Many webpreneurs need to get the word out about their site, but don’t know where to start. It can be costly to run ads on various sites and newsletters only get you so far. For those who have a wealth of knowledge, hosting free webinars can draw in new visitors to a website, with only a small time and financial investment. The goal of the webinar is to teach potential customers and help them discover your website or blog or product.
Webinars are hosted in a virtual environment, but combine the elements of audio, visual and participant interaction to create a one-of-a-kind experience. Hosting a few of these events each year can allow you to give back to current customers who might have questions and introduce your services to new customers who are simply interested in the topic you’re presenting.
If the technology of putting together a webinar seems a bit daunting, don’t worry. There are several services that have perfected the online live seminar and can help you get up and running quite easily. You’ll need a good microphone and a webcam.
Choose a Service
There are numerous webinar creation services. To make the process a bit easier for you, we’ve reviewed them and come up with the top five. The top five were chosen for ease of use, cost effectiveness, availability of customer service and reputation.
Conduct meetings or webinars for up to 1,000 people for one flat rate. While the rates for this service are a bit pricey, it is the easiest to set up if you don’t have experience using webinars. It also seemed worthy of listing because GoToWebinar offers a 30-day free trial if you want to give it a whirl before committing. This software is easy to set-up. They advertise it as something that can be done without an IT person in minutes. You may need a little longer if you aren’t as tech savvy as some, but should still be able to follow the step-by-step instructions and get started in less than 30 minutes.
The first step is to schedule your webinar. At GoToWebinar, they offer a complete solution that also promotes your upcoming online even by sending out invitations. You can also send out a reminder just before the event, so that people don’t register and then forget to attend. This program allows you to go in and practice your webinar so you don’t start the presentation completely inexperienced. You can practice as much as you need to in order to become familiar with the software and feel comfortable presenting your live webinar.
With this software, you can:
Interact with attendees in a small chat box area
Hear those who enable their microphones
Present materials online or that you’ve uploaded beforehand
Keep order by having participants to raise their hands to ask questions
Take polls throughout the session
Create follow-up e-mails to help increase sales or get participants engaged in other activities available through your site
Pricing is based on the number of participants. You can pay month-to-month, but if you plan to offer a monthly webinar, the annual plan will save you money. The cost varies from $49 for up to 25 participants to up to $499 for 1,000.
This is a lesser known online webinar system, but fairly simply to use. It is also integrated with a PayPal payment system, if you’d like to charge for your webinars or offer more in-depth webinars after your initial free webcast. Instant Presenter records your webinars and they can be played back later. They offer daily live demos Monday through Friday, if you’d like to see how the software works. With this software, you can:
Upload and share files
Streamline with PowerPoint files
Utilize the whiteboard
Utilize online registration forms
Integrate with social media like Facebook and Twitter
Get training on how to use the live webinar system
Pricing is also based on the number of attendees. As with other online software programs, if you pay for an annual plan, you’ll save about 20 percent. The cost for month-to-month for 25 attendees is $39, and for 100 is $99. For 500 or more attendees, phone customer support for pricing. Instant Presenter offers a 14-day free trial.
Microsoft LyncOnline is a very inexpensive solution, but offers less support and out-of-the-box options than some of the pricier alternatives. If you plan to offer your webinars for free and are just starting out, you might be on a tight budget. In that case, it can make sense to use something like LyncOnline. You can always upgrade to advanced software as your business grows or your webinars increase in popularity. Keep in mind that different software works on different versions of windows, Microsoft also utilizes Meeting Space, Live Meeting or NetMeeting. The concept is similar enough that the description below can apply to all formats.
Some of the features available in Live Meeting include:
Can upload earlier and then present documents during the meeting
Live audio and video feed capabilities
Enhanced instant messages
Team site where you can share content with others
LyncOnline has a free 30-day trial, so it might pay to try it out and make sure it has all the features you want before making a commitment. Pricing runs $6 per month for 25 participants or less and $20 for larger groups.
If you don’t mind a bit of advertising, this is a free webinar hosting solution that might be a good place to start on your adventure into online conference. Up to 200 attendees can participate in your web conference for free, but there will be ads. If you prefer no ads, AnyMeeting has options for that, but it will cost you a little.
This is an easy program to set up. It has many of the features of the more expensive webinar hosting sites, including:
Promote your meetings on Facebook and Twitter
Share what’s on your screen
Upload and share files
Record meetings and share with others
Interact with attendees in real time
Send follow-up e-mails
Try the free version of AnyMeeting to get started. If you’d like to get rid of the ads, you can have up to 25 attendees to unlimited meetings for only $17.99 per month or up to 200 attendees and unlimited meetings for $69.99 per month.
The promise of a free webinar can draw visitors to your site to register for this free information, but even better is when you can record the live session and continue to offer it after the fact. Whether you upload it to YouTube as an additional promotional medium, or you offer it when new subscribers sign up for your newsletter, a webinar is an inexpensive marketing solution.
Article by Lori Soard
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.