Can you imagine speaking directly to a captive audience of potential customers?
I’m not talking about the room of people you might find at a conference or seminar, but potentially tens of thousands of prospective buyers, listening to you from their home, on their way to work, during their lunch break or maybe even at the gym.
This is the power of podcasting, and it’s one of the fastest growing and exciting marketing mediums available to businesses in 2017.
It’s not new by any means – podcasts have been around for more than 10 years. And the concept harks back to the good old days of audio drama and radio plays on the ‘wireless’. But podcasting has recently experienced a dramatic resurgence, and the number of people listening to podcasts has more than tripled since 2007 in the US alone.
This growth is largely thanks to the cult-like following of podcasts such as true-story series This American Life and investigative journalism hit Serial. More recently, even their popularity has been eclipsed by S-Town, a real-life crime series from the same creative team, which in April 2017 broke all previous podcast records, being downloaded more than 10-million times within just four days of its release.
But listeners aren’t just tuning in for entertainment.
Podcasts are a popular and convenient way to learn something new. Unlike written blogs or videos, which demand physical and eye contact, podcasts provide the audience the freedom to go about their business while simply listening.
Major brands like eBay, GE and Slack have all tapped into the podcast market, producing podcasts that don’t directly promote their product, but provide curriculum style content and guidance that appeals to their audience.
The average podcast episode runs for about 30 minutes, and programming ranges from radio drama style performances and monologues to news, interviews and information presentations. There is also a fast-growing market for podcast advertisements, with revenue tipped to reach a record $207-million in 2017 according to Bridge Ratings. But in contrast to the garish nature of television and radio advertising, podcast ads rely on subtlety, storytelling and niche audience relevance. And the results are staggering, with up to 63% of listeners purchasing something they heard about on a podcast.
With more than 250,000 podcasts on iTunes alone, there is a lot of content to choose from. Business podcasts are one of the most popular categories, with niches ranging from sales and marketing advice, to real estate, investment and entrepreneurialism. But you could type just about any topic into the iTunes search bar and find yourself a relevant podcast to listen to.
That’s what makes the podcast audience, or ‘listenership’, so diverse. From millennials looking for the freshest content, to parents seeking family and health advice, and professionals and budding entrepreneurs seeking the experts’ secrets to success. Whatever industry you’re in, there’s a podcast audience already waiting for you.
The holy grail of studies on digital media consumer behaviour reveals some valuable insights into this audience. The Infinite Dial 2017 report by Edison Research shows 60% of Americans, an estimated 168 million individuals, are now familiar with the term ‘podcasting’, up from 22% when the study began in 2006. A total of 40% of the US population, or 112 million people, have listened to podcasts at some point, while 24%, or 67 million, are now regular users, having listened during the past month.
Audience statistics are just as promising closer to home. An ABC Audience Insights report released for the OzPod 2016 Podcasting Conference revealed Australian audiences are listening to an average of 5.5 podcasts a week, with almost 20% bingeing on up to 11 episodes.
The report, which surveyed 1145 Australian podcasts listeners, also revealed approximately 80% of the audience listened to each podcast in its entirety; three quarters listened to podcasts at home; and nights were the most common time to tune in, with 47% of respondents listening to podcasts during the evening between Monday to Friday.
Interestingly, the 55 to 64 and 65+ age groups were the most active podcast listeners among the respondents, equating to 42% of listeners. They were followed by the 25-34 age group (17%), 45-54 (16%), 35-44 (13%) and 14-24 (12%).
And there is promising data for businesses considering adding a podcast to their marketing arsenal. One in three Australian listeners had downloaded a new podcast in the previous week, and one in two had discovered new podcasts via word of mouth.
So, what’s in it for businesses? And where do you start? Here are some fast facts and figures to answer those questions.
Benefits of Podcasting for Brands and Business
- Podcasting offers brands and businesses of all sizes an opportunity to target, and grow, a niche audience.
- The Top 20 Business Podcasts in Australia all offer something for nothing – providing listeners with practical advice and genuine value. This is a key method for building brand loyalty and return custom.
- Collaborating on podcasts with other businesses and presenters provides free brand exposure to potential new clients.
- High-traffic podcasts can attract advertiser spend, providing another source of revenue for the hosting business.
- Up to 64% of podcast listeners are influenced to make a purchase. Using a subtle approach, the host business can capitalise on this too.
- Podcasts allow brands to introduce a range of topics or themes that can be further expanded in other mediums such as blogs, e-books or printed publications.