Webinar vs Podcast – 3 Key Differences – Which One to Use For Your Business
Since the pandemic, face-to-face marketing has gone out of style. So how do you add a personal touch to your business?
Webinars and podcasts are two options which allow prospective customers to really get to know you as a brand. Let’s dive into what these mediums have to offer.
What is a webinar?
A webinar is a seminar held over the web: a live event hosted on a video conferencing platform.
In the past, offices relied on PBX phone systems. What is a PBX phone system? It’s a private telephone network used within a company. With this, companies can use cloud-based solutions to host conference calls or webinars.
During a webinar, speakers will address an audience who participate remotely from their homes and workplaces. Speakers present using webcams and microphones, and display slideshows, videos or other multimedia elements.
The audience can speak during Q&A segments, participate in surveys or otherwise contribute using the chat function.
Like any event, webinars have set start and end times. Attendees sign up using an event registration platform. They receive the link to access the video call in advance of the broadcast. Most webinars last around an hour.
What is a podcast?
A podcast is a set of audio files. Though originally named after the Apple iPod, it has taken on a life of its own.
Podcasts are often accessed online, where they can be downloaded to your device or listened to in a browser via a website or audio streaming service.
Because a podcast is an audio product, the sound must be clear and crisp. Podcasters require a good quality microphone and set of headphones, and comprehensive podcast audio recording software and editing software. ID3 editors are also used to edit the files’ metadata, eg. the track titles and artist names.
Why are they different?
There are a few key differences between a webinar and a podcast. Whichever one you choose will depend on your needs and priorities as a business. It will also depend on the resources you can spare.
Webinars are live. Podcasts are pre-recorded
Webinars are events, while podcasts are produced ahead of time. Although webinars can be filmed and rewatched by attendees later, attending the webinar is a live experience.
Webinars are interactive. Podcasts aren’t
Though webinars and podcasts both include an element of presentation, podcasts feature expert discussions on a topic for an audience to consume and enjoy. Webinars may have surveys, Q&As and further opportunities for participation.
Podcasts cannot be monetized – Webinars can
Podcasts are always free. You can include ads or sponsorships, and ask your audience to visit your business’ web presence, but audiences will not pay to listen.
Most webinars are free to attend, but they can be monetized. Highlight Call to Action links for your audience to check out your business. Since a webinar is more of a two-way conversation, audiences are more likely to engage with your product.
So which should you choose for your business?
Webinars: the advantages
Targets relevant audience
Webinars are invite-only, so your audience members have already taken their first steps towards engaging with your product.
Use your webinars to convert those leads into sales by giving an informative presentation which demonstrates how your products can benefit the customer. Show customers how to find more information about your company and product, including your automated self service system.
Builds customer relationships
Webinars provide opportunities for organizers and speakers to communicate with attendees personally, through Q&A sessions and the chat function. Polls and surveys can also be conducted during webinars to obtain customer feedback in real time.
This is a fantastic way to gain the trust of new potential customers, showing you care about their individual needs and interests.
Multimedia elements create engagement
Research shows that people learn more deeply when visual elements are included in a presentation. Luckily, webinars provide this option. Why not make the most of it during your workshops and product demos?
For example, if your topic is “What is a DBA?”, break the topic down into bullet points: the definition, purpose, and when a DBA is necessary for your business. Use images and highlight key phrases and sentences with bright colors.
As well as a slideshow, include pictures, animation, videos and an interactive whiteboard for a dynamic and entertaining experience.
As mentioned above, it’s possible to host paid webinars. The registration link can be shared after the transaction is complete. Plus, webinars can capitalize on having a group of leads in the room. You can direct them to a sign-up link.
Generally, the screen share and chat function options makes it easier to share links and content during a webinar. Incentivize your attendees to sign up by offering free workbooks, demos and templates, such as a web design proposal sample doc.
Webinars: the disadvantages
Although the conversion rate is high, webinars typically have fewer attendees than podcasts have listeners. After all, a webinar is a one-off, exclusive event.
Unlike a podcast, a webinar includes many complex elements. You need to research and write the presentation, design a slideshow, and source additional materials.
Webinars also require a huge marketing push to ensure attendees show up. This means a significant outlay of resources even before the event begins.
Webinars are subject to technical glitches. Sometimes this may even lead to the event being canceled, eg. if the main speaker’s internet connection is faulty. Unlike podcasts, issues can’t be smoothed out in post-production.
Podcasts: the advantages
Draws a wider audience
You don’t have to be in a particular place and time to listen to a podcast. Because they are pre-recorded, free and easy to access. Listeners can tune in from the gym, their daily commute, their kitchen while they do the dishes, or pretty much anywhere.
You may steadily accumulate new listeners over time, and see an increase in sales and traffic to your web presence. Encourage listeners to subscribe and share on social media to build a loyal following.
Like a webinar, a podcast contains a mixture of scripted content and natural conversation. Unlike a webinar, you have the opportunity to clean up mistakes later. You can edit out stammering, long pauses, unnecessary tangents, or any noise interruptions. It’s also possible to improve the volume and sound levels to make it clear and crisp. Platforms like Podcastle, for instance, allow you to effortlessly remove background noise from your audio tracks, filler words, and cut out your silent parts with one simple tool like Audio Assistant. In today’s vast and diverse range of AI-powered tools, the process of audio editing and quality enhancement has been automated and simplified.
You don’t need to ensure a certain number of listeners before you record your podcast. Just go ahead and record it. The initial barriers to hosting a webinar don’t apply to podcasting.
On the other hand, you do need to build your audience. Publish your podcast on as many platforms as you can to broaden your listener demographic. Listeners are primarily attracted through social media. Post links to your episodes with enticing clips or quotations to capture people’s interest.
These strategies are simple, effective, and importantly, cheap. A podcast is a low-risk venture: you don’t have to expend a huge amount of time, money and resources to start one. All you have do is come up with an idea, compare the different podcast hosting platforms and choose the one that aligns the best with your business, and get started.
Podcasts: the disadvantages
Podcasts may offer the flexibility to listen from anywhere, at any time, but this poses a risk. Those who do log on may be multi-tasking or inattentive. Your hours of hard work could easily become someone’s background noise.
While webinars offer plenty of opportunities for the audience to engage, podcasts let you zone out. You may have to put in extra effort to hold your audience’s attention. Use a script with a strong structure, including content clusters. Add a quiz segment, raffle or giveaway to encourage active engagement.
The downside of a broader audience is fewer guaranteed leads. If you’re attending a company’s webinar, you’ve already made the decision to invest in that brand in some way. For a podcast, this isn’t the case.
Your podcast may be hugely popular, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to sales. You need to make sure your content promotes your product at every opportunity.
No immediate audience feedback
In a webinar, you can solicit instant feedback from your audience through group discussion and Q&As. Any queries can be addressed then and there, heading off any issues or complaints.
A podcast has a broad audience who can’t respond to you in real time. If your online presence includes customer service automation, audiences may be able to look up the answers to their questions. If not, you may occasionally encounter negative reviews or commentary on social media. Thus, the risk is higher for podcasts than webinars.
Fewer monetization opportunities
As mentioned above, podcasts are free to access. You can direct customers to your web presence and call to action, but there is no assurance of lead conversions.
Webinars and podcasts offer distinct advantages and disadvantages. While webinars may seem safer and easier to monetize, they require a lot of preparation. They also don’t attract newcomers to your brands. Instead, they are useful for converting idle visitors into customers.
Podcasts have greater outreach potential, and are fairly cheap and easy to produce. They don’t gather instant customer feedback, so your company may need to use additional tools like email tracking to monitor whether it works as part of your marketing strategy.
Moreover, a podcast doesn’t make a profit on its own, and it may not be enough to convince a customer to buy a product.
It’s up to you to decide which format is the most suitable for your brand. Go forth and get creative!
This article was created by Grace Lau who is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Grace Lau also published articles for domains such as UpCity and Soundstripe. Here is her LinkedIn.