You’ve brainstormed some stellar ideas for your virtual conference — even reached out to potential guests to speak at your event. And they’re showing interest, as are your stakeholders!
But hang on, what about the virtual event platform you’d use to host your online gathering?
Tough call? Truth be told: despite the variety out there, it can be challenging to trust a tool for meeting all your requirements while offering attendees a remarkable (and error-free) event experience.
Thankfully though, there are tools with friendly customer support teams that can help you host your dream virtual event — be it a multi-day conference, a live training workshop, or a webinar. You only need to find that gem.
In this guide, we’ll help you do just that as I dive into the six best platforms for virtual events. These pros and cons rare based on testing a handful of these software and sifting through tons of third-party reviews of these platforms.
With that, let’s dig in:
In this article
What to look for in a virtual conference platform
Before we dive into the best platforms for virtual events, let’s first highlight what makes a good tool for hosting online events by reviewing must-have features.
Make sure you bookmark this piece so you can refer to this list of features when selecting your ideal virtual event platform:
Plenty of useful and easy integrations
Integrations with your CRM and email software, for example, are crucial for sending personalized event invites and converting attendees into loyal customers.
A user-friendly interface makes it simple for you to navigate the software, explore its features, and drive the most value from it. It also means you can get the platform up and running yourself — no outside help needed.
Your event’s audio and video quality directly impact attendees’ experience, encouraging them to stay till the end. Make sure the software you choose offers HD quality streaming, has no performance complains, and also lets you download the content in high-quality.
Make sure the virtual event platform offers you in-depth data on who is watching, how long they’re watching, how they’re engaging with your content, and similar. This data will help you host better virtual conferences and convert attendees better.
Dynamic audience engagement tools
Hosting polls, quizzes, and Q&As are all essential tools for interacting with your audience and for improving their experience. The platform you select should offer these tools alongside letting you create breakout rooms for promoting attendee-to-attendee networking.
Proactive customer support
Lastly, ensure the software’s support team is quick and helpful in answering questions you have. One way to gauge the software team’s helpfulness is to question them about the tool pre-purchase and during the free trial. The way their answer your queries will speak volumes about the way they treat their prospects and customers.
6 best virtual event platforms (based on in-depth reviews and user testimonials)
Now for a list of the top online conference platforms:
With every tool, I’ve shared its core functionality, who it’s best for, where the tool wins, and its cons based on what its users share on third-party sites like G2 and Gartner.
1. Vimeo Events
Vimeo Events is an easy-to-use, browser-based virtual event platform suitable for event marketers with any level of familiarity with hosting virtual events.
You, your guest speakers, and event attendees don’t need to download any additional software to set up, create, and join an event with Vimeo.
What’s more, it’s suitable for hosting all types of virtual events — from company-wide townhalls to product demos, workshops, and webinars. Use it to go live, either on one platform or multiple platforms (technically called simulcasting to various channels at once), and/or pre-build your event by including pre-recorded videos and graphics.
- Vimeo Events helps throughout your event creation and promotion workflow. Connect the platform with your CRM and email marketing software to create branded registration forms, send automated event invites, event confirmation and reminder emails, and nurture engaged attendees post the event.
- Offers advanced analytics to help you improve your event marketing strategy. Once the event wraps, Vimeo gives you detailed event- and viewer-level analytics that tell you who attended, how much they watched, and how they engaged throughout the event.
- Helps you create a branded viewing experience. Use the drag-and-drop interface to add full-screen graphics, lower thirds to intro speakers, and custom branding.
- Offers tools to prompt viewers to interact with you. These include audience engagement tools like interactive polls, Q&A, and chat (one that you can moderate).
- Gives you the video editing and hosting toolkit to repurpose event content. Use Vimeo to trim, edit, add chapters, and polish your virtual event recording and share to different marketing channels.
- Not designed for internal meetings the way Zoom and other meeting software are. Vimeo Events is better for webinars, virtual venues, town halls, and more.
- Vimeo Events is a newer virtual event experience platform, so it doesn’t have the same brand recognition as the established players in the space.
Best-known for hosting on-one-on meetings, Zoom lets you host digital events as well. It’s best for creators and small business marketers who want to monetize virtual events.
- Zoom plays a vital role in pre-event prep work. For instance, you can use it to create branded event registration pages and a customized viewing frame.
- Gives you plenty of tools to engage attendees and let them interact with each other and your sponsors.
- Setting up and creating a webinar in Zoom is easy — especially for those already familiar with the tool.
- Average video quality. Where HD video quality (1080p) is standard, Zoom offers 720p for two or more attendees at a conference. You’ll need to pay more for hosting virtual events in HD video.
- Joining a virtual event hosted with Zoom isn’t exactly seamless. It’s best for new users/attendees to come in 5 minutes early to download and set up the app. For event organizers, this translates to poor attendee experience.
- Zoom is costly for hosting conferences with a large audience, rendering it unsuitable for scaling events with this platform.
- Lack of control options for hosts. Zoom offers no way for hosts to moderate chat comments on the fly — something you need to be mindful of in case of public events.
Zoom’s pricing depends on the number of attendees joining your event. To give you a rough idea, pricing for a 100-people event starts at $990 per year.
Read more about Zoom
Hopin lets event marketers across the board host as many people as they want. Like Zoom, its pricing depends on the number of attendees, which can make it costly to scale up with this platform. But where it wins over Zoom is in offering comment moderator capabilities.
- Hopin offers a branding studio so you can customize your event registration page and virtual event venue.
- Provides moderation capabilities and makes it easy for multiple speakers to join.
- Comes with a mobile app so guest speakers and attendees can join and engage from their mobile devices.
- Event analytics aren’t in-depth.
- There are no tools to repurpose and reuse content from your virtual events.
- A handful of users complain about audio and video performance issues in events hosted by Hopin. One user even notes, “I don’t like performance issues with audio or video. People who don’t have a good internet connection experience some lag problems. This [doesn’t] happen with other alternative solution[s].”
There’s a free plan available that lets one admin host 2-hour long events for up to 100 attendees. For more, pricing plans are gated.
4. GoTo Webinar
GoTo Webinar is best for creators and small businesses hosting small events — up to 3,000 attendees, which is less than what Vimeo, Hopin, and Zoom offer.
It’s also a good choice for creators or solo-business owners conducting paid training workshops as GoTo Webinar directly connects with Stripe, letting you receive payments.
- GoTo Webinar offers audience engagement tools including polls and Q&A. Hosts can also draw on the screen.
- Multi-presenter mode for webinars gives up to six organizers the ability to present.
- Easy to set up and implement. Plus, like Vimeo Events, you can automate invites, reminders, and follow-up emails to increase the number of people who join and keep in touch with engaged participants.
- The user interface is outdated so some users report it takes some time to get the hang of GoToWebinar.
- Users complain of performance issues when the attendee count goes above 1,000 people. There are reviews complaining of audio quality issues, too.
- Certain features such as file sharing are slow. And some features are hard to find or confusing to use.
There’s a 7-day free trial available. The rest of it is paid with pricing starting at $49 per organizer per month (for hosting 250 participants).
Cvent is most suitable for enterprise marketers hosting in-person events such as exhibitions and trade shows, thanks to their check-in feature.
In contrast with other online conference platforms, it’s not very applauded among users for hosting virtual events.
- Cvent offers onsite check-in and badging software that prints attendees’ photos on arrival. Some users logged complaints on third-party review sites saying the tool printing the wrong images.
- Gives you multiple integrations to connect your tech stack and streamline your workflow.
- Comes with the standard audience engagement tools as well as offers AI-powered networking recommendations, and gamification.
- User interface is outdated.
- Poor customer support and limited training resources/documentation, which aggravates the steep learning curve, making it challenging to start and get the most value from the platform
- Few options to customize branding, access analytics, and get real-time chat
Pricing is customized according to your needs, so you need to get a quote for an idea of how much Cvent costs.
On24 is a virtual event platform great for marketers looking to host webinars and multi-session events.
- Proactive customer support team.
- The tool helps automate a lot of things. Plus, offers integrations to align your sales and marketing teams.
- Few content layouts, which limits your options for customizing your online events’ login and registration pages.
- Poor user interface with the editor being a code editor, adding to the learning curve.
- No option to pre-create your online event. This means you’ll have to trade off audience engagement to make sure the show’s running smoothly as you host on the fly. A reviewer even writes, “I would love to be able to storyboard my webinar and control who is on screen, where their face appears in the media tile, do lower thirds over their video, place people into the webinar and take them off-screen, etc.”
On24’s website doesn’t share any pricing. Interested folks will need to get a quote.
Within the FAQs, don’t answer the question directly straight away; include a link to a relevant piece of internal Vimeo content (as applicable) to encourage click-through.
How do I choose a virtual event platform?
Review your business needs such as your budget, how large an event you want to host, and how many virtual events you want to host. Then choose a virtual event platform that not only fits your budget but is also easy to use, offers in-depth analytics, audience engagement tools, high-quality streaming, and lots of integrations.
How do I make my virtual event more interactive?
Make your virtual events more interactive by encouraging your audience to ask questions, leave their thoughts in the chat box, host polls, and quizzes, and have a Q&A session mid-way or toward the end of the event. To be able to do all of this though, be sure to invest in a virtual event platform that offers dynamic audience engagement tools.
What are the most popular virtual event platforms out there today?
Vimeo Events, Hopin, Zoom, and GoToWebinar are some of the most popular event platforms you can try. Each comes with its pros and cons. Pick based on your budget and specific event requirements.
So which virtual event platform is best for you?
The best virtual events platform for you is one that meets your business needs the most. This includes:
- Your attendee size
- Use case (how much you plan to leverage virtual events for your sales and marketing and whether you offer paid workshops)
- How much time you’ve to learn to use a new tool
- How much you plan to scale (you don’t want the platform to slip out of your budget as you scale)
We’ve shared some software that offer poor-quality streaming with outdated UX. Others have a steep learning curve, and their pricing can become costly for hosting large audiences.
Luckily, this is where Vimeo Events really shines. It offers a ton of customization, high-quality streaming, and an intuitive user interface. It also plays a helpful role in reusing content from the events you host — helping you drive the most ROI from your efforts.