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As an entrepreneur, you know technology makes it easier to do business. And communication is no exception.
In 2017, the video conferencing market was valued at over $3.4 billion, and it continues to grow.
But if you’re a small business, getting started with web conferencing can be overwhelming. Yes, the right service can help you share ideas with your team and communicate professionally with clients.
However, you need to avoid poor quality video and tools that make it hard to collaborate. And if you have a larger team or intend to reach thousands with webinars, a service that limits attendees will be useless.
To help you find the right app, we have reviewed the most popular web conferencing services. Our goal? We’re here to help you identify a reliable, affordable tool, so you can host productive, professional online meetings.
- What is Web Conferencing?
- Web Conferencing Software Features
- The Best Web Conferencing Services
- Web Conferencing Service Comparison
- Wrapping Up
- Frequently Asked Questions: Web Conferencing Services
What is Web Conferencing?
Web conferencing software uses your computer or mobile device’s microphone and camera for video calls. It’s like you’re in the same room, even if you’re on opposite ends of the world.
Now, video calls aren’t a new concept — most people are familiar with Skype, one of the oldest services around.
Today, however, you have a lot more options.
Remote employees heavily use video conferencing, as well as companies working with overseas clients and customer service personnel.
Web conferencing has replaced traditional phone calls in many instances. It’s cheaper and almost as good as a face-to-face meeting.
That matters because most communication is non-verbal. Video calls allow people who are not in the same room to talk to one another without losing out on the context and meaning that body language provides.
Web Conferencing Software Features
While there are several web conferencing software services, they come with different features.
As a small business, consider premium options since they provide more functionality.
For example, Zoom offers both free and premium versions. But the free version limits you to 40-minute calls.
That might be a problem if you regularly engage in hour-long conferences. There’ll be limits on the number of hosts on the call and the number of attendees who join the call. Some calls offer HD videos.
Web conferencing software makes collaboration easier, with the following common features:
- Whiteboard, which allows you or your attendees to draw or annotate a shared screen.
- Screen sharing, so you can share with other conference attendees something on your local workstation.
- Audio conferencing, for times when an audio-only call is sufficient.
- Webinars, which allows you to present to a group while maintaining control over who can contribute (i.e., every attendee can hear you, but no one else can present during the session).
- Online meetings, which are basically scheduled conferences that include the ability for you to send out invitations and block off time on the requested attendees’ calendars.
- Mobile access or apps, so that people can participate even when on the go.
- Real-time chat, which allows people to text type during the conference. This is useful for sharing links during discussions and making notes.
Most businesses won’t need all of these features, but it can be helpful if you determine ahead of time which ones you need. This will allow you to quickly narrow down the list of web conferencing services you should consider.
The Best Web Conferencing Services
Here’s a list of some of the most popular web conferencing services.
GoToMeeting by LogMeIn offers web conferencing solutions for businesses of all sizes. GoToMeeting can be used by those with any type of computer or mobile device.
You can start or attend a GoToMeeting session using links in emails and instant messages.
If it’s your first time using the software, you may need to download it.
It’s a good idea to prep your clients or staff on how to use the service for the first time, so they don’t get too frustrated when joining the call.
GoToMeeting offers a personal meeting room that is accessible via a custom URL.
You can set up a ad hoc session for up to 25 people using high-definition feeds (though more can attend using standard streams).
Your meetings support desktop sharing, as well as collaboration using the whiteboard, chat, and drawing tools. For those who are unable to attend your meeting, you can record and store your meetings online.
While you can get by with just your computer or mobile devices, the GoToRoom option comes with hardware like speakers and monitors.
GoToMeeting offers a free, 14-day trial. Afterward, GoToMeeting costs $14 per month for up to 10 participants with an annual contract.
Cisco Webex is an enterprise-level web conferencing service.
Webex video conferencing lets you join using your device from wherever you can gain access to the internet.
The meetings come with collaboration tools like whiteboards, group messaging, and file sharing. If, however, a full video call is too much, meeting participants can dial into an audio-only call.
Webex plans begin at $13.50 per month per host.
Google’s G Suite conferencing tool, Hangouts, allows you to host video meetings that anyone can join using the provided link.
Attendees can join without having to sign up for a Google account or download the appropriate plugin.
Hangouts integrate with G Suite, so you can automatically create calendar items and include a custom link for conferencing. You can then share the invite (along with the meeting link) via email.
Hangouts support Android and iOS users. Hangouts Enterprise customers can generate a dial-in number so that people can call in with their phones.
The Basic version of G Suite, which includes Hangouts, starts at $6 per user per month.
Zoom is one of the most frequently used video conferencing services on the market.
Zoom offers online meetings, both scheduled and ad hoc using personal meeting rooms, video webinars, and conference rooms.
You’ll also get audio-only calls and instant messaging. Zoom has mobile apps for iOS and Android. You can record meetings and save to the cloud.
Zoom supports calls/meetings featuring up to 1000 video participants and 10,000 viewers. Zoom offers a basic plan free of charge, but the paid options begin at $14.99 per month per host.
Join.me is an easy-to-use online meeting option that doesn’t require the use of proprietary apps or downloads.
As a host, you can claim a personalized URL your attendees can use, customize the look of your meeting, and share your screen (or not). Join.me’s audio features are powered by OpenVoice (which charges fees for your usage).
Prices for Join.me begin at $10 for a plan that supports meetings with no more than five participants.
Consider Microsoft Teams if your team is already using Microsoft products.
Microsoft Teams is the “hub for teamwork” that you get with an Office 365 subscription.
It allows you to communicate with your colleagues via group chat, online meetings, audio-only calls, and web conferencing.
You can also use its built-in integration to collaborate on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. Teams supports additional integrations with third-party tools.
You can use Teams on any computer, as well as on iOS and Android mobile devices.
Microsoft Teams is available free of charge, and the only features that you wouldn’t have access to are related to administrative tasks and support from Microsoft.
Paid options begin at $12.50 per user per month with an annual contract.
Zoho Meeting is a meeting and webinar solution. It’s part of the Zoho Customer Relationship Management (CRM) family of tools.
While most of the other solutions on this list are geared toward collaboration among employees and business partners, Zoho Meeting focuses on client relationships.
For example, you can set up question-and-answer sessions for clients. Zoho Meeting also comes with analytics and reporting so you can measure participant engagement.
In addition to conference-related features, Zoho Meeting comes with publicity tools (useful if you are hosting webinars), as well as cloud storage for your recorded content.
You can set up meetings ahead of time, or you can start them ad hoc. Meetings can include audio and/or visual elements, as well as screen sharing.
Zoho Meeting supports users joining via computers, as well as iOS and Android devices.
Prices begin at $8 per host per month for meetings that can support up to 100 participants.
If you aren’t sure if Zoho Meetings is right for you, try their free 14-day trial.
Skype is one of the original players in the video calling game. Over the years, however, Skype has added a large number of features and functionality so that it is a viable option for both individuals and businesses, especially since the company was acquired by Microsoft.
Skype offers options for users on laptops/desktops and mobile devices, but the company also supports Xboxes and Amazon’s Alexa.
Skype features HD video calling, live subtitles, screen sharing, and recording.
You can also use Skype to call a phone, so the other party does not need Skype-issued software to communicate with you. Skype can also be used to send SMS messages and to host webinars.
Skype charges different rates for different services, so how much you pay depends on the type of calls and conferencing you need.
Web Conferencing Service Comparison
Here’s a quick glance at the pricing of the most popular web conferencing services. Keep in mind that free plans only offer limited features. If you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur who mostly has one-on-one meetings, these options may be just what you need.
For small businesses that need to accommodate larger – and longer – meetings, you might need to invest in a premium plan. Most services like Zoom and GoToMeeting provide tiered subscriptions. So, you could start off with the cheapest plan and upgrade as your business grows.
|Product||Free plan||Paid plans start at...||Ideal for...|
|GoToMeeting||Yes||$14||Businesses of all sizes|
|Cisco Webex||No||$13.50||Larger teams who do training and events|
|G Suite||No||$6||Simple video chats|
|Zoom||Yes||$14.99||Small to medium businesses|
|Microsoft Teams||Yes||$12.50||Organizations using Microsoft products|
|Zoho Meeting||No||$8||Client meetings|
|Skype||Yes||$2.99||Microsoft integrations, large teams|
We hope we’ve helped you narrow down the list of web conferencing options so that you spend your time researching only ones that will meet the needs of your business.
Remember, many options offer free trials. If you are struggling to identify the differences between two or more options, try them out to see which one you like best.
Frequently Asked Questions: Web Conferencing Services
We’ve rounded up the most common web conferencing software questions.
Do you get free web conferencing software?
Most web conferencing services offer free plans. But, you’ll get limited features. This means you may only be able to invite a certain number of attendees.
You can, for example, use Zoom to host up to 100 people for free.
What’s the best video conferencing for small business?
The best video conferencing services depends on your needs. Some services provide tools like screen sharing, whiteboard, unlimited meetings, and live subtitles.
But, they are more expensive. Services like Zoom and GoToMeeting are great for small business because they let you scale your plan as your needs grow.
Is Zoom or Skype better for web conferencing?
Whether Zoom or Skype is best for web conferencing depends on your goals, preferences, and budget. Skype provides services like video conferencing, instant messaging, and file sharing. It’s ideal if you’re using Microsoft.
Zoom provides more features for video conferencing and is known for providing high-quality streaming. Both options start with free plans you can try before you commit.