We’re in the midst of a podcasting boom, and brands are beginning to take advantage of the brand building opportunities available in the rapidly growing $314 million industry.
According to eMarketer, 73 million US consumers (or one-fifth of the country’s population) listen to podcasts monthly. The average podcast listener is young, educated, and affluent—a key demographic for marketers. They’re also highly loyal and engaged, with 86 percent of listeners consuming either the entirety or the majority of each episode. Not only that, but the “lean-in” listening experience results in higher responsiveness to advertising, with 41 percent of listeners researching a product or service mentioned on a podcast and 28 percent making a purchase. After increasing by 86 percent last year, podcast ad revenues are expected to double by 2020.
Now, brands are wading deeper into the podcasting world by teaming up with talent and podcasting companies to launch their own sponsored shows. Here are four key lessons.
1. Walmart: “Outside the Box”
Now in its second season, Walmart’s “Outside the Box” explores business issues such as the concept of time as money, weaving together conversations with experts and senior staffers.
Lesson: A podcast is more than just a long ad for your company. If you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t know that “Outside the Box” was created by Walmart. Instead of making a show all about the company, Walmart sought to create meaningful content that would educate and engage listeners, choosing topics that aligned with its brand values (season one focused on sustainability) to demonstrate what it stands for and provide credible thought leadership.
2. Blue Apron: “Why We Eat What We Eat”
A frequent advertiser on podcasts, Blue Apron launched its own show, “Why We Eat What We Eat.” The show’s host and food writer Cathy Erway mixes reporting and storytelling to authentically explore and celebrate food, leaving potential customers excited to cook.
Lesson: Create content that speaks to your target. Attempting to stand out from the other foodie podcasts already available, Blue Apron didn’t just make another show about cooking. By focusing on the universal experience of eating, it was able to create a podcast that appeals to prime customers: people who hardly cook and could use a service that makes it easier.
3. ZipRecruiter: “Rise and Grind”
ZipRecruiter appeals to its target audience of entrepreneurs by sharing candid conversations between Shark Tank’s Daymond John and successful business leaders.
Lesson: Share other people’s stories. “No one wants to listen to a 10-episode podcast about how great ZipRecruiter is at finding a job or helping hire the right applicant,” Lex Friedman, CRO of Midroll, told Fast Company. Instead, the brand turns the microphone around and shares stories from successful entrepreneurs that will resonate with ZipRecruiter’s target audience.
4. Trader Joe’s: “Inside Trader Joe’s”
In its podcast series, Trader Joe’s employees uncover the secrets of the grocery chain and answer burning questions from fans, such as: “Why are bananas sold separately?”
Lesson: Mine the interesting stories within your own organization. With a cult following and compelling behind-the-scenes “secrets,” a brand like Trader Joe’s is in a position to make a show all about itself. By tapping its employees to reveal the inner workings of the store, Trader Joe’s is able to build even deeper connections with its loyal customers.