Google Hangout Webinar WP Plugins

Google Hangout Webinars –

Which Platform is best?Hangouts on air

Unless you’ve been living in a cave recently, you can’t help but have noticed how many new Platforms and WP Plugins have been launched which turn your Google Hangout into a webinar.  The fact that there are now so many of them shows that this is the way things are going – Webinars are definitely the future!!  I’ve been looking at as many as I can of the most popular ones to see if I can determine which is ‘best’.

Before I get onto which of them is ‘the best’ though, the first thing to address is the question ‘Do I need one?’  The answer to that is yes and no!  No, in that you can use Google Hangouts very successfully as a webinar without getting a platform or plugin at all and this would save money for those who are just beginning with their business and where cashflow is tight.  Yes – in that quite simply, it’s much easier with a plugin and you get some extra benefits – particularly when it comes to the marketing and analytics.

Why you don’t need a plugin

First of all, many of the benefits advertised in these plugins are features of Google Plus and you don’t need a plugin to get these:

  • Unlimited webinars
  • Unlimited attendees
  • Co-present with up to 10 presenters
  • Ability to show a slide presentation/share desktop/browser/webcam
  • Watch from your own site using an embed code
  • Branding overlay (using lower third)
  • There is a chat facility already within Hangouts, so this can be used very easily without any plug-ins.
  • Auto-recording

There’s no doubt that Google Hangouts are awesome!  The only problem with them is the time delay, which can be up to 45 seconds.  This means that if you want interaction and you ask a question that you want your audience to answer (such as ‘type yes if you can relate to what I’m saying’) because they hear it about 45 seconds after you’ve said it, you have to wait that long before the answers start to show and you’re able to respond.

I believe that once Google has sorted out this time delay (and I think they will), they will be very, very hard to beat and the plugins that turn them into webinars with all of the marketing features will be brilliant.

What The Plug-Ins Offer Beyond Hangouts

  • Easy to set up Registration Pages
  • The ability to register from your website
  • Social Sharing so your webinar goes ‘viral’
  • Automatic E-mail reminders
  • Mailing List compatible (GoToWebinar is not good at this!)
  • The ability to charge a fee
  • Text alerts
  • Pop Up Offers
  • More advanced analytics

Let’s look at these in turn

Registration Pages, Thank You Pages and Reminders

The  plug-ins offer easy to set up registration pages that integrate with your autoresponder.

However, if you have Optimize Press (1 or 2), Lead Pages, Infusionsoft or some other software that has templates, you can set up your Registration page, thank you page, social sharing and reminders very easily yourself – and this automatically means that your webinar or Hangout will be mailing list compatible.

You simply set your webinar registration page up in exactly the same way that you would an optin page for a free e-book.  Then, set up a thank you page on which you put the joining instructions and social sharing buttons.  Set up a series of e-mails reminding people to join the webinar.  (The exception here is that you may be limited to the day and unable to send at a specific hour depending on your autoresponder)

Once the webinar has taken place, you can send out a broadcast with a link to the replay.

You can make this available on your website by just embedding the sign up form on one of your pages.

 

Charging a Fee

You can charge a fee simply by making it a ‘buy now’ button instead of a ‘register now’ button.  When the buyer goes through the PayPal process, they get taken to your Thank You page with the joining instructions and they get added to your list so that all the reminders, replays etc can be sent out.

Analytics

You can get a basic set of analytics from your auto-responder that will track opens, clicks etc.  However, it has to be said that the plugins offer more advanced analytics.
What the Plug-Ins Offer That is Unique

First of all, it has to be said that using a plugin will make the whole thing a lot quicker and easier than doing it yourself.  There are some other benefits that you probably won’t be able to do yourself without in-depth technical help (if then).

  • E-Mail reminders 8 hours and/or 1 hour before the webinar
  • Incentives to share details of your webinar.  While you can put social sharing buttons on your thank you page, the plug-ins offer an incentive that can only be ‘unlocked’ once they have shared your webinar – either by e-mail to a set number of friends, or by sharing on Facebook or Twitter.  This is a really great feature.
  • Text alerts – you can get the plugin to send these
  • Pop Up Offers – these are a brilliant marketing tool and quite frankly are what would make it worth investing in a plugin, along with the ease of setup.
  • More advanced analytics – another great tool for the more serious who want to test and measure their results.
  • A ‘frame’ around your Hangout that looks more professional and can be branded.  The chat with the plugins also looks more funky and it can usually be seen directly below the hangout window.
  • Automated webinars – currently only through certain webinar plugins such as Webinar Ignition

These extra marketing bells and whistles along with the ease of set up mean that the plugins are a good buy if you can spare the cash.  However, they are not totally essential if you’re in start-up mode and cash is tight.

Now – for which platform or plugin!

The main ones which I’ve come across lately are:

  • Webinar Jam by Mike Filsaime and Andy Jenkins – not a plugin but a stand alone platform using Hangouts
  • Easy Webinar by Casey Zeman
  • Webinar Ignition by Mark Thompson
  • Webinar Express (It’s not currently being marketed but many bought this when it was offered by Mark Thompson last year and would like to know the difference)

There are others, and I don’t assume to know about them all, but these are the ones that have been brought to my attention over the past few months.

I haven’t bought all of these so can currently only give you my observations from their marketing information. If anyone owns them, I would love your thoughts in the comments box. I have Webinar Express and this gives me access to Webinar Ignition but I haven’t checked it out in full yet.  I will post again once I’ve had the chance.

They all offer all the benefits listed above with the exception of Paid Webinars and Automated Webinars.

The main difference that I can see is that Webinar Jam does not require a plug in but uses its own hosted platform and it advertises that you can charge a fee for your webinars, whereas I can’t see this in the others so far (Doesn’t mean it isn’t there – I will investigate this further).  Although you can charge for webinars by setting them up yourself – this would be so much easier to do via the platform.

Webinar Ignition is the only one I see so far advertising Automated webinars and not just live ones using the Hangouts technology.  This is a great feature.  However Mike Filsaime is the guy who created Evergreen Business Systems automated webinars, so if Webinar Jam doesn’t have it yet, I reckon it could be on the cards!

So – unless you specifically want to charge for your webinars or if you don’t want the hassle of installing a plug-in (in which case it looks like Webinar Jam is most appropriate) or you want to run automated webinars (in which case, Webinar Ignition is looking good), it all comes down to price and who you trust to do business with!

Pricing

Webinar Jam is $297 per year – unlimited licence
Easy Webinar is $297 one off payment for 10 sites or $397 for a commercial licence – unlimited sites and you can use it for client sites
Webinar Ignition is $97 for a basic 1 site licence (Live only) or $197 for a Pro licence which gives you 3 site usages and automated webinars or $297 for unlimited sites and automated webinars. All Webinar Ignition prices are one-time price not yearly.  Anyone who bought Webinar Express will get automatic access to Webinar Ignition Pro.  E-mail support@webinarignition.com  with your Webinar Express details and you will be sent new login details to download and install Webinar Ignition.

Webinar Express – you can’t currently buy this, although I understand that Anthonly Devine is currently developing it further and it will be re-offered again very soon.  (I gather current users will get upgrades)

 

So – not much to choose between them! Choose on how many sites you need to run webinars from, whether or not you want to build these for clients, and which features you want to use (paid webinars or automated).  Also note that Webinar Jam is a YEARLY payment where the others are one off payments.

This is by no means an extensive review – I can only go by what I have bought and used plus my research and the feedback I’ve got from others.

I’ve bought Webinar Express and like the ease of setting up Registration pages and the viral sharing.  I’ve got my login details for Webinar Ignition and will give you the verdict once I’ve set it up and used it.

Please do check out each of the sites for yourself before purchasing, but I hope I’ve given you an idea on the similarities, what the main differences are and what to look for.

Why Other Platforms are worth looking at

One of the main reasons I don’t currently use Hangouts for webinars is because of the broadcast time delay, which makes questions awkward.  Plus, at the very beginning you have to wait until your Hangout is up and running before you can give everyone the link to join.  This can be tricky and added stress for beginners.

Also – right now, I don’t have to worry about needing space for more than 1,000 on my webinars!  Also, the cost of other platforms can be quite low for 100 – 500 attendees.  Get my free webinar platform comparison report if you haven’t already done so.
Free Platform Report

However, Hangout based webinars are certainly worth considering and, it seems, the bigger you get the more you’re likely to need them!

I will be doing more research and putting together an updated platform review shortly.  Please do let me know your experiences, so I can add these to my research and reviews.

Happy Webinars!

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