I mentioned to someone in conversation last week that I was interested in starting a podcast. Their reaction was, “Does anyone still listen to those?”
Personally, I like to listen to podcasts, and there are a wide range of interesting industry shows out there. Yet, I had some questions: Is podcasting a viable form of marketing? And are they worth my time to start one? Has podcasting already reached its peak?
According to Edison Research: “Podcasts continue to be effective ways to reach affluent consumers who exhibit ad avoidance behaviors.”
The recent study on podcasting conducted by Edison Research reveals that 15% of Americans listen to podcasts on a regular basis. We took a look at the data of the most popular podcasts and podcast-dedicated sites in the US to illustrate how popular this frequently undervalued marketing channel is and how stable the growth of its audience is.
This American Life is undoubtedly one of the most popular American podcasts. Just within two years, its site audience grew almost 300%, from approx. 0.9M desktop visits in Jan 2013 to 3.8M in the last month.
Another example of podcasting show that went from popular to super popular in two years, tripling its audience.
It is interesting to see how similar the traffic sources distribution structure is for both sites. For any podcast, the source of its success is content, which also helps with branding. As we see from the chart below, nearly one-third of all traffic volume comes from direct sources, representing the part of the audience which is well aware of the show and most likely consists of regular listeners. Referrals and Search bring close to a quarter of all incoming traffic each, and social media is responsible for roughly 15% of visits.
Freakonomics is an amazing example of how the book evolved into one of the most popular podcasts on economics. The website boomed after the book’s success, and saw more than 150% overall traffic volume increase during the last two years.
To show the benefits of podcasting model, let’s compare Freakonomics with another best seller – “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. Both are big hits, both are New York Times best sellers, both are from same category. The difference is that Freakonomics continued to evolve by adopting a podcast model and subsequently managed to grow a much bigger audience.
As you can see from the graph below, Gladwell.com (the Outliers web site) constitutes less than 15% of Freakonomics’s traffic volume.
Targeting podcasts listeners ensures you are concentrating on one of the most relevant and dedicated audiences available. For a podcast, good name and brand recognition means the world! For example, looking at the traffic sources of a recent “rising star” podcast, Serial, you can see almost even traffic share distribution between Direct and Search, with approx. 40% of traffic represented by each.
If we take a closer look at Search though, we will see that more than 90% of those search queries are brand related, i.e. consist of or mention the word Serial, which highlights the fact that people are looking for the podcast by name.
If we add Social traffic, which consists of social recommendations (and assumes brand awareness), we will see that the podcast show was able to cultivate an audience of more than 8.5M within three months, mostly thanks to the popularization of its name and brand.
We’ve also found another proof of the power of the Serial brand. Take a look at how Stitcher, the podcasting app recommended to the listeners during the Serial show, is growing popularity simultaneously with growth of Serial audience.
This explains why you need to fully imagine the value of the content and what parts of it resonate best with the crowd. An analysis of “Popular Pages” of these sites can provide insight on what each audience is interested in, which can help provide future content.
How do People Listen to Podcasts? Marketing at The Speed of Sound
With ever-increasing popularity of podcasts, podcast managing and other related apps are getting high rankings in the Google Play store, as well as in App Usage ranking by SimilarWeb. The most popular of them is Pocket Casts. This app is holding first place in the Google Play Store, ranking among the top paid apps in News & Magazines category for more than two years already.
In addition, Stitcher is the second most used app in the News & Magazines category in the US, and the 12th most used Android application in the US. Despite the fact that the app is far from being new, the quantity of installs keep rising. More than 30% of the people who’ve installed it use the app on a daily basis.
We can also see an even more optimistic picture of podcast apps by looking at the statistics of frequency of user sessions.
So by looking at the data and drawing some insights from traffic visits and keyword searches, we can gather that podcasts are far from done. As with all traffic efforts, it needs to be part of strategy and have excellent content which leads to sharability and return visitors.
Podcasting, though under utilized, is a traffic source that is proven to bring in residual traffic to grow a brand’s message. We have found sites that include podcasting in their marketing efforts have continued to grow their listener base and web visits, while others with the same branding have lost traction.
In this day and age of ads everywhere you look, podcasting gives the viewer a break by allowing visitors to listen to your engaging content. Based on the studies above, if you are looking to build a brand and increase website traffic, podcasting may be the missing part to your marketing strategy.
What do you think? Are podcasts overlooked in driving traffic? What podcasts do you listen to?
This is a sponsored post, the data mining of which was done by the SimilarWeb team, using the SimilarWeb PRO platform. Images provided by SimilarWeb. Featured image via Shutterstock.