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How to use podcasts at any stage of the B2B marketing funnel (+ examples)

by | Jan 25, 2024

Podcasting continues to be a growing medium for B2B, with approximately 54% of listeners using this channel to stay up-to-date on industries, according to Voices’ Power of Podcasts report. However, running a successful branded podcast requires money, effort, and time. And if you are a CEO or CMO, you’ll want to make sure you get the most out of your investment.

But how do you measure podcast ROI?

The first step is having a clear goal. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve will determine your podcast’s format, length, and style. The question then becomes how to define the goal. One way to do it is to view your podcast within the frame of a marketing funnel. When you understand the different stages of the funnel and how podcasting can support each of them, your goal will become clear.

Let’s start with a quick review of the marketing funnel and how podcasting fits it.

The B2B marketing funnel and podcasting.

The marketing funnel visually represents how people go from being aware of your company and product or services to becoming paying customers. The biggest difference between B2B and B2C funnels is that B2C customers generally navigate the funnel alone, while B2B processes involve more decision-makers.

Aside from that difference, both funnels follow the same steps. Some marketers, like Semrush, divide the funnel into granular stages: discovery, desire, evaluation, purchase, loyalty, and advocacy. Others simplify it into three categories: top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU), and bottom of the funnel (BOFU).

The concept, however, is the same. People at the top of the funnel are less aware of their problems and solutions, and at the bottom of the funnel, they are closer to becoming customers or even loyal advocates. It’s important to note these differences because people have different needs at each stage, and your content will only be effective if you take this into account. Creating a podcast for a TOFU audience requires a different style, format, and metrics than one for a BOFU audience.

Podcasting and your marketing funnel graphic by Come Alive
How podcasting supports the marketing funnel at each stage.

To illustrate this, I’m going to share examples of what podcasting can look like at each level of the B2B marketing funnel.

Top-of-the-funnel podcasts.

At this funnel stage, people are generally aware of your company and some of the solutions you offer. Your goal is to capture their attention and start building trust.

This is also a great moment to appeal to a broader audience. Only a fraction of these people will become your clients. The ones who don’t can still become advocates for your brand, recommending your content and/or services to others.

Examples of top-of-the-funnel B2B podcasts:

  1. Lifecycle of a Business: Mailchimp has a series of podcasts that appeal to a TOFU audience. In fact, most of their podcasts have nothing to do with the services they offer. Instead, they celebrate what they call “the creative spirit.” Their Lifecycle of a Business podcast has a hybrid narrative/interview format where each episode explores a stage along the lifecycle of a business, from life to death.
  2. Remotely Curious: In this interview-style podcast, Dropbox’s team speaks to different experts about the changes in the work landscape. It positions Dropbox as an authority in the future of work and sets up the stage for its enterprise solutions for distributed and remote teams.
  3. At the Brink: This narrative podcast was created to generate awareness around a topic; it has nothing to sell. Because of this, it is a perfect example of a TOFU podcast. It includes interviews with high-profile guests like former US president Bill Clinton and other experts who help establish the podcast’s authority.
Bill Clinton interview

Middle-of-the-funnel podcasts.

In the middle of the funnel, your audience will feel more comfortable and connected to your brand. They will also seek information that helps them solve one of their current problems.

Content for this stage should help educate them on the solutions available, including your own. Because they are now considering how to solve their issues, your goal is to build deeper trust. Whereas the top of the funnel is more about entertainment and exploration, this stage should have a sharper focus.

Examples of middle-of-the-funnel B2B podcasts:

  1. Agency Breakthrough: This interview-style podcast was co-produced by ZenPilot and ClickUp. In each episode, the hosts ask agency owners about the problems they face when scaling their businesses. Potential customers might tune in to look for answers to their own issues and encounter ClickUp and ZenPilot as trusted partners that can help them grow.
  2. Forget The Funnel Podcast: Claire Suellentrop and Georgiana Laudi, co-founders of Forget the Funnel, break down the best approaches to customer-led growth strategies. Their podcast helps them nurture leads and prospective clients by demonstrating their expertise and highlighting useful case studies.
  3. Navigating Zero: In this podcast, ZeroNorth interviews thought leaders in the transportation industry about how they can accelerate decarbonization in the shipping industry. Most of the episodes answer questions that their own prospects might have in this stage of the funnel.

Bottom-of-the-funnel podcasts.

Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, you want to close the sale and turn new customers into loyal ones. Creating podcasts for this funnel level can be more challenging, but not impossible.

Examples of bottom-of-the-funnel B2B podcasts:

  1. Conversations with a Business Attorney: This podcast is an excellent example of what customers are looking for at the bottom of the funnel. Each episode covers a relevant topic to the people searching for them. While this type of podcast lacks mass appeal, it is a wonderful tool for the attorneys to share with prospects considering their services.
  2. Three-Minute Masters: Created by Mailchimp, Intuit, and Acast, this show interviews Mailchimp users in three minutes. Each episode quickly covers how the interviewee and their business benefited from Mailchimp.
  3. The Jeff Large Podcast: This is my own podcast, and while it’s not an easy-to-market show, it has led to fantastic personal conversations and building strong connections for lead generation, referrals, and strategic partnerships. I paused production in 2019 and am now working on a couple other podcasts, like Outdoor Sounds.
Jeff Large Podcast cover art

To wrap it up.

Real life is not as clear-cut as a funnel graphic would have you believe, but it is still a useful framework for thinking about your podcast’s goals and intentions.

By aligning your podcast with specific funnel stages, you can effectively build trust with your audience or turn your podcast into a sales tool. In fact, there can be times when a single show targets audiences at slightly different stages of the funnel. A clear example is Salesforce’s Trail Blazers podcast. Most episodes have a TOFU goal, interviewing guests about high-level topics. However, they often throw in an episode that covers one of their SaaS features in detail, which would be considered in the middle to lower end of the funnel. This way, they use the show to nurture their TOFU audience and move them further down the funnel.

Ultimately, the most significant lesson you can take away is that podcasting is a unique content format that can bolster an omnichannel marketing strategy. When you have clear goals, it’s easy to figure out how podcasting can help you achieve them.

Ready to embark on your branded podcast journey? Our team of experienced podcast producers is here to help you every step of the way. Reach out to us today to schedule a free discovery call.

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