Podcasts are one of the fastest-growing media forms in 2020, a trend that is projected to continue for the next five years.
Businesses are finding podcasts to be a worthwhile marketing expenditure, as podcasts are one of the most efficient ways for a brand to:
Build thought leadership: by inviting prominent thought leaders onto a podcast, brands can establish their voice within a space as a trusted expert.
Expand a network: experts and influencers are 8X more likely to accept an invitation to be on a podcast than they are to connect with a business owner or executive.
Establish a relationship with customers: podcasts can create an intimate conversation with a community in a way that video and text cannot. With podcasts, brands often accompany a customer while they commute, exercise, do household work, and more.
Create a never-ending supply of engaging content for social media: if leveraged correctly, podcasts can create an endless supply of original, short-form video, image, text, and audio content.
While individuals or studios produce many podcasts, brands can also produce their own podcast. While some brands attempt to make podcasts specifically about their company (such as McDonald’s The Sauce), most are centered on topics about which the brand’s Ideal Customer Persona cares deeply. In essence, brands are creating content that is either educational or entertaining in nature, such that it provides free value to a customer, and the customer chooses to engage with.
This week, Captivate analyzed the most successful, branded podcasts to better understand what companies can do to create high-performing podcasts. We set our assumptions aside and instead looked at over a year’s worth of data to understand the factors that help a branded podcast succeed.
Here is what stood out to us as the most important factors in a podcast’s performance.
The top-performing branded podcasts had – on average – published 189 episodes. While hundreds of podcasts capped out at just 20 episodes, the most successful brands weren’t dabbling, they were committed.
Additionally, on average, they publish 4 episodes per month or a weekly publishing cadence. They do this week-in, week-out without exception. If you’re looking to get more home runs, get more at-bats. If you want to win the lottery, buy more lottery tickets. Seems to work the same here – consistently deliver content that delights your audience and – just like with compound interest in investing – over time, things will take off.
While many of us at Captivate enjoy Tim Ferriss, Hardcore History, Jocko Willink, and more, it turns out that aiming to do a two-hour podcast may not be ideal for brands. Not only is it harder to publish consistently at this length (if podcasting isn’t your full-time job), but it turns out that few of the most successful branded podcasts go for length.
The average podcast length is just 34 minutes, far shorter than the industry average of 43 minutes and 24 seconds.
And it’s not just the episode length that is succinct – the intro and outro are as well. The average intro – including information about the show, the episode, the sponsors (if applicable), and the brand behind the podcast clocks in at 1 minute and 56 seconds. While there can be a lot of information to cover upfront, it’s best to dive right into the content at hand.
The same goes for the ending – the average outro was just 39 seconds.
Interview formats are great for branded podcasts, as they allow a brand to find industry experts and draft off of their experience. This also cuts down on the amount of time required to produce a podcast, which supports #1’s Consistency point.
Beyond the podcast’s format, though, these top branded podcasts keep the episode centered on their guest.
80% of the top branded podcasts start their episode immediately with a quote from their guest. These quotes take up a good chunk of that 1:56 intro time, with the average quote being 30 seconds in length.
While our team’s preference is to spruce up this intro quote with some background music, only 50% of the top-performing branded podcasts used background music with their intro quote.
We were so relieved and happy to see that this was true of the top branded podcasts! When we first start working with brands, they often want to make their podcast all about their company. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth for all of the top branded podcasts.
In fact, the top branded podcasts only spend an average of 11 seconds of their episode talking about their brand. That is incredible considering all of the work that goes into making a podcast.
However, when you pair this with consistency, 11 seconds is enough. Be succinct – tell your audience what your company does and how that relates to the podcast theme, and that’s it. If you really feel like you need more room, use the outro – for the audience who has stuck around to that point, you’ve earned their attention.
Podcasts are obviously still more art than science. At the end of the day, high-quality content and knowledgeable guests are vital for your podcast to succeed.
However, if it is possible for you to incorporate these learnings into your podcast, you can remove some of the guess work and place your brand in a place to succeed where many others have failed.
Need help? Captivate exists to help brands get more from their webinar and podcast content. We turn a single podcast or webinar episode into 3 months of social media content. We also offer a “podcasting as a service” offering to help brands create world-class podcasts. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more.