Sponsoring podcasts: Advice for ecommerce marketers

Deciding to explore a new marketing channel can often seem a bit intimidating. Many brands have thrown their hat into the ring of sponsoring podcasts. And it makes sense, a successful podcast can reach hundreds of thousands of listeners and get your brand out to new people. Choosing podcast sponsorship as your next paid channel makes sense, according to a post by Convince and Convert, the same number of Americans listen to podcasts as use Twitter.

But podcasts are a medium unlike most other digital marketing channels, and investing in sponsoring them requires both a relationship with a media outlet and can appear hard to track the results without a solid plan in place.

I sat down with Jon Papp, our in-house paid marketing master, to find out everything an ecommerce company should be thinking about when deciding to invest in podcast sponsorships, as well as how to measure the results, and even how to write copy for your ad spots. And he would know, Klaviyo has spent the first half of 2017 experimenting with podcast sponsorships. We’ve learned a ton.

Research and understand your audience

When Jon first got started with his podcast research, his aim was to find podcasts that were most popular with our target audience (ecommerce marketers). After he narrowed down the podcasts that made the most sense for Klaviyo to go after, he started to listen to the actual episodes of the different podcasts to make sure that they were indeed a good fit for us.

For ecommerce marketers, this might seem a bit like shooting in the dark if you haven’t already done some persona research.

According to Jon, “one big part of the research is going out, listening to what they’re talking about and seeing if it’s relevant to you and your brand and ultimately, the people you’re trying to target. You really want to get in the minds of your audience and ask ‘Are they here or are they not?’ Ultimately, is this content that your brand can fit in with? And the other thing is finding stakeholders, people who run podcasts who are actually fans of your brand.” Having brand advocates behind your paid spots can increase the humanity, and credibility, of a spot.

Not sure where to start?

Talk to some of your customers and ask them what podcasts they listen to. If you ask enough customers you’ll begin to see patterns. A quick and easy way to get this information could be through a survey to your newsletter list. Sweeten the deal by offering a discount or promotion in exchange for their input. You might also include questions about what would motivate them to check out a company that they heard about on a podcast, such as, “would a promotion code motivate you to check out a new brand?”

Outreach

Once you’ve narrowed down the podcasts you think you’d like to go after it’s time to reach out.

What should you be asking a podcast about and what matters most?

You’ll want to get some basic information like how long they been around, what their audience is like, and if they have ever done an audience profile before. The audience profile component is very important. For example, if you know that based on an audience profile the audience is comprised of 80% female but your target demographic is 20 something-year-old dudes, that probably isn’t going to be the best use of your time or money.

Some podcasts will have conducted surveys or studies and will be able to provide some more concrete numbers. They should have stats around daily, weekly, and monthly, listens or downloads. “What we do is look at that just to see what would our penetration would actually be— are we getting our brand out there at a mass scale or are we not? And then we look to make sure that we can align with the content and we get pricing”, says Jon.

Pricing and placement

Podcast pricing and placement follow a few different structures. For pricing, there is a flat fee for a certain amount of episodes and pricing structures that follow the cost per listen. The pricing will typically depend on the placement of your ad during the podcast.

There is a pre-roll (airs before the content of the podcast), mid-roll (in the middle of the podcast), and post-roll (at the end of the show).

“In my opinion, pre-roll and mid-roll are probably far better than post-roll because at that point there’s just so much fatigue at the end of a podcast and people are more likely to take flight after it’s done.”

Crafting your spot

If you’re normally writing ad or website copy, trying to craft the perfect podcast spot can feel like speaking a foreign language at first. One piece of advice that Jon found helpful when he first started was to, “go in a room and read it out loud in a radio voice. Like, legitimately.” You’ll start to notice things. For Klaviyo, it was the fact that it’s really hard to spell our name which led Jon to have every spot to include “K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, that’s klaviyo.com.” Now every one of our sponsorships ends with that.

Beyond the obvious? “I think that it should be informal language, keep it light, knowing that these people are not actively thinking about your company or searching on it. It’s more like they’re coming across it because they’re interested in a topic other than your company’s plug. And so, keep it light, don’t use buzzwords, don’t be too technical with your language and just keep it kind of fun.”

Measuring your success

This is where things can start to get a bit tricky if you don’t think about your plan of attack before launching. If you’re sponsoring more than one podcast at a time it can also be smart to think about how you’ll track the success of each individual effort as opposed to lumping all your different paid podcast promotions into on spot.

Using a discount
If you decide to offer a discount code, Jon recommends that you have a landing page setup that is specific to each unique podcast. This will make tracking the traffic from the individual podcast to your website super simple.

Branded search
“One of the things we look at is branded search. Because branded search is a leading indicator of brand awareness. For example, if people are typing in Klaviyo more than they used to, it’s because they’ve been influenced in some sort of way.” When we actually did some research and we were looking at what happens when we did heavy podcasts versus when we were lighter on podcasts to see if there were any fluctuations in our branded search.

Has your ecommerce business invested in podcast sponsorships? Were they a successful marketing channel for you? Comment below.

Alicia Thomas
Alicia is a Content Marketing Manager at Klaviyo. She is fired up about helping marketers learn the best tactics and strategies to grow their businesses. Prior to Klaviyo she held positions on both agency and in-house marketing teams. When she's not writing the latest ebook or blog, Alicia can be found producing marketing videos.
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