Press Play: Podcast Trends from the Portfolio
With over a million podcasts now available on various streaming platforms, the trend of audio content consumption has continued to rise, and an increasing number of Insight portfolio companies have begun to launch their own podcasts to drive brand awareness and gain customers. To learn more, we interviewed several portfolio companies and aggregated best practices from Gainsight, Diligent, Recorded Future, and Keyfactor.
What was the objective of the podcast when you first started? Is that still the objective?
We launched the original Customer Success Podcast three years ago after Gainsight hosted over 3,000 people at our Pulse 2017 conference. We wanted to continue to uncover the stories, perspectives, and best practices from the industry’s leading Customer Success voices. Since the launch, we have had 53 episodes, featuring guests from VCs and enterprise tech companies like Salesforce, ADP, Dropbox, IBM, and Microsoft. Our former COO, Allison Pickens, hosted the podcast in an interview-style format.
This September, we launched something brand new, The Gainsight GameChanger Podcast. Gainsight’s Customer Success Director, Adam Joseph, hosts a slew of interesting global guests, covering topics like product-led Customer Success (CS), how to master presentations in customer success, returning to a customer-success role following maternity/paternity leave, creating the complete Customer Success team, and more.
The idea for the Recorded Future podcast was born from being an early sponsor of the CyberWire podcast, a cybersecurity news outlet that delivers accessible security news globally. We had a “lightbulb” moment when we started gaining recognition at conferences – fans of The CyberWire podcast recognized us as a sponsor of their main show, and they could then put a logo/brand (or “face”) to the Recorded Future name. This initial success from our partnership with The CyberWire is a big part of why we started our own.
The main objective for the Recorded Future podcast, “Inside Security Intelligence,” was to increase our brand recognition as a thought leader in security. We also knew that having a professionally produced podcast would be a relatively straightforward way to produce and promote valuable evergreen content. Our objective for the podcast continues to be building brand awareness and promoting thought leadership, i.e., using the platform to surface interesting security trends and research.
We created The Corporate Director Podcast as a follow-up to our book, Governance in the Digital Age: A Guide for the Modern Corporate Board Director, which featured interviews with global corporate directors on the impact to governance practices due to the rapid speed of information and pace of technological innovation. Once the book was published in April 2019, it ran the risk of becoming quickly outdated. Therefore, we wanted a way to share stories from directors regarding the evolution of governance. A podcast would enable us to achieve this by interviewing the same directors we had featured in the book and asking them to share updates. After we launched in May 2019, the audience grew, and the show expanded to other issues of corporate governance.
Now, the podcast focuses on interviewing directors, executives, and governance researchers on the most pressing issues facing corporate leaders. Our most recent episodes have concentrated on leading through crises – the pandemic, the economic collapse, cyber risk, and racial injustice.
We started The Future of Trust podcast podcast as a means of distributing our thought leadership content with an oral narrative. Our key objective was to grow awareness of Keyfactor by distributing the podcast on various platforms. Today, The Future of Trust podcast serves as an educational platform by providing high-level insights and guidance on the advancements in our industry. To do that effectively, we’ve rebranded the podcast, made it available on popular streaming services, and developed a consistent publishing and promotion schedule.
What benefits do you see from having a podcast? How do you track ROI?
Brand awareness and recognition are the biggest benefits we see from producing a podcast in partnership with The CyberWire. Our podcast episodes also provide easy amplification of other related organic content hosted on our website, such as breaking research and blog posts, which contributes significantly to SEO and increased website traffic. Our podcast episode archive and individual blog posts combined are also responsible for over 100,000 all-time page views on our website.
We attain global reach by having our episodes available on any podcast listening app of choice. Every episode is published on our website as a blog post with the audio player embedded as part of our weekly content production schedule. For every podcast episode, we push out full social media promotions across Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Because episode content is evergreen, we can resurface previous episodes and content on social media. We also transcribe every podcast episode, and the transcripts are added on every blog post, which increases SEO and contributes to the large amount of organic traffic and organic reviews we receive.
We also measure downloads as opposed to subscribers – downloads are synonymous with unique listens. Regardless if someone listens to our podcast via our website, or via iTunes, or Spotify, all streams and listens count as downloads. The number of listens and/or streams is a better sign of engagement than subscriber information might be – someone might be subscribed to a show, but they may not listen to every episode from the show they are subscribed to.
Having a podcast also enhances our company culture and hiring efforts. Some prospective employees have heard of our podcast before they interviewed with us, or before they knew that the name associated with our podcast – Recorded Future – is a cybersecurity company.
There are both the tangible and intangible benefits. Tangible benefits are the number of devices and downloads – we are now over 10,000 – and positive reviews on podcast providers (Apple, Spotify, Google, etc.). We also measure the website traffic where we post the wrap-around blog posts for each episode. Additionally, we’ve been growing our social presence – some of our best-performing Tweets and LinkedIn posts have been podcast-related.
The intangible benefits are that we are able to leverage this channel as a way to create new relationships and connections, and to constantly learn about our customers. Having a podcast where we interview the primary users of our software – directors – gives us a unique opportunity to have meaningful conversations on how they are thinking about key issues. We are discussing how governance is adapting to new circumstances in real time, and constantly learning.
While our podcast isn’t intended as a lead-gen activity, we’ve actually had inbound leads mention that it was a podcast episode that prompted them to contact us. Aside from using the reports generated by our hosting platform, when assessing the success of our podcast, we ask:
- Does this provide unique/significant educational value to our audience?
- Does this help build trust between our guests/hosts and our listeners?
- Did this provide a new avenue for prospects, customers, and those seeking more information to find our story?
- Was our listener count HIGH, ON-PAR, LOW? Why do you think that was?
- Where were the primary places (geography, streaming services, devices) our audience tuned in from?
If each episode provides unique value, builds trust between our listeners, thought leaders, and brand, and delivers our story to our ideal audience, the podcast is successful.
Have you seen any impact from COVID-19? Is your audience growing?
When comparing the first three months of quarantine (March-May 2020) to the last three months of 2019 (October-December), we saw a 34% decrease in average monthly plays. This trend can be attributed to our largely U.S.-based listener base no longer commuting, a behavior strongly correlated to consuming episodes. As the U.S. listeners adjust to the “new normal,” we are hopeful that the trend will reverse
The podcast continues to grow steadily every month, but we have not seen a major spike in downloads since the start of the pandemic. That said, we have seen an impact on the guests we are booking for the show! We are finding that we have been able to book guests who under normal conditions had little availability because of busy travel schedules – but they are now housebound and delighted to join us on the podcast!
Have you taken any type of sponsorship dollars? Why or why not?
We have not taken any sponsorship dollars for the podcast because we want to keep the focus on the stories of our guests. Having sponsored ads or episode topics could take away from the integrity of the show. We do, however, keep the door open for our 50+ Sightline integration partners – companies like Zendesk, inSided, Intellum, G2, FinancialForce – to showcase the robust technology configurations we’ve co-developed.
To date, we have not offered any sponsorship deals for the Recorded Future podcast. It is something we may consider as a next step as we mature our podcast program. We, along with The CyberWire, are responsible for the success of our show organically through high production value and investment, consistency of publishing, and quality of content. We are proud to say that our episode downloads, website activity, and social activity are all organic.
We have not – the show is funded solely by Diligent. We are likely never to change this. The cost to produce the show is minimal, and the high value in having this channel be explicitly available to speak with our core customers about the things most on their minds – without the distraction of “commercials” – is great. We do, on occasion, mention Diligent programs that are coming up, but we usually stick to announcing things that are targeted specifically to our core podcast audience of corporate directors – new thought leadership that would be of interest to them and is available for free download, panels and programs available just for directors, and other opportunities that would be of interest.
We have not, as that is not what our podcast was built for. The Future of Trust is – and will remain – an objective educational resource, meant to help our audience understand what is going on in the world of cybersecurity, how it impacts their business, and what tools can help them stay ahead of everything. The Future of Trust was not meant to make money; it was meant to help others save theirs.
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