What can Video Conferencing Do for Your Small Business?
Now days, technology can be found in all aspects of business. From a calculator to a computer and everything in between and beyond. One important piece of technology that can be useful in small business is video conferencing. Most people think of video conferencing as a big enterprise need, but small businesses can benefit from it, too.
How, you may ask? Video conferencing has taken over in the business world and can be used in a myriad of different ways to reach many types of audiences. It can save time and money for your small business. There won’t be a need to book travel expenses like flights, mileage, car rental, hotel reservations, and meeting venues. Then you must take time away from your business to travel to the meeting. Instead, it can be done in your office, on your computer.
In a small business, you will have employees that need to attend meetings. Having to send an employee away to attend a meeting can be very costly for you. You pay for the employee to attend the meeting, the employee, and someone to cover the employee while they are gone. With video conferencing some of this can be avoided.
Today, more and more employees are working from home. In a small business, having employees work from home can save you money by not having to provide a space or equipment. The downside to it is the lack of face to face communication, but with video conferencing that is no longer an issue. Employees can work from anywhere across the world and still be able to communicate by just looking into their computer screen or mobile phone.
Small business owners can communicate face to face with employees, vendors, customers, and anyone else they need to conduct business with. Meeting face to face helps build strong relationships and reduce miscommunication. Strong relationships and good communication are important in helping your business grow and for you to succeed.
Don’t forget about your family. There will be times when travel is unavoidable. Being able to talk face to face with your family while you are away on business will help your family bond stay stronger and make you not feel so homesick.
Questions to Answer When Choosing Video Conference Software?
There are so many choices when it comes to choosing video conferencing for a small business, it can be overwhelming. What features are needed, how much does it cost, are there any privacy concerns? What will work best for your small business?
Options for Video Conferencing Software
Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing software. It is a feature rich and intuitive program for many of your small business needs. There are a few pricing options that you can choose from to find your perfect match and if you pay annually, you will receive a discount. For those on a tight budget, there is even a free option.
The Free option offers you up to 100 participants for each call. You will have a 40-minute time limit for each group meeting over three participants, but you have unlimited meetings available. It includes features like screen sharing, desktop sharing, host controls, and a raise your hand feature. You get HD video and voice, active speaker view, scheduling integrations, personal room or meeting ID, and SSL encryption for your protection. You can have as many meetings as you need to make your business a success.
If you need a few more options, they offer Pro, Business and Enterprise options. These options also have add-ons for those plans as well like extra cloud storage, ability to join Zoom Room, and adding Video Webinars. If you have a need for more attendees, you can buy added limits up to 500 and 1,000, for an additional fee per host, per month. The Enterprise is for large businesses, which doesn’t apply here.
The Pro option will run you $14.99 per month per host. It includes all the Free features, but has extra features like increased meeting time up to a 24-hour limit. You gain user management features like adding, deleting, and assigning roles to users; administration features like enabling and disabling recording, encryption, chat and notifications; usage reporting; and 1 GB of cloud recording.
The Business Plan includes all Free and Pro features and runs $19.99 per month per host. It includes extra features like dedicated phone support, admin dashboard, managed domains, company branding, custom emails, cloud recording with transcripts. This might be a little much for your small business, but something to keep in mind as your company grows.
According to reviews available online the only cons are the time limit on the free version, cost of the paid versions, and occasional dislike of the mobile version. Most reviews are positive and far out way the cons.
GoToMeeting is an audio and video conferencing software. It has features like screen sharing, real time business messaging, HD video, unlimited meetings, mobile apps, encryption and HIPAA compliant. It has plans ranging from $18 per month to $36 per month, with a 20% discount for paying annually.
The Starter plan of GoToMeeting includes video conferencing for up to 10 participants. The features available are screen sharing from you or other participants; dial in conference over the phone for someone not near a computer; unlimited meetings for an unlimited amount of time; business messaging during the meeting; HD video; 24/7 phone and web support with live and on-demand training; and mobile apps to host on the go and the ability to screen share your smartphone or tablet. All this is available for $18 per month.
If you need a little something more, they have a Pro plan for $36 per month for up to 150 participants. It has all the Starter features with added features like meeting lock that locks the meeting until you let them in; transcription of your recorded meetings; ability to create your own meeting link that never changes; unlimited storage for your recordings; and drawing right on the screen in real time.
They have a Plus and Enterprise plan for up to 250 and 3,000 participants respectively, but those are not relevant for a small business. The Plus plan will increase your participants to 250, but your price will increase to $47 per month with really no added features.
Most reviews are positive, but even with the positive reviews a few cons were listed. Based on the reviews, the cons consist of the lack of a free option, poor audio, and video lagging. It also limits the number of cameras that can be on at one time, the host would have to turn off one camera to allow another to turn on. If you want to record your meetings, you will have to upgrade from the Starter plan.
Join.me is another audio and video conferencing software. It has a free option available, as well as a Lite, Pro, and Business option costing up to $30 a month. Features available include unlimited number and length of meetings, unlimited toll and internet calls, multiple presenters, screen sharing, meeting lock, chat and ability to send files. It includes integration for CRM software like HubSpot, Slack and G-Suite. Many of its competitors do not. It also integrates with Zapier and Salesforce. It will not store and of the images, files or data that you use or share during your meetings on its servers.
Let’s look at the Join.me Free features. It allows video for up to 3 participants. It includes screen sharing, unlimited meetings, chat and file transfers.
The Lite version costs $10 and allows up to 5 participants, unlimited meetings and unlimited length, a personal link and background, screen sharing, meeting lock, reporting, chat, file sharing, and user management. You will miss out on the recording and storage features with this option, but you can upgrade for those features.
The Pro plan costs $20 and allows up to 250 participants, all the Lite features, 10 webcam streams, recording, 50 GB of cloud storage, an optional toll-free number for dial in participants, and scheduling abilities. You are able to annotate during the meeting, as well.
The Business plan will cost you $30 and includes all the Free, Lite, and Pro features. Its storage capacity is bumped up to 1 TB, one of the largest storage options among web conferencing software. It has management tools to allow control over certain features. There is a Salesforce integration available at this level that allows you to host meetings with your leads to increase your productivity.
Join.me does not offer transcription services, which can be a big con for some businesses. Some businesses like to have the text so that it can be easily searched at a later date. Another con is its inability to have more than 10 videos going at once. If you have a larger meeting and are one of those that want to see everyone at the same time, it will not be possible. You will have to manage screens by turning some off and turn others on to see the other participants. Most reviews list cons such as lag time and random disconnecting.
Zoho Meeting is an entirely web browser-based platform that you can use for your small business to host meetings and webinars. It has basic features such as screen sharing, chat, webcam sharing, recordings, calendar integration, moderator controls and more. The plans range in cost from free to $10 per month for the meeting plan. It has webinar plans where attendees can watch you broadcast presentations and interact with polls and Q&A sessions. They range from $15 per month per host to $63 per month per host, which depends upon how many attendees you expect to register and attend.
Zoho Meetings free plan includes 3 meeting participants and up to 10 webinar attendees. Webcam, screen, and application sharing is available for the participants. You have some administrative functions such as removing participants, muting and unmuting participants. Access is available for webinar registration and analytics. You will have the basic settings, and you have the ability to customize your registration form.
For the rest of the plans from Meeting to Webinar-250, you will get access to all features available. The only thing that varies is the number of participants. In the Meeting plan you can have up to 100 participants for a $10 fee per month per host and storage for 10 recordings. You can add-on more storage for additional fees. For the Webinar plans, it will be $15 per month per host for up to 25 attendees; $23 per month per host for up to 50 attendees; $31 per month per host for up to 100 attendees; and $63 per month per host for up to 250 attendees.
With all the plans except the Free plan, you will receive features such as RSVP scheduling, calendar integration, screen sharing, chat, lock meeting, moderator controls, registrations, reminder emails to attendees, Q&A sessions and polling, in-depth analytics, reporting, and co-branding with your logo and name.
Based on reviews of Zoho Meetings, many users believe it is a good choice because it is easy to use and easy to share screens. The cons that were listed include the number of attendees available, even in their most expensive plan only 250 are allowed. A lot of webinars have hundreds to thousands of attendees. If this is your case, you will need to move on. Its customer service is unavailable by phone. If you need help, however, it does have user guides available on its website.
Cisco Webex is a full-featured web-based video conferencing service. The plans range in cost from free to $29.95 per host per month. A 10% discount is given for paying annually.
The Free plan allows up to 3 attendees with 1 GB of online storage for sharing files. You can share your screen, record meetings, share files and use whiteboard. Meetings can be conducted on your computer or mobile device, if you are on the go.
All other plans include cloud storage, HD video, screen sharing, personal room, administrative management, branding and customizations, mobile availability, various integrations, and more.
The Starter plan includes up to 50 participates with 1-9 host licenses and costs $14.95 per month per host. You will get 5 GB of cloud storage. Customer service support is available during business hours only.
The Plus plan will allow up to 100 participants with 1-50 host licenses and the same 5 GB of cloud storage. It will cost you $19.95 per month per host and offers 24/7 phone support. And the Business plan will allow up to 200 participants with 5-100 host licenses and 10 GB of cloud storage with a cost of $29.95 per month and offers 24/7 phone support.
The cons come around to the limiting of licenses. If you need more than 9 licenses but have less than 50 participants, you will have to move up to the next plan. This ends up costing more each month per host.
All of the above video conferencing has some sort of encryption for the data that they collect from you and what you share when you use their program. They security measures like logins and passwords to protect your account, as well.
Zoom uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption when transferring credit card information over the internet. It has end-to-end encryption as an added layer of application security and to facilitate HIPAA compliance. Zoom can provide Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption after the user enables the feature. All future meetings will be encrypted after it is enabled.
GoToMeeting uses end-to-end AES using 128-bit encryption to protect the client’s data stream, chat messages and other input. This is also HIPPA compliant.
Join.me uses 256-bit TLS encryption. No images, files, or data shared during your meetings are stored on their servers. The plans that store your meetings, do so by encrypting the files.
Zoho Meeting uses TLS 1.2 and 256-bit AES encryption.
Cisco Webex uses TLS 1.2 protocol and AES 256-bit encryption. After a session is established over TLS, all media streams are encrypted. If a user chooses to have their login information saved on that computer, it is protected with 128-bit encryption.
There are so many video conferencing tools out there, but luckily most of them offer a free trial. Look at your needs and your budget. You are a busy, small business owner, but use some time to find the right fit for your small business. Video conferencing is a big part in building and conducting your business. It can be a big expense, with the monthly fees and add-ons, if you aren’t careful in choosing the right one.