When your brand creates a podcast, understanding how to grow your audience to produce measurable results is one of marketing’s main objectives. While podcast marketing is different from other mediums, it should generally work in conjunction with other content strategies you’re deploying — the approach should be holistic.
Growing your audience isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. You need to understand your goals and how to use your resources to your advantage. It can be overwhelming, which is why I’ve broken down 4 lessons that I’ve learned while creating audience growth strategies for our clients over at Quill.
This blog post will set out how you can drive growth and become a more effective podcast marketer while fostering trust and connection with your audience.
It may seem obvious, but accurately measuring growth and success is nearly impossible if you don’t set goals and measurable key performance indicators (KPIs). If you don’t know what success looks like for your branded podcast, how will you know if it’s successful?
As you begin to brainstorm your goals, identify your north star, the primary goal of your show. This primary goal will guide which podcast analytics you should be measuring and how to understand performance..
Here are some examples of a primary goal:
If your primary goal is to increase your brand awareness and reach, the primary metrics you will measure success by will be largely based on downloads, listeners, and impressions on other marketing assets that promote your show.
Also, consider who you’re trying to reach. If it’s purely brand awareness for the sake of awareness then all listeners are qualified listeners, but you likely have a target audience in mind. Or I should say, you should have one.
Here’s a quick example: You’re an American software company that sells to small and mid-sized businesses to help them with their accounting. You want to increase awareness within that market. You have great listener numbers and reach, but your main audience is 18-year-olds from Germany. Are you reaching your goal of awareness? In short, no.
This is an extreme example, but goes to show why awareness for the sake of awareness is not a good goal to set.
That’s why I love using analytics tools like CoHost B2B Analytics: Companies & Industries. You can track which companies are listening to your show along with characteristics like size, industry, location, and revenue. This data makes it easy for brands to understand if they’re reaching the right audience.
Key metrics for awareness and reaching goals:
Thought leadership is a powerful result of podcast growth. Podcasts that establish their host or guest as thought leaders in their respective fields often attract a loyal following of listeners eager to learn from their insights.
A podcast can establish thought leadership by providing unique perspectives, sharing research or data-driven insights, providing expert commentary on current events, and bringing fellow leaders within the industry onto the show. Consistency is key when building thought leadership through a podcast, so regularly publishing high-quality episodes is essential.
Similar to awareness and reach, understanding your audience is key here. You want to ensure that you’re targeting listeners within your respective industry. If you’re not, then take some time to understand WHY your target audience isn’t listening, and why the people who are listening are tuning in.
To do this, I typically like to have a brainstorm session with my team as well as the brand we are working with. This way, you can merge experts on podcasting and experts on the brand to come up with a gameplan for targeting the most qualified listeners or identifying a new audience for the brand.
Key metrics for thought leadership goals:
Listeners are always on the lookout for podcasts that provide them with valuable knowledge and insights they can apply in their personal and professional lives.
Educational podcasts can take many forms, such as interviews with industry experts, deep dives into specific topics, or instructional episodes that teach listeners new skills or concepts. By offering valuable, educational content, a podcast can establish itself as a go-to resource for listeners and attract a loyal audience that trusts the host's expertise. A big win for many brands.
Gauging the success of an educational podcast is going to boil down to who you’re trying to reach. Mass downloads aren’t very helpful if you’re in a niche industry or audience. If you haven’t already noticed, your target audience is going to drive the majority of discussions around whether a podcast was successful or not. That’s no different here — you want to make sure you are reaching the right listeners.
Key metrics for education goals:
By providing listeners with valuable content and building a relationship with them, a podcast can become a powerful tool for generating leads and growing a business.
However, it's important to strike a balance between providing valuable content and promoting products or services, as listeners will quickly tune out if they feel like they're being sold to. I always like to ask myself or our clients, would you listen to this podcast? If it was overly sales-y and pushing products onto the listener, would you honestly listen to it? The answer is likely no, I know I wouldn’t.
Focus on providing value first and foremost, a podcast can build trust with its audience and drive lead generation over the long term.
The obvious problem marketers face with gauging the success of a podcast as a lead generation tool is attribution. Pixels or personalized codes have made it easier for podcasters interested in monetization, but it hasn’t helped brands attribute business leads to their show.
Getting to ‘look under the hood’ and see who is listening to your podcast is truly the best way I’ve found to attribute leads to podcasts. With tools like B2B Analytics as I mentioned above, you can export all the companies listening to your show and import them into your CRM for prospecting.
Another route that I’ve seen work is adding a “where did you hear about us” section throughout your onboarding process or in your lead forms. Typically, I like to do drop down options of where a user might’ve heard of us vs. a free form, it requires less thinking and work on the users end.
Key metrics for lead generation goals:
It’s also important to note that all of these goals have one thing in common: they all develop trust with your listener. Listener trust is one of the biggest benefits of a branded podcast and something that can’t be forgotten.
By establishing credibility and trust with your audience, you’re creating a loyal and engaged audience who will keep you top of mind when they make purchasing decisions. And I’ve seen this be one of the most effective strategies there is.
KPIs and success metrics are largely based on who your target audience is. That’s why it's so important to create a listener persona and understand the niche you’re targeting.
If you’re wondering what constitutes as ‘good download numbers,’ it’s based on a variety of factors but the most important is, you guessed it, who you’re trying to reach. Not always the case, but B2C shows generally set higher download targets since they go after a broader audience, while B2B brands are typically targeting a specific industry, size of company, and role within brand, meaning their audience and listener targets are more specific, and therefore lower in download numbers.
Here’s a quick example:
A sports-drink brand that sells directly to consumers has a large target audience. They’re targeting anyone that’s involved in athletics or sports. Their target market is huge, so when they define their ideal listener persona, they will be setting high listener and download KPIs. The nuance here is that they will be specific enough with their targeting to reach the correct audience, but broad enough to garner high levels of exposure.
Now let’s say there is a B2B brand that sells project management software to construction companies. Their target audience is much smaller, they want to reach decision-makers at construction companies.
These companies, while both having a podcast, are targeting vastly different groups. The sports drink company wants a huge swath of consumers to consider purchasing their product, while the software company only needs a few people to purchase their offering for the podcast to be successful and to reach its KPIs.
When it comes to audience growth, unsurprisingly, strategic marketing is key. However, as a marketer, you need to take a holistic approach to the way you promote your show. What this means is that you should avoid putting your podcast in a tactic silo.
Think omnichannel marketing when it comes to your podcast, how can it influence and contribute to your other tactics? What can the content from your podcast be repurposed into? How can all of your company’s marketing tactics and channels work together to reach the same goals? Podcasts are just one engagement touchpoint for your audience. We see the most success when brands integrate it with their other channels to make a cohesive brand experience.
Podcasts are content repurposing goldmines, turning your audio into other mediums is an easy way to develop that omnichannel mindset. Here are just a few ways your podcast can be repurposed for other mediums and tactics:
If you’re just getting started in the world of podcast marketing, CoHost has a variety of resources to help you navigate the space:
Finally, it's important to remember that your audience isn’t going to appear overnight. Especially when it comes to podcasts, building that trust and value that we’ve discussed above takes time. As we always like to say, podcasting is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re building genuine relationships with your listeners and that takes time and consistency.
Even when it comes to thinking about your relationship with your audience, think long-term. You don’t want people to tune in for one episode and move on, you want listeners to come back for more in order to build that trust and relationship.
I’ve learned that brands need to prioritize these long-term and long-lasting relationships. By focusing on relationship-building, you invest in the future of your podcast and create sustainable, organic growth that benefits both your brand and your audience.
Growing a branded podcast audience requires a strategic approach and a focus on building long-lasting relationships with listeners.
By incorporating your podcast into an omnichannel marketing strategy, repurposing content across multiple platforms, consistently delivering value, and emphasizing trust, you can cultivate a loyal audience that drives engagement and promotes your brand.
Remember, podcasting is a long-term endeavour, and with patience and commitment to these audience growth lessons, your branded podcast will thrive and leave a lasting impact on your audience.
If you have any questions about audience growth for branded podcasts, feel free to reach out to the CoHost team!
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Eric started his tech/media career fresh out of the University of Southern California’s business program.He worked in mergers and acquisitions in the start-up space before transitioning into podcasting after the acquisition of Player FM, a podcast player. Eric collaborated with indie podcasters and networks to scale the player and establish relationships through direct advertising sales and partnerships.As the Director of Business Development at Quill, he helps drive growth through key sales and marketing efforts.When he’s not helping the podcast space grow, Eric helps teens as the Assistant Head Football Coach at a high school.