The web-mostly brand turns its only store into a digital recording studio on Thursdays to host live podcast events. The events are free advertising for Betabrand and boost foot traffic to its store.

Betabrand Inc. wants to squeeze more brand awareness out of its one store, which is why its San Francisco-based location is doubling as a venue for live podcast recordings.

The apparel retailer is a web-mostly retailer that designs, manufactures and sells products based on beta tests that web visitors co-design, crowdfund and vote for at Betabrand.com. Even though the web generates the large majority of sales, the retailer wants to ensure its store adds value to the business, says Betabrand founder and CEO Chris Lindland.

“It’s an interesting thing for stores to try to figure out how to turn a retail storefront into a digital amplification machine,” Lindland says.

Although the retailer has used the store for producing photos that it shares on Instagram, this is the first time it is using its store to “target the ear of the vast and growing podcast audience of the world,” he says.

The retailer asked via social media if any Betabrand followers had a podcast  and wanted to record a live show at its store. Within days, the retailer booked a show every week for three months.

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To date, Betabrand has hosted five shows all on Thursday evenings, including “This Week in Nope!” and “The Echo Chamber.” At least 100 consumers show up for the event, and at least 1,000 consumers have downloaded each episode, Lindland says. The agreement is that the podcaster promotes the event to its followers and mentions Betabrand’s name during the show. Betabrand does not charge for use of the space and also shares the podcast with its Facebook followers.

The live podcasts have been a “fantastic marketing” win for Betabrand, he says, noting that the store traffic during the recordings is far more than the 20 or 30 consumers who visit the store on a typical Thursday night.

betabrand podcastBetabrand doesn’t vet the podcasters based on content, Lindland says. However, it is eager to book female podcasters to appeal to its customer base, 60.7% of which are women, according to Internet Retailer’s Top500Guide.com.

It’s takes a few hours of work each week to conduct the event, and Lindland believes down the road it will be worth it. As of right now, the events have increased foot traffic to its store and is helping to present the retailer as a community venue and not just a store.

“All those things add up, but it’s premature to say it has a magnificent lift in revenue,” he says. “We are not approaching it like that—yet,” Lindland adds.

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In addition, Betabrand over the last year has started advertising on podcasts, including Crime Junkie, Mueller She Wrote, Girls Gotta Eat, Pantsuit Politics and Brain Candy. About 5% of Betabrand’s annual marketing budget goes to podcasts, and it is looking to increase that share, says Caroline Culbertson, Betabrand’s director of marketing.

Sales driven from the ads vary by show, she says. The most successful podcast ads have customer acquisition costs about 40% below its target, making it a “super efficient” channel, Culbertson says.

“Advertising on podcasts has been successful for us,” Lindland says. “It’s a nice way to gain an organic foothold into that word,” Lindland says. For example, Betabrand can keep up with trends with the medium and be a participant in the channel, not just an advertiser, he says.

Betabrand Inc. is No. 752 in the  Internet Retailer 2019 Top 1000.

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