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Striking a Chord: The Audience-First Approach to Crafting Branded Podcasts

Last updated on

March 9, 2024

Striking a Chord: The Audience-First Approach to Crafting Branded Podcasts

Understand why finding your ideal audience is the crucial first step in creating a branded podcast that truly resonates. Read this article now to learn how to take an audience-first approach to podcasting.

Tianna Marinucci


 min read


Picture this: 

You've spent hours crafting the perfect podcast concept, refining your script, and even investing in top-notch equipment. You're excited about the journey ahead, but before you hit that record button, there's a fundamental question you must answer: 

Who is your podcast for? 

This seemingly simple question holds the key to your podcast's ultimate success or downfall.

Creating a successful branded podcast isn't just about the quality of your content or the charisma of your host; it's about finding and connecting with the right audience.

In this article, we explain why taking an audience-first approach is essential to producing a successful branded podcast. 

We'll delve into the why, what, and how of finding your ideal audience and explore the critical role audience alignment plays in achieving your podcasting goals.

Why audience matters in branded podcasts

Before diving into the "how," let's first understand the "why" behind an audience-first approach to crafting branded podcasts. The answer lies in the very nature of this medium.

Podcasts have the unique ability to reach audiences on a more personal level through the influence of voice. 

By fostering a sense of community and delivering valuable content, a branded podcast can create meaningful connections that go beyond the transactional nature of traditional marketing and advertising channels.

1. Authentic connection: 

Branded podcasts offer an opportunity to forge authentic connections with your audience. Unlike traditional advertising, where messages can feel forced, podcasts allow brands to engage with their listeners on a deeper level. To achieve this, you must understand who these listeners are and what resonates with them.

2. Relevance and trust

Your audience is more likely to engage with content that is relevant to their interests and needs. When you tailor your podcast to a specific audience, you become a trusted source of information or advice, strengthening brand loyalty. In fact, the Pew Research Center reports that 31% of people who get news from podcasts say they trust that news more than the news they get from other sources.

3: Dedicated communities and niches: 

Branded podcasts often foster communities around shared interests or niches. By pinpointing your ideal audience, you can tap into existing communities or create one of your own. These communities can be valuable for feedback, support, and collaboration. When your audience feels a sense of belonging to your podcast's community, they are more likely to engage with your content, share it with others, and participate in discussions related to your show.

How to find your branded podcast’s ideal target audience

Now that we've established that podcasting is ultimately a connection-based marketing channel, let's delve into the strategies for finding your branded podcast's ideal target audience.

Similar to developing a customer persona, an ideal listener profile identifies the demographic and psychographic behaviors of your potential audience. Who do you want to listen to your show? 

For example, if the primary goal of your podcast is brand awareness, and your target demographic is men 18 to 35, developing a persona will tell you what your demographic cares about so you can center your podcast around a subject that hyper-targets their interests. 

You want to paint a detailed snapshot of who your listeners are in their everyday lives so you can relate to them on a personal level. 

That way, they will have a positive association with your brand and will be more likely to become engaged listeners.

1. Define your brand's persona: 

Before identifying your podcast's audience, you must have a clear understanding of your brand's persona. What values does your brand embody? What problems does it solve? Knowing your brand's essence will help you align your podcast content with its identity.

2. Conduct market research: 

Invest time in thorough market research. Identify your competitors and analyze their podcast audience. What gaps can your podcast fill? What unique perspective or value can you offer to attract listeners?

3. Create listener profiles: 

Building detailed audience personas is a critical step. These personas should include demographics, interests, pain points, and behaviors. The more specific, the better. For instance, instead of targeting "women aged 25-34," narrow it down to "women aged 28-32, urban professionals, interested in sustainable living."

Here are some key components of an ideal listener profile:

  • Age 
  • Location 
  • Industry and Occupation 
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Education
  • Interests 
  • Hobbies 
  • Lifestyle 
  • Social Causes 
  • Pain Points
  • Fears 
  • Budget 
  • Total Market (How many potential listeners there are that fit your profile. This metric will help you estimate your potential audience size)

By outlining your target listener persona, you can craft content that directly addresses their needs and desires. This tailored approach ensures that your podcast resonates with the listeners, providing them with valuable insights, solutions, and entertainment that align with their interests. In turn, this builds a positive association with your brand.

4. Leverage existing data: 

If your brand already has a customer base, use their data. Analyze purchase histories, feedback, and interactions to gain insights into their preferences and behaviors. This can be a goldmine for understanding your ideal podcast audience.

Finding your ideal audience is an ongoing process. As your podcast evolves, so may your audience. Regularly revisit and refine your audience personas to stay aligned with changing trends and preferences.

How does targeting the right audience align with your brand’s goals?

Now that you’ve found your target audience, let’s dive into why an audience-first approach is so integral to reaching your business objectives. 

Ultimately, the success of your branded podcast can be measured by its return on investment (ROI). A podcast that speaks directly to your ideal audience is more likely to drive tangible results for your business. 

Whether your goal is increased sales, brand awareness, or customer loyalty, a targeted podcast strategy maximizes your chances of achieving these objectives. The time and resources invested in creating and promoting the podcast will yield a higher ROI when it resonates with your ideal audience.

There are several ways to measure the ROI of your podcast, and the best one for you will depend on your goals and the type of show you have. Here are a few examples of how targeting the right audience aligns with various common brand goals:

Audience growth

First and foremost, audience growth is the heartbeat of any podcast's success story. Your podcast's audience includes the number of downloads, subscribers, and social media followers it accrues over time. 

Subscribers, in particular, are the gold standard, as they represent highly engaged listeners who are more likely to consume multiple episodes. But remember, a subscriber doesn’t necessarily equate to a listener. 

When you consistently see an increase in these metrics, it's a clear indicator that your podcast is resonating with your target audience. Engaging content encourages listener loyalty, which can lead to increased potential value for advertisers or sponsors. 

However, to ensure that you're reaching your ideal audience, you must delve deeper into demographic data, such as age, and location – we’ll cover all that in our next section. Understanding these details helps optimize your marketing strategies and content to attract and retain your target market effectively.


Beyond mere numbers, measuring engagement is another vital aspect of determining the ROI of your podcast. Engagement encompasses feedback, comments, shares, and ratings on platforms like Spotify and Apple Podcasts, as well as social media interactions.

For reference, the average rating on Apple Podcasts is 4.6 stars. This statistic provides a gauge of how interested your audience is in your show and how likely they are to recommend it to others. High levels of engagement not only contribute to your podcast's success but also indicate that you're striking a chord with your ideal audience.

Revenue and monetization

Monetization is a significant factor in podcast ROI, and it can come in various forms, including advertising, sponsorships, merchandise sales, and even listener donations. To measure the financial return from these strategies, track the number of sponsorships, ad impressions, click-through rates, and conversion rates.

If you plan to monetize your podcast through advertising or sponsorships, knowing your ideal audience is crucial. Advertisers and sponsors are more interested in podcasts with a well-defined and engaged audience, as they can better target their promotions. 

By demonstrating that you have a loyal and relevant audience, you increase your chances of attracting advertisers willing to pay for access to your listeners.

Brand awareness

Lastly, the impact your podcast has on your brand is an essential aspect of ROI that shouldn't be overlooked. This includes increased brand visibility, an improved reputation, and enhanced customer loyalty. 

While these metrics may be challenging to quantify, many brands use metrics like downloads, unique listeners, and subscribers as proxies for measuring brand awareness. 

However, it's important to recognize that the impact of your podcast extends beyond mere numbers. A well-targeted podcast can elevate your brand's image and build a dedicated community around it, contributing to long-term success.

If you’re interested in a more thorough rundown of how to calculate podcast ROI, check out our complete guide.

How can I ensure that I’m reaching my target audience?

The value of a branded podcast isn’t in creating a high-quality show, the value of a branded podcast comes from creating a high-quality show that reaches the right audience. 

Without the data to guide you, you won’t be able to make informed decisions on how to best market, advertise, and grow your show – and most importantly, you won’t be able to verify that your content is reaching your target audience and resonating with them.

Here are some key metrics and data sources to leverage to ensure that your podcast is making the right impact with the right people: 

Consumption rates

Consumption rates reveal how much of your podcast episodes are being listened to by your audience. As a base, we usually aim to have at least a 75-80% consumption rate for shows. 

To measure consumption rates, podcast analytics platforms track various metrics, including average listening time, completion rates (the percentage of episodes listened to in full), and drop-off points (where listeners tend to stop). 

Combining these metrics with demographic data and other analytics can provide deeper insights into listener preferences and behavior, so you can ensure that your content is resonating with the right people.

This metric is arguably one of the most important when it comes to measuring the quality and relevance of your podcast episodes. Here are a few reasons why: 

Content optimization: 

By analyzing drop-off rates, podcast creators can identify the specific points within an episode where listeners tend to lose interest or stop listening. This information helps them understand what content resonates with the audience and what aspects might need improvement. They can then adjust their content strategy to create more engaging and captivating episodes.

For example, podcasts experience a significant drop in listenership, ranging from 20 to 35 percent, within the initial five minutes of an episode, making this the prime window to captivate your listener's focus and establish the tone for the upcoming episode. If you notice your podcast falls into this trap, consider revamping your intro.

Episode structure: 

Understanding drop-off rates helps podcasters refine the structure of their episodes. They can experiment with different formats, segment placements, and episode lengths to find the optimal balance that keeps listeners engaged throughout the episode.

Listener preferences: 

Drop-off rates shed light on listener preferences and behaviors. Creators can gain insights into the types of topics, styles, and formats that resonate most with their ideal audience. Podcasters can then use this data to refine their content, pacing, and episode structure to maintain higher engagement throughout an episode.

We suggest analyzing episode-specific drop-off points to pinpoint precisely where your audience is dropping.

  • Did a conversation stray too far off-topic? 
  • Did a podcast ad run too long?
  • Did listeners not like the guest? 
  • Is there a segment within your podcast that isn’t resonating? 

If the same segment repeatedly causes listeners to drop off, edit it and adapt it to listeners' preferences. Just because your target audience doesn’t want to listen to this ad, for example, doesn’t mean they won’t want to stick around for another. 

B2B Analytics:

For any branded podcasts, CoHost’s B2B Analytics is a game-changer. This feature offers valuable insights on what companies and industries are listening to your podcast, so you know if your show is reaching the right ears. 

Here are some other powerful features:

  • Breakdown of Companies Listening: Get a detailed look at the companies who are tuning into your podcast, including their industries, average company size, and average revenue breakdown;
  • Episode Summary Page: Compare the top companies, industries, and company locations of each episode’s unique audience;
  • Individual Episode Breakdown: Get a detailed look at which companies and industries are listening to each episode, including company size, revenue, and location;
  • Lead Generation: Export the list of companies who are tuning into your podcast so you can identify valuable prospects and boost lead generation efforts.

Audience Demographics

Understanding the demographics of your podcast audience provides invaluable insights into the composition of your listenership, including factors like age and location. This data reveals if you’re reaching your target audience and enables you to tailor your podcast content to cater more effectively to their preferences. 

You can find basic demographic information like what’s listed above in many hosting platforms. But many brands want to go deeper into understanding who their audience is. 

To find out more about your audience, brands leverage CoHost’s Advanced Audience Demographics. This feature was designed for brands and agencies to verify if podcasts are reaching their desired target audience, tailor their content to audience preferences for improved engagement, and enhance sponsorship sales with comprehensive listener profiles. 

With this feature, you can gain insight into your audiences: 

  • Age
  • Location
  • Lifestyle 
  • Family Members
  • Interests/Hobbies 
  • Household Income
  • Social Media Consumption

Social Media 

Monitoring your podcast engagement doesn’t stop off the listening apps. Take time to identify the social media platforms where your listeners are most active. 

Social media is a potent tool for measuring awareness, engagement, and popularity, while also providing insights into your audience demographics.

Utilize social media listening tools such as HubSpot or podcast analytics tools like CoHost’s Advanced Audience Demographics to identify your target audience’s social media behaviors, specifically, who's discussing your podcast, how frequently, and where.

Generally, Gen Z'ers flock to TikTok, Millennials hang out the most on Instagram, while Gen X and Boomers tend to gravitate toward Facebook or LinkedIn. If your podcast caters to empty-nesters or soon-to-be child-free parents, Facebook would likely be your best bet for engagement. 

By harnessing the power of the platforms preferred by your target demographic, you can maximize your podcast's exposure and connect with those who matter most.

To discover which social channels are driving the most downloads to your podcast, use CoHost’s Tracking Links feature which enables you to see a click-to-download metric for your promotional efforts.

Ratings and Reviews

What better way to understand if your content is resonating with your target audience than to hear from them directly? 

From the offset, foster a sense of community around your podcast by encouraging listener interaction. Invite them to share their thoughts, questions, and feedback via social media, email, or dedicated podcast platforms – because again, who knows what your listeners want better than them?

While asking for user feedback may seem obvious, the vast majority of podcasts have no ratings or reviews. Of the 1.3 million podcasts Pacific Content analyzed, about 850,000 of them had no ratings

If you aren’t getting enough ratings and reviews to help you gain insight into your audience’s preferences, try adding a CTA asking for ratings and reviews at the end of each episode, on your website, on social media, or in any other show materials.

While reviews give your listeners a chance to elaborate more, ratings can still provide valuable insights into listeners' likes and dislikes. Pay attention to any declines in ratings after particular episodes as this may indicate content misalignment with your audience's preferences.

Are you taking an audience-first approach to podcasting?

In the world of branded podcasts, content is king, but the audience is the kingdom. 

Crafting a successful branded podcast begins with a deep understanding of your ideal target audience and taking an audience-first approach is necessary to create content that resonates, builds trust, and drives results. 

Remember, it's not about reaching everyone; it's about connecting deeply with the right ones. Start by defining your brand's persona, conducting thorough research, creating detailed audience personas, and continuously refining your approach. 

If you want to learn more about branded podcasts, chat with our team!