Since podcasting first achieved mainstream attention through the iPod (the product that provided its name), it’s gone from a niche amateur pursuit to a huge industry replete with influential stars, incredible reach, and more money than early podcasters could have imagined.
This development alone would have made it a golden avenue for advertisers, but it offers a further benefit: podcast listeners are less likely to skip ads, because most podcasts progress at a leisurely pace and there’s no great rush to get back to the content.
Podcast marketing is clearly a great option for marketers, then — but how do you track the results? You can’t stick to conventional online tracking because you don’t have that level of control, but you can’t settle for roughly gauging the results.
To make it easier to accurately determined how well your podcast marketing is going, here are 7 straightforward ways to better measure your success:
I’m not an investment banker, and I don’t have the first clue about bonds or dividends. That doesn’t mean that I can’t invest money and see a good reason, but it does mean that I’m at a major disadvantage when it comes to optimization. I can’t look take elements into account if I don’t understand them or even know that they exist.
Podcast marketing has a fair range of specific terms that are worth reading about. Do you know what “off script” or “mid-roll” mean in the context of an ad? And what of the standards — do you know what you can expect from each platform? Review this guide from AdvertiseCast and ensure that you feel comfortable with everything before you start advertising.
As with any type of advertising that requires a medium, your choice of podcast advertising partner matters enormously — not just in their reach, but in their attitude and operation. This is because you’ll rely on them to provide you with information about the performance of your ads, and you need that information to be thorough and accurate.
Unfortunately, many podcasters try to obscure their performance metrics to make themselves appear more successful. They might claim certain numbers but never provide any proof, or vaguely allude to accomplishments without getting specific. To better measure your marketing success, it’s absolutely imperative that you thoroughly vet your advertising partners before running any campaigns.
What ultimately matters for your marketing is return on investment (ROI): considering what you get back versus what you put in. And for podcasting, the relatively novel nature of the platform can easily lead someone to fail at considering the costs.
Think about what can go into creating a podcast ad. If you develop it in-house, there’s the purchase (or rental) of high-performance recording equipment and any software or hardware needed for editing, plus the cost of the time of skilled professionals. How much time goes into the creative process? It all warrants inclusion.
Now, you can’t necessarily directly compare your costs to your ROI, because much of your ROI may not be directly financial. For example, a new brand can achieve a lot of exposure that doesn’t immediately lead to sales, but will produce them in the long run. But if you make an effort to assign monetary values to your conversion goals, knowing your costs will be invaluable.
Regardless of the type of podcast ad you choose, you can run A/B testing easily enough. Dynamic insertion ads are placed into allocated gaps in podcasts, and can change from day to day — this makes them perfect for A/B testing, because you can enter several ads into one pool and readily compare the results. And with fixed placement ads, you can simply request that your ads be split evenly from the beginning.
Why is this so important for measuring success? Because success is relative. You might think that your ad is performing very well, but until you run it against a competitor, you won’t know if it’s doing the best job possible.
Now we’re getting into the particulars of measuring performance, and the two most popular tactics for this are providing promo codes and directing people to custom URLs. Affiliate programs contribute some flexibility to the advertising process: an advertiser can negotiate a cheaper rate for ad insertion by offering the platform commission for the sales it contributes, tracking those sales through unique codes or URLs.
Furthermore, affiliate schemes are available to podcasters lacking the audience to attract regular sponsors, and if you find the right growing podcasts willing to believe in what you’re offering, you can get some advertising with an appealing hook: if it doesn’t lead to sales, you don’t pay anything.
As noted, ROI might be financial in the end, but it isn’t always financial along the way. Suppose that you have some podcast ads that use promo codes and URLs to achieve trackable results, but you’re not seeing any conversions. Does that mean that the ads are failing? Well, not necessarily — it requires more investigation.
At that point, it’s very useful to head to any and all relevant social media channels to find out what people are saying about your brand. You may discover that people are speaking positively about your ads, but concluding that your company in general doesn’t seem credible enough, or that something about your product fails to convince them. If so, you may conclude that your ads are performing excellently, and it’s the rest of your process that’s falling short.
People certainly enjoy discussing their thoughts at length on social media, but not everything will get painstakingly documented. If you want to know more about what people are thinking and what they make of your ads, you’ll need to go directly to them for feedback. By aggregating audience information from your selected podcast partners and your customers, you can form a very useful focus group of sorts.
Ask people likely to have been exposed to your podcast ads if they’ve heard of you. Use prompts from your ads to gauge their recall. Ask them questions about their favorite ads and placement techniques. Then ask your customers if your podcast ads played a role in driving them to convert. If so, to what extent?
The answers you take from this feedback-gathering efforts will help you determine the extent to which your podcast marketing is driving conversions, and identify opportunities for tweaking your approach to better suit those who might be interested in what you’re offering but have yet to be convinced by your ads.
These 7 suggestions aren’t to be attempted in isolation: they must all be done if you want to achieve optimal levels of success. And given the vast reach (and high ceiling) of podcasting, you want to squeeze as much from it as you can.