Because webinars are a powerful marketing & engagement tool, I've been on the search for the best webinar software to use for my own businesses.
Today, we're looking at a solution that was recommended to me by several commenters on previous reviews: BigMarker.
As usual, I tested this tool thoroughly, including on a real, live webinar with over 200 attendees. And also as usual, I'm going to be brutally honest about the strengths and weaknesses of the product.
Note: Reviews + Final Roundup
You're reading one of my may reviews of webinar tools. Here's a list of all the other tools I've published reviews on:
- GoToWebinar Review
- Webinar Ninja review
- Crowdcast review
- Demio review
- ClickMeeting review
- EasyWebinar review
- Zoom Review
- WebinarJam Review
- BigMarker Review
After publishing all of these, I also created one massive roundup review, pitching them all against each other! Check it out here.
Creating a Webinar in BigMarker
When you create a new event in BigMarker, the first thing you're greeted with is this array of options:
Here's a quick translation for what all these webinar types mean:
- The live webinar is, well... a live webinar. Exactly what you'd expect.
- An on-demand webinar is basically like a video that you have to register to watch. It's a pre-recorded webinar made available whenever the visitor wants.
- An automated webinar is an event scheduled to happen at a specific point in time, which looks and feels like a live webinar, but which can run without the participation of a host.
- This is different from an evergreen webinar, which is also automated, but isn't scheduled to run at a specific time. Instead, the evergreen event can run on a recurring basis such as every day or several times a day.
- A live stream is like a webinar, but the content is streamed to YouTube live or Facebook live.
- A webinar series is like the live webinar, but attendees can register once for a whole series of webinars.
- The 24-7 webinar is an always available webinar room that you can hop into whenever you need it. Usually, this kind of thing is called a virtual meeting room.
BigMarker is versatile. If you do many different kinds of online events, that's a plus right off the bat.
The User Interface Challenge
Selecting one of the options leads you to the next step in the setup process. Here's what the first screen for scheduling a live webinar looks like:
Throughout BigMarker, the user interface is pleasant, well designed and relatively intuitive.
User interfaces are always a challenge for webinar tools, because these tools are inherently complex. The more options a designer has to cram into a user interface, the messier and more confusing it is bound to get (and many tools I've tested have really suffered from this).
BigMarker does a pretty good job of keeping this problem under control. In terms of UI, the most overwhelming screen is probably the pre-webinar one. This is what you see once you've created the basic settings for your webinar:
On this screen, you can see stats related to the webinar, access the landing page customization, prepare the webinar room, get your webinar links, get widgets and embed codes for the webinar and much, much more.
There is A LOT going on here, with tabs across the top and a long menu tree on the side - but as complex as it is, I still found it pretty intuitive. You don't have to interact with every option and every screen and it never took me long to find a specific setting I was looking for.
This is a much more pleasant user interface to work with than competing solutions like EasyWebinar, WebinarJam or Zoom offer. In fact, this is one of the best user experiences I've had, among all the webinar tools I tested.
Webinar Funnel Pages
One of the steps in the webinar setup is to choose and customize the template you want to use for your webinar registration page and confirmation page.
In many webinar tools I've tested, this is a weak spot, so I was pleased to see that BigMarker offers a wide range of well designed templates to choose from:
The templates are not only numerous, they're also truly different from each other. You're almost certain to find something that suits your needs, no matter what business and specific purpose your webinar event is for.
Once you select a template, you can customize it:
What's offered here isn't on par with a fully featured landing page builder - but it's not that far off, either. You can quickly customize any template to match your brand colors and you can edit each component on the page, as you'd expect: replace images with your own, change text, etc.
In addition, you can turn several content sections on or off. That means you can have a minimal landing page with just the title, description and a call to action, or you can have a longer page that includes more description text, a section about the webinar host(s), bullet point lists and more. You can even edit the page's meta data for search and social.
Overall, the range and customizability of templates for your BigMarker events is impressive.
The BigMarker Webinar Room
Let's get to the part where the rubber truly meets the road: the webinar room and the experience it provides, both for the host and for attendees.
Here's an overview of the host view of the webinar room:
Just as in the settings dashboard, there's a lot going on here. For the most part, the interface makes sense and is easy to work with. The amount of tabs in the chat sidebar, for switching between private chat, public chat, Q&A and more, feels a bit messy. I also found it strange that polls and handouts are accessible in the chat interface, but offers are located in the ribbon above the interface.
However, these are nitpicks - I don't have any real issues, working with the BigMarker webinar room.
Your attendees see a very similar webinar room, minus all the admin stuff and with the screenshare showing at full size:
I'm sure you can tell that so far, I've been quite pleased with everything I found in BigMarker. Unfortunately, not all is rosy. Let's have a look at some of the issues I encountered in my testing.
The Disappearing Offer
If you're using webinars to sell something, one of the most important features in webinar software is what's usually called "offers". We want some way to show an enticing offer and call to action to our audience, in time with the sales pitch in our webinar.
In BigMarker, you can create multiple offers and even choose different designs and layouts for them. Unfortunately, there's a big flaw in the way offers are presented.
During a webinar, you can choose to show an offer in one of 2 ways. The first is as a popover, which looks like this:
The popover is highly attention-grabbing, there's no doubt about that. But because it covers the whole screen, it forces action. The viewer needs to either click on the button or close the offer. And if they want to continue watching the webinar, or continue interacting in the chat, then closing the offer is the obvious choice.
This is where it becomes a real problem: once the offer is closed, it's gone.
Covering the screen and forcing action can be a good thing, if the conversion goal has a low barrier. If you're only asking for an email address or your offer is a $5 impulse buy, this approach could be great. But on a webinar, you're most likely to be selling a relatively high priced product and for this scenario, BigMarker's offer presentation is a mismatch.
Webinar selling is a process that can stretch out over an hour or more. The idea is to present an offer and then spend time answering people's questions, continuing your pitch, addressing objections, etc. As someone who's done hundreds of webinars, I can tell you that only a small minority of people will buy a product the moment you start your pitch and reveal the offer. The majority of sales come in gradually, over the next 30-60 minutes.
The second way to present an offer in BigMarker is slightly better:
This is better because an attendee can continue interacting with chat and watching the webinar, without having to dismiss the offer. But still: the offer does cover up a portion of the screen or slides and once it is closed, it's gone.
Bottom line: the way offers are presented in BigMarker is not ideal. You should make sure to present them multiple times and also add a link to the chat, so attendees have a place to find the link, after closing the offer.
The Email Integrations Thing
Like most webinar tools, BigMarker offers a range of integrations with email marketing services. For the most part, this works as expected. But there's one aspect I dislike about the BigMarker integration.
For me, the ideal scenario is pretty much what is offered in WebinarJam, which is: the webinar tool can push information to my email marketing system. I can then use my email marketing system to send emails in any way I want, to segments of my subscribers and webinar attendees, based on whether they registered, attended, watched the replay etc.
BigMarker turns this upside down. It is designed to take over the sending of emails and offers options to connect to your email marketing service and import your contacts, so they can be mailed by BigMarker. Unfortunately, it doesn't allow me to import just a specific segment of my subscribers (at least not in any convenient way) and there's also no easy way to pass relevant information about people's webinar attendance back to the email marketing service.
For advanced email marketing, this just isn't very useful.
To give a more specific example: BigMarker technically has a "one click signup" feature, in which you can send out an email to existing subscribers and all they have to do is click a link to register for a webinar. This makes a lot of sense, since you already know the names and email addresses of these people, so asking them to fill out a registration form is redundant.
Unfortunately, this feature only works if you use BigMarker to send the email. Because of this and the limitations mentioned above, I couldn't make use of this feature at all.
The Big Markers Are Well Hidden
This is more of a nitpick, but I noticed that for a tool called "BigMarker", the option to bring up a whiteboard style interface is well hidden. Annotation tools are only available if you upload a slide deck or if you click on the "slides" option and then choose to load a blank canvas.
If you primarily use screen sharing, like I do in my webinars, the whiteboard/annotation options in BigMarker aren't as accessible or as useful as they are in some other solutions.
Possible Technical Issues Under Load
In my own testing, I didn't encounter any serious technical issues. In my test webinar, there were over 200 people present at peak times and apart from some lag and a couple of attendees having to exit and refresh the browser, I didn't see any issues reported in the chat.
To clarify: lag is to be expected. And with 100+ attendees, there are always going to be at least a couple of people who have audio or video issues (which are often caused on the user side, not on the platform side). So none of the issues I saw raised any red flags for me.
However, one of my readers, who has used BigMarker more extensively than me, sent me a message in which they reported more serious issues than I encountered.
Quote: "Audio/video sync drifts, and the whole recording process sometimes fails. Events break down after around 100 users (the attendee UI begins to fail, attendees need to refresh or exit/re-enter, etc.), heavy chat traffic slows both presenter and attendee UI response to a crawl,..."
I can't confirm these issues in my own testing, but testing is always limited. You often only truly find the limitations and weaknesses of a platform through extensive, long term use and for a product review like this, I can't do that.
So, I simply wanted to add this here, as a warning of potential issues that escaped my testing. As I mentioned in my GoToWebinar review, stability and reliability are still king, when it comes to webinar software.
Let's also have a quick look at automated events in BigMarker. As usual, the webinar settings and landing page options are basically the same as for a live event. The main difference in automated or evergreen webinars is that you can build an automation timeline, using this interface:
Once again, BigMarker impresses with a clean, intuitive interface. You see a visual representation of the events in the auto webinar and you can insert new events such as videos, polls and offers at any point in the timeline.
Next, let's take a look at the pricing options, to see how BigMarker stacks up.
BigMarker prices start at $89/month, with 100 seats and most features included. What's mainly missing in this lowest price tier are evergreen webinars, webinar series and the option to create paid webinars.
At the $199/month price plan includes 500 seats and basically all options (with exception of enterprise level features that you probably won't ever need anyway).
And finally, 1,000 seats will cost you $399/month or a significantly reduced $3,588/year.
The prices are all middle-of-the-road for webinar solutions. BigMarker is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive option out there. Basically, the pricing is unexciting and you wouldn't choose or avoid BigMarker because of it.
BigMarker's One Big Strength
If you mainly do sales webinars, then WebinarJam does a better job than BigMarker (and for a lower price, too).
If you mainly do coaching, either one-on-one or with small groups, Zoom is a much cheaper solution than BigMarker and it might serve you just as well or even better.
In other words, BigMarker is not the best solution for any one, specific purpose. If you do one type of online event, there's almost certainly a better and/or cheaper tool for you.
But BigMarker does have one important strength: it combines good solutions for all these different webinar types, in one single tool. If you are someone who does a bit of everything, then BigMarker may be the best solution for you. Not least because it will cost you less than combining 2 or 3 separate tools for separate purposes.
BigMarker Review Summary
Long story short, what's the word on this webinar solution?
BigMarker is a Jack of all trades, master of none. It's not the best solution for any one type of online event (and because of how offers are presented, it's especially weak at sales webinars), but if you need one tool for live webinars, automated webinars, livestreaming and more, this may be the best option for you.
That concludes my BigMarker review. I hope you found this useful. If you have any other questions about this specific webinar tool or about webinars in general, please don't hesitate to leave a comment below! If you want to see how BigMarker compares to 8 other webinar tools I've tested, check out this roundup review.