The meteoric rise of smart speaker technology means that having a voice strategy for your brand is no longer optional.
But if you aren’t convinced yet, consider this: JPMorgan Chase recently announced it had appointed an agency specifically to handle its voice marketing, as it seeks to “amplify” (intentional pun?) its strategy around voice.
Financial institutions aren’t known for being early adopters of new trends, so this may be an important signal that voice is here to stay.
The financial giant’s chief marketing officer, Kristin Lemkau, had this to say:
Voice is not only coming; it’s here. And in a multitasking world, it’s significant.
Uh, what Kristin said.
There are elements you should include in a voice strategy, including optimizing your content for voice search.
Another one is podcasting.
In fact, more and more savvy brands are turning to podcasting as a marketing tool.
Google itself has just announced a new podcast-specific strategy, which aims to double the number of global podcast listeners.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.
Podcasts are Exploding in Popularity
In the United States, four-in-10 people have listened to a podcast.
Furthermore, 67 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly—an increase of 14 percent in just one year.
And because Europe tends to follow U.S. trends, podcasts are becoming hugely popular in the U.K. One-in-ten adults in the U.K. now listen to a podcast every week.
Lately, my friends and I are more likely to enthuse about our latest podcast discoveries rather than the latest Netflix box sets or Hollywood blockbuster.
We’re talking about Dirty John, Atlanta Monster, Swipe Left Swipe Left (a hilarious new show about online dating gone rogue).
Podcasting is a powerful, intimate medium that taps into the human instinct for sharing stories.
Listener numbers are growing, and so is the appetite for compelling, on-demand audio content.
If you’re trying to win over your organization, point out that podcasting is more popular than Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift combined.
What’s that you say?
Consider this: in April 2017, investigative journalism podcast S-Town saw more than 10 million downloads within four days of release, smashing all kinds of records.
In comparison, Ed Sheeran had 2017’s fastest selling album in the U.K. And while he sold a respectable 672,000 copies, Taylor Swift’s album sold 1.2 million copies.
You do the math(s).
Podcast Listeners are Dream Customers
In the U.S., research by Midroll found half of podcast listeners are university educated. And one-fifth of them earn more than $100,000 a year.
The study noted that 40 percent of listeners are between 25 and 34 years old.
It appears podcast listeners are young, well-educated, and affluent.
In short, these are dream customers for many businesses.
Podcast Listeners Spend Quality Time With You
Podcast listeners are also extremely loyal.
Fifty-one percent of podcast listening takes place in the home, and 23 percent in the car.
Runners training for marathons have been known to swap tips on the best shows to listen to during long training runs.
We’re choosing to listen to our favorite shows during precious free time, inviting podcast hosts into our personal space.
This is evident by the numbers: 86 percent listen to all or most of the podcast episode for an average of five shows per week.
These impressive completion rates show just how engaged listeners are.
It “Ads” Up
The best podcasts handle advertising in a way that makes ads cool, and funny (Adam Buxton’s comedy podcast is a great example).
For example, ads become comedy jingles that feel like part of the show. And because they feel unintrusive and native to the listening experience, there’s no motivation to skip them.
This is obvious gold for advertisers.
Also of note is podcast listeners are more likely to subscribe to Netflix or Amazon Prime. That means they’re less likely to be exposed to television advertising.
It’s no coincidence that podcast advertising revenue ($220 million in 2017) is doubling every year.
Brands are figuring out that this is a medium reaching a highly engaged, affluent, and loyal audience in the comfort of their homes.
People are Keen to Learn
Research shows that podcast listeners are curious and active listeners. A report from Edison found they listen to learn something new every time.
Could your brand create audio content that enlightens listeners?
The beauty of podcasting is it’s perfect for niche content. If you create a podcast about knitting needles, you will definitely find an audience.
However, it’s important to remember that a podcast won’t work if you’re trying the hard-sell approach.
So the best approach, as with all content, is to be generous with your knowledge and win audience trust and loyalty.
Be a Big Fish in Your Own Pond
Podcasting gives you the opportunity to punch above your weight and become a genuine thought leader in your sector.
No matter how small your brand, if you move quickly and get a jump on your competitors, you can be a leader in this space.
Flex Those Media Muscles
Podcasting is a great opportunity to get your key employees comfortable in front of a microphone.
Because you record ahead of time, there’s none of the pressure of live radio.
So it’s a relatively “safe” environment for people in your organization to become more media savvy.
What better way to get your future media stars accustomed to having a big microphone in front of their face?
You’ll Be in Good Company
Smart brands are sharing great audio content that aligns with their brand values.
Natwest is featuring June Sarpong as host of a series on inspirational women in business.
And then there’s the Starbucks’ ‘Upstanders’ series, which is a collection of short stories “celebrating ordinary people doing extraordinary things to create positive change in their communities.”
Notice how they don’t podcast about banking or coffee. Instead, they’re uncovering great human stories and aligning their brands with them.
Consider your brand values—what type of content would help you get them across?
Starting a Podcast is F-R-E-E!
You don’t need much to start podcasting; some basic audio kit and you’re on your way. In fact, you can get started for as little as $90 (or £65)—although you can do it for less.
You’ll also need to factor in the time that goes into producing a podcast.
And you need to think carefully about the format, guests, and the frequency of your show.
The very best podcasts are well thought-out. They have interesting guests and speak to the audience’s interests and desire to hear great stories and to learn.
Given that the set-up cost is so low, nothing need stop you from getting started once you have a plan in place.
Podcasts are Here to Stay
Podcasts will only continue to grow in popularity.
And while there are thousands out there, it’s because the demand for great audio content is heading up.
With so many advantages and such low set-up costs, you should consider how to bring your brand story to life through podcasting.