My experience reviewing 8 webinar software options

There are a lot of webinar software options available these days, so I was pretty excited to see what I would find.

Unfortunately my results were less than inspiring. Here are the findings.

Note these details were current when I looked, but I’ve provided links to their sites so you can check for the updated details. 

Criteria

Here are the features we were looking for in webinar software.

Must have

  • Can support 50 people and can scale into the hundreds
  • Works when we test it!
  • Reasonably priced

Nice to have

  • Nice UI
  • Easy setup / installation process
  • Runs on mobile
  • Can stream webinars live for people who don’t register

1. Webinars on Air

webinarsonair

Yes there’s hangouts, and youtube live, and hangouts on air, and webinars on air, and scheduled hangouts. Confused yet?

Webinars On Air is a wrapper that adds webinar functionality to Google Hangouts. So the software driving the webinar is Hangouts, but people access it via Webinars on Air which gives the presenter a few more features.

Price

Since hangouts is free, all they are charging for is the wrapper and it’s well priced.

25 attendees – $20 / month
50 attendees – $60 / month
Unlimited attendees – $99 / month

Notes

This is the software we have used for a few smaller webinars and it’s generally worked well. Here are my main observations.

  • Cheap!
  • A little bit confusing the way it works.
  • No free trial.
  • Can stream live direct to YouTube and your site which is nice.
  • Automatically publishes calls live so it’s not great for private calls (although you can manually remove them).
  • Is slower in responsive time than GotoWebinar.
  • Automatically publishes recordings to Youtube (huge timesaver).
  • You can integrate payments and email options.
  • No plugins and it’s pretty straight forward for users to access the call.
  • We’ve had a few issues where presenters couldn’t get on and hangouts can be a little bit clunky.
  • You need to be organized to use it since you have to ‘Schedule’ webinars. I’d like an option to just click a link and open the call.

Overall it’s a great option, particularly for smaller webinars and lower budgets.

2. GotoWebinar

gotowebinar

Same picture since 1973. Same software too (and it still works just as well).

GotoWebinar has been around forever in more or less the same format. The best way to describe GotoWebinar is “If it aint broke don’t fix it”.

Price

50 attendees – $99
100 attendees – $99
500 attendees – $399

Comments

GotoWebinar has one and only one very nice feature – it works. Pretty damn well. It’s not pretty. It’s not feature packed. It’s certainly not modern or sexy. But it works.

  • Expensive, old, clunky, pretty pricey.
  • It works very well, it was the only one that worked seamlessly when I tested it by myself.
  • Handles recordings however we’d often lose them and they don’t record the talking heads so it’s really just recording audio if you aren’t sharing a screen (which we often aren’t). Then pushing that recording to Youtube is a huge pain.
  • Easy setup a lot of people probably already have the software. Although the need for dedicated apps on mobile and plugins on the computer is somewhat of a barrier.
  • Worked pretty much flawlessly – recording worked well
  • The video quality and response time is excellent, much better than anything else we used.

We may use GotoWebinar when we do larger webinars.

3. Fuze (formerly FuzeBox)

fuze

This one had a lot of potential but wasn’t quite there when we tested it.

Fuze was reviewed a few months ago when it was called FuzeBox. We actually originally chose it as the winner, purchased it and used it for a few webinars. However we had trouble with most of the ones we ran so we ended up cancelling.

It’s nice, modern looking software and it’s ludicrously cheap. If only it just damn well worked!

Price

125 attendees – $8 / month
“High capacity” – $20 (not really sure what high capacity means)

Comments

Everything looked good on paper with FuzeBox and in our small tests with just me and Alex. But it fell down on live calls more than once. Here are my main notes.

  • I was impressed that it says it’s used by big names like Amazon and Evernote. Although I kind of wonder how they would go if their webinars kept crashing like ours did.
  • Music is a bit annoying.
  • Uploading keynote didn’t seem to work too well. We would have to swap to PDF to upload the content and it worked better.
  • Interface looks good.
  • Tried on mobile had to install app, then it asked me for meeting number, gave up.
  • It ‘s a little bit clunky, logging in to one site and being taken to another, the process felt a bit messy.
  • The interface for running the webinars isn’t great, a bit confusing.
  • Our recordings kept dissapearing.
  • Webinars froze up on 2 or 3 different calls and crashed. We told support but we didn’t really get anywhere.

This looked like the winner on paper but it’s not a good look having a webinar freeze up and crash. When that happens you’d pay hundreds just to have an option that worked.

4. Join.me

joinme

The guy on the right sums up how I felt after testing 8 webinar software options.

Join.me is a lightweight screen sharing tool. I wanted to look at it to see if we could use it more as a webinar tool.

Price

$38 / month for 2 presenters
$12 / month per presenter on the pro plan.

Comments

I liked the idea of having a more simpler webinar tool in theory. In practice though it didn’t work when I tested it and the features were too limited to use as a proper webinar tool. Here are my notes.

  • Supposed to be good, pro plan up to 250 attendees. The plans are a bit confusing. I had to email them to clarify their pricing and learn that they charged $12 / month per presenter.
  • When I originally tested it out, it seemed pretty good as a simple screensharing tool. I assume sharing your screen is worse on bandwidth than presenting slides though so it might not be the best way to run a webinar.
  • I couldn’t get audio working
  • Pretty simple mainly for screensharing

I was amazed at how many of these options just did not work for me on first try. I’m not really sure why. Whether it was my audio setup, or bad luck, or these apps are just inconsistent. For ones that didn’t work though and I couldn’t fix quickly, it was a major turn off. I’ll pay anything to avoid that happening on a live call.

5. Meeting Burner

meetingburner

Looked the goods. A nice design gets me every time!

Meeting Burner looked too good to be true. And was.

Price

50 attendees – $40
1,000 attendees – $99

Comments

I played with it a few times and didn’t have much joy.

  • I couldn’t hear audio.
  • I found the interface confusing. I couldn’t work out how to share my screen or upload a presentation.
  • I couldn’t see video. In fact not much seemed to work.

Again it could have been bad luck, but this one just didn’t work for me.

6. Click Webinar

clickwebinar

All these years I thought this lady was providing me customer support. The whole time she’s been running an effective webinar with ClickWebinar.

I was excited about Click Webinar but again it failed me.

Price

50 attendees – $40
100 attendees – $89
500 attendees – $160

Comments

  • Up to 4 presenters
  • Auto recording which is nice.
  • Nice looking interface.
  • Crashed when I tested it.

7. Google Hangouts

Hangouts only works for 10 people so it’s more of a meeting tool than a webinar tool.

hangouts

Still confused. Isn’t this a text messaging app?

Price

Free99

Comments

  • The interface is ok but there’s a bit too much going on. For example screen sharing needs more space to be really effective.
  • I always get confused about how to launch a hangout and get confused between hangouts and Youtube live events, and between the hangouts app which does text and the video calls. I get calls some through and they will come through on my phone but I want to take them on the computer. Overall I find the experience confusing.
  • For a small meeting with talking heads it seems like a great option. But to present content or run a larger webinar or even a 1 on 1 call I find other options better.
  • The price is right.
  • The video quality is ok but not as good as GotoWebinar.
  • I’ve tested hangouts with guys with bad connections and it crashes more than something like GTW.

8. AnyMeeting

anymeeting

Couldn’t get this one to work for us unfortunately.

AnyMeeting looked good on paper but didn’t work for me.

Price

200 attendees – FREE (Ad supported)
200 attendees- $78

Comments

  • I don’t think it scales past 200 which isn’t ideal.While we probably aren’t going to have a webinar with more than 200 people on it, I don’t like choosing software that has a ceiling on it like that.
  • Seems to run in the browser which is good.
  • Clicked the link on mobile and got some white screen of death action.
  • It couldn’t figure out how to use my microphone.
  • Couldn’t get it going on iPad.

Conclusion

Obviously creating great webinar software is a huge challenge, because I was very disappointed in most of the services I tried. GotoWebinar is not the prettiest, not the cheapest and doesn’t have the most features. But it works and in this group, that is a defining quality.

What do you think?

I’d love to know what you think of my findings, and if you’ve had any luck yourself with other webinar software options.

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About

Dan Norris is a co-founder at WP Curve and a passionate entrepreneur with an obsession for content marketing.

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