Technology has allowed the modern workplace to have a reach it has never had before. Workers can participate in meetings while located in a different country, clients can ask questions about a product without entering the office, and business owners can make company announcements from the comfort of their home.
Web conferencing tools have allowed business owners the opportunity to stay in tune with workers and clients in and outside of the office. The convenience is being felt and enjoyed by many business owners across the country. According to video conferencing company, PGi, 56 percent of global CFOs participate in web conferencing tools to reduce travel. Ultimately, these executives were able to decrease travel costs by 30 percent. Web conferencing resources can also be the catalyst for increased sales. PGi found that 74 percent of B2C business owners and 92 percent of B2B business owners use web conferencing to display products for a sales boost.
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Savvy small business owners will realize that web conferencing can be used for reasons that go beyond convenience and facilitating remote work arrangements. These technologies can also spark business growth with the right strategies.
Here are five ways free web conferencing tools can spur small business growth.
Use Zoom to get personal with customers – Video conferencing tools can break down the barriers between small business owners and customers. If owners have a product or service that needs to be explained or shown to clients for more precise understanding, web conferencing tools can be an excellent resource. One free web conferencing option that could facilitate effective meetings with customers is Zoom. Most reviews on TrustRadius of Zoom have been left by small business owners, so the program has popularity with this group.
The program automatically switches the main view window to whoever is speaking while all other attendees are viewable at the bottom. Users can share screens with one another, participate in chat sessions during the video conference, record the video for later sharing, and poll the audience for feedback. The ease of sharing the meeting link and integrations with Google calendar make this a pain-free way to communicate with clients and customers.
Skype for Business can get employees on the same page – A business cannot grow without the investment and commitment of employees. One way that business owners are decreasing attrition and encouraging worker satisfaction is allowing employees to work remotely. This move may seem daunting for a lot of owners, but Skype for Business is a viable web conferencing tool small business owners can use to keep teams in the loop on business strategy.
There is a free version for groups of less than 20 individuals, but paid upgrades can accommodate up to 250 users. What makes Skype for Business shine in keeping staff connected is its deep integration with Microsoft Office —especially the Outlook calendar — an email client used by a lot of companies. It also notifies all team members when co-workers are online, and allows staff to send documents through the instant message platform.
Use Zoom and AnyMeeting to get active on social media – When small business owners think of social media, they probably just think about the posting of content on common platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. However, video conferencing provides additional opportunities for small business owners to engage clients and employees. Zoom allows administrators to create unique URLs for Facebook and Twitter sharing to track which platform is attracting the most viewers.
This program also will enable administrators to stream a webinar on Facebook Live. AnyMeeting is another web conferencing software that would benefit those who are looking into social media integration. Users can upload their bios and headshots from LinkedIn for profiles they can share with participating viewers. This program also allows users to quickly share their recordings on Facebook and Twitter with premade URLs. If business owners would like to engage clients on social media, Zoom and AnyMeeting are two of the most straightforward platforms to use for this.
Join.me and Zoom Can Jumpstart CRM Usage – Tracking customer interactions with CRM platforms is essential to growth. Many owners may only have email marketing and e-commerce systems on the radar for filling out a CRM system; however, web conferencing systems can help do the same. Zoom enables users to register webinar attendees via Hubspot. Integrations with Marketo allow users to generate leads from participants that attended a Zoom webinar, and Zoom admins can schedule webinars directly with leads from Salesforce. Join.me has similar integrations with Hubspot, Highspot, Salesforce, Octiv, DocSend, and YesWare. Both programs can be a one-stop-shop for business owners looking to track leads with webinar attendance. This feature even has implications for monitoring the buyer journey and answering questions such as: Do customers who attend webinars purchase more items? How many meetings does it take to cause a conversion? Both of these programs offer a lot of capabilities in their integrations.
Google Hangouts and Join.me can increase productivity – Again, more employees are working remotely, and business owners have to utilize tools for everyone to stay connected for easy collaboration. Google Hangouts is an excellent resource for workplace collaboration. While users do have to have a Gmail account, the web conferencing stream works a lot like Zoom. Users who are speaking are shown on the main screen while participants who are not are visible on the bottom. Google Hangouts integrates with the whole Gmail suite so that users can share and distribute Google Docs and Sheets efficiently during conferences. Users can also use the Google chat feature to send text-based messages during video meetings. Join.me’s partner integrations enable users to start video conferences with Trello and Slack participants seamlessly. Conversations on the apps can easily and quickly turn into full web conferences. This is perfect for workers who may have started a project, shared the document, and need to meet to discuss deliverables quickly. Having to check email regularly can become a productivity killer, so having the option to combine web conferencing software with online collaboration tools can increase worker productivity and contribute to growth.
Things to Look for In a Free Web Conferencing Software
All web conference tools are not created equal, but there are features small business owners should be on the lookout for to spur business growth:
- Interfaces should be user-friendly. Workers and clients should not have difficulty in trying to figure out how to operate video or audio capabilities. A customer may decide to skip a webinar session if they have to download a lot of extra software, or they cannot navigate to the correct location for the virtual meeting. If most clients do not already have a Gmail account, inviting them to a Google Hangout will prove more difficult then distributing a link using Zoom or AnyMeeting. It is in the business owner’s best interest to select a web conferencing software that is easy to use.
- Integrations are key! Conferencing options like Zoom, Join.me, and Skype for Business have cooperative partnerships with productivity, sales, and email client programs. This makes it easy to share calendars, start meetings instantly while collaborating on a project, and cultivating sale leads. The idea should be to find a web conferencing software that allows owners to handle multiple business functions at a time.
- Social media sharing should be easy. How easy is it to share a link from the web conferencing app to social media? Can it stream directly onto a platform like Facebook or Twitter? If creating a social media strategy is on the agenda then Zoom, AnyMeeting, or Google Hangout would be an excellent choice. Zoom webinars can be streamed right on Facebook, while Google Hangout meetings can stream live on YouTube and archived for later viewing. AnyMeeting also allows easy webinar sharing on social media platforms.
- Make sure it aligns with business goals. Most small business owners have multiple priorities, but those that are the most pertinent should decide the best free web conferencing tool to go with. Is increasing social media the focus for the next six months? Do clients want more face-to-face demonstrations with customer service reps? Is remote worker productivity lacking? Does the company want to shift focus to become a thought leader through webinars? These are all questions small business owners need to weigh in what software they should choose. Many have similar capabilities, but some have a more specialized focus on what they can do for users.
Web conferencing tools have come a long way in what they offer small business owners. They go beyond providing convenience for remote workers to drilling down into features like customer relationship management, social media engagement, and spurring better work performance.
These free web conferencing tools are excellent for helping owners craft marketing and growth strategies. There is a lot that business owners have to dedicate budgets to, so a free price tag is attractive. As owners begin to look at their priorities and focus on what their needs are, they will see they have a myriad of low-cost options to from which to select.
Chanell Alexander currently resides in Atlanta, GA. When she’s not traveling and trying new re