The rise of podcast marketing

Consumers turn to audio content in the wake of COVID-19

Since the first national lockdown in March 2020, creating new and engaging visual content – such as video and people-based imagery – has been somewhat difficult for brands, thanks to varying lockdown restrictions and social distancing guidelines. With this, companies have had to adapt and change their business strategy to continue building content that resonates with audiences.

At a time when commuting is at an all-time low and video-conferencing is as much a part of our daily routines as eating breakfast, audio content has surprisingly skyrocketed to an all-time high. For example, BBC Sounds saw a record-breaking period for podcasts between April and June 2020, with more than 3.4 million weekly listeners. There was also more than 136 million plays of on-demand radio programmes and podcasts in that quarter.

As an award winning content marketing agency, it’s our job to predict, track and adapt to ever-changing consumer habits and given the current climate, this has never been more essential. At present, this requires having a strong focus on podcasts, with more brands than ever before looking to focus on audio content as a way of strengthening their communications strategies.

Audience excitement is shifting

Without question, the podcast industry is flourishing, with very few things bringing people together in 2020 the way podcasts are doing.

At No Brainer, so many of our Zoom team meetings begin with “Have you listened to the latest episode of the High Low?” or “Did you catch the New York Times’ election special on The Daily?”

In truth, podcasts are becoming as much a part of daily conversations as our latest Netflix binges or who we’re following on the Gram. This means the role of podcasts in society is only getting stronger.

With huge names such as Chanel and Sephora embarking on new podcast projects in recent months, it looks as if anybody who’s anybody has a finger in the podcast pie right now.

Podcasts are being developed for so many purposes, covering everything from comedic entertainment to monitoring news agendas and as tools to discover new and upcoming brands.

When you combine this with the simple starting process and the easy distribution, it’s not hard to see why so many brands want to get involved.

Why use podcasts for your marketing?

On average, regular podcast users listen to around seven podcasts each week, with the top five podcasting genres covering ‘Business’, ‘News and Politics’, ‘Society and Culture’, ‘Health’ and ‘Comedy’.

Successful podcasts have the ability to allow brands to communicate with their chosen audiences at any time, regardless of consumer schedules. It’s why we’re creating and using them now for our own clients in their respective industries. They can also be used to create new conversations with potential customers, while also crafting a greater sense of engagement with current ones.

Audio content is a win-win for companies in 2020, allowing them to take up space in an ever-growing marketplace, while also encouraging positive brand awareness and allowing for potential lead-generation. Moving forward, podcasts are likely to become even more imperative, offering brands yet another fantastic platform to engage with their desired audiences.

Using podcasts as part of your marketing strategy

With podcasts becoming such a big part of our daily lives, using them as a marketing tool is of growing interest to the majority of businesses, many of whom are keen to explore how a podcast series could bring additional value to their business. It’s an exciting form of content marketing that offers some really incredible opportunities.

At No Brainer, we are launching internal and external podcasts with clients, because the channels resonate, engage, and inspire employees, clients and prospects.

December will see the first external launch of one of our client podcasts, for the not-for-profit charity arm of our FTSE-250 client, HomeServe. The series will include conversations with leading industry influencers, and we’ve worked on it with our friend and former colleague Steve Bland, who is the host of award-winning BBC pod ‘You, Me and the Big C’.

Will podcasts still be worth the investment after COVID?

Visual content may have taken a nose-dive in recent months as a result of the pandemic and subsequent restrictions, but this method of consumption will likely return to the forefront of consumer preferences once the pandemic is over.

However, this is not to suggest that podcasts and its various audio counterparts will return to the background. Instead, evidence of these changing consumer habits dates much further back than the pandemic and are set to grow even further. For example, between 2018 and 2019:

  • The global podcast advertising market rose by an estimated 42%,
  • Research published by DMA in January of this year showed 37% of the British population listen to podcasts at least monthly.
  • This percentage rises to 67% among men aged 16-29 and 54% among households with incomes of £75k+.

Podcasts can also work hand in hand with other content channels, helping to further a brand’s influence in their other owned spaces, such as social media channels and websites/blogs. Audio content, alongside visual and written content, is another significant way for brands to reach their desired audiences and share their key messaging. It’s here for the foreseeable, so incorporating it into wider communications strategies is definitely worth considering.

If you’re interested in learning more about podcasts in your industry or want to set up your own, feel free to get in touch!

Alex Whiteside

Alex Whiteside

I have been working in digital marketing for the last four years, originally beginning in-house at an independent estate agent whilst completing my post graduate diploma in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics. I’ve worked with brands like Checkatrade, Eureka! and MBNA. Specialising in social media and influencer marketing, I love working collaboratively with clients on brand marketing – and I’m always nose deep in the latest social updates!

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