How to Select the Right Kind of Webinar Service Provider

By Sharat Sharan, John Carucci

Like choosing between fast-food restaurants and fine dining, part of the decision about your webinar provider has to do with how much you can afford or want to spend. Some are affordable enough for a small organization to take advantage of their technology, whereas others provide high-level service at a steep cost.

Then there are the freebies; they’re not full-fledged webinars, but they can come in handy if your needs are somewhat limited.

Basics of free webinar service providers

The best things in life are free; unfortunately an expansive webinar doesn’t usually fall under that category — at least, not on a permanent basis.

Signing up for a trial run from an established webinar provider, acts as cost-free alternative — at least temporarily. This comes in handy, especially when it comes to learning exactly how well the chosen service runs. Trial periods are generally limited to the number of viewers or features, but you can at least get your feet wet.

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The trial doesn’t provide a long-term solution — until you start paying, anyway. At least with the webinar trial, you’ll have access to the proper tools for conducting it, regardless if it’s limited.

Basics of on-a-budget webinar service providers

Discount webinar providers and online meeting services make it possible to hold your presentation online for a fraction of the cost of some full-webinar services, as well as some of the pricier self-service options. Again, however, remember that sometimes you get what you pay for.

If you find a webinar service that fits your needs and budget, by all means go for it. Otherwise, an online meeting service may work for your needs.

Online meeting technology is not true event technology, so it has a lot of shortcomings. It doesn’t collect the kind of data that a fuller service does by recording and assessing lead qualifications. It doesn’t allow much, if any, customization, so you’re limited in projecting your brand.

For example, you’re stuck with their landing page and webinar console look. Video capability is more limited too, so you cannot perform a sophisticated live presentation. It doesn’t offer those kinds of features.

Although these services work well for smaller-sized presentations, the collaboration technology when you get above a couple of hundred users starts to come apart for a variety of reasons.

If you put a thousand people on the phone all at once and you’re paying a dime a minute per user, the costs are going to get out of hand. You don’t have to worry about that with true event technology because you’re streaming everything.

Basics of no-limits webinar service providers

When you’re a larger organization that produces numerous webinars throughout the year, it’s often a good idea to leave the job to the professionals with few hassles. With concierge-style service, all you have to supply is the presenter. The provider does the rest.

Often the service includes a project manager that does everything from host the kick-off call to moderate the event. Essentially this level of service manages and executes every detail of the webinar for you.

Service levels rise to include sophisticated television production with post-production in the studio so that they client gets a polished video that they can use as a part of their webcasts. The approach shares a bit more in common with a television network, where you prerecord and edit top quality content and then broadcast that. That kind of service can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars.

Basics of mid-cost webinar service providers

Many webinar producers depend on service at a middle level with a lot of features and support, but few of the extra frills. It’s ideal for a medium-sized webinar in the range of a several hundred participants. When you need to step it up with additional services, say increased video capability, these services are generally available for a fee.

One step up from that are advanced service packages. For example, say a company has an event where their CEO is the presenter, but they need a little extra help to make sure all goes right. It’s not their routine type of event.

For this one, they need extra people to help, maybe to stand by and monitor the event and deal with any technical difficulties on the spot. Sometimes clients subscribe to 20 or 30 events for the year and might upgrade a couple of times to those monitoring packages for special events or maybe for their first couple of events to jump-start their service.