The Importance of Podcasts as a Marketing Tool

April 19, 2022
Influencer & Creator Marketing

Podcasts might just be the new global pastime. So many people have grown accustomed to popping in their earbuds to fit in a podcast episode here or there as a way to fill that inevitable daily downtime. You’re riding the subway, driving to work, standing in line at the grocery store, waiting at the doctor’s office, cleaning up around the house — what do you do to fill the void?

Spotify recognized people’s desire for news, commentary, and discussion was just as adamant as their need for music. Consequently, people flock to Spotify as much for podcast content as the new Adele single.

So in a world where you and your marketing team are competing with the rest of the digital landscape for the ears and attention of your target audience, how can you use targeted podcast advertising as a way to promote your brand and spread awareness of your business?

Podcasts and marketing go hand in hand, and you want to make the most of them. Podcasts by influencers facilitate opportunities that can be lucrative and rewarding, particularly when your product or service perfectly aligns with the interests of their show. Now is the time to enlist the top influencer podcasts in your field as a crucial piece of your best influencer marketing campaigns.

How Podcast Episode Consumption Skyrocketed

In the early days of iTunes, Apple podcasts began to find traction as individuals with niche interests launched what amounted to digital radio shows discussing the ins and outs of a particular subject. Theater, cartoons, movies, politics — these new podcasters became like an advanced version of AM radio driven by specificity.

As individual podcast titles were released, they also accumulated their own robust catalog of back episodes, instantly available to binge and share. These audio blogs gained more and more popularity from the mid-2000s on, with marketers and sponsors quickly getting in on the act and using the format as an opportunity to promote their wares and tie their offerings to the habits and culture of a particular listenership.

Then, when the pandemic hit the United States in early 2020, the podcast audience nearly doubled. Yes, shelter-in-place orders changed many morning routines, but despite so many people foregoing their morning commute, listeners continued to engage with their favorite podcast apps. New social media channels like clubhouse invited their own bevy of loyal listeners and podcasts fully cemented their place in both the forefront and backdrop of people’s daily lives.

A Look at Some Great Podcast Statistics

If you’re wondering – “is podcast advertising effective?” or “why should we incorporate podcast influencers?” – just take a look at the numbers. In April 2021, Podcast Insights shared how there are now 48 million podcast episodes available to stream and download. These new episodes include every topic, format, and niche imaginable to hook listeners.

Entertainment interviews;  cultural commentary; true crime; comedy; podcasts hosted by celebrities from TV, film, and stage; health and fitness shows, motivational content, religious sermons — anything anyone could ever be interested in, there’s a podcast covering exactly what every fan base wants to understand and engage with.

Edison Research provided us with The Infinite Dial, a comprehensive study on media consumption. They uncovered that as many as eighty million Americans — or roughly 28 percent of the entire United States population who are over the age of 12 — are now weekly podcast listeners. This represents a full 17 percent increase over the numbers in 2020. The pandemic has clearly altered the listening habits of the average American!

Among Americans who listen to podcasts with any kind of regularity, 48 percent identify as men. 45 percent identify as women and 2 percent identify as non-binary. 59 percent are white, 12 percent are African-American, 11 percent are Hispanic, and 7 percent are Asian. 50 percent are 12 to 34-year-olds, 29 percent of US 35 to 54-year-olds, and 21 percent of those 55 and older.

According to Small Biz Genius, increasingly, podcast listening has become a social activity that connects people to their peers as well as an online community. The Edison Research poll shows that over half of American podcast listeners often listen to a particular show alongside other people, while 21 percent listen solo. A full 69 percent of listeners under 35 report listening to podcasts with another person. On average, a podcast listener will consume 8 podcasts per week, divided between an average of 5 separate shows. The average podcast listener will listen to 8 podcasts a week, divided between 5 different shows.

Using Your Brand's Own Podcast in Your Marketing Strategy

So what makes podcasting such a game-changer for marketers? Because podcasts are spoken, they provide the perfect medium for unpacking the details of what makes a product stand out. You get more mileage from an influencer enthusiastically explaining your product or service in specifics than you would from a still image alone.

Additionally, because people return to podcasts or discover them at different moments in time — sometimes weeks or years after an episode may have initially dropped — your audio ads benefit from longevity and listeners’ repeat exposure. Unlike more fleeting forms of marketing, your podcast marketing tactics will ultimately capitalize on their own presence over a longer period of time.  

The 2020 Edison Research study was geared specifically toward “Super Listeners” defined as Americans 18 or older who regularly listen to five or more hours of podcasts on a weekly basis. Forty-nine percent of these individuals confirmed that podcast advertising was the single best way for a brand to attract their attention. For these diehard listeners ingesting large volumes of audio content, they tend to favor the products on brands featured on their favorite shows and endorsed by their favorite hosts.

When you’re launching any kind of targeted marketing campaign, you and your team want to pinpoint the channels that will best work with what you’re selling and the target market you’re trying to reach. Social Media has offered boundless possibilities for attracting and informing vast swaths of people. But for some brands, the social media route may not be the only way or even the best way to encapsulate the merits of your product and services.

Think about it. Does that Instagram picture really highlight everything that makes your product superior to your competitors? What if users scroll by without reading the caption? Do they miss essential details that would make them more likely to click or buy? Now, take the common 30-second video clip. Does this fleetingly brief snippet of information allow you to truly elucidate why your potential buyers will love what you’re offering?

Enlisting Influencers In Your Strategies To Grow Your Podcast Listeners

Many items and services will excite and inspire a target customer much more fully through a discussion and testimonial, relayed in an extemporized, off-the-cuff way – enter an authentic influencer podcast. A podcast influencer can describe your offerings in a casual relatable way that’s bound to at least pique a listener’s interest if not elicit an immediate click.

As an upside, because paid ads can be folded into the flow of the podcast track while people are multitasking or otherwise engaged, they’re less likely to skip through or scroll away as they’re prone to do on a social media platform.  

Podcast influencer marketing allows your brand to verbally showcase its assets. When your podcast host has experienced the product or service firsthand, they’re able to detail their experience in the same way they would if they were talking to a close friend.

They can talk about how the product has made their lives easier, what they love about it, and what listeners can expect by obtaining it for themselves. They will share the benefits of your product or service in a way that offers invaluable social proof and ultimately creates the sense that, by subscribing or purchasing, the audience is participating in an exciting development or movement, rather than simply buying a product. In this way, the podcast listeners become the most qualified of qualified leads.  

As you go looking through social media platforms for that right podcast influencer to approach for a marketing partnership, make it a point to consider their reviews, ratings, and rankings within the various podcast hosting platforms.

Make sure reviews are recent. This is a sign they are still continuing to engage a current listenership and that they have a successful podcast. Doing this due diligence will allow you to gain crucial insight into the general popularity of their podcast content and understand how their goals align with their own.

While many younger listeners have an aversion to marketing efforts such as ads, they tend to be much more tolerant, even interested when the advertisement relates directly to the subject matter of the podcast itself.

49 percent of the super listeners polled in the study by Edison Research maintained positive regard for the brands mentioned on their podcasts. This actually marked a five percent increase from the prior year and underscores how essential it is to find the podcast influencer that closely aligns with your brand and the goods or services you’re providing.

It always pays to go with a podcast whose topic and brand match your product and service rather than seeking out top influencer podcasts whose interests and vibe fail to align overall.

The Benefits of Organic Podcast Advertising

Once you’re in talks for a partnership with a particular podcast influencer, you will determine the type of ads you want to place. With an organic, also known as a live-read, the podcaster will naturally segue into an introduction of your product or services. The ad will be folded into the conversation naturally, so, while you can provide a script if you wish, many marketers encourage the podcaster to come up with their own delivery to cultivate a better sense of authenticity.

These ads tend to provide a superior form of podcast advertising effectiveness. They take advantage of the influencer’s style and audience rapport since the ad is presented in the same manner in which the podcast influencer typically addresses their listeners.

The ads tend to be easy on the ears and fit relatively seamlessly into the show. Alternatively, “sponsored ads” are the traditional pre-recorded variety that function like radio spots. Edison Research indicates that 33 percent of super listeners are more drawn to host-read ads rather than the pre-recorded ones.

The Challenges of Podcast Marketing  

Among its opportunities and strengths, podcast marketing of course comes with inevitable drawbacks.

It will be difficult to track how your podcast ads perform simply because users can’t like or comment on a podcast ad the same way they can for a social media ad. In some instances, because listeners might not link to your landing page through the actual podcast app, you may not be able to gauge how many of your sales are coming directly from the podcast campaign.

However, by providing the partner podcast influencer with a unique discount code they can pass on to the listeners either verbally or in their podcast description, you will be better able to track the sales they are helping to provide.

Ultimately, you and your team must come to terms with the fact that podcast advertising is a long-term initiative and an investment in the weeks and months ahead.

For brands playing the long game, those measurable results will come as you witness the year-over-year growth of your business that podcast influencer marketing has helped you achieve. You will likely find you have tapped into a very loyal customer base and established a partnership with an influencer who will keep them abreast of your brand’s changes, additions, new lines of product, and new opportunities well into the future.  

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