Web conferencing and webinars open up new opportunities to expand service delivery for businesses of all sizes. If you're looking for tools to provide a great Web conferencing experience for your employees and customers without spending a lot of money, here are five solutions to get you started.
For businesses getting their feet wet with Web conferencing, GoToMeeting is a good place to start. The service allows participants to see one another and view the other people's screens via screen share, which aids collaboration and diagnostic activities.
"With GoToMeeting, at any time, you can share your screen and turn the steering wheel over to the customer to do the work," said Bob Bentz, president of mobile marketing agency ATS Mobile.
GoToMeeting's free versionfor Google Chrome lets users connect with up to three participants without setting up an account or downloading software. The 30-day free trial allows up to 100 Web conference attendees, and includes additional features, such as drawing and recording, for businesses to try out.
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Skype, a popular tool for social video calls between friends and family, is sometimes overlooked as a Web conferencing solution. However, businesses can use Skype to connect with clients, as well as team members in different locations.
Joe Palko, chief marketing officer of e-commerce software 3dcart, said he likes Skype for business because it is cheap, and offers videoconferencing and screen sharing for many users at once.
"The call quality is amazing, and the service is easy to use," Palko said.
SlideShare and YouTube
Visual content is all the rage in online marketing today. It can also be a valuable addition to your Web conferencing toolbox.
"People have become much more visual, especially when it comes to consuming content and information from companies in both B2B and B2C relationships," said Brittney Borowicz, marketing manager of business technology firm Grid Connect Inc.
One simple way to increase your Web conference reach is by using SlideShare and/or YouTube to share slideshows and videos used in webinars. This way, people who didn't attend the conference can either watch the recordings or access the slides from the presentation.
SlideShare, owned by LinkedIn, lets users upload slideshows for free to share with the public. Paid versions of SlideShare offer analytics of the traffic to slideshows, private slideshow uploads and video uploads.
Bentz said his company repurposes the content of its previous sales dialogues, using it as the basis for webinars. After the webinar, the company uploads the presentation to SlideShare and uploads the complete webinar presentation to YouTube. Doing this will give your business a presence on both platforms, allowing you to reach a larger audience.
For a more interactive Web conferencing experience, Borowicz likes Google Hangouts.
"Google Hangouts are free for the company to use, and they stream live to
attendees," Borowicz said.
The Hangouts tool allows the company hosting the event to engage with the audience in several ways. These include allowing participants to ask questions in real time, or even bringing in another person to speak during the webinar. Companies can also connect with potential clients through Google Hangouts by hosting "how to" webinars for products and services, educational webinars about specific topics or workshops.
"The best part is, the live Hangout doesn't only play on the company's Google+ page, but on YouTube as well," Borowicz said. “This allows webinars to be saved to view again at a later time.”
Most Web conferencing and webinar tools offer a free trial version of their services. Before signing up for a paid account, test-drive the tool for free. Once you find a tool you like, search for promotional codes online to get a discount on your paid service.