As every office scrambles to get on the cloud and stay in the game, it can be hard to know what the best bet is for working remotely as a team. You’ve probably heard of Zoom, which has gotten pretty popular lately in conversations about cloud communications, but what about the other guys?
Your small business is unique, and so are the needs of your employees and customers during this time of change. Zoom might be the right fit for you, but there are other options with unique features you need, like task management and file sharing (more on these in just a bit)—for a similar price.
We rounded up four of the best options out there—Zoom’s top competitors, in our humble opinion—to see how they compare to each other through the eyes of a small business owner. We’ve also given each product a rating to make it a little easier to weigh your options.
In this post, we’ll go through:
- How we rated the 4 Zoom alternatives
- Zoom alternative #1: RingCentral Video
- Zoom alternative #2: Microsoft Office 365 E3
- Zoom alternative #3 Group FaceTime
- Zoom alternative #4: Google Meet
We hope this will help you make sense of how each product is different and what they have to offer you, your team, and of course, your customers. If you want to just grab the comparison chart now, you can download it here.
How we rated these 4 Zoom alternatives
We’ve rated these four Zoom alternatives on a scale of 1 to 5 clouds, based on the following criteria:
We know that as a small business owner, affordability is key, and getting what you pay for might be equally important. We looked at each platform’s overall offerings combined with their price point to best rate their value from a small business perspective.
Beyond video chat, what exactly is included in that price per user? In this time of transition, it’s not just your team that’s going remote… so are your customers! That’s why we analyzed each service’s capabilities for both internal productivity and customer-facing service and support options, in the hopes of finding some great all-in-one platforms for your business.
Security is a growing concern1 with video conferencing software. That’s why this was a critical piece on our ranking: both the specifics of the security measures each service offers and how easy they make it to understand for non-IT specialists.
How well does the platform play with others? Every small business has their own systems and preferences when it comes to productivity, so we looked at just how compatible these cloud communications services are with the apps you’re already using.
Upfront assistance and ongoing technical help are crucial to get a new product up and running for your team. We took the quality of both of these types of support into account when rating each platform.
Best for: Video/phone combo, security, and support
You know we had to toot our own horn on this one! And with good reason. RingCentral Video comes included with RingCentral Office® packages, and at $25 per month per user for the Standard plan, it might be slightly pricier on paper than the other three options in this roundup—but the value is unmatched when you dig into the details.
RingCentral Office is an all-in-one solution for your team, which includes cloud phone service with business numbers in over 100 countries, unlimited audio conferencing, video meetings, team messaging, and even business SMS. RingCentral even offers unlimited online fax, which we know is still an important feature for folks in healthcare, insurance, and other industries.
Oh, and there are seven layers of security to keep your conversations, files, and data safe.
RingCentral integrates with hundreds of apps that make managing projects, automating processes, and staying connected a breeze. This includes seamless integration with both Google and Microsoft products, all in one easy-to-use platform, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel if you’re already using these services. The cost also includes personalized onboarding training for your team—another bonus you won’t see in the competitors—and 24/7 live phone support if you have two or more registered users.
There’s also another product that includes an entire suite of customer engagement tools that puts all of your customer outreach, interactions, and metrics in the same place for better service and experience, every time. Say goodbye to switching back and forth between team and customer communication systems.
Microsoft Office 365 E3
Best for: Internal collaboration
Looking for Skype for Business as a chat and video alternative? It’s now part of Microsoft Office 365. As the highest-end of 365’s plans, Office 365 E3 includes Microsoft Teams, a place where your employees can chat, meet via video, share files, and track projects. You also get Outlook email and “unlimited” cloud storage (5 TB per user), if you have more than five users.
But there were a few drawbacks that hurt the platform when it came to overall value. Similar to RingCentral, there are a ton of possible app integrations with Microsoft 365. Unlike RingCentral, you have to pay extra for certain add-ons, like phone and audio conferencing, and online fax/SMS aren’t even an option.
According to Tech Radar, OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service, lacks the polish of other similar services and doesn’t always feel intuitive or easy to navigate. This can be a real time-waster when getting your team ready to roll. And when it comes to security, it seems RingCentral’s seven layers are the ones to beat, with Microsoft coming in at five layers of protection.
Finally, Microsoft 365 might be good for your internal team, but it sadly falls short if you’re looking for a cloud service that includes customer engagement tools. That’s why PCMag voted RingCentral the best tool for business communications over Microsoft Teams. And unlike RingCentral, there’s no expansion pack if you eventually want to include this option once your team gets familiar with the interface.
Best for: Video chat… with limitations
If you’re a small, all-Apple team looking for a free way to have meetings while social distancing, Group FaceTime might be for you!
Group FaceTime is exactly what it sounds like: Apple’s cornerstone video chat feature, expanded to host larger groups. You’ll get the clean, intuitive interface we’ve come to expect from Apple, along with some fun camera filters and effects to spice up that weekly team check-in. It’s simple, secured with end-to-end encryption, and will get its one job done.
Video calling is where Group FaceTime begins and ends. The only chat option connected to Group FaceTime is Apple’s Messages app, which is a basic text messaging platform and not capable of advanced organization. There’s also no file sharing, project management, or customer engagement tools, and it’s only for a maximum of 32 callers. A final important drawback to note: if you don’t have a Mac, iPhone, or iPad, you can’t use Group FaceTime.
Best for: File storage and sharing
After a low-key launch back in 2017, Google Meet has become a standard piece of the G Suite. Like Apple’s Group FaceTime, Google Meet expands on an existing casual tool (Google Hangouts) to reach the business crowd, but it has a lot more versatility. Like RingCentral Office and Microsoft Office 365, you can integrate any number of apps your team is already using. And in classic Google fashion, you can build custom apps via Apps Script, if you have the know-how and time.
Starting Oct, 1, 2020, for $10 per month per user, you get meetings with a maximum of 150 participants.
The downsides for Google Meet are similar to Office 365’s. They’re both reliable for collaboration across a team; that’s why RingCentral easily integrates with both of their major products. But there’s still no audio conferencing, business SMS, or secure online fax options. There’s no clear, simple way to integrate your internal teamwork with your external customer engagement and no personalized training included.
In short: Meet is the same cost as RingCentral with comparable security, but fewer practical tools specifically geared for small businesses.
Zoom alternatives: which one fits you best?
Remote software is never one-size-fits-all, especially when every smaller company has their own way of doing business. Depending on your needs, any of these four services might be right for you. Be sure to do some more research if you’re on the fence!
Take this research with you! Download a free copy of our Zoom Alternatives Comparison Chart.