English Heritage asked us to look at new ways to engage existing Members of the charity and reach new audiences. Their aim: to raise awareness of their work, sites and collections, drive site visitation and ultimately convert people to membership.
With an existing communications programme that includes print magazines (a quarterly Members’ magazine, events guide and kids’ magazine for young family Members), digital content and video, it was clear that we needed to look beyond their existing platforms.
Taking inspiration from the popular podcasts created by our own consumer magazine brands, including BBC History, BBC Science Focus and BBC Countryfile, we decided to launch a podcast to create new opportunities for storytelling and tap into the demand for quality audio content.
Once a niche category, podcasts have surged in popularity thanks to millennials who are listening to audio programmes on the go. According to data from Adobe Analytics, the number of people using mobile apps to discover and listen to podcasts has increased by 60% since January 2018.
Frequency is key to building audiences, so we decided to release a new episode each week. Each episode is centred around an interview with an expert to celebrate the conservation work of the charity. These experts provide behind-the-scenes insight, or reveal the stories of their sites, the people who lived there, or the historic events that took place at them.
Presented by professional broadcaster Charles Rowe, the podcast is released every Thursday to land in listeners’ podcast feeds before the weekend. Each episode is edited to around 20 minutes – short enough to be listened to on a commute to work and encourage ‘binge listening’, but long enough to allow us to cover each subject in sufficient depth.
Tapping into consumer desire for ‘on-demand’ content, The English Heritage Podcast has provided a new platform to communicate with Members, encourage site visitation and reinforce the value of membership between issues of the magazine. It has also given us an opportunity to reach new audiences in the UK and abroad, with 21% of listeners living in the US.
Available for listeners to subscribe for free on all major subscription platforms (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher), the podcast attracted over 70,000 listens in the first six months, with the per-episode average listens continuing to grow. The addition of the podcast to the membership content programme also contributed to English Heritage winning silver in the Best Membership category in the 2019 International Content Marketing Association Awards.
The English Heritage Podcast has been a fantastic addition to our communications programme, helping us to tap into target audiences, broaden our reach and provide fresh opportunities to celebrate the stories of our sites and collections in audio. Feedback from listeners has been overwhelmingly positive and our reach continues to grow.
Tom Dennis, English Heritage Head of Content Marketing