This blog is based on our podcast episode with Erik Jacobson, a podcasting expert and the CEO and founder of Lemonpie and Hatch. Listen to the full episode for more thoughts how on-demand audio is changing and how it is affecting the media landscape.
For ecommerce brands, finding marketing channels that aren’t oversaturated can be challenging, to say the least.
And while many brands have utilized podcast advertising as a way of driving sales (think Casper, Stamps.com, etc.), far fewer have used podcasting itself as a marketing channel.
By the end of this article, you should have the knowledge and resources to “check the box” in these areas…
- Why podcasts are a unique way for brands to connect with their audiences
- How brands can leverage podcasts to their advantage
- Examples of several ecommerce brands driving growth via podcasting
The Power of Podcasts
Podcasts are not new, by any means. They’ve been around since the mid-2000s, with shows like This American Life and Radiolab being relatively familiar household names.
However, in many ways we are still in the early stages of podcasting. In 2021, 41% of people in the United States said they listened to a podcast in the last month. And while that’s a significantly higher number of people than 10 years ago, there is obviously still much room for growth.
Nevertheless, podcasts are creating major shifts in consumer behavior.
According to Statistia, the number of podcast listeners is projected to increase by 20 million people each year for the next two years, up to 160 million in 2023.
Just like streaming services have disrupted how we consume video content, podcasts are causing a major shift in the way audio content is consumed. Major podcast platforms like Apple and Spotify are aware of this and are betting significant sums of money on the continued growth of podcasts.
For example, between 2019 – 2020, Spotify spent approximately $600 million to acquire multiple popular podcast networks along with Anchor FM, a tool that makes it easy to create and host podcasts.
Why are podcasts such an effective marketing channel? Two primary reasons:
- They reach listeners in moments that other media doesn’t penetrate
- They capture a much greater portion of people’s attention than other forms of marketing
Consider when people listen to podcasts. It’s normally while they’re doing something else, such as walking the dog or driving. Historically, capturing people’s attention during these moments has been difficult, with your only options being relatively ineffective methods like radio ad spots or billboards.
But with podcasts, you have the mostly undivided attention of the listeners. You’re not one email among many in a crowded inbox. You’re not yet another ad in someone’s Facebook feed. Instead of interrupting someone’s activity, like many marketing channels, you’re actually enhancing it.
And while there certainly has been an explosion in the number of podcasts created in recent years, ecommerce brands have been much slower to get into the podcasting game. There is a unique window of opportunity for ecommerce brands to leverage podcasting for their advantage.
How should they go about doing that? Consider the two following approaches.
The Podcast Tour
A podcast tour is when a key individual within a company, such as the CEO, Head of Marketing, or Head of Product, makes guest appearances on multiple relevant podcasts. The guest appearance usually takes the form of an interview, although other formats are certainly possible.
What many ecommerce brands don’t realize is that there are many podcasts already in existence that appeal directly to their core audience, and that by appearing on those podcasts, they can not only drive awareness about their brand, but also expose their brand to a highly targeted audience of potential buyers.
For example, say your brand sells running shoes. By making guest appearances on multiple running podcasts, you can highlight your expertise and provide valuable insights to an audience that genuinely cares about what you have to say.
This is very different from running an ad spot on a podcast and directly pitching your product. Instead of simply trying to convince people to buy your product, you’re genuinely adding value to people’s lives, and as a result, you form a connection with the audience.
With other forms of marketing, you only get a fraction of people’s attention, and it’s usually from a completely cold standpoint. You have to interrupt whatever it is they’re doing and try to get their attention for a very brief period of time.
But with podcasts, you’ve earned their full attention and have the opportunity to build a relationship with them over time, forge deeper connections, and drive your brand awareness through the roof.
The value of a podcast tour in particular is that people usually listen to a variety of shows in the same vertical. This means that if you get interviewed on multiple shows, there’s a good chance you’ll get in front of the same people multiple times, and some of those people will value what you say enough to become a customer.
The marketing truism that you need at least seven interactions with a prospect before they will convert to a customer certainly applies to podcasting. Appearing on multiple podcasts gives you the opportunity to interact with your target audience at different stages in the customer journey, ultimately leading to more conversions.
And perhaps best of all, doing a podcast tour is essentially free, other than the time required. Yes, you can hire a company to handle the booking process, which can significantly simplify the process, but that’s not a requirement. If you’re willing to invest the time, you can do all the necessary steps yourself.
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The ROI Of Podcasts
One of the big reasons that brands tend to avoid podcasts as a marketing strategy is that it can be difficult to measure the impact. With most other forms of digital marketing, you can measure precisely how many clicks and conversions you generate. With podcasts, this is harder to do since you typically don’t have a dedicated link or landing page for each podcast you appear on.
However, the challenge of tracking the ROI of podcast appearances doesn’t mean you should avoid them. The typical pattern is that after an interview goes live, there is almost always an accompanying spike in organic traffic and customer purchases. So though you may not be able to measure every attribution point like you can with other forms of digital marketing, there’s no doubt that it drives results.
Backlinks and SEO
Another key benefit of doing guest interviews on podcasts is that it almost always boosts your SEO. Two reasons for this.
First and foremost, it’s very common to link back to the website of the guest within the show notes. Relevant, authoritative backlinks are a significant ranking factor for the Google algorithm and more backlinks translates into higher rankings.
Second, podcast appearances function as positive off-site brand signals. The more Google sees positive mentions of your brand across the internet, the more they assume you are an authoritative and trusted source of information. This also boosts search rankings.
Creating Your Own Podcast
If you want to take things a step further, creating your own branded podcast can be a powerful way of increasing brand awareness and building an audience.
When getting started with a podcast, spend the majority of your time thinking through your strategy and content. Determine:
- What goals you want to achieve through podcasting
- What types of content your audience would benefit most from
- What you can bring to the table to differentiate yourself from your competitors
Don’t get lost in the weeds of what equipment and tactics to use. That information is easy to find with a simple Google search.
Rather, focus on creating a podcast that your audience will be eager to listen to. Think about what your customers would want in a podcast, what your core goals are as a brand, and how you can bring those two things together in a compelling way.
Creating Super Fans
It’s critical to remember that the majority of your audience isn’t primarily interested in the nitty-gritty details of the new materials you’re using in your hoodies or shoes or whatever it is that you sell. They want to listen to something that’s engaging and adds value to their lives in some way.
There are multiple ways to do this. You might do individual, stand-alone episodes where you interview experts in your industry. Or you might create a serialized podcast where you tell a story from start to finish. Or you might do a mix of both over time. The goal is simply to consistently create audio content that resonates with your audience and helps you build a group of super fans.
For example, Bulletproof Coffee founder Dave Asprey has a show where he interviews experts about nutrition, biohacking, and other aspects of health that matter to Bulletproof customers. Though he’s not necessarily directly promoting Bulletproof products, the podcast builds brand equity and helps establish a connection with their ideal customers.
Bare Performance Nutrition founder Nick Bare has a YouTube channel where he takes people behind the scenes of running the company, showing the ingredients they use, why certain ones didn’t make the cut, etc. Both strategies help form a bond with the audience and serve to promote the brands without directly promoting them like an advertisement.
Seize The Moment Podcasting For Ecommerce
While not many ecommerce brands are currently leveraging podcasting like they could be, don’t expect this trend to continue. Podcasts are only going to continue to grow in popularity, and it won’t be long before more ecommerce brands hop on the bus.
If the best time to start leveraging podcasts was three years ago, the second best time is now. If the thought of starting a podcast is intimidating to you, begin with a podcast tour. That will help you get comfortable with the format, etiquette, etc. Once you’ve done that, you can decide whether you want to host your own.
Whatever the case, don’t wait around. Seize the moment before someone else does.
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About the Author
Caroline Appert is the Director of Marketing at The Good. She has proven success in crafting marketing strategies and executing revenue-boosting campaigns for companies in a diverse set of industries.