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It has never been more difficult to get the attention of customers and prospects using traditional marketing channels. Consumers are not only bombarded by messages from more organizations across more channels than ever before, but consumers are busier than ever. That said, evidence indicates that consumers have a strong desire for self-help and education in all areas of their life.

Just look at the popularity for fitness, health and wellness apps and insights. The same can be said for financial wellness shows (both app based and in podcast format). Bottom line, podcasts are here to stay and are only getting more popular as organizations are looking to expand their content marketing strategies.

But, why on earth would a retail bank want a podcast? This is a legitimate question, if you believe that podcasting is only a millennial fad of gonzo journalism for grizzly true crime enthusiasts. But, podcasting has evolved into much more than that. The increased penetration of smartphones have changed content consumption as the ‘reading’ of articles has decreased. More people than ever are flocking to audio and visual content.

It’s because of this evolution that I agreed to chair Message Heard, the UK specialist podcast company for immersive storytelling, pro-active journalism and innovative branded content, founded by Jake Warren.

After 15 odd years or so of largely existing as a niche medium catering purely to subcultures and fringe communities, podcasting is going mainstream. The US undoubtedly leads the way with over 44% of the entire population (124 million) having actively listened to a podcast, 26% (73 million) who listen regularly on a monthly basis and 17% (48 million) who listen religiously week in and week out.

Globally, the podcasting market is experiencing rapid year on year growth of 11%. The old adage of the UK being five years behind the US is unmistakably true, but we are doing our best to close the gap. The UK is experiencing podcast listenership growth at an even more accelerated rate of around 30% and has an active weekly audience of 11% (six million) of the population.

Why Banks and Credit Unions Should Consider Podcasts

What these stats mean is that the demand for podcasting demonstrably exists and is growing fast, but also that this is a significant opportunity for banks and credit unions to both leverage and engage with audiences in an authentic and meaningful way.

Here are eight reasons why any financial institutions should be jumping at the opportunity to add podcasting to its content marketing arsenal:

  1. Corporate communication has stagnated. Be honest, when was the last time you read a brochure or watched a corporate video? Traditional forms of corporate communication are outdated, lack engagement qualities and are unfit for purpose. What podcasting offers is a natural evolution beyond content marketing – which tends to be unsubtle boasting about your company. The opportunity for retail banking is to be the convenor of pertinent stories and conversations and thus to directly engage with their target customers.
  2. Engagement. From an advertising and brand recognition stand point, the very nature of podcasting makes it an active form of engagement rather than a passive form. Because podcasts exist within self-contained ecosystems (podcasting apps) listening to a podcast is an intentional act. According to research, 80% of all podcast episodes are listened to in their entirety, or at least majority, which is arguably the greatest consumption rate of any digital medium. Additionally, podcasts generate a 4 times better brand recall than other forms of digital advertising.
  3. Discoverability. Historically there have been limitations on discoverability, however this is about to change. Since the dawn of time (1998) Google has delivered results from its search functionality focusing solely on text and images. In 2019, Google is rolling out audio as part of the native search results. This means an optimal user experience of one click audio.
  4. The power of education. Clearly podcast demand is significant and growing but for retail banks are these audiences interested in the stories they have to tell? It’s dependent on how well you tell your stories – tell them vividly, with deep human interest and people engage. If you just want to tell a story from the bank’s or credit union’s perspective you’ll damage your brand. If you build your podcast strategy well, you can be successful. Remember, people are keen to learn – the second most listened to genre of podcast is education (the third is tech).
  5. The right audience. The breakdown of listenership shows that the largest demographic for podcast listening is the millennial bracket of 25 – 34 year olds with 28%, with Generation Z (18 – 24 year old) having listenership of 18%. For retail banks and credit unions, looking towards a deeply digital open banking future, this shows the right audiences are both engaged and reachable.
  6. Tracking and measurement. With the growth in popularity of any medium or market what almost always follows is greater sophistication in analyzing said market – and podcasting is no different. Podcasting analytics from Apple, Google and Spotify are getting both deeper and richer, allowing any company with a podcast to plainly see the demographics of their audience and accurate statistics on listenership, giving them the ability to take decisions which are actually data-driven.
  7. Sales potential. A report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau showed that 67% of listenership had taken direction action as a result of listening of to a podcast. This is compounded with a 14% lift in purchase intent for brands and businesses already involved in podcasting. Highlighting that, not only are audiences willing to listen, they are also positively responding to calls to action.
  8. Unique messaging. The true unique selling point for any retail bank looking to move into the podcast space is the blending of the editorial and advertorial worlds. By using the conversational and compelling style of successful podcasts and leaving behind the jargon, corporate speak and overt selling, it affords them the opportunity to take ownership of the most interesting stories and convene the most interesting conversations – speaking directly into the ears of target customers.
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Time to Test a New Strategy

Podcasting is not an immediate selling strategy, but a brand-building strategy that will show benefits over time. It may take months to see measurable growth. This is more of a long game strategy that complements other marketing strategies.

But, while implementing a podcast strategy may take patience, the investment to build content that is compelling is not excessive. And, if your organization takes action now and tests different topics, audiences and strategies, your organization will be well ahead of the competition.

Surely, the question is not ‘why on earth would a retail bank want a podcast’, but why on earth wouldn’t a bank or credit unions want to engage with their customers and members in an interesting and authentic way?

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