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Webinar Software

Webinar software allows companies to conduct and distribute interactive live and recorded promotional or educational video presentations to existing or potential customers.

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Webinar Software Buyers Guide

Webinar software is a type of application used within the corporate sector to enable the delivery of video presentations. Using webinar software, enterprise managers, HR staff, and professional teams of any size can access and share live or recorded video material, train colleagues, collaborate, and chat through a secure portal. Hosts can use it to send invitations, promote their events, manage attendee lists, restrict access, and field questions during their webinars, workshops, masterclasses, and online meetings.

This type of software is also often used with the aim of showcasing products and services, delivering sales pitches, or carrying out user tutorials. So, its range of applications can extend beyond employee onboarding and training. Sales, marketing, and customer service teams often rely on webinar software to communicate with customers, build trust, and develop business relationships. It can also serve professionals in high-touch areas like real estate, wealth management, legal, medicine, and consultancy. It serves event planners equally well when it comes to summits, conferences, expos, and award shows. Corporate professionals can also use it to set up impromptu meetups, last-minute summits, and live roadshows.

The benefits of webinar tools are plentiful for both business and customers. With webinar applications, organisations can more easily generate interest, qualify leads, and activate their user base. As the content is usually accessible online, from most devices, and at any time, the viewership can include people with a variety of lifestyles and abilities. Businesses can harness that engagement to boost trial conversions, educate their customers, and reduce churn by constantly learning from user behaviour. As for event attendees, the convenience and efficiency of seminars conducted over the internet often outweighs the value of face-to-face interactions.

Sometimes called webinar platforms, some of these applications come with additional perks like landing page builders, branding, customisation, video making tools, and analytics. Also, software tools that were once only used for one-way interaction have been able to replicate the interactive features of webinar software.

This race to outdo the competition has led to a blurring of the lines between categories like live streaming software, web conferencing software, presentation software, meeting software, and remote work software. Some businesses have come to expect their webinar tool to be fully featured, while others prefer to combine simpler tools using integrations for the benefit of their users. When it comes to webinar tools, they can have widely different sets of features that appeal to their user base. But most of them will fulfill a few basic functions. So, most webinar software tools come with the capability for users to perform these essential tasks:

  • Organise and host online events with live or recorded content without the need to write code
  • Access and grant access to an online portal, landing page, or dashboard showcasing the content
  • Send invitations automatically, manage attendee lists, and assign content to specific types of users
  • Enable attendees to interact with the host, collaborate online, and log their contributions
  • Provide social sharing and reviewing options to promote the content

What is Webinar Software?

Webinar software is an application used within a corporate environment to conduct live video presentations and share recordings with colleagues, business partners, and customers. Webinar hosts and attendees use these applications for workshops, masterclasses, onboarding, training, sales presentations, and customer education. They can be deployed company-wide with Cloud-enabled live streaming and multi-hosting for a vast number of videos, portals, and users. These tools tend to be web-based, but some developers also offer a smartphone app version that extends the usership from desktop and laptop to mobile device users.

Besides being able to conduct video presentations, training sessions, collaborative meetings, and brainstorming activities, webinar applications can also help showcase products. Whether it's property portfolios, medical equipment, consultancy services, software tools or beauty products, webinars can help salespeople and marketers communicate their USPs effectively. With real-time demos, interactive FAQs, and walkthroughs accessible to all attendees simultaneously, webinar applications can help improve the delivery of sales pitches, address concerns, and nip any issues in the bud. They can be just as useful to professionals in HR, education, and sales as they are to marketing agencies or to those in the manufacturing sector.

Webinar software doesn't require programming skills. So, professionals in any field and with any level of computer literacy can use it to host or attend events. Many tools don't even require viewers to sign up before they are given online access to these events. The content can often be viewed with only a URL click, making it accessible to users on a wide physical mobility and ability scale. Other options include on-demand access and one-time registration. However, some applications feature two interfaces: a dashboard for the host and a portal or landing page for users.

Whether they are carried out exclusively online or as hybrid events with some attendees on-site, webinars are entirely dependent on the strength of the internet connections between hosts and viewers. So, most developers offer cloud-based webinar streaming and storage for round-the-clock access, reliable streaming speed, and high-definition, buffering-free content. This takes human error out of the equation and makes it easier for the staff to organise, host, and attend their events than would have been possible with in-person seminars.

What are the benefits of webinar software?

The benefits of webinar software correlate with how sophisticated the tool is and the purpose it serves. After all, reduced to the bare minimum, a webinar application aims simply to connect any number of people across regions, time zones, and offices. Even the most basic tools can be used for demonstrations, lectures, product unveilings, or sales pitches. But today's webinar platforms are complex, with a wealth of features like customisation, integration, and end-to-end solutions that empower users to create, promote, distribute, and monetise video content. Yet, whatever the scale of the operation, just about any webinar application will deliver at least these basic benefits:

  • Versatility and expediency: Webinar platforms can display presentation slides, play videos, stream live speeches, enable dynamic decision-making, and support user interactions for large groups much easier than with conventional seminars. They also enable hosts to invite, chat, share polls, field questions, collaborate, monitor user progress, and track analytics in real-time. Hosts and attendees enjoy the benefits of having an online ticketing system because there is no need for queue management, and there are no wasted opportunities to tend to the viewer's needs.
  • Distribution at scale: On webinar platforms, hosts can record and archive videos for future use. So, not only do they have the tools to boost their live viewership, but also the opportunity to reach much wider audiences using pre-recorded material. For companies with vast customer bases, distributed teams, and a wide network of suppliers and partners, webinar tools are an effective solution for engaging with stakeholders. By creating evergreen content, hosts can enjoy these benefits in perpetuity, with no limits to the number of viewers they can reach over time or the revenue they can produce.
  • Efficiency savings: Webinars are inherently efficient because they do away with the need to coordinate attendance, transportation, and accommodation for groups of people. These savings add up, and they help secure a larger and faster return on investment than a conventional seminar would. Organisers don't need to worry about large business expenses associated with trade show attendance, international travel to symposiums, or the daily commute. These savings can then be directed toward worthwhile investments that improve viewer experience even further.
  • Building rapport: Through video interactions, webinar software helps professionals build better business relationships. They can put faces to names, use body language, and maintain engagement, none of which would be possible via phone call or email correspondence. Webinars can enable high-touch services, such as consultancy work, customer education, or high-stakes sales operations. They can help trainees visualise concrete scenarios, and they can assist educators in getting their point across easier.
  • Connection reliability: Virtually anyone can take part in a webinar through cloud-based connections and streaming. Whether they are web-based applications or mobile apps, webinar software tools enable business travellers to connect from any location across the globe, from airports to remote retreats. Thanks to the cloud, hosts can stream virtually any number of webinars and enjoy crisp connections throughout, with sufficient bandwidth for hundreds or thousands of users to join. Depending on the provider and their payment plan, hosts can offer reliable streaming with no buffering or lag, making viewers feel that they are part of the conversation because they can watch it unfold before them.
  • Branding opportunities: Many webinar platforms feature customisation and branding tools, enabling event hosts to make landing pages and content using logos, themes, images, and graphics in line with the company's brand identity. Some white label tools come ready-made with templates and customisable features so that hosts can put their stamp and build brand recognition in a few easy steps. From landing pages to user dashboards, and from user reports to log-in UI, every step of the user journey can feature symbols and graphics that put them at ease and boost brand recognition.

What are the features of webinar software?

Some of the latest features of webinar software serve as proof that developers keep pushing the boundaries of technology. It's not unusual for blue-chip software tools to come with email distribution, SMS follow-up texting, AI pop-ups, collaboration, and gamification solutions. Aside from registration and ticketing tools, they also often come with Meta posting, Google retargeting, and tailored networking solutions. But users from a wide spectrum of industries, including consultants, start-up leaders, and corporate recruiters, expect every webinar application to offer a few key features. Here are some of the most sought-after and familiar features of webinar software:

  • Event management: Manage invitee, attendee, and absentee lists. Handle scheduling, cancellations, webinar launches, and the logistics of event set-up. Run a variety of webinar formats, including live, pre-recorded, simulated live stream, on-demand, and just-in-time events with minimal input and no code writing requirements. These are just some of the capabilities of a webinar application. Some tools come with unique features like voice recognition and automated user toggling. This way, the speaker's screen or their captured video is placed in the forefront, freeing up time and reducing effort for the host, enabling them to focus on other event management tasks.
  • Powerful video streaming and recording: Display high-quality visual and audio material, with browser-compatible and easily embeddable videos (e.g., for HTML5 video players). Webinar applications are expected to offer pixel-perfect content with fast streaming, high-definition sound, and no buffering. Hosts expect to be able to record presentations, transcribe them, store them, and archive them for future use. These basic capabilities make it so that hosts not only make an impeccable first impression with their presentation but continue to impress their viewers indefinitely. They can do so by making the content available to them offline, with minutes available automatically, and sessions recorded for review and follow-up.
  • Screen sharing: Enable hosts and attendees to capture screencasts during webinars. That way, all those present can view presentation materials as they emerge and access their favourite parts easily during intervals or quizzes. Good webinar platforms will also allow them to store and share this material during live streams so that they can review it at their own pace. While some of the earliest tools only granted screen sharing privileges to organisers, more recently developed software tools pass this authority on to the host so that virtually any attendee can also share their screen for real-time collaboration.
  • Customer touch point management: Arm hosts with the tools to address viewer queries privately or publicly. While few webinar software tools feature customer relationship management (CRM) integrations and state-of-the-art voice of the customer (VOC) solutions, even no-frills applications should be able to offer Q&A options. They may feature language toggling, colour-coded cards, pop-up menus, mandatory question boxes, and Q&A access restrictions. As queries come in, hosts can reply to them in turn manually, send bulk replies using pre-set templates, or a combination of the two methods.
  • Polls, trivia, and voting: Create quick polls, surveys, and quizzes to keep users engaged. Sending the occasional multiple-choice question in real time between slides or topics keeps attendees alert and interested. Good webinar applications should feature simple survey building tools for instant polling and voting throughout the session, during intermission, or at the end of the presentation. For the sake of anonymity, any survey results shared with the viewers will feature bar charts and other visuals that indicate general preferences but not individual replies. Sharing results with the viewers ensures that there is transparency in the voting process and enables users to gauge their understanding as compared to other users.
  • Built-in live chat tool: Allow attendees to chat in real-time. Facilitating real-time communication between hosts and attendees via built-in text-based chat helps build bridges between different user groups and develop a sense of community. Hosts can make use of these tools while also restricting usage so that they don't distract from the webinar. Some webinar tools might also feature AI chatbot assistants to reduce the burden on hosts while also addressing questions and misunderstandings before they spiral out of control.
  • Customisation and branding: Customise webinar materials so that they display brand-specific devices and themes. While not all tools enable hosts to create their own landing pages or put their own stamp on a pre-set white-label interface, most will come with ways to influence the brand experience. For instance, users may be able to view the brand's logotype, colour theme, slogans, and graphics when they sign up on their portal. They may notice branded watermarking on videos, and they might be able to download branded apps built not by the host but by the webinar developer.
  • Multi-hosting options: Grant permission for co-hosting and multiple session hosting. In the spirit of collaboration, multiple users can host sessions at the same time. Some webinar tools allow hosts to add co-hosts on the spur of the moment, while others ask for a more structured approach to hosting. Conversely, a webinar application may enable a single host to run multiple events simultaneously. With the administrator's permission, hosts can alternate between events, and deploy simulation live-streams as needed, so that users don't take note of their absence.

Courtesy of Capterra, the webinar software directory shows readers the highlights of every featured webinar software tool to inform decision-making and speed up the selection process. With the filters mentioned above, users should be able to shortlist the tools that are right for their business and their goals.

What should be considered when purchasing webinar software?

When purchasing webinar software, the first choice may come down to budget and reputation, but there are other considerations to factor in. After all, the quality of a webinar depends on the content curator just as much as it does on the host. Depending on the type of audience (i.e., employees, customers, or business partners) and the capabilities the audience would expect to see, users should address these key questions before deciding on a software tool:

  • Pricing models and budget limitations: Some webinar platforms factor in the number of attendees, hosts, or both in their pricing tiers. Others offer discounts based on the number of users. Still, others only take note of the length of the broadcast. All these different pricing strategies complicate things for organisers, who must carry out research and due diligence before committing to any subscription plan. With user limits in place, the tiered pricing option may restrict access to good leads after successful marketing campaigns, so hosts should look for flexibility in their choice of pricing plan.
  • Scalability and growth potential: Webinar tools can only handle so many people before technical difficulties start to kick in. With so much content going viral or extinct without rhyme or reason these days, estimating the number of users is difficult. But it's a necessary evil for any video content geared toward a global audience. Cloud-based service providers should be able to make the transition between peaks and troughs effortless, but it's worth double-checking their user limits before purchasing their webinar application.
  • Accessibility and dial-in: Joining a webinar doesn’t always come naturally. Users may be required to download or update an app, a compatible web browser, or their operating system. They may also be asked to create an account or register for promotional content that they have no intention of reading. The whole point of accessing a webinar is convenience. So, stakeholders should find a balance between restricting viewing access to protect the brand and imposing unnecessary hurdles on users. Switching from one device to another should be a smooth transition, and so should accessing the session. User-friendly options include unrestricted access via URL and built-in recognition software to minimise data entry on dial-in.
  • Strength of safety measures: There are webinar tools that come with built-in encryption, two-step verification, and one-time passwords. These measures help protect privacy and data integrity, while also complying with data protection laws. Professionals in healthcare, Fintech, and security sectors should be especially cautious in their choice of webinar tool provider. However, cloud-based tools have inherent vulnerabilities, and cloud storage facilities are the targets of malicious attacks daily. Some webinar tool providers may be able to offer additional protections and on-premise storage for safer backups.

The most relevant webinar software trends have to do with the emergence of new consumer needs and the challenges of adapting to them. They make it essential for SMBs and corporations to not just keep up, but also anticipate changes within this market. Here are some of today's most relevant trends for webinar software:

  • Shift to wearable technology: Wearable technology may expand access to wider audiences and locations. As smartwatches gain popularity and webinar software developers start producing smartwatch apps, it should come as no surprise if professionals make this the preferred medium for streaming webinars as part of their remote work. While still in its infancy, this market has all the makings of a cash cow, providing software developers can find ways to port pixel-perfect visuals to other wearables, such as smart glasses, bracelets, belts, and shoes.
  • Adoption of AR and VR technology: Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can make up for whatever webinars lack in high-touch services. With virtual reality headsets, users can bring themselves closer to the host with VR panning, exploring their environment or interacting with a slide in new ways. Using their mobile devices, hosts can also trigger actions through AR to showcase important information visually through eye-catching 3D figures. They can show the effect in real-time, enabling viewers to make suggestions and ask questions so that the presentation explores the topic from every angle. For example, a 3D anatomy model pops up, allowing hosts and viewers to explore different scenarios, familiarise themselves with procedures, or notice the finer points. This may help improve the quality of the presentation while also building rapport and promoting engagement during webinar sessions.
  • Rise of AI and predictive analytics: Predictive analytics can help harness vast amounts of user behaviour data. As they monitor customer experiences, prompt them to take specific actions, and report back to the host, AI tools keep improving outcomes for the host. They keep feeding information back to them continuously to perfect lead generation and audience engagement metrics. But they also work with presets, and can only build from those. If AI tools are fed incorrect data, this may skew their judgement and affect user experiences negatively. Businesses interested in adopting AI to predict future user behaviour based on past behaviour risk finding themselves in a loop. Rather than reinforcing bad habits, companies could start focusing on positive buyer behaviour, using this data to teach their AI tools what steps to take.