Logo of the 'Infernal Communication' podcast by Staffbase, showcasing a playful and colorful design, emphasizing the challenges of communication with speech bubbles and twisty arrows, relevant for discussions on the ROI of a branded podcast.

How to Measure the ROI of a Branded Podcast


A lesson on how to measure the ROI of a branded podcast from Staffbase’s Infernal Communication.

At JAR Audio, we often explore the ROI of a branded podcast by examining how effectively these podcasts solve specific business problems for brands and analyzing the outcomes.

When they came to us, Staffbase, a communications management platform, was focused on the latter. They wanted to build affinity for their brand among potential customers and prospective talent. So, they hired JAR to help them create and promote a podcast by and for communications professionals. 

People aren’t looking to buy from companies anymore. Instead, they want to buy into them,” says Kyla Sims, the host, and creative force behind, Infernal Communication, Staffbase’s podcast.  “People do not make decisions based on rational, logical, and economic thinking. People want to buy from brands they feel an emotional connection to, because we trust people more than we trust companies or products.”

Staffbase saw a branded podcast as the best tool for achieving this goal because:

    1. It is a naturally intimate medium. One person, a host or guest, talking in the ear of another, the listener. There is an opportunity in branded podcasts to sound like any other podcast in a listener’s feed, as long as the “brand touch” is light. Podcasts with a light brand touch don’t try to sell you anything, they aren’t loaded up with voices from the sponsoring brand, and they contain as few mentions of the brand as possible. Podcasts that are lightly branded create a touchpoint that feels to the consumer more like a conversation with a person, rather than an advertisement. It humanizes your brand.
    2. It’s portable. There is a lot of discussion in the podcast community right now about “what is a podcast?”, particularly when it comes to videos on YouTube, which is quickly becoming the podcast listening platform of choice. Two attributes few disagree on is that a podcast must contain audio, and it must be portable – you can listen to it anywhere, any time. This is a particularly useful feature for B2B organizations like Staffbase because it allows them to reach their target audiences in more places, quite literally. Staffbase has plenty of marketing channels to reach potential customers while they’re at work: conferences, workshops, blogs, newsletters. But podcasts are really the only marketing channel potential customers can take home … or on a walk, or on the way to work, or at the gym, etc.
    3. It’s a high-engagement, permission asset.  Staffbase recognized that a branded podcast would allow them to spend more time with their target audience than virtually any other marketing channel. Every episode of Infernal Communication is about half an hour long. And listeners on Apple and Spotify listen to about 90% of an episode, on average. That’s 27 minutes someone has chosen to spend with Staffbase. And many listeners choose to listen to more than one episode. Notice the emphasis on the word “choose” here. That’s important. Unlike traditional radio or television ads – or billboards, Google ads or Facebook ads – which interrupt people engaged in another activity to get their attention, podcasts are a permission asset. That means listeners have signaled that they’re ready – and they want – to hear from you. Your brand has earned the attention of a listener by providing excellent content and value, and the listener has given your brand permission to talk to them. 

A vibrant concert scene with a crowd of fans forming heart shapes with their hands, symbolizing the emotional connection and audience engagement achieved through the ROI of a branded podcast.

Know your target audience

Staffbase knew who they wanted to target with this show: communications professionals. Staffbase knows them well. 

“They are the glue that holds companies together,” says Sims. “They’re super undervalued inside their organizations, but with COVID they’ve risen in the ranks.”

But Staffbase wanted to know what communications professionals needed from a podcast. They wanted to answer the question for their target audience: Why should I listen to this show? What would prompt a communications professional to hit play, listen to more than one episode, and share with a friend or colleague? There are a lot of other communications podcasts out there. How could Staffbase stand out?

They started by working to understand their audience on a personal level. Staffbase owns and operates a Slack community for communications professionals called Comms-unity. This allowed the Infernal Communication team to “listen in” on the questions, gripes, and wins Comms-unity members were sharing in the group. 

A woman stands still and focused amidst a blurred crowd crossing a busy intersection, symbolizing how the ROI of a branded podcast helps brands stand out in a fast-paced market.

Learn how you can differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace

They also interviewed members of their target audience about their listening habits, and what they wanted and needed from a podcast. They learned that comms professionals didn’t want to listen to a podcast that made them feel like they were at work. They wanted a show that taught them something interesting about their chosen field, but that spoke to them as individuals. 

“We were like, Okay, it has to be about communication more broadly. Less about a specific problem you’re facing in your job, and more about the concepts that surround communication,” says Sims.

The next step was to survey the podcast landscape to learn what podcasts were already catering to communications professionals, and to understand how Staffbase could carve out a niche in that space.

“Of the 60 or so podcasts that exist for communicators in our industry, they all follow the same format. They talk about the same things. And they all feel like work,” says Sims. ”They’re usually more popular with people looking to solve a specific problem, or people new to internal communications.”

Vibrant image of a pool with bright blue water and a yellow edge, featuring a stainless steel ladder, symbolizing the refreshing and impactful results of the ROI of a branded podcast in marketing strategies.

Be creatively bold

Staffbase incorporated those learning into the tone and editorial content and created a show that was not only educational, but truly entertaining, creative, and surprising. Host Kyla Sims explores the tensions of working in internal comms, while also sharing positive and lighthearted stories, providing tips & tricks, and tackling heavier subjects as needed. The show isn’t afraid to go all-in on creativity. For example, it explores the wide-spread hate for the font Comic Sans through a mock-trial, and an episode on curse words is heavily bleeped! 

And while Sims is a Staffbase employee, Infernal Communication doesn’t rely heavily on Staffbase experts. Instead, it brings in voices from the wider community, which makes the content all that more diverse and interesting. 

Young man in a city setting intently listening through earphones, a representation of a target audience engaging with content, highlighting the ROI of a branded podcast.

The real ROI of Infernal Communication

Infernal Communication has just completed its first season. And already we’re seeing evidence that it has built affinity for the brand among customers and prospects. So far, audiences have spent hundreds of hours with Staffbase via the podcast on Apple Podcasts alone. It’s also built up a healthy following on Apple and Spotify – hundreds of people who have signaled by clicking the “follow” button that they want to hear more from Staffbase. And the podcast has been downloaded tens of thousands of times. 

Getting to this point wasn’t easy. It’s a risk for a brand to try something different.

“We really had to fight to convince our stakeholders that making a podcast that wasn’t about Staffbase or about work or our customers, was still going to 1) resonate with the audience and 2) prove ROI and value for Staffbase,” says Sims.

But the hard work and creative bravery has really paid off. 

Sims regularly posts about the show on her personal Linkedin account, as well as on the Comms-unity Slack channel run by Staffbase. Her posts regularly receive high engagement in the form of comments, likes and shares. And Sims says that, as the face of the show, her DMs regularly blow up with kudos from listeners. 

“The response has been incredible,” says Sims. “Even after the first episode I had people I’d never met, from huge brands we’re interested in working with, reaching out to tell me how much they enjoyed it. They were delighted and really respect and appreciate what we’re trying to do. Now we know we’re in the ears (and hearts) of communicators from the world’s leading brands. That’s priceless.”

Lessons from Staffbase’s Infernal Communication

  • Know your target audience: Staffbase interviewed members of its target audience, and “listened in” on conversations in the community to understand their needs and how a podcast from Staffbase could serve those needs.
  • Differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace: Staffbase surveyed the podcast landscape to understand how their target audience was already being served, and where there were gaps.
  • Be creatively bold: Staffbase wasn’t afraid to experiment with unusual treatments and edgy content (like swearing). And that experiment paid off! The episodes on swearing and Comic Sans saw some of the highest engagement of the season, both in terms of consumption rates and engagement on social.

Want to explore other ways to get the best ROI from your podcast? Check out our other posts.

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