Podcasts enjoyed exposure in pop culture about a decade ago, but their current renaissance says a lot about how users and businesspeople consume content today. Forbes reports that podcasting never truly fell by the wayside, and has consistently grown year-after-year. Expert Jordan Harbinger reports that podcasts have recently become more top of mind for many users because many celebrities, authors, or news personalities, such as comedian Marc Maron and author Gretchen Rubin, are hosting their own series.
No matter what kind of podcasts you or your target audience enjoys listening to, podcast listeners continue to grow each month. According to Statista, over 17 percent of the US population reported listening to podcasts in the last month. This is an increase of over 13 percent from 2014.
While all this evidence on the resurgence of podcasts is interesting, it doesn’t fully outline how a company can utilize them to increase awareness of their products and services. Contemplate the following ways podcasts can specifically integrate into your existing branding and marketing campaigns, and how podcasting may be a natural next step for your organization.
Many listeners enjoy podcasts because hosts open up a dialogue or discussion about each episode’s topic in a comfortable way. A podcast host’s voice, when listened to weekly (or daily for some podcasts, like Entrepreneur on Fire), becomes part of a listener’s routine and, once trust and interest is established, makes listeners feel more at ease and open minded.
This creation of a line of dialogue between a host and his or her listeners allows business-run podcasts to use their audience as an invaluable market research pool. For instance, consider a home remodeler that runs a popular podcast about DIY projects and home renovation. If they are considering offering a new service (like custom closets), or want to design more content around a specific topic, they can devote a podcast episode to it first. This will help determine whether or not audience interest is equal to the staff time and effort needed to branch out.
Similarly, your podcast audience can be used to grow your other marketing platforms, which can help you further evaluate desired audience behavior. When you promote your weekly email newsletter on a podcast episode, for example, 100 listeners sign up. If your email database was new, and now podcast listeners make up 66 percent of all your email subscribers, you can use metrics from emails—such as CTR and open rate—to determine what type of content podcast-listening customers like and are interested in. Be sure to set up customized tracking, possibly via a custom link in the podcast description, through an analytics platform such as Google Analytics. With it you can track user paths for those who were referred to your site from the podcast.
The very medium of a podcast—audio—is another way podcasts can help you shake up your marketing playlist to help drive engagement and traffic to your website. There are three main learning styles most people fit into: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic (hands-on and movement). According to the University of Indiana-Purdue University Indianapolis, auditory listeners absorb information better through hearing and speaking, rather than reading or experiencing it firsthand with no preparation.
While your written and visual content can be top notch, opening up your content to auditory learners can help you reach a new audience.
In addition to different learning styles, listening to podcasts instead of reading content is also a lifestyle preference. Many people listen to podcasts while exercising, driving, or even doing household chores. It’s an alternative to music or TV that allows them to sharpen their skills or keep their mind off the physical task at hand. Aim to make your podcasts an “escape” for your listeners. What is the most interesting and important information they need to know, and how can you provide it in a fun and engaging way?
Just like the radio, podcast audiences love hosts they feel like they know. Take full advantage of this: Allow podcasts to humanize your company and increase the time your target audience spends absorbing your content.
Another unique aspect of podcasts is businesses can be found and interacted with in a different way. For instance, in 2013, iTunes reported that subscriptions to podcasts reached 1 billion. This figure is likely bigger now, but it brings up an interesting point: There is an addictive aspect of podcasts that is different from other types of content. Many listeners treat podcasts like TV: They never miss a single episode of their favorite programs. This is a far cry from most company blogs that are constantly aiming for more email or RSS subscribers.
While every company’s blog has the potential to grow its readership through content and email marketing, the auditory experience of podcasts is more closely related to TV or radio than written content. This makes it unique in the way episodes are found and consumed.
Finding new podcasts to listen to is a completely different experience than searching for a blog you like. Most enthusiasts go to their podcast-listening platform of choice, usually the iTunes store for Apple users, or Stitcher or another podcast app for Android. These platforms come with their own search optimization rules, such as robust descriptions, titles, and keywords, as well as eye-catching podcast “album” covers that promote the episodes and make them look like they’re worth a user’s time.
Caring about this puts you at an advantage over many other podcasts in your niche or industry. It is difficult for users to find podcasts that are both valuable and high quality, according to Mashable. And even though Mashable published its podcast search story in 2013, the discovery process still hasn’t gotten much easier.
Create an engaging, search-optimized podcast for your organization to help you stand out from your competitors by offering unique content in an auditory format. It also helps you come out ahead from other podcasts trying to pull in listeners.
Many times, bringing up another strategy or content format to tie into your existing marketing strategy can be met with resistance: Your team may worry it will take more time and energy when their plates are already full.
However, once they get the hang of it, they may find producing podcasts is a lot easier than the back-and-forth that comes with producing a large piece of written content. If your podcast is in a conversational format, an entire episode can be recorded with just a few discussion questions or topic bullets, as opposed to thousands of words in written content worked on over a few weeks or months.
While there is time spent in the editing and publishing process, the actual creation of podcast content goes a lot faster, especially since the average speaking rate is between 80 to 160 words per minute (versus an average typing speed of 40 to 80 words per minute). Even if you are an extremely proficient typist, your talking speed is generally twice what you can write. These figures don’t factor in time spent researching, adding images, and editing written content.
In addition, you can repurpose your podcast episodes into other types of content, whether it’s posting a transcription of the recording, using the key themes discussed to create a blog post summary, creating an infographic, or designing a series of quotes as images. By using podcasts as part of the initial “brainstorm” process of your content creation, your episodes become an easy jumping board into your other marketing.
Besides taking a shorter amount of time to actually create the content, the commitment for outside resources is usually less as well. Many podcasts have a new guest joining the host(s) each episode, and the task of finding someone can seem difficult.
However, when you posit to a guest that it will take just 30 to 60 minutes to record—versus the commitment that comes with writing a guest post, speaking at an event, or answering interview questions—most people are happy to choose the podcast. If your blog needs regular guest bloggers but you have little luck finding them, try producing a podcast instead.
You may be surprised by who will agree to do a podcast. The pressure to have a recorded conversation with someone is much less than writing a 1,000-word blog post, even if it’s about the same topic.
The area of the brain that reacts to social pressure is closely tied to its reward processing, which often leads people to do things they don’t want to do. By offering an “easier” alternative to a more intense level of commitment, your podcast guests will be less stressed and will help you produce better content.
Podcasts aren’t top-of-mind for many companies in different industries, and that is what makes them a valuable asset to consider adding to your marketing mix. Podcasts can help your organization create content faster, let your audience absorb it in a new way, and get your company discovered on new platforms and with new audiences. With over 46 million people in the U.S. listening to at least one podcast in the last month, exploring this auditory form of content is something your company can’t do without.
Kelsey Jones is the managing editor of Search Engine Journal and also works as a marketing consultant and writer under MoxieDot, her marketing agency. She has been working in digital marketing since 2007 and journalism since 2004, gaining proficiency in social media, SEO, content marketing, PR, and web design. Kelsey has worked with and written for Yelp, Contour Living, Social Media Examiner, FitFluential, Bounty, Gazelle, and many more. Based in Kansas City, a fast-growing metro of the "Silicon Prairie," she enjoys writing and consuming all kinds of content, both in digital and tattered paperback form.
Interested in podcasts? Check out the Marketing Cloudcast, a new marketing and business podcast from Salesforce. Subscribe on iTunes for automatic delivery of the latest marketing trends and tactics, right to your headphones. You can also listen on SoundCloud and check out the Marketing Cloudcast website.