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The Power of Podcasts


Author: Eden Comins
Job Title: Marketing Executive

Image of a sign in LED lights saying You Are What You Listen To

Over the past few years, the popularity of podcasts has grown exponentially and the power of the podcast in a marketer’s toolkit even more so.

In this article I explore the reason behind this popularity and the reasons for the recent boom in podcasts.

Announcing…

They say practice what you preach and we thoroughly believe that the immense power of podcasts cannot be underestimated. It is with this sentiment we are very proud to announce that we will be embarking on our own series…Outsourced Explores!

Produced in partnership with our sister company Outsourced Events, Outsourced Explores will offer insight, expert opinion and knowledge on a broad range of hot industry topics from the Outsourced team and a selection of expert guests. 

Keep your eyes on our socials to find out more information as we announce our host, expert guests and episode themes.

Are Podcasts Really That Popular?

To see the popularity of podcasts you really don’t need to look much further than asking yourself and your friends, “who listens to podcasts and how many?”

Personally, I listen to (minimum) eight a week!

At the end of October Insider Intelligence reported, in 2021 40% of US internet users will listen to a podcast at least once per month.

Podcasts as a cultural phenomenon and their popularity is exemplified again in the recent Hulu and Disney+ series, “Only Murders in the Building” which is based around an unlikely group producing a true crime podcast.

Why Are Podcasts So Popular?

So, after existing for around two decades – what has happened in the last five years to boost their popularity?

The popularity of podcasts can be attributed to many a factor, a few of the most important reasons for their popularity are outlined below:

Listening Proclivity and Accessibility

Over the past decade more and more streaming applications have popped up. This has been a huge contributor to the growth that podcasts have seen, especially with free platforms, when a product is easier to access it has the ability to target larger numbers.

One of the biggest joys of listening to a podcast is that you can listen pretty much anywhere, at any time. Prior to the pandemic the most popular time to listen to podcasts was during the morning and evening commute; with the return to offices we wholly expect this trend to return.

Covid’s Impact

We spent more time at home, and we had much more free time…or so we thought.

In reality, we found ourselves busier with our housemates (families or friends), picking up DIY projects, baking banana bread and doing things we just “never quite got round to doing” before. Not quite keen to listen to our playlists on repeat many of us turned to podcasts as a fresh source to keep us entertained or learning in the midst of our new busy routines.

Community & Comfort

Whether you are a true crime nut, political fiend, looking for relationship advice or just want a laugh – there is a podcast out there for everyone. According to research by Podcast Insights 2021, as of April 2021 there were more than two million active podcasts with over 48 million episodes.

I find, the best podcasts are ones where the hosts have started out of pure passion for a particular topic. It allows the listener to feel that they are eavesdropping on a conversation between friends, the shared enthusiasm for a topic develops a sense of loyalty and helps garner a community.

Locked up at home, whether we were alone or surrounded by people, there was a sense of isolation. The impact of COVID is not just felt on physical health but the emotional impact it had on the global population is nothing short of heart-breaking. Whether it was people starting their own podcast, finding comfort in a podcast community, the personal connection listeners felt with hosts or listening to self-help/positivity/mental health podcasts the escapism podcasts provided cannot be underestimated.

Mental Health Podcasts:

Audience Engagement During Covid

Covid, Events and Podcasts

Since the pandemic began, companies have had to innovate new routes to market for their products, services and alternative event deliveries. We saw this in the switch to virtual events and webinar popularity. Once webinar fatigue set in and the pandemic drew out longer there was a need to deliver the event’s purpose in other formats. As examined earlier, podcasts offered businesses the ability to engage in a way that is adaptable to a delegate’s situation.

Over the past 18-months we have seen podcasts utilised within events in the following ways:

  • Virtual event sessions recorded and uploaded as podcasts after being live streamed
  • Used as part of an ongoing product launch
  • Replacing the entire event and delivering the sessions or information via podcast
  • Internal access only podcasts to provide training
  • Used as a marketing tool to drive virtual event attendance

Connecting during Covid

With a lack of in-person events (sports, corporate or otherwise) we saw new methods of audience engagement.

Live Streaming

Live streaming proved to be a hugely popular format, with the industry seeing 99% growth between April 2019 and April 2020.

Pre-pandemic some podcasts might’ve hosted a live recording at an in-person event. During the pandemic producers and hosts were attracted to live streams as opposed to taking part in virtual events.

Live streaming as a business can be hugely beneficial to a brand as those presenting/hosting the stream and representing the brand will be seen as truthful and authentic. Should the livestream go well, you will see increased confidence in your brand.

Back in April 2019, the total number of hours watched on the four major streaming platforms was 1,971 billion. Fast forward to April 2020, and this has increased to 3,934 billion, representing a massive growth of 99%.

Clubhouse

Another popular format to connect came in the form of the audio-only app, Clubhouse, and in 2020 we witnessed its viral app growth. In the space of 8-months we saw an almost 40,000% increase in registered users; with 1,500 registered users in April/May 2020 to hosting 600,000 registered users in December 2020.

It is evident that Clubhouse tapped into the zeitgeist by combining the popularity of podcasts with live streaming.

Podcasts in Business

Advertising potential

Insider Intelligence reported that in just two years, US podcast ad spending will have nearly doubled, from $701.0 million in 2019 to $1.33 billion in 2021.

Podcasters as Influencers

Podcasters are influencers, they may only influence a small section of a specific audience but if that is the market you want to penetrate, brand deals with podcast hosts can be extremely useful. The community trust that personality and (nowadays) most influencers will not stand by a product/company/service that they do not believe in as they know their audience will see their inauthenticity. The loyalty and trust they have built with their audience reflect onto the brands they partner with.

When producing your own podcast you are building that loyalty with the audience and directly influencing the sales funnel.

Paid Advertising

There are two overarching types of podcast advertising in the form of advertisements and sponsorship:

Advertisements, like a radio or television ad, a brand can pay to have a certain amount of time where either the host/s read a scripted advert about the brand or an audio advert is played.

Sponsorship, where sponsors pay based on how many downloads your podcast gets, (usually in increments of 1000) and sponsors will tend to be the only advertiser on the episode or even the podcast series.

The 2021 Super Listeners Report discovered that:

  • Podcasts are the most recalled type of ad – with 86% of respondents saying they remember seeing or hearing an ad on podcasts; social media has 80% and websites 79% recall rate
  • 76% of listeners say they’ve taken action after hearing a podcast ad
  • 64% of podcast listeners say that they welcome and appreciate advertising on podcasts and are grateful to the brands that support their favourite shows
  • Only 12% said that they always skip ads and 33% of respondents said that they “never or rarely” skip ads

What Can Podcasts Do For You and Your Company?

So, what do businesses stand to gain from producing a podcast, and what does a podcast offer that other activities do not?

Direct Marketing

Podcasts offer businesses the opportunity to communicate directly to their audience in a new and flexible format. Episode themes and audience targeting can be as precise as you decide.

Brand Personality

Much akin to social media, podcasts are a piece of marketing real estate with relatively few limitations – a true space for your brand to express what and who it is in its purest form. Demonstrating your brand’s personality and the personalities that work there

This can be especially beneficial for a company operating a B2B service built around the relationships with clients. Demonstrating their employee’s expertise and building their profile through a podcast can be incredibly effective.

Data Collection

Podcasting offers businesses yet more opportunity for data collection which can help the sales teams to get their foot in the door with new prospects, build on pre-existing relationships and re-establish old partnerships. 

Remember your podcast can be as accessible and readily available as you want it to be! Meaning that a podcast campaign can be as specific.

Changing Landscape of the Office

Over the last eighteen months we have seen a permanent shift to the way we work. Internal podcasts can be utilised as a more interactive and personable format to get to know your brand or as a training guide for new starters.

The Future of Podcasts

To summarise, there are no signs of podcast popularity halting anytime soon. According to a recent survey from Edison One and Triton Digital (Infinite Dial), 100 million people listened to a podcast each month in 2020, and by 2022 they estimate that 125 million people will do so.

What can be done with a podcast? The sky and your imagination truly are the limit.

How OE Can Help

Our sister company, Outsourced Engagement, offers podcasting as a service. Over the past year they have delivered a number of podcast series for our clients with fantastic results. Podcasts have been utilised both as a way to communicate with an audience and in conjunction with events as a marketing tool.

[Related Podcast Service, Dell Technologies – A Podcast Series Success Story]

If If you’d like advice about starting a podcast or taking your podcast to to the next level, call Outsourced Engagement on +44 (0)330 460 6007. Alternatively feel free to drop them an email or complete their contact form. If you are already a customer of Outsourced Events be sure to ask your contact for more details.

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