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Responsible Podcast Advertising Strategies for Brands



Responsible Podcast Advertising Strategies for Brands

Historically, the power of podcast advertising has been a secret that performance marketers–myself included–wouldn’t mind keeping. I want to do my part in preserving what makes podcasting special, but based on the explosion of attendance at industry events and the number of household name brands I hear in my own favorite shows, the secret is out.

Therefore, it’s critical that we turn our attention to informing the ways that advertisers can and should play in this space, and the nuances to doing so successfully, so as not to water down the elements that make this channel so remarkable to begin with.

Podcast Advertising’s Performance Marketing Roots

I first ventured into podcast advertising back in 2014, coinciding with the debut of Serial’s first season. During that period, the podcasting landscape was predominantly occupied by performance advertisers, and for good reason. Podcasting was, and continues to be, an excellent gateway into the realm of paid marketing. With its streamlined ad production, modest investment requirements, and impressive audience response rates to calls-to-action, it quickly proved to be a standout channel in many marketers’ media mix.

These factors, among others, have consistently made podcasting a highly effective choice for performance advertisers. It’s no exaggeration to say that these brands played a foundational role in shaping the podcasting landscape.

Podcast Advertising Reaches New Audiences

A significant development isn’t just that podcast advertising can now move the needle on reach and brand awareness (which it certainly can); it’s also that there’s a sizable audience here that cannot be reached through traditional offline marketing.

In the 18-34 age group, podcasting reaches 18% of those who don’t listen to radio and 19% of those who don’t watch traditional broadcast TV. According to a recent study, avid podcast listeners are more inclined to subscribe to ad-free audio and TV services.

That incremental reach (as full-funnel marketers know very well) is absolutely critical to growth marketing. Lower funnel media focused on conversions, whether that’s podcasting or any other channel, can only scale when you are replenishing your funnel with new customers for those efforts to convert.  Depending on the stage and scale of a brand, bringing in visitors can substantially boost lower funnel performance. Podcasting is a one-two punch in its ability to both reach additional audiences and move them through the funnel.

3 Podcast Advertising Factors To Consider

The ability to target harder to reach audiences should be top of mind for advertisers regardless of whether their goals are awareness, customer acquisition, or somewhere in between.  But podcast advertising is a truly unique endeavor that needs to be strategized and executed with its distinctive elements in mind.  Not only will this help preserve what our industry has come to know and love about the space, but the impact of the advertising itself hinges on brands knowing how to construct their campaigns around what will (and won’t) work here. Factors to consider include:

1. Host Reads

The power of the most traditional podcast format, the Host Read, has been studied and reported on at length. These advertisements, often featuring genuine personal experiences and more natural delivery, bear a striking resemblance to influencer marketing, and there’s a good reason for that. Many influencers either host podcasts themselves or have built their influencer following through podcasts. Therefore, authenticity plays a crucial role in these partnerships. 

Additionally, collaborating with multiple shows allows for the utilization of distinct perspectives and storytelling. This approach helps create a campaign grounded in expert recommendations from various sources, effectively engaging diverse audiences and allowing hosts to choose an approach that they know will resonate with their own listeners. In the same way, with millions of podcasts in existence, advertisers can choose to work with hosts across a variety of sizes including macro, micro and everything in between.

2. Audience Targeting and the Role of Creative

Apart from benefiting from a host’s personal influence, there’s a growing variety of options using run-of-network inventory and audience targeting, much like in streaming audio and video. Ads are pre-recorded and inserted into a podcast episode during a break, ultimately served to a listener because they fit the audience criteria for the campaign either based on their characteristics or the type of content they’re listening to. Advertisers can even use their own first party data to reach people who resemble current high-value customers, those who used to be customers, or even seek out those that haven’t engaged with their brand before. 

At times a podcast host might voice these ads, but most commonly, brands utilize professional voiceovers from the podcast partner or furnish their own creative. In either case, it’s essential to consider the context in which it will be consumed. Podcasts are an extremely leaned-in experience where it doesn’t take much to capture or maintain a listener’s attention. Running an ad with energy or sound effects that don’t fit the environment can be jarring and do a disservice to how the advertiser is perceived.

Some podcast partners have specific rules about using music in ads, while others want to create the ad themselves to ensure it sounds natural across their shows. This helps maintain a stronger connection between the ad and the network of content in which it may land.  With these types of buys as well as with host reads, rotating in fresh, highly relevant creative is key in maintaining engagement and the user experience, especially given the light commercial load and the heightened attention that will be paid to your ad.

3. Cost and Efficiency

If you imagine a spectrum of podcast advertising options, with highly customized host-reads and bespoke podcasts on one end and programmatic audience-based buying on the other, there’s a vast and exciting array of choices in between. However, one consistent thread is pricing. Compared to the channels where most of our clients have achieved scale–like OTT, linear TV, streaming audio, and display ads–podcasting is categorically more expensive on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) basis.

Several factors contribute to this high-end pricing, including the personal connection with podcast hosts, the lower ad clutter, and the longer length and customization of the creative. Despite the higher CPMs, we consistently observe that these premium rates are easily offset by a substantial increase in response and conversion rates. The best performing shows can at times have the highest CPMs; cost does play a role here, but creative execution and audience composition often outweigh efficiency. A recent study also revealed that audio advertising, especially in podcasts, excels at capturing audience attention. Podcasts outperform other digital, social, and TV benchmarks in terms of attentive seconds per thousand impressions. In today’s fragmented media landscape, where screens and devices abound, and time is at a premium, these findings underscore the value of investing in this channel.

In Summary

The specific approach to harnessing podcasting’s potential will naturally vary depending on campaign objectives, but adhering to best practices that have shaped this space is essential. It’s worth noting that improvements in how our media partners monetize and manage their ad inventory are also pivotal in this equation, a topic frequently discussed in our industry. But this space has always been focused on continual self-improvement and the strides that have been made are truly remarkable.  

Embracing the evolving ad tech is an exciting venture for performance marketers, offering new and sophisticated ways to engage with consumers. Furthermore, due to the incremental reach and the ability to find new audiences for those brands who have already reached prospective customers en masse, podcasting will very likely provide a gateway to additional growth. 

With the extraordinary progress and diversification of this channel, building a multifaceted advertising portfolio within podcasting is not only feasible but highly effective. Podcasting has proven its role as a full-funnel marketing channel, and by combining personalized endorsements, tailored creative content, and emerging targeting and technology, podcast campaigns should be an integral component of virtually any brand’s media strategy.

Want to learn more about Podcast Advertising?  Tune into Cafarelli’s interview on Podcast Advertising Playbook, dropping October 25th on and wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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How to Use Email Marketing Automation to Encourage SaaS Adoption



How to Use Email Marketing Automation to Encourage SaaS Adoption

SaaS adoption refers to the process that earns your product a permanent place in your user’s workflow. This happens when you empower your audience to extract useful value from your solutions.

Email, a tried and tested communication tool, plays an essential role in helping brands relay their product’s value to their customers and educate them on how to make the most of it.

However, smaller teams might find themselves at a crossroads, balancing the need for personalized communication with the scale of their user base

Email marketing automation offers a practical solution by ensuring that each message is tailored and timely, yet sent out with minimal manual effort.

In this article, let’s look at five tips that will help you build robust email marketing automation that will motivate your audience to adopt your tool and make it a part of their daily lives.

1. Segment your audience

Audience segmentation is crucial for personalizing your emails, which in turn, can significantly boost SaaS product adoption. Remember, a message that resonates with one segment might not strike a chord with another.

The key to effective segmentation is understanding where each customer is in their journey. Are they new subscribers, active users, or perhaps at the brink of churning?

Here are some actionable steps to segment your audience effectively:

  1.  Analyze User Behavior: Look at how different users interact with your SaaS product. Are they frequent users, or do they log in sporadically? This insight can help you create segments like ‘active users’, ‘occasional users’, and ‘at-risk users’.
  2.  Utilize Sign-up Data: Leverage the information gathered during the sign-up process. This can include job roles, company size, or industry, which are excellent parameters for segmentation.
  3.  Monitor Engagement Levels: Keep an eye on how different segments interact with your emails. Are they opening, clicking, or ignoring your messages? This feedback will help you refine your segments and tailor your approach. Plus, consider setting up small business phone systems to enhance communication with your audience.

2. Create campaigns based on behavior

Sending behavior-based campaigns is pivotal in effective email marketing. By focusing on performance metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and engagement times, you can gauge the effectiveness of your emails and adjust your strategy accordingly.

You can also use digital signage to entertain or make customers aware of something new – product or service, through a digital sign.

Different types of email campaigns serve various purposes:

  1. Educational Campaigns: These are designed to inform and enlighten your audience about their problem. They can include tips, best practices, and how-to guides. The goal here is to provide value and establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry.
  2. Interactive Campaigns: These campaigns encourage user engagement through surveys, quizzes, microblogging platforms, or feedback forms. They not only provide valuable insights into user preferences but also make the recipients feel heard and valued.
  3. Onboarding Campaigns: Targeted toward new users, these messages help them get the value they seek from your product as soon as possible. They can include step-by-step tutorials, video guides, or links to helpful resources.

4.Re-engagement Campaigns: Aimed at inactive users, these emails strive to reignite their interest in your SaaS product. They might include product updates, special offers, or reminders of the benefits they’re missing out on.

3. A/B test before deployment

Rather than pushing a new campaign to your entire audience as soon as you draft the emails, A/B testing helps you know whether your messages are any good.

Here are some best practices for A/B testing in email automation:

  1. Test One Variable at a Time: Whether it’s the subject line, email content, or call-to-action, change just one (or a couple) element per test. This clarity helps in pinpointing exactly what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Choose a Representative Sample: Ensure that the test group is a good mix of your target audience as a whole. This way, the results are more likely to reflect how your entire audience would react.
  3. Measure the Right Metrics: Depending on what you’re testing, focus on relevant metrics like open rates, click-through rates, or conversion rates. This will give you a clear picture of the impact of your changes. Along with these steps, it’s important to use an SPF checker to ensure your emails aren’t marked as spam and increase the deliverability rate.
  4. Use the Results to Inform Your Strategy: Once you have the results, don’t just stop at implementing the winning version. Analyze why it performed better and use these insights to inform your future campaigns.
  5. Don’t Rush the Process: Give your test enough time to gather significant data. Adopt comprehensive marketing reporting solutions that give you a clear picture of your campaigns’ efficacy.

4. Leverage email templates

When managing multiple email automation campaigns, each with potentially dozens of emails, the task of creating each one from scratch can be daunting. Not to mention, if you have multiple writers on board, there’s a risk of inconsistency in tone, style, and branding.

Email templates are your secret weapon for maintaining consistency and saving time. They provide a standardized framework that can be easily customized for different campaigns and purposes.

They are also a great way to communicate with your customers. Another way to communicate efficiently with your customer is through best small business phone systems, which is especially efficient when conveying information about your product or service.

Here’s a rundown of various types of templates you should consider having:

  1. Welcome: For greeting new subscribers or users. It should be warm, inviting, and informative, setting the tone for future communications.
  2. Educational Content: Used for sharing tips, guides, and resources. If you are making this template to introduce online GCSE physics tutor services that you provide, you should be clear, concise, and focused on delivering value in your template.
  3. Promotional: For announcing new features, offers, or services. It should be eye-catching and persuasive without being overly salesy.
  4. Feedback Request: Designed to solicit user feedback. This template should be engaging and make it easy for recipients to respond.
  5. Re-engagement: Aimed at rekindling interest among inactive users. It should be attention-grabbing and remind them of what they’re missing.
  6. Event Invitation: For webinars, workshops, or other events. This should be exciting and informative, providing all the necessary details.

5. Use a tool that works for you

Email is more than just a marketing platform; it’s a multifaceted tool that can drive customer engagement, support, and retention. Given its versatility, it’s crucial to choose the right email automation tool that aligns with your specific needs.

When selecting an email automation tool, consider these key features:

  1. Intuitive Interface: Even your non-technical team members should find it easy to use.
  2. Robust Segmentation Capabilities: The tool must offer advanced segmentation options to target your emails accurately.
  3. A/B Testing Functionality: Essential for optimizing your email campaigns.
  4. Integration with Other Tools: Look for a tool that integrates seamlessly with your CRM, analytics, and other marketing platforms. Additionally, integrating a multilingual translation support can further enhance the tool’s versatility, allowing you to reach a diverse audience with tailored content in their preferred languages.

Popular tools like Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign offer free trials which are great for brands to take these for a spin before making a choice.

Wrapping up

Leveraging email automation makes it easier for SaaS brands to market their solutions to their audience and ultimately increase adoption rates.

Segmenting audiences, creating messages based on their behavior, testing emails before setting campaigns live, utilizing templates for speed and consistency, and adopting a tool that you are comfortable working with are essential email marketing automation tips to help you get started on the right foot.

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Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive



Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive

How long has it been since your marketing team got restructured? 

Wearing our magic mind-reading hat, we’d guess it was within the last two years. 

Impressed by the guess? Don’t be.  

Research from Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds that almost half of marketing teams restructured in the last 12 months. (And the other half probably did it the previous year.) 

Why do marketing teams restructure so often? Is this a new thing? Is it just something that comes with marketing? What does it all mean for now and the future? 

CMI chief strategy advisor Robert Rose offers his take in this video and the summary below. 

Marketing means frequent change 

Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds 46.5% of marketing teams restructured in the last year — a 5-percentage point increase over 2023 when 41.4% of teams changed their structure. 

But that’s markedly less than the 56.5% of marketing teams that restructured in 2022, which most likely reflected the impact of remote work, the fallout of the pandemic, and other digital marketing trends. 

Maybe the real story isn’t, “Holy smokes, 46% of businesses restructured their marketing last year.” The real story may be, “Holy smokes, only 46% of businesses restructured their marketing.” 

Put simply, marketing teams are now in the business of changing frequently. 

It raises two questions.  

First, why does marketing experience this change? You don’t see this happening in other parts of the business. Accounting teams rarely get restructured (usually only if something dramatic happens in the organization). The same goes for legal or operations. Does marketing change too frequently? Or do other functions in business not change enough? 

Second, you may ask, “Wait a minute, we haven’t reorganized our marketing teams in some time. Are we behind? Are we missing out? What are they organizing into? Or you may fall at the other end of the spectrum and ask, “Are we changing too fast? Do companies that don’t change so often do better? 

OK, that’s more than one question, but the second question boils down to this: Should you restructure your marketing organization? 

Reorganizing marketing 

Centralization emerged as the theme coming out of the pandemic. Gartner reports (registration required) a distinct move to a fully centralized model for marketing over the last few years: “(R)esponsibilities across the marketing organization have shifted. Marketing’s sole responsibilities for marketing operations, marketing strategy, and marketing-led innovation have increased.”  

According to a Gartner study, marketing assuming sole responsibility for marketing operations, marketing innovation, brand management, and digital rose by double-digit percentage points in 2022 compared to the previous year.  

What does all that mean for today in plainer language? 

Because teams are siloed, it’s increasingly tougher to create a collaborative environment. And marketing and content creation processes are complex (there are lots of people doing more small parts to creative, content, channel management, and measurement). So it’s a lot harder these days to get stuff done if you’re not working as one big, joined-up team. 

Honestly, it comes down to this question: How do you better communicate and coordinate your content? That’s innovation in modern marketing — an idea and content factory operating in a coordinated, consistent, and collaborative way. 

Let me give you an example. All 25 companies we worked with last year experienced restructuring fatigue. They were not eager creative, operations, analytics, media, and digital tech teams champing at the bit for more new roles, responsibilities, and operational changes. They were still trying to settle into the last restructuring.  

What worked was fine-tuning a mostly centralized model into a fully centralized operational model. It wasn’t a full restructuring, just a nudge to keep going. 

In most of those situations, the Gartner data rang true. Marketing has shifted to get a tighter and closer set of disparate teams working together to collaborate, produce, and measure more efficiently and effectively.  

As Gartner said in true Gartner-speak fashion: “Marginal losses of sole responsibility (in favor of shared and collaborative) were also reported across capabilities essential for digitally oriented growth, including digital media, digital commerce, and CX.” 

Companies gave up the idea of marketing owning one part of the customer experience, content type, or channel. Instead, they moved into more collaborative sharing of the customer experience, content type, or channel.  

Rethinking the marketing reorg 

This evolution can be productive. 

Almost 10 years ago, Carla Johnson and I wrote about this in our book Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing. We talked about the idea of building to change: 

“Tomorrow’s marketing and communications teams succeed by learning to adapt — and by deploying systems of engagement that facilitate adaptation. By constantly building to change, the marketing department builds to succeed.” 

We surmised the marketing team of the future wouldn’t be asking what it was changing into but why it was changing. Marketing today is at the tipping point of that. 

The fact that half of all marketing teams restructure and change every two years might not be a reaction to shifting markets. It may just be how you should think of marketingas something fluid that you build and change into whatever it needs to be tomorrow, not something you must tear down and restructure every few years.  

The strength in that view comes not in knowing you need to change or what you will change into. The strength comes from the ability and capacity to do whatever marketing should. 


Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover



Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

2. Understand topical authority: Keywords vs. entities

Google has been talking about topical authority for a long time, and in Discover, it is completely relevant. Traditional SEO includes the use of keywords to position your web pages for a specific search, but the content strategy in Discover should be based on entities, i.e., concepts, characters, places, topics… everything that a Knowledge Panel can have. It is necessary to know in which topics Google considers we have more authority and relevance in order to talk about them.

3. Avoid clickbait in titles

“Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.” This is the opening sentence that describes how headlines should be in Google’s documentation. I always say that it is not about using clickbait but a bit of creativity from the journalist. Generating a good H1 is also part of the job of content creation.

Google also adds:

“Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

“Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.

Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

Do you think this information fits with what you see every day on Google Discover? I would reckon there were many sites that did not comply with this and received a lot of traffic from Discover.

With the last core updates in 2023, Google was extremely hard on news sites and some niches with content focused on Discover, directly affecting E-E-A-T. The impact was so severe that many publishers shared drastic drops in Search Console with expert Lily Ray, who wrote an article with data from more than 150 publishers.

4. Images are important

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at your Discover feed, you’ll see most of the images catch your attention. They are detailed shots of delicious food, close-ups of a person’s face showing emotions, or even images where the character in question does not appear, such as “the new manicure that will be a trend in 2024,” persuading you to click.

Google’s documentation recommends adding “high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover” and notes important technical requirements such as images needing to be “at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting.” You may also have found that media outlets create their own collages in order to have images that stand out from competitors.

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