GoToWebinar Review: Still Effective in 2020? [Pros & Cons]

In this GoToWebinar review, we’ll analyze the 10 most important factors you should consider when choosing your webinar software. 

You’ll get a comprehensive answer to 3 big questions: 

  1. Is GoToWebinar still a good choice for a webinar software in 2020?
  2. Are the presentation and live interaction features enough to host a successful webinar?
  3. Is it worth the money? Or are there better alternatives?
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Webinars are all the craze right now. Hosting webinars to a targeted set of attendees is an extremely effective marketing strategy.
Read more about different types of webinars and why they’re so effective

Founded in 2003, GoToWebinar is the grandfather of webinar software and is used to host millions of webinars each year. Many of the users have stuck around out of habit.

In this GoToWebinar review, you’ll learn if the features are still up to par with some of the newer browser-based webinar software out there and how do the attendees experience the webinar.

With all the modern webinar software out there, is GoToWebinar still a good choice?

What is the Difference Between GoToWebinar and GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is the sister product of GoToWebinar. Both are essentially video meeting platforms, but they’re used for slightly different purposes.

GoToWebinar is used for hosting one-way interactive webinars, where the host does all the talking.

GoToMeeting is used for multi-way video meetings calls, where everyone can use their microphone to speak.

However, these software have some commonalities as well.

GoToWebinar vs GoToMeeting
The main differences and commonalities between GoToWebinar vs GoToMeeting

GoToWebinar automatically includes the GoToMeeting software.

In this GoToWebinar review, we’ll be focusing on the hosting and attending webinars.

Download an App Just to Join a Webinar – is it a Good Thing?

To host or even to join a webinar on GoToWebinar, you have to download a desktop application

All newer webinar software platforms like WebinarJam or GetResponse have a fully browser-based software. So, why is GoToWebinar still desktop-based?

The main upside to having an installed webinar application is the stability and reliability. Also, GoToWebinar has had all the time in the world to perfect its webinar connectivity and stability.

However, having to download an application is still a hassle for many people and you’re sure to lose some attendees because of this.

It’s also not uncommon to have restrictions for installing applications on work computers.

GoToWebinar download file blocked
GoToWebinar download file blocked

Right off the bat, you’re losing some attendees because of that.

Webinar Types & Ease of Setup

GoToWebinar Dashboard
GoToWebinar Dashboard

On GoToWebinar, you can host:  

You can also host webcasts on GoToWebinar. Webcasts are more designed for one-way broadcasting and doesn’t expect so much engagement from the audience.
Read more about the difference between a webinar and a webcast

Webinars can be scheduled as a one-time event or as recurring events:

You can add up to 6 organizers and 6 panelists to your webinar.
Organizers have full control over the video, audio and engagement features. 
Panelists are like guest speakers, who can share their screen and webcam video.

GoToWebinar Role Comparison
GoToWebinar Role Comparison

The webinar setup itself if quite top-down straight-forward. You can set up:

One confusing part was that after setting up the webinar and reaching the end of the page, there’s no “Save” or “Next” button at the end of the setup.  

Webinar Registration Page

One major downside that I noticed during this GoToWebinar review is that there’s very little customization for the webinar registration page.

You can choose:

GoToWebinar Registration Page Customization
GoToWebinar Registration Page Customization

This makes it impossible to add a large product image, a video or customize the layout.
This feature is extremely limited.

As a result, all the webinar registration pages in GoToWebinar have the same kind of layout.

GoToWebinar Registration Page
How the GoToWebinar Registration Page looks like for the visitors

On the upside, you can add custom questions to your registration page. That’s a great way to get more information about your attendees, so you can prepare better for your webinar.

But don’t go overboard with it, because having too many fields to fill can decrease your webinar registration conversion rate.

Managing the Registrations on GoToWebinar

The seats on your webinar are limited to 100, 500 or 1000, depending on the pricing plan you’re on.

So, if your webinar is really popular, you might want to set a registration limit. 

For example, your attendee limit can be 100 participants, but your registration limit can be 150, so you’d be taking into account that everyone won’t join.

You can also choose to manually review all registrants before accepting them.

GoToWebinar registration setup
GoToWebinar registration setup

After signing up for the webinar, they’d see a registration confirmation page. There’s a convenient way to add the event to the calendar, so they won’t miss it.

GoToWebinar Thank You Page
GoToWebinar Thank You Page

Alternatively, you can redirect your registrants to a custom page after they’ve signed up.

GoToWebinar Email Tools

Registration Confirmation Emails

After registering for the webinar, your attendees will receive an email confirming their registration.

The registration confirmation email includes:

GoToWebinar registration confirmation email
GoToWebinar registration confirmation email

As you can see, the emphasis of this email falls to the “How To Join The Webinar” part and the custom message gets a bit lost.

Webinar Reminder Emails

The email reminders carry all the same information as the registration confirmation email. 

You can send up to 3 reminder emails, but the scheduling is limited. You can only schedule it to send:

But you can’t send it 15 or 30 minutes before the webinar, for example.

Also, the customization on the email is quite limited. You can only customize the email body text.

GoToWebinar email customization options
GoToWebinar email customization options

Webinar Follow-up Emails

Audience segmentation is available on the webinar follow-up emails.

That means you can send different follow-up emails to attendees and no-shows (who registered, but didn’t show up).

You can also include a certificate of attendance in the webinar follow-up email.

GoToWebinar certificate of completion example
GoToWebinar certificate of completion example

This is one way to make your webinar feel important and create some authority around your name.

Audience Interaction Tools

There are 2 main ways you can interact with your audience – Polls and Q&A.

Polls must be pre-configured before the webinar and you can launch then at any point during the webinar.

As you launch the polls, the screen sharing (thus your slideshow) will be stopped to display the polls in full screen view.

GoToWebinar polls
GoToWebinar poll during a live webinar (attendee view)

After the poll, you can choose to share the results with the attendees.  

The second way to interact with the audience is the Q&A.

The questions will appear in a non-readable list for you as the host.

GoToWebinar Q&A docked
GoToWebinar Q&A questions in a docked view are hard to manage

You actually have to un-dock the Q&A block to see all the questions.

GoToWebinar Q&A
How the host will see the Q&A

What I experienced during this GoToWebinar review, is that answering questions is very inconvenient for the host.

Furthermore, each attendee can ask their own questions, but they can’t see each other’s questions.

In GoToWebinar Live webinar, only the host can see the questions.

Also, there is no public chat.

The attendees have no way of interacting with each other or even see which questions other people have asked or which question is currently being answered.

For some reason, it’s all very private.

There is also no call-to-action offers, which are common in other webinar software and proven to be a great marketing tool in the webinars. 

There are actually no features specifically made for selling.

The audience interaction features are one of the most disappointing aspects of this GoToWebinar review.

To end on a positive note, there is an option to launch a survey at the end of the webinar.

post-webinar feedback survey
Feedback survey after the webinar

This helps you gather feedback about your webinar and improve for the next time.

Video Engine & Tech Support

When conducting this GoToWebinar review, I compared the webcam video quality to the other webinar software out there.

Considering that GoToWebinar requires the host and the attendees to download and install an application, I would expect a superior video quality, because it doesn’t have to rely on WebRTC technology that most other webinar software use. 

GoToWebinar webinar video quality
GoToWebinar webinar video quality

My conclusion is that the webinar quality is just average when compared to others.
But below expectations, considering the requirement to install the software.

GoToWebinar Customer Support is a Robot

On the website, there appears to be an online chat to assist and guide you when you get stuck.

However, the chat turns out to be a chatbot, which just guides you to an article in the Help section.

GoToWebinar customer support chat
GoToWebinar customer support chat

GoToWebinar users have complained that the actual customer support is never reachable.

Also, there’s no official (or even unofficial) Facebook community, so that GoToWebinar users could help out each other and give tips on presentation. 

However, GoToWebinar has a knowledge base. 

Webinar Presentation Tools

The live webinar interface and controls look like they haven’t been updated since 2003.

GoToWebinar live webinar example
GoToWebinar live webinar host view

It’s extremely clunky with opening and closing the tabs. And god forbid – if you undock some of the tabs, they’re going to be all over the screen. It’s just a horrible mess.

There is no way to upload your slideshow directly into the platform. Your only hope is to use screen sharing to present your slides.  

Also, you (as the host) can’t really see what the attendee is seeing. If you move or resize the webcam window, it won’t affect how the attendees are seeing it. All the window controls are on each attendee’s side. 

For example, when the host resizes the webcam video window, it doesn’t change it for the attendee. It would only change for you as the host.

Attendee view live room
How the attendee sees the webinar

You can upload handouts, like PDF files or spreadsheets to share with your audience. But as you launch the handout file, your attendees won’t be notified by the webinar interface. You have to tell them to navigate under the handouts tab and download it there.

One positive side is that you can share YouTube videos during your webinar. The video runs smoothly for the attendees. You can pause/resume the video, but you can’t seek forward or backwards.

But the video will also play in a separate undocked window for the attendee.

GoToWebinar attendee seeing the webinar videos
GoToWebinar: How the attendee will see the videos. Webcam and video windows are undocked.

Perhaps the best presentation feature through-out this whole GoToWebinar review have to be the drawing tools:

GoToWebinar drawing tools
GoToWebinar drawing tools

Another feature that I liked is the Attentiveness Rating. It displays the percentage of session participants who have the GoToWebinar Viewer on top of all other applications in comparison to those who have the GoToWebinar Viewer in the background in real time, so you can tell if you are losing your audience’s attention.

GoToWebinar attentiveness rating
GoToWebinar attentiveness rating

That’s a useful feature for keeping your eye on when you’re starting to lose your attendee’s focus. When the attentiveness rating starts dropping, you know it’s time to spice things up in your presentation. This is one of the features I enjoyed during this GoToWebinar review.

Download the App to Join from a Mobile Device

Even attendees joining from their mobile devices can’t get around downloading an app to join the webinar.

Attendees must download the GoToWebinar Android app or iPhone app to join on mobile.

Considering the extra step, one would expect a delightful user interface from the webinar on mobile.

The attendees can tap on the webcam video to make it bigger or tap on the shared screen to zoom in.

GoToWebinar android webcam
GoToWebinar attendee view: Webcam on mobile
GoToWebinar webcam and slides on android
GoToWebinar attendee view: Slides + Webcam

When the host launches the poll, it appears on the full screen. This immediately grabs all the attention, which is a good thing.

There’s no public chat, so attendees can’t chat with each other. There’s just the Q&A, so each attendee can ask their questions from the host. 

GoToWebinar poll on Android
Attendee view: Poll on mobile
Q&A on android
Attendee view: Q&A on mobile

As a host, you cannot use your mobile app to start the webinar. One would expect to start a webinar and use their phone camera to share the video.

The host can only use the mobile app as a secondary device to review Q&A and the “Hearts” attendees might tap.

One feature that might be useful for running a product demo webinar is that you can share your phone screen during the webinar.

Webinar Follow-up & Replay Recording

All live webinars will automatically start recording as you start the webinar. The recording will stop once you end the webinar.

The webinar follow-up email that the attendees receive after the webinar includes the webinar replay.

Webinar follow-up email
Webinar follow-up email with the replay link

A good thing about these replays is that the polls will be recorded as well.

Polls on the webinar replay
Polls on the webinar replay

Where are GoToWebinar Recordings Saved?

The GoToWebinar recordings are saved under the Video Library. These recordings are also used for webinar replays. The webinar recordings can be downloaded, shared and edited.

where are gotowebinar recordings saved
GoToWebinar recording are saved under the Video Library
gotowebinar download recording
Download the GoToWebinar recording

You can edit them after the webinar, if you like. When you open the video, you can actually trim it right there to cut out the unnecessary parts.

GoToWebinar trim video
Trimming the GoToWebinar recording

Trimming and editing the webinar recording is a unique feature that I’ve only seen during this GoToWebinar review. 

You can choose the original webinar video, the trimmed version or upload an entirely new recording to GoToWebinar.

Then you can use it to create a new pre-recorded automated webinar.

Webinar Analytics & Spreadsheet Exports

As you navigate to the Analytics tab, you’ll immediately see the Analytics Dashboard.

GoToWebinar analytics dashboard
GoToWebinar Analytics Dashboard

This gives you a general overview of all your webinars and how many registrations did they get each day.

There are multiple reports you can generate and download as an Excel Spreadsheet.

GoToWebinar Reports
Reports you can generate

The most insightful is probably the Session Overview Report, which shows:

GoToWebinar session report example
GoToWebinar Session report example

There’s also the Registration Report, which shows you:

The Webinar Engagement Report gives you data per attendee, like:

The robust analytics dashboard and abundant Excel spreadsheet reports were probably the most positively surprising part about this whole GoToWebinar review.

Having the webinar platform as an installed desktop application enables it to collect more data about attendees.

How Much Does GoToWebinar Cost? Does it have a Trial?

If you’re living in the United States, you’ll have one additional package available: GoToWebinar Lite.

The cheapest package is GoToWebinar Lite, which costs $59 / month (billed monthly).

GoToWebinar pricing
GoToWebinar pricing

However, it seems you can only host webcasts with it, as “Standard events” are not included. That means you cannot host webinars with GoToWebinar Lite.  

GoToWebinar lite features
GoToWebinar features by packages

So, you’d have to choose the “Standard package” to actually host webinars (with up to 250 participants). That would set you back $129 / month. And the Standard package will not include:

Considering the clunky webinar interface, its many shortcomings and lack of some important features, I’d say GoToWebinar is definitely overpriced.

The upside is that there is a 7-day trial, so you can try out even the premium features.

GoToWebinar Review Summary. Pros & Cons

Let’s summarize some of the upsides and the downsides from this GoToWebinar review.

ProsCons
Desktop app for the host and the attendee makes the connection stable and reliableDownloading an app just to join a webinar is inconvenient for some attendees
Can host webcasts tooAlmost no customization on the webinar registration page
Can host automated webinarsVery limited customization for the reminder emails
GoToMeeting software includedVery clunky user interface in the live webinar
Plenty of simultaneous organizers and panelists can joinCannot upload slides, have to screen share
Schedule a different webinar follow-up email to attendees and no-shows No Call-to-Action offers
Various drawing toolsNo public chat
Post-webinar feedback surveys Attendees can’t see each other’s questions. No question upvoting.
Non-personal customer support Can’t control the attendee viewing experience
Attentiveness tracking during the live webinar Webinar replay won’t be sent to the attendees
Abundant and robust webinar analytics and exportsExpensive
Can trim & edit the webinar recording

All in all, I cannot recommend GoToWebinar for hosting marketing webinars.
In my experience, the downsides outweigh the upsides, and it’s far too expensive.

GoToWebinar Alternatives

There are some far modern and stable webinar software, which are far superior and cheaper alternatives to GoToWebinar.

Some of my favorite GoToWebinar alternatives are: 

WebinarJam

WebinarJam is a fully browser-based webinar software that gives you far more customizability for your webinar funnel pages. The user interface is smooth and easy to use for the host and for the attendee.

The presentation tools are much more handy for the host, so you can focus on delivering the webinar content and not stress about the usability of the tools.  

WebinarJam is built for hosting marketing webinars, so the features are focused around helping you make the sale even in the live webinar room.

And it’s almost 5x cheaper than GoToWebinar. 

GetResponse

GetResponse is a full-fledged email marketing platform that also features webinars. This means you can run your email marketing campaigns and webinars all on the same platform.

The webinar funnel features are clearly organized and very data-driven. The presentation tools are perfect for marketing and for educational webinars.

Having your email marketing and webinar marketing campaigns under one software means you:

  • Don’t have to pay for 2 software solutions
  • Don’t have to worry about integrations

And it’s cheaper than GoToWebinar.

WebinarNinja

Personally, WebinarNinja is my favorite webinar software.

This is the perfect webinar software for a startup, small business or if you’re just starting with webinar marketing.

You can host live and automated webinars; the webinar funnel pages are beautifully designed and the customer support is super helpful.

And it’s probably the best bang-for-buck webinar software out there. Meaning, you’ll get the most for your money.

It’s also waaay cheaper than GoToWebinar.