Webinars vs Online Meetings

by Guest Expert

Webinars are definitely becoming more popular, and not just with infopreneurs. I'm seeing many businesses use webinars, not only for training and education, but also for marketing.

If you haven't yet got into webinars, you really should. But one of the most difficult decisions is choosing a webinar provider, especially as there seems to be somebody new cropping up practically every week! And occasionally you'll see a provider drop off the perch (as happened recently with the popular DimDim service, after it was bought by Salesforce.com).

I've seen and evaluated a whole bunch of webinar providers, and I can say that they really are all different. So you need to think carefully to choose the right one for your needs, and only take somebody else's advice if they truly understand your needs.

So I can't give you a recommendation here (Sorry)!

But I can give you one piece of advice that will help you narrow down your search.

Think carefully about whether you want to run webinars or on-line meetings.

Webinars and on-line meetings have many things in common, and some people use the terms interchangeably. For example, they might both have multiple participants, control over microphones and screen sharing.

But there's one big difference, and it might (or might not) be important to you:

If you're using webinar software, it not only manages the webinar itself, but also supports stuff that happens before and after the webinar.

I use GoToWebinar from Citrix for my webinars. It delivers an excellent experience during the webinar itself, but so does pretty much any on-line meeting service. The difference is that GoToWebinar also helps me before and after the webinar:

  • Before the webinar you can create a promotional page
  • When people register, you can ask them to submit questions
  • The software automatically sends reminders in the weeks and days leading up to the webinar
  • Immediately after the webinar, you can ask participants to fill in a survey
  • You can send automatic follow-up e-mails to those who attended
  • You can send automatic follow-up e-mails to those who didn't attend

In brief, it automates a lot of the pre- and post- work for a webinar. You basically just set up each webinar once, and GoToWebinar takes care of all this other stuff for you.

Not everybody needs this, but it's extremely useful if you're running a lot of webinars (as I am). If you're planning to run webinars regularly, I think you will find this useful as well.

Most of these other services are for on-line meetings, so they don't offer those features. For many people, that doesn't matter, because they aren't running a lot of webinars, so they just want a convenient way to run the occasional on-line meeting. But if you're planning to do a lot of webinars, these additional features become very handy.

That's why I recommend GoToWebinar to most of my clients (after assessing their needs). I don't do it because I get paid a commission (I don't!), but because it really does suit their needs better than most on-line meeting software.

Gihan Perera
www.gihanperera.com


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