For MailChimp, podcast advertising is “the right thing to do,” according to Lain Shakespeare, the company’s Marketing Manager for Brand Marketing.
That’s because, “the people who listen to podcasts tend to be passionate and have an abiding attachment to what they listen to. The opportunity for brand awareness is tremendous.” On top of that, “there’s another opportunity to be helpful in a meaningful way to the people creating the podcasts.”
Building Brands Is Building Relationships
MailChimp is an email marketing service founded in 2001. Although the company is a veritable stalwart in Internet commerce, it burst into the popular consciousness this past fall thanks to an infamous mispronunciation of the company’s name (“Mailkimp”) during a “woman on the street” interview conducted for a MailChimp ad on the wildly popular Serial podcast.
“There is no way to measure how successful (Serial) was,” Lain reflected. “People loved the show, wanted more each week, and told their friends about it. It also opened a door for a much larger audience to experience podcasts — a medium that I love and many of my coworkers love.”
That love and respect for podcasting is at the core of MailChimp’s ad strategy. “If a show feels like MailChimp and is something someone on our team really enjoys, then that’s how we identify shows to consider,” he explained. “We’re fans of shows and producers. It’s not purely a marketing play. It’s about being playful in a space that you already enjoy being in.”
Because of the company’s longevity, Lain said, “I’m lucky enough to be able to focus on building a brand,” rather than have to focus narrowly on sales. To that end, “for us it’s about building that relationship with an audience. It’s about communicating with them in a way that’s in service to them and the medium. It’s about helping people make great things and building brand awareness alongside their success.”
In that regard, podcast ads are “incredibly effective,” he said.
Success In Service
With an emphasis on being helpful, measuring success is different from tracking conversions. Instead, Lain said, “you can measure it in gratitude, and you can see the results if you’re willing to invest (in a show).”
A key to building a brand is people knowing your name. For that, “podcasting is a great medium. In terms of measurement: it’s easy to monitor tweets or conversations about your involvement. We don’t want to detract attention from a show, but a conversation or a meme surrounding an advertisement speaks volumes.”
MailChimp also looks to the podcasters to help gauge success. “Do they feel like they have what they need to either grow their audience, grow their show, or continue their show?” Lain asked.
What matters is that, “we have the ability to better help them move in the right direction – where we can be helpful and get out of the way – so producers can do their best work.”
The company also likes to experiment with different ways of engaging a podcast’s audience. Recently, listeners to Reply All had an opportunity to get their own free Yeti Freddie action figures, depicting MailChimp’s primate mascot as an “ice monster.”
“Their audience tends to be savvy internet citizens,” Lain observed. “We figured they would appreciate a gift from a team that gets the internet in a similar way.” The giveaway let the company add value to the show in a way that was creative, and not just financial.
Be Creative, and Respectful
Lain encourages brands to be creative in stimulating name recognition. “It’s such an early time in this medium that there’s so much room to explore what you can or cannot do. With even an ounce of bravery you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.”
At the same time he stresses that it’s important to be respectful of listeners and the time they lend to podcasts. “Audiences actively choose podcasts,” he noted. “Our role is to make sure they don’t regret it.”
Respect Breeds Respect
Lain said, “it’s terrific” working with Midroll. “I feel like the folks we work with on the sales side are nothing if not respectful of my time and interest. They know me, and they know my team, and they know what we’ll appreciate.
“I feel like it’s a great time to be a customer of Midroll. It’s a pleasure.”