Marketers are always looking for the next trend; they constantly have their finger resting on the pulse of the industry, keen to keep up with the competition while also seeking new and innovative ways to reach, inspire and engage with an audience.
Podcasts are very much ‘in’ at the moment; for consumers they offer an easy way to digest content, while businesses benefit from being able to take advantage of yet another means of reaching new audiences.
As the process of recording and releasing audio becomes increasingly easy, there really is nothing stopping you from grabbing that microphone and expanding your reach
Advancements in technology – the growing smartphone market being key – also mean podcasts are now far more convenient. The phone takes away the effort of having to actually hunt around for something to listen to by downloading episodes directly to your device as soon as they are released.
Estimates suggest that three in every four UK adults owns a smartphone, and in 2015 they overtook laptops as the most popular device for getting online. Podcasts offer businesses another valuable marketing route that involves genuinely engaging content. As the process of recording and releasing audio becomes increasingly easy, there really is nothing stopping you from grabbing that microphone and expanding your reach.
The rise of the podcast
Global statistics for podcast usage tend to vary from place to place and podcast type to podcast type, though one of the best pictures of the rapid growth of the podcast market is painted by US research from globally renowned analyst Triton.
According to Triton research, the number of Americans over the age of 12 listening to podcasts in 2016 is up by 17% when compared to 2015, while monthly podcast listenership has increased by 75% since 2013. It is estimated that around 21% (or 62.3m) of Americans listen to at least one podcast a month, which is a colossal potential audience when you consider that 21% of Americans use Twitter and 13% use Spotify.
A mobile audience
The way podcasts are consumed has changed in recent years. When podcasts first started growing in popularity they were predominantly listened to via computers or laptops, but in 2016 the vast majority of people – approximately 64% – have taken to listening to their favourite podcasts on a smartphone or tablet.
For marketers, this is significant; it means that they are now able to reach and engage an audience that may otherwise have been lost, such as commuters; people driving to work can listen to podcasts while they are in their car or on the train – a time when other kinds of content marketing might not necessarily work.
The instances where podcasts come into their own are many and varied. Whenever a person is active – at the gym, walking the dog, travelling – a podcast can step into the breach and fill an information void that cannot be occupied by the written word.
A podcast can step into the breach and fill an information void that cannot be occupied by the written word
Be succinct, be exceptional, or be unique
While podcasts give marketers the chance to speak to an audience during circumstances that would not be appropriate with ‘traditional’ content, people are always going to be limited by time constraints. There are still only so many hours in the day that people are willing, or indeed able, to dedicate to acquiring new information, learning or entertainment.
Triton ascertains that 79% of American podcast listeners consume five shows or fewer each week, with 13% saying they listen to between six and ten; only 8% claim to take in 11 shows or more during a seven-day spell.
According to a study carried out by Microsoft, the human attention span has shortened from 12 seconds to eight seconds in just over a decade, a decline which is largely attributed to the increase in digital technology. The research concluded by declaring that the average human now has a shorter attention span than a goldfish (nine seconds, on average), so if you have managed to get to this stage in our blog, give yourself a small round of applause.
Just as with the written word, content is king; nobody wants to be preached at for long periods of time, nor do they want to listen to anything monotonous or boring. Content must be crafted with the listener in mind, which means ensuring that which you produce is free from waffle, is presented in an interesting and concise manner, and refrains from repeating anything that could be found elsewhere. Conversations also work well, especially those had between ‘thought leaders’; podcasts that incorporate discussion are generally regarded as being more engaging and dynamic.
Nobody wants to be preached at for long periods of time, nor do they want to listen to anything monotonous or boring
As with all content – be it a blog, an email, a newsletter or podcast – it is essential to give the audience value. Produce something that people will want to listen to, and then promote it in as many ways as possible to ensure your voice is heard.
Know your audience
As is the case when producing any form of content, it is essential that you know your audience and understand what will appeal to them. Keep that which you produce as unbranded and unbiased as possible and, above all, be interesting! Anyone can record themselves talking, but very few can produce something that will hook a listener in and make them look forward to the next edition of your audio offering.
Anyone can record themselves talking, but very few can produce something that will hook a listener in and make them look forward to the next edition of your audio offering
You will not be able to retain a listenership if what you produce is little more than a glorified sales pitch; give those you are reaching out to information that they will value. Offer them insight and knowledge that they cannot find elsewhere. After all, this is your chance to tell a story in a way your brand might not have tried before.
And remember that by speaking to your audience in a way that treats them with respect you will gain their loyalty, admiration, and potentially even their business. Establishing trust is vital in all elements of content marketing, and a podcast should just be a means of further developing your company as a brand that can be relied upon and is worth dealing with.