Last year, marketers took a crash course in remote work.
As 2021 approached, many of us had already invested in desks, exercise equipment, and other home tools to make working from home a little easier.
Top of that list? Video conferencing software.
For video conferencing tools, demand increased 500% in 2020 due to the global pandemic. As the workforce continues to migrate to a more flexible hybrid model, it’s important that your business invest in equipment that can encourage collaboration regardless of where an employee is.
Video conferencing software isn’t always cheap, however, and the fancy bells and whistles aren’t always necessary for small businesses looking for a simple and effective solution.
Here we’ve rounded up 10 of the best video conferencing tools for small business, each varying in price and feature, so you can find the best solution for your needs.
But first – what are the advantages of video conferencing software and do you even need it?
What is video conferencing?
Video conferencing is face-to-face online meetings that use audio and video software so that people can meet in real time regardless of physical location. Video conferencing is a popular option when you work with distributed teams or when you want to connect with prospects or clients but cannot meet in person.
Advantages of video conferencing
Video conferencing provides opportunities for collaboration, productivity, and engagement with colleagues, stakeholders, and customers – all without the hassle (and cost) of traveling to a personal location.
I could write an entire blog post on the benefits of video conferencing, but for our purposes, let’s focus on four:
- Video conferencing is a cost-effective way to have face-to-face interactions with colleagues, prospects, stakeholders, or customers. It’s more personal and engaging than a phone call, and much cheaper and more efficient than paying to commute to a physical location or fly to meet someone for a face-to-face conversation.
- As mentioned above, video conferencing offers the possibility of a more personal connection. Eye contact, facial expressions and body language are cues we use to communicate effectively with one another on a daily basis – and these cues are all lost in a phone or email conversation.
- Video conferencing can make your team more productive by limiting the time you spend in conference rooms between meetings, meeting clients, and more.
- Video conferencing, unlike email or Slack, can lead to increased collaboration. For example, if I hear an interesting project that a coworker is working on, I’ll ask them to join me on a quick Zoom call so we can discuss ways to work together – which is far more efficient than emailing it about.
However, video conferencing software can be expensive. When you work for a small business with limited resources, it can be difficult to convince management that the investment is worth it. Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to test it. Some of the tools on this list are free forever, while others offer free trials.
Let’s dive into the most impressive video conferencing tools we’ve found for small businesses.
10 Best Video Conferencing Tools for Small Businesses
Benefits: If you’re on a tight budget, you can’t beat the free option of Zoom, one of the top-rated video conferencing tools available. The tool provides clear audio with background noise suppression, an option to share your screen, and a recording feature to save and send the meeting to those who can’t attend.
In addition, Zoom has some fun and engaging tools to increase participant participation – including filters, reactions, polls, raise hands, and chat. You can also schedule a Zoom meeting right in your Outlook, Gmail, or iCal email calendar.
Zoom is also part of the HubSpot ecosystem and connects seamlessly with your CRM.
Disadvantage: Outside of meetings, Zoom doesn’t provide collaboration tools like file sharing or messaging for follow-up with coworkers. Also, the links you may have shared in Zoom chat aren’t saved anywhere for future viewing. You also can’t add a meeting agenda to the invitation from within the app itself.
Overall, zoom is a great option for small teams, but there is some growing pain as you scale up. With the free version you can, for example, join 100 participants in a meeting for 40 minutes. However, if you have a company with more than 100 employees, you will have to pay more to increase the attendance.
Price: Free for Basic, including the ability to accommodate up to 100 participants, up to 40 minutes for group meetings, and unlimited one-on-one calls. $ 149.90 per year for the Pro version, which is recommended for small teams, and $ 199.90 per year for the Small & Med Businesses version.
Benefits: Jiminny has a ton of unique, impressive features that can be especially useful when you want to use your video conferencing tool for your sales team or for customer purposes.
For example, the software offers a “Topic” feature, which means that your meeting recording is automatically broken down into key parts like “Next Steps” – for anyone who has ever scanned a one-hour meeting recording to look for a two-minute conversation In the middle, this can significantly increase the efficiency of subsequent materials.
The recording function can be integrated with your CRM to automatically enter data from your records, reducing the time-consuming task of manual noting. The software also provides metrics such as speaking to listening ratio to improve the conversational (and listening) skills of your sales reps.
Disadvantage: The company is at an early stage. So if the product is iterated and improved further, the pain may increase. If you don’t want to use the video conferencing tool on prospects, some of these features may not be required for your in-house marketing team.
Price: Pro plans start at $ 75 / month per user when you sign up for a full year. If billed monthly, the price per user is up to $ 95 per month.
3. Google Meet
Benefits: Google Meet is an incredibly cheap and easy-to-use video conferencing tool for small teams. If you’re not interested in recording or saving meetings, the tool is free forever for up to 100 participants.
Google Meet integrates with other apps and even allows you to create a custom app using Apps Script. The tool also has unlimited Google Drive storage.
In addition, the tool offers real-time subtitles for speech and text for video chats and meetings – ideal for hearing-impaired participants, non-native speakers or participants with noisy backgrounds.
Disadvantage: The free version does not offer the ability to record or save your meetings. This means that if you need either feature, you’ll need to upgrade.
Google doesn’t offer personalized setup or training, and doesn’t offer the same robust features as some of the other options on this list. It also can’t support more than 250 attendees, so it won’t work if you want to host larger webinars or conferences.
Price: The app is free for up to 100 participants and an unlimited number of meetings. However, if you want to record or save meetings, the price starts at $ 8 / month per user.
4. Blue jeans
Benefits: Bluejeans, video conferencing software developed by Verizon, has amazing features like the ability to use AI and speech recognition to automatically take notes, create action items, and identify key moments for later follow-up. Plus, engagement within the tool is a breeze with features like screen sharing, query, Q&A, and chat.
Bluejeans can be integrated into messaging, planning and productivity tools and offers impressive security and scalability requirements.
Disadvantage: Bluejeans does not offer any file sharing functions. If you only purchase the Me plan, you are limited to 25 hours of recording. In addition, support is limited.
Price: $ 13.99 / host per month, up to 75 participants and 25 hours of recording.
Benefits: LogMeIn’s video conferencing software has some impressive features, including a Smart Meeting Assistant transcription service that automatically transcribes the meeting so you can browse and share detailed notes.
You can record the meeting and save it locally or in the cloud. Attendees can join the meeting on their desktop or through a mobile app.
Overall, GotoMeeting’s HD video and audio software is of high quality and easily integrates with Google Calendar or Chrome for efficiency.
Disadvantage: GoToMeeting requires an error charge data connection to function properly. Some reviewers have found that the mobile app isn’t as easy to use as they’d like it to be. In addition, the Professional plan does not offer any transcription, note-taking, or drawing functions.
Price: $ 16 / user per month for up to 250 participants for the business plan.
Benefits: If you are on a budget and call people from all over the world frequently, Skype might be a good option for you. The software is free to use and does not charge you for calling people from anywhere in the world. Video calls can also have up to 50 participants at a time. The tool is easy to install and use.
Disadvantage: The audio quality on Skype is not always good, especially since Skype’s audio quality is based on bandwidth. So if users have a slow speed ISP, the audio quality will be negatively affected. Also, because Skype calls are made over the Internet, there is always a chance that data could be intercepted. This makes it a less safe option than some of the others on the list.
7. Microsoft Teams
Benefits: If you’re planning to host large webinars or conferences with 250+ attendees, Microsoft Teams is a good tool to consider. The software can meet up to 10,000 attendees at the same time and you can host with anyone inside or outside your company.
In addition, Microsoft Teams allows you to organize different departments or groups into “Teams” (up to a few thousand people). Within these teams, you can have separate communication channels and concentrate on different projects.
Microsoft Teams has some impressive engagement features, including notifications, mentions, comments, GIFs, and emojis in chats, and the ability to chat individually or in groups. The software also offers advanced security features.
Disadvantage: Microsoft Teams is a comprehensive option for ensuring that everyone on a specific “team” has automatic access to all files, notes, and channels on the team. Unfortunately, this means that you don’t have permission settings to prevent certain users from accessing files within a group, nor can you invite guest users to selected channels.
Price: Microsoft 365 Business Basic costs $ 5 per user per month (annual commitment) and allows 300 participants, but does not include the advanced security and compliance functions, administration or support. Microsoft 365 Business Standard is $ 12.50 / user per month (annual commitment) and Office 365 E3 is $ 20 / user per month (annual commitment) and includes everything Microsoft Teams has to offer.
8. RingCentral Video
Benefits: RingCentral offers high quality HD video and audio and is an affordable option for unlimited users, video conferencing with up to 100 participants, and meeting times of up to 24 hours. The software allows you to easily switch between mobile and desktop devices and offers seven levels of security.
In addition, RingCentral offers personalized onboarding training and live support around the clock. So, if you think your team might need help getting set up or in the future, this is a great option.
Disadvantage: RingCentral offers a recording function, but it is only available as an offline option. This means that you need to download the recording as a local hard drive rather than a publicly available folder like Dropbox. The software also does not have its own calendar and task management function to integrate video conferencing into your calendar events. To do this, you need to download the company’s Glip app.
Price: $ 24.99 / user per month for the standard version.
9. Zoho meeting
Benefits: As one of the most affordable options on the list, this is good, easy-to-use video conferencing software for small businesses. Users don’t need to download and install software as Zoho is hosted in a web browser and the software has all of the basic functionality you need in a video conferencing tool, including screen sharing and meeting recordings.
In addition, you can use 100+ local access numbers and 55+ toll-free numbers to join from different countries. Best of all, the interface is easy to navigate and use.
Disadvantage: Zoho Meeting limits attendees to 100. If you need more attendees, you will need to switch to the Zoho webinar. You will also need to purchase an add-on if you want to save more than 10 recordings.
The tool doesn’t offer some of the fancy features we’ve seen elsewhere on this list, including a smart assistant or cloud video recording. Still, this is a great option for smaller teams who don’t need all the bells and whistles.
Price: USD 2.50 / host per month for 10 participants, USD 5 / host per month for 25 participants, and USD 10 / host per month for 100 participants.
10. Intermedia AnyMeeting
Benefits: Intermedia AnyMeeting has a clean, easy-to-use interface and an impressive array of features – including an intelligent assistant with AI support for meeting transcriptions and on-screen annotations so attendees can focus attention on important points on a shared screen – relatively inexpensive.
The software can be integrated into numerous popular office tools such as Outlook, G-Suite and Slack and offers unlimited functions for storing and sharing recordings. With the Pro version you can also create custom branded meetings with a company logo and a personalized background.
Disadvantage: Intermedia AnyMeeting does not have end-to-end encryption of ongoing calls, which can lead to privacy and security concerns. Additionally, some G2 reviewers have mentioned that the audio quality could be better.
Price: $ 9.99 / user per month for the lite version, which allows up to 10 participants. $ 12.99 / user per month for the Pro version, which allows up to 100 participants.
Remember: when choosing video conferencing software, it is important that you consider the needs, resources, and needs of your own team. If after reading this list you are still unsure, consider trying some demos or trials to see which are best for your brand.