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Virtual conference platforms can help your business to host events that are powerful marketing and profit-building tools, but the platform has to be right for your needs to be effective. We carefully reviewed the best virtual conference platforms against four main criteria. We found that BigMarker’s overall versatility and functionality make it the best choice for most businesses. We’ve also included our top picks for other specific conferencing needs.
The Best Virtual Conference Platforms for Most
Thanks to its impressive versatility and wide array of capabilities, BigMarker is the best virtual conference platform for most businesses. This platform not only supports a more traditional virtual conference but also offers solutions that create more tailored experiences.
BigMarker’s multiple event type offerings are backed up by features that create an ideal experience for both hosts and audiences. Integrations with popular CRMs help a business to save time and maximize the leads it receives from an event. BigMarker is even equipped with a full suite of marketing materials, from a landing page builder to email campaigns.
The Best Virtual Conference Platform Options to Consider
- BigMarker – Best for Most
- Zoom Video Webinars – Best for Conferences with Lots of Panelists
- WebinarJam – Best for Avoiding Technical Issues
- Run The World – Best for New Hosts
- Whova – Best for Audience Interaction
When It Makes Sense to Invest Into a Virtual Conference Platform
Deciding when to invest in a virtual conference platform will largely depend on your business’s current conference hosting needs and your long-term goals. It’s possible to host a basic, shorter conference on a webinar platform, but those platforms lack the features and functionality of a true virtual conference platform.
Investing in a conference platform means a business can host longer, more interactive, and more functional conferences with options like breakout rooms, virtual trade shows, and more. These types of platforms are essential for virtual conferences that are monetized, and they create a more professional appearance than relying on a program that’s truly intended only for webinars.
If your business is serious about hosting professional, highly attended virtual conferences, then it’s time to invest in a platform that will support those types of events.
#1 – BigMarker — The Best for Most
BigMarker offers excellent virtual event capacity that’s suitable for both smaller businesses and larger corporations. It’s a no-download software that’s easy to use and compatible with browsers like Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.
BigMarker features 15 different virtual event modules, so you can choose the exact type of experience that you want to create. These modules include options like an expo booth, lobby, networking, and main stage setting, so you’re creating the atmosphere for your event before it even starts.
This flexible platform supports a wide variety of events, including not only traditional conferences and conventions, but also customer summits designed for thought leadership and engagement, and virtual trade shows full of immersive content to drive sales.
Other perks include:
- Integration with CRM and marketing platforms like Salesforce, Hubspot, and Mailchimp
- Pop-up offers that you can set for any time during the presentation to drive conversions
- Interactive videos with polls, Q&A sessions, and more
- An array of marketing features including analytics, email campaigns, and a landing page builder
- The ability to run pre-recorded webinars as if they’re live to drive more leads
- White label webinars, training, and workshops that are custom-built for your branded platform
BigMarker offers Starter, Elite, Premier, and White Label pricing plans. Webinar and video software at the Starter level includes 100 attendees and 1 host license and starts at $79 per month. The Elite plan, which includes 500 attendees and 2 host licenses, starts at $159 per month. BigMarker offers a seven-day free trial.
#2 – Zoom Video Webinars — The Best for Conferences with Lots of Panelists
When it comes to supporting online events and webinars with many panelists, Zoom Video Webinars wins out against any other platform. This platform supports 100 or more live panelists, allowing them to share audio, video, and screens for a more collaborative experience. This is ideal for large panels, thought leadership conferences, brainstorming events, and more.
Zoom Video Webinars offers impressive capacity in other areas. It can support up to 50,000 live participants and, with features like studio effects and the ability to share video and screens simultaneously, you can tailor and custom design your presentations to be exactly what you need.
Other features, like an audience chat and Q&A session, help to make personal connections even with larger audiences. Once you’ve found the perfect settings for your conference, you can save them as a template to easily use them again in the future.
Other top benefits of this platform include:
- Integrations with Salesforce, PayPal, Marketo, and more
- Two-factor authentication and the ability to block and remove attendees
- Up to 50,000 live participants and the ability to live stream to an unlimited audience
- Detailed analytics and audience engagement reports
- Even consultants and AV production experts are available to work with you to plan, rehearse, and provide live support to your conference or webinar
Zoom Video Webinar offers plans based on the number of attendees, making it a cost-friendly option for both large and small businesses. Plans start at $400 a year and reach up to $24,900 a year. Monthly and annual billing is available.
#3 – WebinarJam — The Best for Avoiding Technical Issues
There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a virtual conference, only to encounter a technical issue that shuts the entire operation down. That’s why WebinarJam has a plan to prevent that from happening.
WebinarJam’s Panic Button acts as an emergency plan B. If your conference encounters a technical issue, like a lost connection or a serious audio program, you can press the Panic Button and reboot the room. All of your attendees and hosts will be able to see the new broadcast within 10 to 15 seconds, and you can continue on without serious interruption.
WebinarJam is a browser-based platform that doesn’t require any downloads. It features a handy one-click registration and supports both free and paid webinars.
This platform is full of features that allow you to tailor the conference experience to your brand and your expectations. Some of the top benefits of this platform include:
- The ability to password-protect a room
- Polls, surveys, and active offers to enhance a presentation
- A control room so staff can manage a conference as it runs
- Easy file sharing with attendees right through the platform
- The ability to hand-write notes on slides during a presentation
- A full page builder and email capabilities for promotion
- Real-time analytics
- Integrations with CRMs and autoresponders
WebinarJam plans start at $499 per year for 500 attendees, and they range up to $999 per year for 5,000 attendees. The number of webinars you can host is unlimited, offering a particularly good value for businesses that host multiple conferences and webinars each year.
WebinarJam offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
#4 – Run The World — The Best for New Hosts
Run The World offers plenty of functionality but is also designed to be highly easy to use. As a result, it’s an ideal choice for hosts and businesses who are just getting started with virtual events.
With Run The World, all of your conference preparation work will stay within this one platform. Tools are available for everything from establishing your branding to facilitating networking and ensuring sponsors get their moment in the spotlight.
While Run The World is user-friendly and easy to navigate, it doesn’t sacrifice functionality. Options like managing multi-track events and hosting VIP meetups, cocktail parties, and round table group discussions mean you’ll still have the ability to make your conference just what you want it to be.
Other benefits of the platform include:
- Customizable registration invitation pages and surveys
- Custom branding theme colors
- The ability to create emails and to download insights
- Networking opportunities including 1:1 chat and post-event group sessions
- Sessions supporting up to 10,000 attendees
- Live Q&A and integrated polling
- The ability to download event recordings
- Sponsor tools including shoutouts, booths, and insights
Run The World offers four plans, including a free option that supports events with up to 50 attendees. This free plan is ideal for businesses who are exploring their first small-scale virtual conference. Custom plans are also available.
#5 – Whova — The Best for Attendee Interaction
Whova moves beyond the basic virtual conference platform and allows for enhanced attendee engagement. Hosts can interact with the audience with live Q&A sessions, polls, and chats. Gamification options like photo and caption contests help to drive audience participation for greater interaction. The platform also has a leaderboard, and hosts can offer prizes to attendees who are the most active.
Whova also facilitates community building, giving attendees more opportunities to participate and engage with the content presented and with other attendees. Both organizers and attendees can create virtual meet-ups, while a community board of discussions helps to start conversations and drive engagement.
Other features like the video and text options let attendees easily start conversations. Network Tables facilitate networking in a speed dating style, so attendees can meet and engage with others. These connections ensure your conference has a long-lasting, meaningful impact after the event is over.
Whova is a highly comprehensive, powerful platform. Other top features include:
- Compatibility with both live-streamed and pre-recorded video events
- Digital booths for sponsors and exhibitors
- Live demonstrations
- The ability to offer exclusive content to tiered tickets
- An onboarding hour-long meeting for your staff
- A tech support team ready to help with troubleshooting needs
In addition to virtual events, Whova also supports hybrid and in-person events.
Whova doesn’t publish its prices. You’ll need to submit a price quote request for a customized quote.
Methodology for Choosing the Best Virtual Conference Platforms
No one virtual conference platform is right for every business. Depending on the type of conference you’re hosting, you’ll likely have specific needs for a platform, whether that’s a demand for audience engagement-building features or the need for a high-capacity option that supports many conferences per year.
That’s why we’ve used multiple specific criteria when evaluating the best virtual conference platforms. By considering which criteria matter most to you, you can choose the platform that’s right for your business.
A single business might host one conference for 100 attendees one week, then host a 50,000-attendee conference the week after. Effective virtual conference platforms need to be able to support both options and to do so equally well.
When evaluating a platform’s capacity, that isn’t just restricted to attendee numbers. Capacity also extends to the number of presenters and hosts, the number of conferences supported per month or per year, and the maximum duration of each conference.
A platform that allows for high-capacity conferences isn’t always automatically the right option for a business. That higher capacity often comes with higher prices, so it’s important to choose a platform that strikes a balance between the capacity a business needs and a price that it can afford.
No one conference platform or template will be right for every business, so the option to customize your conferences within the platform is essential. From customizable branding to tailoring the platform for the exact atmosphere that you want to create, these options can enhance–or restrict–your conference.
In most cases, the more control that a host has over a conference, the better the experience will be for both the host and attendees. Platforms that give hosts controls like the ability to mute, block, or remove attendees are essential. Other important controls include the ability to share screens, mute and unmute presenters, and create breakout rooms for attendees.
Ease of Use
A platform can offer extensive features, but unless they’re easy to use, they’ll go largely overlooked. We considered only relatively user-friendly platforms that are equipped with helpful support and guides to get you set up and running.
Ease of use is also reflected in platforms that help with more than just the conference creation. Many of our top picks feature complimentary features, like marketing tools, that make the background work of establishing and promoting a webinar easier.
An effective virtual conference platform is more than just a conference hosting service. It needs to provide your business with the specific functions you need to make the most of your conference, like the ability to separate attendees into breakout rooms or the ability to create a custom, virtual trade show. Our top picks are designed to elevate your virtual conference so that it’s as close to the experience of an in-person conference as possible.
The highly versatile BigMarker is the best option for most businesses, and it can be tailored to create highly customized conferences for specific audiences and goals. We’ve also selected several other platforms that are ideal for more specific needs, like high-volume conferences or the ability to drive attendee interaction.