Marketing can be expensive and labor intensive, even when you’re staying firmly inside the box. Thanks to competition and advertainment, there’s little room for tentative marketing. That makes extending your marketing plan to include new channels a hard decision.
Podcasting, however, isn’t a short fad or a third party platform. In today’s market, where direct audience access is often challenging and expensive, podcasting offers a unique opportunity to produce memorable content for direct consumption.
If you’re looking to add podcasting to your business’s marketing toolbox, make sure you understand how it can integrate with your existing marketing efforts. The difference between a clogged content calendar and an effective marketing strategy is the way in which different channels and platforms amplify each other. For the right businesses, podcasting can provide amplification that other channels can’t replicate.
Understanding The Podcasting Space
Before diving into marketing strategy, it’s important to understand how podcasting fits into the bigger picture of digital content and digital distribution.
Roughly 67 million people listen to podcasts at least once a month. Demographically, these listeners are young, male, and affluent. 40% of them consume at least 1 hour per week, and 18% consume over 3 hours per week.
Podcast listeners typically listen to episodes in their homes, within 24 hours of release. A notable fraction, 25%, listen in during their commutes. 16% download episodes to listen to them later in the week. While the majority of podcast listeners click through from social media, 27% subscribe and listen through RSS.
Translating those numbers into actionable data, here are the key takeaways:
- Podcast listeners tend to stick with a limited set of shows that they stay engaged with long-term. Once you hook a subscriber, you’ll have them for a while.
- Podcasts have higher open rates than email lists, and a dedicated group of delayed consumers. It’s a reliable way to communicate information to your audience.
- The slow-burn style of podcast content emphasizes the value of podcast-to-podcast networking. Advertising through podcasts is a great way to expand your audience.
How Podcasts Fit Into Your Marketing Plan
Podcasting is a channel, not a platform. That’s what makes many businesses hesitate, as running or guest-hosting a podcast represents a serious marketing (and production) burden that can compete with incumbent content efforts. (Red Cup can help with this. We produce podcasts.)
But where written content faces oversaturation and low engagement, podcasting is still progressing through a positive growth curve. That growth, combined with the high rates of information retention, the longer content-consumption periods, and the value-shift of podcasting demographics (younger high-earners), creates a unique opportunity that businesses should examine closely.
Better yet, the relative youth of podcasting creates a secondary benefit: beachheadding. You may have the opportunity to establish yourself in the podcasting market before your direct competitors do, which will give you first crack at interested demographics and the chance to play a leadership role in your niche’s overall contribution to the channel.
With these facts in mind, here’s how to position podcasting within your already diverse marketing plan:
Use Podcasts to For Cornerstone Content
The audience for 5,000 word doorstop articles is small. If you’re looking to establish authority through large pieces of experiential or developmental content, turn to podcasting instead of content writing.
While the average article comes in at around 1,600 words, the average podcast is 22 minutes long. When you account for average reading speeds and average narration speeds, these ~20 minute podcasts work out to be twice as long word-for-word, creating an opportunity to deliver more content (with better information retention) to the same audience without decreasing the completion rate.
When you’re building content strategies that develop your topic authority, use podcasting for your large cornerstone pieces. Audiences are more likely to listen than read, which means you can break down your content calendar across your media channels by accounting for topic size and importance.
This will help you establish entry points for your audio content, and help you cement social proof within your niche. Intermixed with your traditional content strategies, this will provide variety that stands out from the competition.
Use Podcasts to Build Relationships
Guest hosting (or bringing in a guest host from another podcast) has a larger impact than bringing in a guest blogger. Unless you have an extremely distinct writing style, and bring in an equally distinct guest, most readers won’t notice.
Changing up your hosting situation, however, can have a profound impact on the voice and style of your podcast. Spoken content produces a stronger emotional response in listeners, and creating situations where two unique and engaging speakers can explore the venn diagram of their expertise is one of the hallmarks of good podcasting.
In this role, podcasting provides a solid bridge between your per-item media tactics and your overall strategy. Where a guest writer might need to create a one, three, or even six month series to truly contribute to the tone and style of a publication, a well chosen guest host can have an immediate and memorable impact on listeners.
Use Podcasts for Audience Engagement
Things like Q&A’s and featured reader questions go a long way towards creating a sense of community, which can be leveraged through marketing and word of mouth to create a more resilient audience.
Podcasts can be more informal in terms of tone and engagement than articles in many cases, as they’re presented as direct conversational engagements with listeners. When you shift a portion of your Q&A material into your podcast schedule, this adds an additional layer to your engagement funnel and helps to build an overall stronger audience relationship.
This is where beachheading a channel can really pay off, as the authority developed through direct engagement has long term value. Establishing yourself in a media channel before your competition, engaging your audience, and building your topic authority will produce longer-lasting listeners than trying to engage in a crowded space.
Understanding Diverse Marketing Plans
Podcasts aren’t a perfect fit for every business, so don’t worry if these use cases don’t align with your needs. The important thing to consider is whether the channels you utilize in your marketing plan are there because of assumptions, or needs.
The key benefit that underlines the three integrations suggested above is the role that podcasts play in long term audience relationships. Since podcasts, like mailing lists, are often consumed in a subscription style, you’re able to focus on (and reward) repeat listeners. Where other marketing channels are overcrowded with noise and dominated by algorithms outside of your control, podcasts provide direct delivery to an engaged audience.
If engagement, authority, and in-market networking are valuable for you, consider integrating podcasting into your marketing plan. You’ll be able to shift some of your current marketing efforts into spaces where there’s a higher payoff, and create an opportunity to experiment with more diverse content offerings without trying to linearly scale your efforts.