Lights, Camera…Podcast? Are podcasts the new communications frontier?

Two women recording podcasts
by Hannah Scally, Graduate Account Executive

Basic staples of a communicator’s workday include a detailed to-do list, a bucket load of coffee and the ability to package industry trends into neat little “buzzwords”.

Our ability to compartmentalise trends has hailed phrases like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and most recently, podcast marketing. But are podcasts really a strategic utensil in a marketer’s toolkit, or are we simply victims of our own success and have succumbed to an ode of useless jargon?

The Statistics

First, let’s look at the stats which, where podcasts are concerned, are mind-blowingly huge. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 8 UK citizens listen to a podcast on a weekly basis, with 59% of consumers saying they spend more time listening to podcasts than watching TV shows. Internationally, the market is even more saturated with more than half of Americans regularly tuning in.

The seemingly unstoppable growth of podcasts appears to have been fuelled by an ever-evolving stakeholder, for which existing communication outputs like social media and email marketing are a basic expectation. The new stakeholder tires quickly, demands multiple sources of content and wants an immersive brand experience.

Podcasts are a useful and, compared to other platforms, largely cost-effective remedy to changing stakeholder expectations. The ability, for instance, to listen to fitness professionals talking about the gym whilst in the gym is pretty revolutionary.

Thus, the ability to immerse consumers in a brand has dramatically boosted engagement rates, worked well as an educational onboarding tool and, when done subtly, has been successful in raising brand awareness.

Challenges of Successful Podcasts

The outlook for podcasts in business to business (B2B) marketing is looking increasingly optimistic, not least because the current demand tends to be amongst affluent, educated individuals. Outwith reaching key markets, a podcast’s capability to engage phases of the customer journey as well as establish thought leadership in the industry will undoubtedly propel their popularity in B2B marketing in the coming years.

However, whilst the growth of podcasts as a marketing tool is undoubtedly increasing it still poses challenges, even for the most experienced of practitioners. It’s great that podcasts are so accessible but the ability for *almost* anyone to produce a professional sound has led to a highly saturated market which can make it difficult to build a loyal audience.  Granted, even if a stable audience exists, it doesn’t necessarily translate into a successful podcast.

The topicality and relevance of content remains an area of difficulty for podcasters. As with most communications outputs, engaging content is key and to stay relevant podcasters must constantly be bringing something new to the table; even if it is as simple as a fresh perspective. What’s more, generally, video still translates into significantly more direct sales and click throughs.

So, are podcasts the future of marketing? The answer is yes…and no. In fact, it is entirely dependent on your individual organisation and circumstances. Podcasts undoubtedly have marketing prowess but, in a world where video has long been crowned as king, it’s not quite as simple as one or the other.

Looking for some insight to start your own podcast? Get in touch today.