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Should your business launch a branded podcast?

Illustration of two people standing at a table recording a podcast.

The best thing about podcasts? Almost anyone can make them.

The most difficult thing about podcasts? Almost anyone can make them!

From weekend football enthusiasts to famous actors, these days it seems like everyone has a podcast. In fact, Spotify alone expects to reach 32.5 million podcast listeners per month this year. All you really need is a microphone, a friend to chat with, and something to talk about.

For consumers, this means there’s a TON of branded podcast content. It can be tricky for new podcasters to find their footing in such a saturated world – and for new listeners to know what to listen to.

While it may seem like an easy, hassle-free channel of content, producing a podcast is quite the undertaking. For brands, if it isn’t done properly, it could actually deter customers and negatively impact the brand narrative.

In this post, we’re going to explore what it really takes to produce a branded podcast, why it matters in e-commerce, tips for success, and more.

What is a branded podcast?

A branded podcast is a channel of content marketing that ties into the overall marketing strategy of a business. Ideally, a brand’s podcast will align with their overall mission, industry, and community of customers.

For example, an e-commerce fashion brand might launch its own podcast where they bring their designers on for conversations, or chat with other designers in the industry about their artistic process, suppliers, and inspiration. Their audience, who is likely made up of fashion-lovers, are getting insights into an industry they wouldn’t have had access to before. Plus, any other fashion-lovers who haven’t found their way to the brand yet might start their journey with a listen and then head to the e-commerce site.

As long as your branded podcast aligns with your business beliefs and target audience, it should fit in well with your overall content marketing strategy. The key to a successful branded podcast? Avoid strictly promotional material and engage with subject matter experts (SMEs). Listeners typically want to learn something, rather than be sold to, over the course of a podcast episode.

Once a branded podcast reaches a certain amount of growth, a business can look into sponsorships and advertising, or they could keep it native to their brand, as long as it doesn’t disturb the overall messaging.

Branded podcasts: The stats

In the last 30 days, 26,355 podcasts have been added to Apple. Not only that, but there are over 76 million episodes available to listen. With so much podcast content available, it’s no surprise that consumers are listening to upwards of 50 minutes of podcasting per day.

But it’s not just the amount of time podcast listeners are spending with their favorite podcasts; it’s what happens during and afterward.

  • Consumers who listened to podcasts boosted brand awareness and consideration by 89% and 57%, respectively.
  • 55% of podcast listeners bought a product that was advertised during a podcast.
  • Over 50% of top podcast listeners (those who listen to 5 or more podcast hours per week) say they’ve paid attention to podcast ads above all other media ads.

So, what does this all mean for e-commerce brands? Stepping into the branded podcast space brings with it new opportunities for their brand to attract customers organically, and strengthen the loyalty of existing shoppers.

Let’s dive in!

What can podcasts achieve for brands?

Broadening brand appeal

A brand that has their own podcast series immediately has an advantage over a brand that doesn’t. Why? Because it’s a more personal touchpoint that isn’t based in trying to get folks to purchase products. A podcast is there to build, educate, and entertain a community interested in a particular industry.

Building community

Podcasts are personal! How? Members of your audience will get to put voices and faces to your brand, which is highly effective in building trust and community. It’s about connecting people with people – not brands with consumers.

However, the byproduct of building a community is that it puts branded messaging in front of engaged listeners. Whether it’s your CEO as the host or someone from your marketing team, your podcast audience will get to know those ‘behind the curtain.’ Your brand is no longer just a brand; there’s a social and communal element in listening and interacting with podcast listeners and guests.

Brings more ‘fun’ to your brand

Because a branded podcast is an extension of your brand story, there’s a bit more wiggle room to have fun with it. Of course, your overall messaging should be aligned with your brand’s values – but there are more opportunities for engaging content like fun video clips of the podcast, blooper reels, alternative social content like tips or Q&As with the host, and more. In 2023, consumers are looking for more of that unpolished content rather than pristine marketing initiatives. It’s more personal, it’s more fun, and it’s more authentic.

Boost social presence/followers

Branded podcasts are a great way to boost your social media output. Your podcast social channels may be separate from your social channels, but this doesn’t mean they can’t interact!

A brand can easily post about its company-sponsored podcast to its target audience whenever there’s a new episode. Likewise, podcast listeners may share episodes with their networks, boosting the number of brand mentions a business has within social media. With this interlinking approach, your podcast will reach your brand audience, and your podcast audience could be introduced to your brand. A win-win!

Another form of content marketing

Podcasts are, after all, another form of content. Simply put, it’s another way to get more eyes (and ears) on your brand. And with more branded podcasting content comes the opportunity for additional content marketing tactics. Businesses can apply SEO strategies like keyword research, blog writing. and backlinking to their podcast sites, giving them a higher chance of consumers stumbling upon their podcast and brand organically. From a marketing perspective, businesses with original podcast content have more opportunities for boosting the authority of their brand.

Starting your branded podcast: 7 tips for success

If you’re in the market to start your own branded podcast, we have a few tips for what you need to be aware of when stepping into the podcasting space.

Decide on your strategic goals

Podcasts provide the opportunity for a steady stream of organic content when they’re done well. For brands looking to create a podcast series, they’ll need to discuss what larger business goals they’re looking to achieve with their branded podcast. For example, if brands are looking to capture leads, they may want to offer a podcast newsletter to their subscribed listeners. Alternatively, if a brand wants to drive traffic to its website from the podcast site, it can include native ads and a backlinking strategy within its podcast content.

Figure out your niche and stay consistent

The most popular branded podcasts have developed a large following who eagerly await their new episodes. With any type of content, consistency is key! But, even more important than consistency is figuring out what you want to say.

Have you ever been listening to someone speak in circles and think to yourself, ‘what is this person really trying to say?’ With branded podcasts, this is the EXACT opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. Brands will need to develop their podcast messaging and understand how it aligns with their overall business and the needs of their community.

Make sure your podcast is built to scale

This might be one of the most important aspects of establishing a valuable branded podcast. If your team finds out that they’re only able to produce an episode once every few months, the chances are that your community of listeners won’t stick around waiting. In order to build up a community and drive organic traffic, your podcast will need to be scalable.

This means your hosts, producers, and editors will need to block time within their schedules for weekly recordings, guest outreach, editing, and site updates. Without a strong team and efficient process flows for recording and post-production, your podcast is likely to fall flat.

Understand the costs of producing a podcast

Another important factor, like most new business ventures, is cost. Of course, producing a podcast isn’t as expensive as creating a commercial broadcast with media buys. But there are a decent number of hidden costs to understand.

First, you’ll need the proper equipment to make sure audio content is on point. Yes, your hosts can simply use their laptops for recording – but without a proper microphone and mic filter to protect from that unwanted ‘popping’ sound, your listeners (and guests) may be in for a headache-inducing ride.

Gather guests ahead of time

When starting a new podcast, there’s a crucial ingredient: guests! Bringing on subject matter experts, entrepreneurs, or simply interesting guests will give your audience a reason to listen to your podcast. The thing is, finding guests that have something to offer your listeners is no easy feat.

Getting guest requires plenty of research, back-and-forth with scheduling, and agreeing on a topic in line with brand messaging that will ALSO be interesting for consumers. The best way to gather guests and ensure a healthy season? Gather them ahead of time! There’s nothing worse than scrambling for guests right before a podcast is set to go live. Give yourself plenty of time to record podcast guests in advance to avoid last-minute, low-quality content.

Stay away from shameless plugs

Nobody likes to be hit with advertisements during a movie. In fact, many consumers pay a premium price not to be hit with ads during their streaming. The same goes for podcasting. Listeners come to, well, listen. They want to hear about a certain topic or guest – not about your brand.

The best branded podcasts aren’t constantly shoving their business at their listeners. Instead, they’re focusing on relevant content that their community will benefit from. If you’re a brand launching a podcast series, staying away from shameless plugs will put focus on the guest and listener, ultimately build more trust within your community.

Build a marketing strategy around your podcast

Podcasts are great on their own, but they won’t do much for your brand unless you have a strategic marketing plan in place. This includes developing social channels (and posting consistently) adding email opt-ins for your community, advertising your podcast to relevant audiences, and working on your podcast site’s SEO strategy. There’s a lot to think about! Brands who take the time and energy to market their podcast will see more engaged listeners from their target demographic.

Examples of branded podcasts

Alo’s ‘Mind Full’

Alo’s Mind Full podcast listing.

What Alo is doing right:

  • Specific conversations about topics their yoga community will find relevant.
  • Sharing their podcast content on their Alo YouTube channel for a broader reach.
  • Connecting listeners with top leaders in the fitness and health industry.

Sephora’s ‘LipStories’

Sephora’s LipStories podcast listing.

What Sephora is doing right:

  • Giving leading beauty and fashion influencers a platform.
  • Real-life, relatable stories.
  • Use of hashtags #lipstories and #girlbossradio for more engagement.

Sippin’ & Shippin’

Sippin’ and Shippin’ podcast listing.

What Sippin’ & Shippin’ is doing right:

  • Providing a fun approach to e-commerce selling and logistics.
  • Engaging with entrepreneurs to share inspiring stories.
  • Bringing on subject matter experts with valuable advice for up-and-coming brands.

Inside Trader Joe’s

Inside Trader Joe’s podcast listing.

What Inside Trader Joe’s is doing right:

  • Giving their consumers a more personal, inside look at their company.
  • Focusing on company culture.
  • Enlightening their community about business decisions through the lens of executives.

Should your brand launch a podcast?

Creating new content as an e-commerce brand is a wonderful way to engage with your audience, build trust, and boost engagement. BUT, like all content, podcasting has to be done right in order for it to be valuable. Meaning, there needs to be a fully furnished plan for approach, messaging, guests, topics, branding, scaling, and more.

A podcast may be a good fit for your brand if:

  • You have the time and resources to support a podcast over the long term
  • You have the bandwidth for supporting content like blogs and social posts
  • You have expertise in your industry that you can share with an audience
  • You want to create a community around your niche

No matter the brand, podcasts offer a unique experience for the audience – and a more personal approach to driving engagement and brand values.

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