3 Proof Points for Podcasts as an Event Marketing Catalyst


Post Authored by Harby Tran, Director of Marketing

In a world where our event marketing tactics include endless amounts of engaging content, I wonder if we’re truly utilizing one of its most effective and fastest-growing forms: podcasts.

While podcasts have been around for years, it took the launch of a show called Serial (a spinoff of This American Life) to vault the format’s popularity in modern culture. Since then, there’s been a steady uptick in listeners, but recent stats reveal something very intriguing: well-produced podcasts are resonating strongest with an elite audience that’s hard to reach – the affluent and well educated, aka the decision makers.

Sounds like a match made in heaven for associations hosting annual conferences.

“Podcasting could be an outstanding vehicle to tease out pre-event content to get leaders to commit to attend, as well as afterwards, to refresh and build upon the great discoveries they enjoyed at your event.”

The Podcast Consumer 2017

In April, Edison Research released its latest annual study of the podcast medium, with late-breaking insights on podcast users in America, derived from the Infinite Dial 2017 study (conducted in partnership with Triton Digital) and Edison’s Share of Ear® research.

Here are a few statistics to help you get a bead on the size and scope of the US podcast audience:

  • 40% of Americans—ages 12 and older—have listened to a podcast
  • 24% have listened to at least one podcast in the past month
  • Podcast appeal tips slightly in favor of one gender (56% men, 44% women)
  • 77% of monthly podcast listeners fall within the age range of 18-54

While I’d encourage you to give this entire report a closer look, here are three proof points that are particularly intriguing in the context of event marketing:

  1. Leadership podcast appetites are on the rise.
    Many event organizers are struggling to earn “YES decisions” with C- and VP-level executives, yet these are the very people sponsors and exhibitors want to engage with most. According to the Edison Research study, 45% of monthly podcast consumers had household incomes at $75,000 or higher, with 16% exceeding $150,000. Further, 57% of monthly podcast listeners hold a bachelor’s, master’s or advanced degree – that’s up from 41% in 2016. Podcasting could be an outstanding vehicle to tease out pre-event content to get leaders to commit to attend, as well as afterwards, to refresh and build upon the great discoveries they enjoyed at your event. Now that more cars have Bluetooth capabilities, more and more executives are tuning in to podcasts on their daily commute. According to the US Census, it now takes the average worker 26 minutes to commute to work. That’s an important benchmark to consider when determining podcast program durations.
  2. Weekly podcast listeners consume—on average—5 hours of content each week.
    Five hours and seven minutes to be precise, but it’s a stunning statistic that rivals average weekly consumption rates for Facebook. Clearly, the weekly podcast listener is more invested in this medium. Approximately 15% of the US population tunes into at least one podcast each week – that’s 42 million people! These frequent subscribers are ripe for relationship nurturing. If you could earn a half-hour of attention with this segment each week, imagine how this could boost event attendance, membership and revenue.
  3. Podcast listeners stay with episodes longer than you think.
    Dispelling myths that podcasts are downloaded, but rarely consumed, consider this: among monthly podcast listeners, 86% consumed most—if not all—of a single episode they downloaded, with 44% staying until the closing credits. If the content is compelling (big “IF”), they’ll stick with you to the finish line.

There’s so much more to dig into with this study, including how a well-produced podcast can open the door to new revenue streams, but we’ll save that topic for a future post.

Rest assured, we’re immersed in the podcasting innovation lab and we’re studying every element of our own podcast, The VIP Lounge. More importantly, we’re studying the data to understand what’s working, what’s not and what tweaks we can make to improve it.

As you ponder whether podcasting makes sense for your organization, I’ll leave you with one final caveat: The ante for entering this space is higher today than it’s ever been. For many dedicated listeners, the tolerance for rambling speakers or poor audio fidelity is much lower than it was ten years ago. For this reason, we chose to bypass the DIY podcast path and record our programs in a professional studio.

But make no mistake, this audio-on-demand platform is rich with untapped potential. As you move ahead with your podcasting plans, we’d be happy to share more about what we’re learning in our own podcast lab.

Is podcasting something you’re considering? If so, what hurdles are preventing you from advancing?

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