In case you haven’t already heard, podcasts are kind of a big deal.
Conversations that used to be dominated by ‘have you seen that new TV show?!”, have now evolved into ‘have you heard that new podcast?!’ And, as iTunes racks up a staggering one billion podcast subscribers, this once-cult form of media is quickly swimming towards the mainstream, with shows like Serial, This American Life and How Stuff Works becoming household names.
In this on-demand information era, tuning into a podcast is the ultimate way to consume knowledge, be educated or entertained, as there’s a show dedicated to almost every kind of interest and subculture imaginable.
Naturally, with a large and fast-growing audience, podcasting is therefore developing into a powerful communications tool for businesses, in terms of branding, advertising and marketing.
It works particularly well as a content marketing platform. Whether you’re hosting one, advertising on one or making a guest appearance on one, having a presence on a podcast is becoming an exciting and effective way to increase brand awareness, grow a fanbase and acquire customers.
So if you’re not already familiar with this underground-turned-overground phenomenon, it’s time to get acquainted.
Why Does It Work?
It’s New And Shiny
There are so many reasons why podcasts work as a content marketing tool, the first being that it’s fairly new and is somewhat unchartered territory in terms of advertising and marketing.
There are only handful of companies that have treaded the podcast-sponsorship water and, naturally, they have fared well in what is a pretty uncompetitive landscape, They have the monopoly.
Furthermore, whereas consumers of TV, radio, online and other traditional media are almost blind to advertising at this point, marketing there is still finding its feet within podcasts, so the listener is naturally more attentive and curious to the messages being broadcasted.
Where video and blog posts struggle to retain the attention of users past the five minute mark, the average podcast listener stays for an incredible 22 minutes.
Podcast listeners aren’t just fans – they’re fanatical. As most show are broadcast or uploaded episodically, this makes it a great way of building a loyal following who are guaranteed to come back for more. It also gives advertisers the opportunity to experiment with serialised marketing campaigns.
Podcasts listeners tend to form trustful virtual relationships with the hosts, as it’s an intimate form of media. Therefore, any recommendations they make in terms of sponsors are more likely to resonate.
If you’re marketing through podcasts, this is an opportunity to create dedicated brand followers. Podcast audiences are more captive than any other; you’re in their ears during their commute, when they’re taking a walk or doing some house work. You have their undivided attention during their otherwise wasted time, making them so much more susceptible to your message.
It’s Highly Targeted
Unlike TV shows which tend to appeal to mass audiences, podcasts tackle niche interests and specialist topics, making their audiences highly targeted.
Wrestling podcasts, for instance, are hugely popular and attract a large but specific audience of mostly adult males aged 21-45. So male-focused brands have a great chance of successfully snaring their target audiences by advertising there. Car manufacturers, breweries and mens fashion retailers have all fared well.
There are a few options when it comes to utilizing podcasts as a marketing strategy and the most obvious one is to advertise.
Personally, I listen to around 14 hours of podcasts in just one week and these shows span all kinds of subjects from science and law, to business and pop culture. However, regardless of what show I’m listening to, it’s the same few companies that keep cropping up in the sponsorship slots (as I mentioned; it’s fairly unchartered territory).
These companies include Squarespace, Audible.com and Stamps.com among a few others. I hear their ads so often, I can repeat them verbatim. I can memorise the unique discounts and offers that they provide for listeners of each show and I can rhyme off their domain names and slogans without thinking. In fact, I have signed up, purchased and subscribed to a few through curiosity, if nothing else.
That’s the kind of response to advertising that companies dream of, with many throwing large sums of money at TV, radio and online in the hopes of achieving the same. And through podcasting, it’s almost effortless.
Who Should Advertise on Podcasts?
It seems that the brands which are most successful with podcast sponsorship and direct advertising are online companies. As podcasts are listened to through smartphones, a sponsoring company which is easily accessible with a quick Google, is the most natural fit.
As mentioned, the audiobook service Audible and the easy website builder Squarespace, have benefited hugely through podcast sponsorship. Not only do they have very searchable brand names and URLs, they are web-based services and they are great at enticing listeners with exclusive discounts and offers that are very simply redeemed with a unique code.
So if you have an online brand with a snappy message and an interesting offer, podcast sponsorship is the platform for you.
2. Host Your Own
If you’re willing to invest time and effort, you could always host your own podcast.
A great example of a brand which does podcast hosting in a very creative way is Betaworks; a previously unheard of New York start up company which a few months ago, decided to launch its own podcast called ‘The Intern’.
As suggested by the title, this podcast is about a young woman named Allison who joins the Betaworks team as an intern. Despite Betaworks being a tech company, Allison has no tech experience whatsoever, but has simply been hired for the sole purpose of producing this podcast.
The interesting thing about The Intern is that it very rarely even mentions Betaworks and is more focused on Allison’s personal life in NYC. However, this makes it so much more powerful as a content marketing tool, as the vagueness and confusing point of the podcast adds intrigue and curiosity, leading listeners to search for Betaworks online and therefore enhance their SEO and online presence.
Although creating your own podcast requires effort, it isn’t impossible. Many shows with small budgets have proven that a microphone, a recording device, editing software and a hosting service like Soundcloud are really all you need. The best podcasts aren’t always the best produced, they simply have a great message.
Who Should Host a Podcast?
Hosting your own podcast is probably the most powerful way of getting your brand message in front of an audience, but of course, it is much more time consuming and requires a lot more effort than placing an advert or offering sponsorship.
However, if you have the resources, it’s worth the work. Podcasts are excellent for specific, industry-relevant discussion, so if you’re a leader in your field or have something interesting and useful to say, you can establish a voice that is really heard.
3. Be A Guest
The third and final option for breaking into the world of podcasting is to appear as a guest on a show. Many of the best podcasts feature special interviews with experts and becoming one of these can really position you at the forefront of your field and significantly grow your brand awareness as a result.
A good example of this is the Zero Lives Left Podcast, produced and presented by Northern Irish digital guru Wayne Denner. On every episode, Wayne features an interview with a different local professional, usually in the digital field, talking about their professional life and career journey.
It’s a great way to get to know influencers in the community and it’s an opportunity for these influencers to really market their businesses or brands to the dedicated local following that the podcast has acquired.
Of course, you don’t need to have a successful local podcast to benefit from this. Phone-in or Skype interviews have the exact same result. So, if there’s a podcast in your niche that you feel you could contribute to, reach out and see what happens.
Who Should Be a Guest on a Podcast?
Similar to hosting a podcast, guests should have an opinion or a message or interesting story that will benefit their community.
Do Podcasts Fit With Your Marketing Strategy?
When considering a new marketing tool or platform, it’s important to consider how it will integrate with your marketing strategy as a whole.
Using podcasts is best suited to companies who currently, successfully undertake content marketing. For example, if you run a notable industry/company blog, with an engaged social following and great SEO, then podcasting could be a very natural way to reach new audiences.
However, if you haven’t quite yet mastered the basics of content, it’s best to get a firm handle on these before trying something new.
Marketing via podcasts can be greatly beneficial to your entire digital strategy. Not only does it provide you with new and exciting material to shout about and promote across your existing channels but it can help your SEO.
The audio material itself will not rank on search engines but the material surrounding your podcast will. Create landing pages on your existing website for your podcast and give it a presence on social media. If you’re able to create hype and get the industry talking, the search volume will grow and you’ll be able to build natural links too. The possibilities are endless when you’re not afraid of embracing the new.