Branded Podcasts: 10 Mistakes to Avoid

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Prior to joining Auddy, my roles were primarily focused on being a brand (and budget) owner for many large corporate brands. During that time, podcasts were increasingly being presented by media agencies as an opportunity to reach my target audiences.

Podcasts are the fastest-growing media and a pretty effective one at that. In the UK, 41% age 16+ have listened to a podcast in the last month. This is on average 5 episodes per week and 60 million listening hours. The majority of listening occurs on BBC Sounds, Spotify, Apple and even YouTube.

This growth is predicted to continue and this creates fantastic opportunities for brands. However, that doesn’t mean creating a successful branded podcast doesn’t come with challenges.

Particularly if you are a marketer using podcasts for the first time, you may find it difficult to really take advantage of the growth of podcasts in a way that is relevant and effective for your business.

In order to succeed, it’s important to understand some of the pitfalls that can prevent a successful foray into podcasting. Using a combination of my own experience and what I have learned since joining Auddy, I have compiled this list of key mistakes you will want to stay clear of on your journey into branded podcasting.

Mistake 1 – Podcasts are the only media channel needed

Although podcasts can be effective in their own right, they also perform well within a media mix and have been proven to supercharge a campaign.

Generally branded content improves opinion by +47%.  But, this increases to 64% when podcasts are added to the mix. The same rule applies when digital or video campaigns have podcasts added to the mix.

With this in mind, we wouldn’t recommend thinking of your branded podcast as a one-man band – it should have a relevant position within a broader campaign.

Mistake 2 – Podcasts and radio should be approached the same way

I used to think that if I had a 30-second advertisement as part of a wider TTL (Through The Line) campaign, I could just stick it into podcasts to maximise my reach.

But the thing is, podcasts are not a substitution for radio in a media plan.

Where radio has to fight for attention in the room, podcasts are much more ‘lean in’ and therefore brands need to consider this when incorporating podcasts into their marketing and communications plans.

So, if audiences are ‘leaning in’, how do you gently get your message across without simply shouting at them? This means that creative needs to be bespoke to a podcasting audience – drawing them in and building trust with the brand.

Mistake 3 – Podcasts can achieve all of my objectives

Theoretically, a branded podcast could solve all of your brand’s problems. But in reality, life is a lot more complex. One piece of activity is often unlikely to achieve all of your brand’s objectives.

For example, if you need to deliver all of your results in a short time frame, then branded content isn’t the right approach because it takes time to build an audience. Or if you are just looking to drive sales impact, advertising or podcast sponsorship would be more effective than creating your own branded podcast series.  Read Podcast Advertising, Sponsorship or Partnership – which is best? to understand why.

Mistake 4 – People will tune in simply to hear about my brand

It’s true: podcasts are the most engaging medium. But the content itself must also be engaging.

If your podcast becomes a 30-minute infomercial then your audience will never connect meaningfully with your brand.

Instead, you need to create content that has some real substance behind it – something that will really speak to your audience and aligns with their interests, or beliefs. Have a think about what exactly is the essence of your brand. What do you stand for? What do you care about? And what does your audience care about?

Podcasts create an opportunity to take the listener on a story-telling journey and create a real sense of community. This is why podcasts are not recommended as a solution for short-term sales targets, but rather for creating a more loyal audience around your brand over time – and generating higher customer retention rates as a result.

Mistake 5 – The host cares about the success of the podcast 

Yes, major celebrities and influencers want to get in on the act and are actively seeking out opportunities to get involved with podcasts because they understand that it’s a way to make money and attract new audiences. Ultimately, they are being employed by your brand to deliver the podcast, not to ensure that it’s successful.

Therefore, you need to reduce the risk that they will just turn up to the recording and then walk away.

Consider the following when choosing your host:

  • The host MUST be able to authentically deliver the content for your brand. They need to genuinely believe in the story or message that you are delivering. So, for example, if you are delivering an environmental message, you should be using somebody who is already known to care about sustainability.
  • Agree on any promotional support up-front as part of the contract. If they pre-agree that they will promote the podcast through their own social channels, they will be engaged with the PR campaign, and they are happy to create video or advertising messages, this will be much easier than trying to get them to do these things later down the line.
  • In some cases, you can include a bonus fee structure which is linked to the number of downloads the podcast receives (note: not all talent will agree to this).

Mistake 6 – You only need to worry about audio

You’ve probably seen that every piece of research coming out at the moment mentions YouTube. So much so that YouTube is now the biggest podcasting platform in the US.

It’s the same in the UK with 51% of “regular” podcast listeners watching at least some video podcasts, according to 4DC’s 2022 A-List(en)ers report. Podcasting’s newest listeners are younger, more diverse, and spending a lot of time on YouTube. Therefore, the platform is very effective at reaching millennials and Gen-Z, and is important both for discovery and SEO.

But we’re talking about podcasts. So, how can you engage video audiences with a piece of audio content?

  • Film the whole thing – this works well for interview shows and has the added benefit of giving you content that can be edited down for social media channels.
  • Offer an audiogram – the full audio with a sound bar/simple graphic. This works better for story narratives.
  • Make short clips – Rather than creating video content for an entire episode, just create snippets to drive engagement. These can act as teasers for your latest episode, or you could even create extra ‘a peak behind the curtain’ footage.

All in all, being on YouTube should definitely be part of the strategy.

Mistake 7 – You can cut corners 

It goes without saying, but to deliver content that connects with your consumer, the audio production quality MUST be excellent. After all, with more and more brands hopping onto the podcasting bandwagon, you need to have strong content that will stand up against any competitors.

Working with experienced professionals will ensure that you have a brilliantly edited and quality piece of sound design (you can learn more about how we do this, and what is involved: How to create a branded podcast).

They can also work with you to define the best length for each episode to ensure it’s engaging. Remember, although the average podcast episode length is around 36-38 minutes, the shorter it is, the better. This is because audiences have a finite time to listen to podcasts. On average, this is 5 episodes per week. So, if they choose to spend their time with you, they need to stop listening to something else. And, if the length of your podcast is overwhelming, they may not choose to listen in the first place.

The key art and creative assets also need to reflect your brand but shouldn’t be heavily branded – the key is to cut through among other similar podcasts but also to engage new audiences. If you need some more advice on creating the best podcast key art: How to make graphics for your podcast or 5 things to consider when making your cover art.

Mistake 8 – You should use all of your budget for creating the content

The truth is, no matter how good your podcast is, you can’t just publish it, cross your fingers and hope people will find it. A great multi-media marketing campaign is ESSENTIAL (check out Top tips for successfully launching a podcast).

Whether it’s PR, social, paid or a fully TTL campaign, creating awareness among your audience is vital to the success of your podcast.

Also, don’t forget to lean on your show’s hosts to distribute podcast content across their social channels. Don’t forget to use their name in your keywords and link to their social platforms too.

Mistake 9 – Ignoring your audience’s key social platforms

social media for podcasts

Recent research showed that 47% of Gen-Z use ZERO ad-supported channels. This is a huge proportion of people who therefore cannot even be reached through traditional advertising.

So, it’s important to ensure that your media is representative of the target audience for your podcast.

TikTok has 1.2 billion monthly active users and it is rapidly becoming more important than YouTube (more on that: Should be be putting my podcast on TikTok). However, 80% of TikTok users are aged 16-34, so if this is who you are trying to reach, definitely consider utilising this platform. Read 10 Podcasts using TikTok to grow their audience.

Some channels that are often underestimated, and worth looking into, are Pinterest, Twitch and Reddit.

Mistake 10 – Quitting too soon

One of the most difficult things for brands to understand is how to measure the success of their branded podcast. It’s common knowledge that growing a podcast audience takes time, but many brands stop their production after only 6-10 episodes. This ultimately becomes a costly mistake as it is only when there is a continuous reminder for audiences and promotion of the show that word starts to get out.

A big reason why brands often pull the plug on their podcasts is because their expectations were not realistic. While podcasters such as Steven Bartlett earn millions, and attract millions of listeners every week, this is an exception (as are the other podcasts in the top 50 lists!).

Realistically, getting 5,000 listens per episode in your first season is very good.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Podcasts are part of a long-term brand-building exercise. The content is ideally evergreen and therefore the audience can continue to discover it beyond the launch period.
  • You need to continually evolve and release content to create a positive brand impact for your audience.
  • But, consumers are fickle and will quickly move on to the next thing if you don’t continue to stimulate their needs in an engaging way.
  • Listeners are investing their most valuable resource in your brand: time.
  • Yes, you can report on downloads, but, the success of a podcast is broader – creating awareness via your marketing campaign and conversations around the content should also be a success.
  • Although brand impact studies aren’t straightforward, there is an opportunity to understand longer-term brand metric shifts through forced exposure.

Finally, have fun. Creating content should be enjoyable for everyone involved. Yes, you need to work hard to ensure that it’s successful but if you put all of your planning in place, then there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.

If you found this blog useful, you might also like to read these:

If you would like to find out more about creating a branded podcast, contact us at 
Share this post
Post Author
Sally Miller20220318180839

Sally Miller

Chief Marketing Officer
Other posts