June 24, 2019

Podcasts vs. Webinars: What Content Works Better?

So, you’ve decided that you want to incorporate varied forms of content in your wheelhouse but can’t decide whether to jump on the webinar wagon or ride the podcast plane — we’ve been there. Podcasts and webinars both offer new ways to engage with your prospects, but they accomplish different things.

To determine which format will work best for you, identify what you hope to accomplish with your particular content offer, then determine what format will communicate that better and what metrics you need to measure success. While doing all that, keep your buyer personas in mind since ultimately, the content you’re creating isn’t for you — it’s for them.

Identify Your Needs

First, identify your needs — what are you hoping to accomplish with your content? Webinars and podcasts are vastly different in the ways they reach your audience and what value they provide. So, figuring out what the purpose you want the content to serve will be your first step in deciding which content form to choose.

Webinars are inherently interactive pieces of content. Whether you choose to run an educational how-to webinar, a panelist-style webinar or something else, a successful webinar will invite the audience to participate in some way, shape or form. There are many formats that you can utilize when conducting your webinar, including:

  • Educational how-to: This structure focuses on teaching an audience how to best leverage a new tool, software or strategy.
  • Workshop style: This format gives you an opportunity to interact directly with your audience and talk through their needs.
  • Panelist discussion: A panel will provide your audience with multiple perspectives focused on one topic and is usually run by thought leaders within a specific field or a host business and their strategic partners.
  • Meeting style: Most commonly used in corporate settings, a meeting-style webinar allows team members who otherwise would not be present to take part in a meeting. This is especially helpful to keep employees informed about a company’s next steps, projects, etc.

However, podcasts have a larger reach. While a webinar can be recorded and shared after it is conducted, it still does not have the flexibility a podcast does. You don’t have to be in front of a screen to engage with a podcast. A podcast can reach an audience in their car, while they’re cooking dinner, even when they’re getting ready in the morning — podcasts are becoming a part of listeners’ daily routines.

Like webinars, podcasts also come in different forms and structures. Some of these formats overlap with the formats of a webinar, but due to their audio-only nature, they will provide a different experience for your audience.

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Some podcast formats include:

  • Panel discussion: A panel-style podcast features a different set of guests each episode and allows the listener to weigh the opinions of different thought leaders in the field you’re discussing.
  • One-on-one interviews: One-on-one interviews feature a conversation between the host and various guests. These allow audiences to hear a variety of perspectives and can attract listeners outside of the host’s network who are fans of the guests. (Want to hear a great example? This is the format that we use!)
  • Solo commentary: Solo commentary talks your listener through a specific topic, software or popular discussion and focuses on the opinions and experiences the host brings to the table.
  • Co-hosted discussions: Similar to solo commentary, a co-hosted discussion focuses on a specific topic within your field, but provides your listener with multiple viewpoints on the matter because there are multiple hosts.
  • Storytelling: Storytelling podcasts guide the listener through fiction or non-fiction narratives. Each episode can tell a unique story, or a story can be stretched across multiple episodes or seasons.

Like a webinar, there is no “best” type of podcast. The most effective format depends on your style, audience and brand.

What Best Communicates Your Subject Matter

Whether a podcast or webinar will work best for you depends on both your subject matter and your audience.

Webinars can act as virtual events and are most effective when supported by visual content. Visuals help the audience stay more engaged, and since webinars typically cover in-depth or technical subject matter, visuals are essential for reinforcing and clarifying what’s being said.

If your audience doesn’t rely on visual cues to learn the subject matter you’re covering, a podcast may be a better form of content. Podcasts are great for thought leadership, stories and conversations where what’s being said is spoken in an entertaining manner. Because podcasts are only audio, audiences can listen while doing other things, which makes them more convenient for the audience, but also means your audience might not be giving you their full attention. So, if you get too far into the weeds, you might lose your listeners.

If you have a content idea already and are just choosing between the two media, think about what format best conveys that content to your audience. If you don’t have a specific idea in mind, start your ideation with your buyer personas. Which format best suits their every day lives? Once you determine that, develop valuable content for your buyer personas that fits with the format you decided was the most appropriate.

Determine Your Ideal Measurement

And lastly, something you’re going to want to consider is your ideal measurement metrics. Most webinars require you to register for them by filling out a form, which means you capture some personally identifiable information (e.g., name and email) on your listeners in your CRM. This makes it much easier to track whether the people that tune in to your webinars ever become customers.

A podcast, on the other hand, is not as straight forward. Streaming platforms for podcasts do not capture listener information that can be passed through to your CRM. So if you want to know whether the people listening to your podcast are turning into customers you’re going to need to seek that information out from your audience. There are a few ways to do this, but a quick and easy option is to add a question to your forms asking people how they heard about you and including an option for your podcast.

The Takeaway

Podcasts and webinars have different strengths and limitations. When deciding which form to move forward with, consider the goal of your content offer, the habits of your audience and what metrics you need to be able to measure.

Keep in mind that your content is for your prospects and customers, not for your marketing team or executives, so whatever you make should resonate with your buyer personas. Additionally, consider providing a transcript or written recap of any multimedia content you produce in order to make it more accessible.

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Guido Bartolacci

Guido is Head of Product and Growth Strategy for New Breed. He specializes in running in-depth demand generation programs internally while assisting account managers in running them for our clients.


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