Studies on remote work benefits show that the remote workforce has increased by over 90% in the past ten years alone.

In addition to moving standard office meetings online, businesses now need online conference platforms to replace an upcoming physical event.

The most important part of learning how to host a virtual conference is selecting the right video meeting tool.

Many mistakenly believe that the transition to online conferences was a consequence of Coronavirus alone. However, studies conducted well before COVID-19 hit show that over 80% of online conference attendees wouldn’t have gone to the conference if it was an in-person event.

Choosing between the available platforms is about more than just viewer capacity and video quality. It’s about ensuring a successful virtual conference and creating unique event experiences.

 

Features To Look For in Virtual Events Platforms

Whether you’re planning to create a training webinar for internal employees or host an industry-wide conference, the right software features will determine sales outcomes and future conference attendance.

The most important features you need in these platforms include:

  • Live and pre-recorded video streaming
  • Mobile accessibility
  • Chat messaging
  • File sharing capabilities
  • Virtual whiteboards
  • Shared screen
  • Virtual waiting room
  • Breakout rooms
  • Pass presenter tool
  • Polling tools
  • App integration
  • Audio and video recording
  • In-app conference registration
  • Automated reminders
  • Q&A tools
  • Engagement analysis on attendance and lead generation
  • In-app offers
  • Integration with live streaming social media platforms
  • Active speaker view
  • AI and gamification features
  • Backgrounds to create a branded virtual environment

 

The Best Online Conference Platforms in 2020

The below face-to-face online conference platforms are the most popular digital event applications in 2020, with hundreds of thousands of worldwide users.

In addition to choosing the right software, platform-compatible hardware like video conferencing webcams and headset microphones will improve audio and video quality.

Many of these platforms also offer virtual event planning services and live event monitoring to address any unexpected tech or security issues during the online conference.

 

Cisco WebEx Events

WebEx events

Cisco WebEx Events is a browser-based software capable of hosting up to 3,000 simultaneous viewers and 200 video feeds.

Guests can access the event link via the registration email, an Apple or Android mobile device, the WebEx website, or get audio-only dial-in access. Users can join an event on Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and other browsers, or watch a live stream on Facebook or YouTube.

Events accepts registration fee payments via PayPal and credit cards. It also integrates with popular CRM tools like Salesforce and Constant Contact, as well as essential team collaboration tools like Google Drive, Slack, and Jira.

Additional features include:

  • Live and pre-recorded conferences
  • Active speaker view
  • Screen sharing
  • Event practice room
  • Automated invitations, reminders, and follow-ups
  • Event recording
  • Q&A tool
  • Polling tool
  • Survey tool
  • Pass presenter capabilities
  • Password protection
  • Public and private chat messaging
  • File and video sharing
  • Post-event surveys
  • Event data and analytics
  • Screen drawing tool
  • SSO

The only real downside to Events is that it does not offer breakout rooms. If your digital conference has 1,000 or under participants, you can use WebEx Teams or Training, which offer breakout sessions, instead of Events. It’s a good fit for conferences that have lots of different panelists, exhibitors, and sessions over the course of the day.

Events pricing is not listed on the software’s website.

 

GoToWebinarGoToWebinar software

GoToWebinar is a virtual event software created by LogMeIn, GoToMeeting’s parent company.

With over 50,000 users, it’s one of the most popular platforms. It allows event organizers to host up to 3,000 guests from their web browsers, desktop app, and Android and iPhone mobile apps.

It integrates with tools like Salesforce, Slack, and popular Slack alternatives, HubSpot, and more.

Additional features include:

  • Live and pre-recorded events
  • Event analytics and source tracking
  • Video and file sharing
  • Webinar templates
  • Custom registration page
  • Conference recording
  • Q&A, polls, and handout tools
  • Virtual whiteboarding
  • Co-hosting
  • Six simultaneous video streams
  • One-time or on-demand conference
  • Automated reminder and follow-up emails
  • Shared and annotated screens
  • Audience spotlight and view
  • Branded conference pages and virtual backgrounds

As with WebEx Events, GoToWebinar does not offer breakout rooms. However, its training software, GoToTraining, does. GoToWebinar also includes all the features of GoToMeeting for free. It’s the right choice for conferences with a high number of participants who will access the event from a variety of devices and browsers.

The software offers four paid plans, ranging in price from $49.00 per month to $399 per month.

 

WorkCast

Workcast virtual events

WorkCast is one of the top cloud-based, no-download platforms accessible on both mobile and desktop devices.

It can host up to 5,000 participants and offers live, pre-recorded, on-demand digital conferences with a maximum of three simultaneous video feeds. WorkCast integrates with PowerPoint, Marketo, Salesforce, Hubspot, and other popular CRM tools.

WorkCast is also the preferred platform for hosting an online trade show, as it allows attendees to tour virtual booths and chat with representatives.

Event management features include online and email registration and reminders, as well as live event support.

Other WorkCast features include:

  • Unlimited monthly webinars
  • Unlimited panelists
  • Event lock
  • Q&A feature
  • Dial-in access
  • Host bios
  • File, presentation, and video sharing
  • Attendance and registration reporting
  • Webinar templates
  • Live polling
  • Broadcast messaging
  • Public and private chat messaging
  • Conference recording

As of this writing, WorkCast doesn’t offer online note-taking features or breakout rooms, so you’ll need to use another online whiteboard tool. It’s best suited for conferences that rely less on audience collaboration and more on presentations alone.

WorkCast offers three paid plans ranging from $145 per month to $495+ per month. Customized plans are also available.

 

Zoom Video WebinarsZoom webinar

Zoom video webinars can host up to 50,000 viewers and a maximum of 100 live video panelists. In addition to broadcasting online conferences on YouTube Live and Facebook Live, Zoom Events also integrate with Salesforce, Marketo, and other CRM tools.

To help prevent Zoombombing, the platform is password-protected, has virtual waiting rooms, and AES-256 encryption.

Participants and panelists must install the desktop or iPhone and Android mobile app to join the event. Those that do not yet have the app installed are automatically redirected to the download page once they click on the link in the invitation. Dial-in, audio-only access is also available.

Additional features include:

  • Pass presenter features
  • File and video sharing
  • Virtual backgrounds
  • Polling and Q&A tools
  • Co-hosts
  • List of participants
  • Attendee engagement analysis
  • Reporting metrics
  • Mute/unmute
  • Screen share capabilities
  • Chat messaging
  • Closed captioning
  • Active speaker view
  • Local and cloud recording
  • Whiteboard tool

Its most valuable feature is the ability to divide attendees into breakout rooms. This helps with audience engagement and brainstorming. It’s ideal for conferences highlighting attendee collaboration, networking, and company-wide training.

Pricing for events starts at $40 per month per host.

 

ClickMeetingClickMeeting online events

ClickMeeting is a browser-based virtual event platform allowing for both live and pre-recorded online events.

It hosts up to 1,000 people, allows for an unlimited number of monthly online events, and up to 6 panelists. It has an especially high number of communication and collaboration tool integrations, including Zapier, Dropbox, Slack, Facebook and YouTube Live for a webcast, Moodle, and PayPal.

Additional features include:

  • Whiteboarding
  • Remote screen control
  • File sharing and storage
  • Whiteboard tool
  • Poll, Q&A, and survey tools
  • Chat messaging tool
  • Mobile access
  • Customizable event certificates
  • Event recording and auto-publishing settings
  • Password protection
  • Dial-in access
  • Customizable conference registration
  • Exportable PDF event reporting and analytics
  • SSL certification and GDPR compliance
  • Automated reminders and attendee feedback surveys
  • Live training and onboarding
  • Individual account manager

ClickMeeting is ideal for companies that host numerous online conferences each year, as its webinar timeline feature provides schedules, data and analytics, recordings, and more regarding past and future online events.

It has three paid plans ranging from $25 per month to $279+ per month. Add-ons include extra storage space, higher viewer limits, additional live video streams, and subaccounts.

 

BigMarkerBigMarker online event

 

BigMarker is no-download virtual event software used by top companies like Google, Hootsuite, and Panasonic.

It can host up to 1,000 people and 9 simultaneous live video streams. It also integrates with social media webcasting platforms like Facebook Live and Youtube, and can even stream online events from a company website.

It’s compatible with numerous web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. It’s also accessible on Android and Apple mobile devices.

Additional features include:

  • Live and pre-recorded video
  • Screen sharing
  • Recurring webinars
  • Whiteboard tool
  • Pre-loaded live polls with real-time results
  • Google Form surveys
  • Automatic and manual pop-up offers and CTAs
  • Webinar landing page templates
  • Customizable email invitations
  • Built-in translation
  • Payment collection via PayPal and stripe
  • Embed registration forms on the website
  • Integration with Analytics, Dropbox, Salesforce, Mailchimp, and more
  • Event recordings
  • Password protection
  • Participant list
  • Data and analytics
  • Dial-in access
  • Live chat messaging
  • Presentation and file sharing

BigMarker is best for companies that want to host virtual events on their own website, as well as for those who host recurring paid webinars as a source of revenue.

BigMarker offers three paid plans ranging in price from $79 per month to $299 per month.

 

WebinarJamWebinarJam virtual conference

WebinarJam is a cloud-based broadcasting technology with over 50,000 users.

It can host up to 5,000 viewers, six presenters, and can stream both live and pre-recorded events. WebinarJam’s two most unique features are its “Panic Button” and “Active Offer” tools.

If hosts experience a technical problem or if a meeting’s security is compromised, they simply hot the Panic Button to create a new conference room that automatically transfers all participants, files, and hosts into it.

The Active Offer feature displays not just a discount or product offered on all screens but also includes a countdown showing the time and quantities left.

Additional WebinarJam features include:

  • One-click registration
  • Handouts and live file/video sharing
  • Integrations with Zapier, Mailchimp, Constant Contact
  • Screen sharing
  • Remote screen control
  • Whiteboarding tool
  • PDF, PDG, Excel, and Google doc file compatibility
  • Chat messaging
  • Live polling, survey, and Q&A tools
  • Automatic conference recordings
  • Performance analytics

Though WebinarJam does place a four-hour maximum time limit on virtual events, it’s still the best fit for businesses especially concerned with affordable online conference platforms.

WebinarJam pricing and plans are billed annually, and range in price from $499 per year to $999 per year.

 

Video Conferencing Saves Businesses $33,000 Per Year

The digital conference platforms covered here are ideal for large-scale online events and webinars.

Smaller companies and online conferences that don’t need to host thousands of attendees will find standard online meeting and web conferencing software best suits their needs.

Our comparisons of popular software for video calls like Zoom vs WebEx break down these virtual meeting platforms’ top features, integrations, and overall user experience, allowing companies to find the perfect fit.