Steve Lubetkin, managing partner of the Lubetkin Media Cos., which provides third-party podcasting services, remembers when he realized just how complementary a podcast could be to a company’s overall digital marketing operations. It was several years ago when podcasting was still in its infancy — as was cyber-liability, which the client, a business-to-business insurance company, was launching into the market for the first time. Cyber-liability was a novel concept at the time, which meant that the target audience was unfamiliar not only with the product but in some cases, even the risk itself.

So the insurance company decided to produce some podcasts on the subject — not to sell listeners on the product, but instead to explain what cyber-liability was, the general risks that companies were facing from cyber fraud and attacks and even such topics as what was necessary to do to secure a network. At the same time the company also produced a white paper covering the same ground.

There was one senior executive at the company managing this new line, Lubetkin said, and when the company began advertising that it had this new and unique product this contact person was bombarded with requests for information. “But instead of spending hours on the phone with prospective clients explaining, over and over again, the basics of the product and the problem, he was able to say, ‘here are some podcasts to listen to and here is a white paper to read. Once you’ve absorbed this information please call me.’”

Lubetkin said the company had about 13,000 downloads of the podcasts, which may not seem like a lot but it is if you are trying to reach a very specific audience. “That is one misunderstanding people have about podcasts in a marketing strategy — it is not about going viral. The goal is to reach the business audience for that specific product or service,” he said. By the time the prospective clients had listened to the podcasts and read the white paper they only called the executive with specific questions or were even ready to talk about setting up coverage. “That was 13,000 half hour conversations a senior executive didn’t have to have. That alone was a tangible savings to the company,” Lubetkin said.

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How To Make Best Use Of A Podcast

Podcast were made famous by MTV’s Adam Curry, over a decade ago but after that initial burst of popularity they fell out of favor, said Kent Lewis, president and founder of Anvil Media. “In the past few years, though, podcasting has seen incredible resurgence. Research shows consumers value podcasting as a medium for information and entertainment and appreciate brands that utilize the medium.”

By now most companies are familiar with podcasts and, for the reasons that Lewis gave, they are generally thought to be among the possible strategies for a digital marketer to try. However, when used correctly they can be a far more potent tool, as Lubetkin’s client story shows. They are, for example, ideal for targeting and educating a specific audience about a concept or company. And while they are unlikely to go viral — unless you are producing Serial or This American Life — they will leave an indelible impression on your audience. Here are other reasons why a podcast should be among the top of a digital marketer’s go-to tools.

Learning Opportunities

Positioning Your Brand as an Authority 

When purposefully launched and marketed, a podcast can set you up as the subject matter expert in your field, said Laura Pence Atencio, a radio show and podcast host and author at Socially Savvy Geek. “When you speak directly to your target market about the exact issues and struggles they are facing and provide them with solutions, they quickly learn to trust you,” she said. Or put another way, “There’s nothing quite like having the chance to speak directly to your target customers...,” said Viv Conway, co-host of Ace The Gram podcast.

The type of guests that a podcast has can also establish branding creds, said Scott Orn, COO of Kruze Consulting and host of the podcast Founders & Friends. Kruze Consulting is an accounting firm that focuses on serving venture capital-funded startups, he explained. “Since we often interview guests who have large social media followings, we will see many of the podcasts tweeted and mentioned by guests — it gets the word out about us.” And, he added, the fact that important venture capitalists and noted lawyers in the space will do an interview with Founders & Friends shows how influential Kruze Consulting is.

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Less Competition Than Blogs

Given the relatively scarcity of podcasts — at least compared to blogs — you have a much greater chance of standing out with a podcast, said Naresh Vissa, founder and CEO of Krish Media & Marketing. Best estimates are that there are close to 250 million active blogs out there, he said. There are about 250,000 podcasts in iTunes and with only half of those active — having been updated in the last three months — that is a blogger-to-podcaster ratio of roughly 2,000-to-1, Vissa said. “Put another way, if you filled Madison Square Garden with bloggers and podcasters only 10 people would be podcasters and my guess is they likely would be the ones on the court.”

Podcasts Can be Created from Content in Other Forms

The content strategy can start off with a video, then the video can be turned into a podcast, explained Jean Ginzburg, CEO and founder of Ginball Digital Marketing. “Then the audio can be transcribed into a blog post or article,” she said. “All of this can be distributed across social media channels to find new audiences.”

Adding Another Customer Touchpoint

It takes more than 7 touchpoints for someone to buy from you, and a podcast can add another touchpoint to the mix, said Steph Taylor, founder and director of the Wellness Marketing Agency, Wildbloom and host of the pocast Socialette. “They might see a Facebook Ad with your product, see you on Instagram and then hear the ad in a podcast,” she said.