How Software Enables Small Businesses to Run Their First Webinar

How Software Enables Small Businesses to Run Their First Webinar

How Software Enables Small Businesses to Run Their First Webinar 150 150

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When produced thoughtfully and run smoothly, webinars are a great way for small businesses to spread the word within the industry and among potential customers.  They also require a lot of effort and can be fraught with technical glitches, poor attendance, and general disinterest from participants—especially if the software running the webinar is too narrow or obtuse to be helpful.

Mercifully, webinar technology has come a long way since even just a few years ago, when virtual became the default and the norm. What used to require a fair amount of digital savvy can now be accomplished easily, quickly, and sometimes via automation. Small businesses launching their first webinar can expect more of a turnkey operation and few barriers to entry—plus, a host of features focused on the next webinar, and beyond.

Here’s how small businesses can enter the webinar space and utilize new technology to make a sizable impact right away:

Seek Amenable Pricing Structures

The first hurdle a small business must overcome, besides determining what their webinar should actually be about, is finding the best software for their needs. Certainly, these companies should find something that fits their needs, but they have to pay close attention to the pricing structure on offer. Running the perfect webinar requires a bit of trial-and-error, and a decent contract with a software vendor enables this level of refinement.

On first glance, most vendors will appear to have set prices not too far off their competition, placed into tiers based on maximum number of attendees. But small businesses can pay attention to how many tiers are being offered, and what the thresholds for new tiers are set at.

For example, Zoho Webinar plans start at 100 participants in its free tier and each step roughly doubles those totals—250, 500, and so on, up to 5,000 maximum. Salesforce, however, promotes a few tiers at 100 participants and some at 300, but companies have to contact their sales department for higher numbers, maxing out at 1,000.

Small businesses looking to run their first webinar should prioritize vendors with the highest number of tiers available. Each represents a point of flexibility available to a small business who may have under- or overestimated their webinar needs. The last thing they would want is to stretch their already limited budget to pay for webinar spots they aren’t using. Along those lines, it’s essential for small businesses to find vendors offering flexible contract terms referred to as, “land and expand”—enabling adjustments to plans without incurring additional fees or needing to fulfill an arbitrary timeframe.

Vendors who offer sub-100 person plans are also highly desirable to small businesses. Yes, growing a webinar’s attendance is quite the coup, but there’s more to evolution than size. (Otherwise, we’d be toiling in the undersea gardens of our Blue Whale supreme overlords.) A successful webinar might inspire a curated series of small virtual events for C-suite executives, or team members may be inspired to run their own. Most importantly, successful virtual events often endeavor to be successful in-person events, perhaps with a modest virtual component or supplement. Flexible plan sizes in both directions enable small businesses to think creatively without being taxed for it.

Keep Participants on Their Toes

Despite gaining prevalence during the pandemic, virtual calls and meetings still feel like a poor substitute for in-person events, collaboration, or conversations. The option persists, however, because video conferencing remains cheap and accessible, enabling folks to attend events they may otherwise have skipped. Unfortunately, this also means that small businesses running webinars have to contend with the chaos in the lives of their attendees; it’s far too easy to minimize a window versus leaving a live session-in-progress.

Thanks to software updates, companies running webinars have an array of engagement tools at their disposal to help avoid some of the issues above. Small businesses can look for webinar software that enables interaction in-the-moment; current options include polls, reactions, instant hand-offs for screen sharing, and the ability to collect questions for a rousing back-and-forth.

In fact, small businesses might want to lean into the adaptability of the virtual format and allow participants to set some of the agenda on-the-fly or provide them ample opportunities to interface with executives (who are also more likely to attend these sorts of events). Offer participants agency, and they will remain glued to their screens.

Respect Privacy First and Foremost

A single successful webinar can be a boon to a small business’s reputation, but a single security issue can make that goodwill disappear. The concept of “Zoom bombers” speaks to a larger truth: Participants are placing a lot of trust in the small business to protect the personal information they supplied, including anything said during a presentation.

Modern webinar software comes equipped with protection from modern annoyances. Certainly, small businesses can check a potential vendor to ensure they offer the all-important acronyms—GDPR compliant, SO/IEC 27001(international compliances), etc.—but they should look beyond the features and note how the vendor treats its data center. As the SaaS space has grown, vendors have adopted a few different means of hosting data. Sometimes, it lives in the cloud; other times, the work is outsourced to a third party who maintains data for a fair number of clients. Neither of these scenarios instills much confidence, especially if webinar attendees have to download new software to attend.

Instead, for the sake of offering the strongest protection, small businesses should find vendors who host their own data centers. Take Zoho, for example. The company hosts data centers around the world, ensuring compliance across regions and operation within a closed system that can be monitored and fixed instantaneously, eliminating the possibility a new threat will sneak by before an update can occur. Additionally, recordings and transcriptions of sessions are protected from the vendor’s eyes for even more privacy.

Small businesses must operate against the highest privacy standards if they want to stand out in a crowded field primed for issues.

Ready to Launch

The right software vendor not only enables small businesses to easily enter the webinar game but can provide support both before and after the webinar concludes. New software can automate social media posting and the chopping up of videos to potentially put on YouTube. What it can’t help SMBs with, unfortunately, is what to say during the webinar itself. For that, small businesses are on their own, though the right software functionality and contract terms will be ready once they are.

Este artículo, "How Software Enables Small Businesses to Run Their First Webinar” fue publicado por primera vez el Tendencias de las pequeñas empresas


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