set up an online event with fully-featured live chat (registration required). This feature can help grow community engagement and brand loyalty by letting you create different rooms for people to join depending on the topics they’re interested in.
A built-in scheduler is also available that lets you schedule your next webinar up to 30 days in advance, allowing everyone on your team the opportunity to participate.
Question and Answer
All three tools – GoToWebinar, Zoom, and Webinarjam Studio – allow users to incorporate a live Q&A session into an online event. However, zoom differs from the other two by allowing you to type your questions directly into a chat box instead of having to wait for prompts from moderators.
Webinar Content Delivery
Webinarjam Studio: Allows you to upload PowerPoint files, photos, videos, or music directly into your event dashboard before inviting participants.
You can also schedule an appointment up to 30 days in advance and receive advanced alert notifications weeks in advance, letting you know who will be attending from a list of invitees.
GoToWebinar: Offers the ability to upload PowerPoint presentations and audio files through your GoToWebinar account, where all content is automatically scaled to fit the size of the screen during a webinar.
Scheduling options are limited, with just a seven-day view available at any given time without a free trial option that provides access to more features such as scheduled recordings and international dialing.
Zoom – Allows you to upload PowerPoint presentations, audio files, and videos through your Zoom account, but no online meeting room is provided unless you upgrade to a paid plan.
You can also schedule an appointment up to 30 days in advance and select which rooms the attendees will join depending on the topics they’re interested in.
Interactive Tools and Features
Zoom also includes a presentation mode that automatically switches between slides as you speak. You can also share your screen with all of these tools and set up polling questions that let viewers vote on different topics and see results in real-time displayed through an interactive chart.
GoToWebinar: Offers several polling options, including multiple-choice and yes/no scenarios, while allowing both host and attendees to vote.
You can also choose from six pre-set question styles or create your own using HTML code for advanced features such as branching options.
Branching options allow you to provide different options and then automatically move to a different slide based on your response.
Zoom: Allows you to create polls with both multiple-choice and yes/no scenarios and set up branching options for any question that allows host and attendees to vote on different topics.
Two pre-set question styles are offered, including an image-based chart and definitive list, but no HTML code is available for advanced features such as branching questions or more than two choices per polling option.
Webinarjam Studio: Provides several polling options, including multiple-choice, text entry, time in seconds, date, KPI values, and checkbox selections that can all be used within branching scenarios allowing hosts and attendees voting capabilities.
You can also choose from four pre-set question styles, including a chart and a traditional list, but no HTML code is available for advanced features such as branching questions.
GoToWebinar: Offers a simple landing page with a countdown clock and webinar title but no registration options.
Zoom: Allows you to create a step-by-step landing page where visitors can register for an event or take a survey that qualifies them to participate in the next scheduled event. You can also enable social media sharing buttons to promote your online presence linked from your website.
Webinarjam Studio: Provides several pre-set templates, including step-by-step tutorials, countdown timers, and static slides allowing you to customize each design with images, videos, and links to other pages on your site or follow you on social media.
You can also choose from four different registration types: email subscriptions, Facebook likes, Twitter followers, and LinkedIn connections.
Webinarjam Studio: You can track the success of your presentations using detailed analytics reports, which provide additional feedback on the engagement level of webinars.
The platform includes an AI bot named Alexa which can answer questions about upcoming events and track attendance rates in real-time.
Zoom: Integrates with Google Analytics to reveal insights into audience behavior, including geographic location, time spent during a presentation, and demographic information such as gender and industry.
Their native survey tool provides instant insights each time it’s completed but does not include advanced features such as data segmentation.
GoToWebinar: Provides a simple landing page with a countdown clock and webinar title but no registration options.