Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but… PODCASTS!
Yes, as a results-oriented brand marketer, you have likely already flirted with the idea of starting a podcast for your brand, product or service. But whether or not you should… well, that’s a different story. Among your many jobs in your role is developing ways to capture and retain the short attention span of a valued follower. Another one: innovate. So adapting your content strategy means that you cannot ignore this form of content. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that creating a podcast is right for your brand. The good news: there are other ways to capitalize on this emerging platform.
First, the “Why?”
Millennials and members of Gen-Z are increasingly using podcasts to dive deeper into niche and cultural, passionate areas of interests, such as television & film, sports & games, health & fitness, and history. They have also become an outlet for those looking to make their workdays and commutes more enjoyable, thought-provoking and intellectually satisfying. As a result, podcasts are offering a platform where listeners are sparking natural interest and concern.
Podcasts are an immersive form of content marketing that keeps an audience hooked by expanding their short attention span. According to a Microsoft study, the average attention span of a human is now 8 seconds. (So congratulations on making it this far!). This is down from an average attention span of 88% since 2000. This is where the true power of audio content is revealed. Podcast company Midroll (owned by The E.W. Scripps Co.) conducted a survey revealing that a whopping 90% of podcast listeners are engaged enough to listen to an entire episode of audio. And podcasts have played a huge role in expanding the declining rates of attention from 8 seconds to nearly one hour. According to an analysis conducted by Dan Misener, which included a sample of 10 million podcasts, the average duration is 43 minutes and 24 seconds.
So what DOES this mean for us as brand marketers? How is expanding the attention span of a consumer to this scale possible? While curating and refining effective content, let’s consider a new strategic superpower: The emotional impact that podcasts have on like-minded and passionate segments of people.
Using Your Voice to Elicit Passion and Emotions
When thinking about podcasts to leverage your brand tone, think more deeply about what collectively interests, inspires and drives your target audience. These values will naturally attract your audience to the genre of your podcast. If creating a podcast is something that you’re strongly considering, the first strategic pillar requires incorporating these values into your episodes. This is one reason why marketers should begin to warm up their vocal cords to use their voice in a way that helps them become more in tune (literally!) with the emotions of their audience. Whether or not technology is stripping consumers of their emotions is open to debate, but it is up to marketers to respond to this potential side-effect of technology by using their voice to tell meaningful stories to their target-market using feelings of trust, excitement, passion and love, which technology certainly cannot replicate. Effective content is supposed to elevate emotions anyways, right?
Also consider the fact that different categories of podcasts attract unique segments of people with refined niches, presenting an opportunity to expand your target-market, audience and reach according to varying interests. Side note: Although content is the “bread and butter” of brand storytelling, it is also important not to spread your priorities too thin. Take control of your content and its purpose, while being considerate of opportunities that align with your strategy.
Retailers like Sephora are using podcasts to align with their target audience’s passions, emotions and values, especially in relation to their core inspirations. Using themes of empowerment and influence with powerful female hosts , the “#LIPSTORIES by Sephora Collection” podcast taps into the emotions of its target market. These hosts have fascinating backgrounds and stories to tell about their lives, which help Sephora position itself accordingly. And just like that, Sephora has enhanced its positioning through trends, innovation and diversity.
Using Your Voice to Increase Audience Engagement
In addition to leveraging audio to better communicate, personalize and elicit emotions, podcasts are also being used to engage audiences by making them feel like they are part of an actual conversation with the host. Podcasts create an experience with listeners thanks to actual human voices and emotions that exhibit passion, enthusiasm, loyalty and, of course, knowledge for and of the given brand. If new episodes are released on a schedule, it creates the consistency needed to build a relationship with listeners. The listener may even consider the host to a friend that he or she checks in with during a commute or long day at work.
Publications, such as The Financial Times, are now using podcasts to take their content strategies to the next level. Their audio strategy includes the new addition of subscriber-only podcasts. These podcasts feature coverage and insights from decision-makers, politicians and analysts from all around the world. By transforming a portion of its written words with a human voice and connection, The Financial Times is just another example of a company that is using audio content to drive levels of engagement.
How Can You Apply This Information to Your Brand?
Now that you understand the many advantages of podcasting, it is time to apply this information to YOUR brand, product or service-related strategy. At this point, you may be envisioning using this platform as a means of enhancing your content… Or you may not be (due to uncertainty or confusion). Use the questions below to start making an informed decision for making that leap of faith in complete confidence.
- Do you have the resources and flexibility in your marketing budget to sustain this new platform? Although podcasting presents many opportunities, we have been trained (and rightfully so) to think about the cost and eventual return of an investment we are making. First, does your company have the means of providing the required equipment, including microphones, recording software, and editing software? Luckily, the necessities for a “good quality” podcast costs only about $200 according to Live365. Keep in mind, however, that you must also consider other costs. These include the number of employees who would be effective hosts and the amount of flexibility in their schedules for this time commitment. Remember: the average duration of a podcast is 43 minutes and 24 seconds. This does not include retakes, editing time, posting time, and preparation time. Finally, although podcasts do present many advantages in the long-term, getting to that point requires hard work and investments, rather than immediate returns.
- Do you want to ignite the passions of your target and unite them according to their common interests? Great! Remember, podcasts retain attention in a way that is a natural to its listeners.
- Tip: When thinking about what genre of a podcast will work best for your brand, think about which magazines your target-market would have the most interest in reading, since magazines attract very narrow, but like-minded segments of people as well. Would your ideal customer be most interested in reading Vogue or Elle? Time Magazine or The Financial Times? Southern Living or Taste of Home? The list goes on…
Alternatives to Creating Your Own Podcast
If any of the above items do not align with your resources or objectives, but you are still interested in leveraging this platform, there are alternatives to creating your own podcast. Let’s consider the power of relationship-building in two unique ways. First, building relationships with influential podcast hosts may land you valued time, in the form of an interview, on an episode. Next, consider building relationships in a way that forms a potential sponsorship through ads. According to Entrepreneur, a podcast with 3,000 downloads per episode are eligible for sponsoring 15-second ads and mid-rolls. Consider which podcasts will meet both of your needs when selecting your advertisement placement. Both of these alternatives will give you a window of time to tell your brand’s story and increase awareness without making that leap of faith.
The Bottom Line & Measuring Success
Brands and publications, such as The Financial Times and Sephora, are experimenting with audio to adapt the traditional marketing mix. Brands interested in reaching and engaging an audience with passion and concern for the core values and interests of your company should consider taking greater control of their audio content. This will help promote measurable conversion. Some of the best ways to benchmark and measure the performance of your future podcast is with unique downloads and number of subscribers. Also watch for positive and negative trends in the number of downloads or subscribers with each new episode. Monitoring these trends will help you sustain and tell a story without limits.