Podcast Sponsorships: The Ultimate Guide to Progress Your Podcast [2023 Edition]

Podcast sponsorships are the bread and butter of the thriving podcast. Sure, engaging content and growing listeners can monetize your podcast, but sponsorships help you achieve both, while maximizing your profits.

Whether you’re trying to grow your podcast for the first time or want to increase your revenue from sponsorship deals, you need to know everything about podcast sponsorships.

Popular brands like Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, and Crunchy Roll all invest in podcast sponsorships. And they’re not alone, as businesses have invested about $2 billion in podcast advertising in 2023!

So, how do you find the best podcast sponsors? What do sponsors look for in a podcast host? And how can you use other methods to boost your podcast in 2023?

We’ve done our research and put together the ultimate guide to podcast sponsorships – how to approach sponsors, the best sponsors in 2023, and the best ways to monetize your podcast!

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    What is a Podcast Sponsorship?

    Podcast sponsorship is a deal between a business and a podcast host/creator, where the creator promotes the brand in one or two episodes. When brands look for podcasts to sponsor, they want them to market their products or services to a wider target audience.

    In exchange for giving the brand exposure, you earn money!

    How much you make from a podcast sponsorship depends on various factors (we’ll discuss that soon!) but there are two main formats you can choose for sponsored ads in your podcast:

    • Host-read Ads: Organically tell your audience about how the product benefits you. You have freedom on the script, so it sounds natural.
    • Radio-style Ads: A third party creates an ad, and you can play it at some point in your episode. More sponsors prefer working with this format.

    For either choice, you can place sponsored ads before your episode starts, at the end, or at a break point. 

    Summary: What is a Podcast Sponsorship?

    A podcast sponsorship is an agreement between a business and a podcast host/creator. The brand’s products/services will be promoted at some point in the creator’s podcast episode. The two main ad formats used for these agreements are host-read ads and radio-style ads.

    Source: Pete McPherson DYEB

    What to Know Before You Approach a Potential Sponsor

    The Quality of Your Subscribers

    You don’t need an insane number of subscribers to secure podcast sponsors. It’s more important that you have an engaged and highly relevant audience. Yes, brands invest in podcast sponsorships for maximum reach. But this doesn’t only boil down to the number of subscribers you have, but the quality of your subscribers and if they align with your sponsor’s target audience.

    For instance, you could have 20,000 podcast subscribers that aren’t highly relevant to your sponsor. Those subscribers are as good as nothing.

    Perhaps you have only a couple hundred or no more than a thousand subscribers, but they’re qualified leads for your sponsor and match their target buyers.

    In this case, you stand more of a chance with the lower numbers because they have a higher chance of converting and referring your sponsor to other qualified buyers.

    Micro influencers have no more than 20k followers. Yet these influencers gain the highest engagement rates, being almost 4%. And 77% of marketers want to work with these influencers, while only 22% prefer celebrities! 

    Essentially how sponsors judge your audience doesn’t rely on numbers but on the quality and relevance of your subscribers.

    How Healthy Your Analytics Are

    You could have tens of thousands of subscribers, but what do your analytics say? Sponsors will want to see data like:

    • Audience traffic sources: How do your listeners and subscribers find your podcast? 
    • Audience conversions: How many audience members take your desired actions? Click on a link, follow, comment, etc.?
    • Audience comments, likes, etc.: What are your per episode engagement rates? 
    • New monthly subscribes: How many new monthly subscribers do you gain? 
    • Monthly canceled subscriptions: How many monthly subscribers do you lose? 
    • Listener’s location: Where are your listeners located geographically? 
    • Downloads per episode: How many listeners download your episodes? 
    • Listeners per episode: How many people listen to your episodes? 
    • Audience demographics: Who are your listeners and subscribers, and how does this align with your sponsor’s target demographics? 
    • Best episodes: Which episodes are your most results-driven, and how can your sponsor leverage this? 
    • Average listening time: Do listeners pay attention to complete episodes? 

    Businesses must evaluate this data to determine if your podcast matches their target audience. Besides reach, podcast marketing for brands is also about conversions. Without the right audience, they can’t achieve this through sponsorship. 

    Podcast sponsorships stats
    Source: BuzzSprout

    Who is Talking About Your Podcast

    Your podcast needs to have buzz or referrals to find a sponsorship. Businesses prefer working with podcast hosts that have somewhat of an online reputation. Of course, you must have a positive image to reflect well on the sponsors you want to secure.

    How you develop an online presence depends on how you treat your audience. Consistently engage with your podcast subscribers to encourage user-generated content. When subscribers or listeners comment or ask questions, address them promptly. 

    Focus on strengthening your relationship with your podcast audience. Your audience will naturally build your reputation and social proof. You can use approaches like:

    • Send welcome emails. 
    • Give shout outs to new members. If you have a large following and it’s unrealistic to do this, give shout outs to your most loyal listeners and authority figures.
    • Thank people for listening at the end of your episode.
    • Do an audience Q&A session to answer some of the best user questions.

    You can motivate your audience to create buzz about your podcast with many approaches. Ensure you routinely evaluate user loyalty to determine if your techniques are working. 

    Why You Want to Work with the Sponsor 

    Sponsors often want podcast hosts with a personal interest in the products and services they sell. For instance, a brand specializing in cat accessories might not opt for a podcaster that only has dogs. Be realistic in how you can impact your sponsor’s brand.

    And this goes for how sponsors impact your podcast too. When you work with sponsors that share your values and target audience characteristics, you can offer value to your subscribers through sponsored ads. You’re promoting products that can engage and interest your listeners.

    However, if you and your sponsor aren’t aligned, this can harm your podcast and reduce your audience. Users will gradually stop listening and subscribing to your podcast if you’re running random ads they don’t find relevant or interesting.

    A common misconception among podcast hosts is that the benefits of podcast sponsorships are majorly for the brand and passive income for the host. This perspective isn’t all correct. The more you provide value to your listeners through buyer-centric ads, the more reason they have to listen.

    Here’s an example. Your podcast niche is art. Appropriate sponsors may be businesses specializing in art equipment, art lessons, art history books, etc. Because your audiences are passionate about art, it makes sense to work together.

    But this wouldn’t work if your sponsor specializes in all-things gardening. While both art and gardening may be hobbies, these audiences expect significantly different content.

    Your subscribers would have found more value in sponsored ads promoting one-of-a-kind paint brushes rather than an expert book on how to turn gardening into a side hustle.

    Consider sponsors that:

    • Resonate with you.
    • Have products/services that you like.
    • Have attracted and engaged you for some time. 
    • Provide something of genuine interest or value to your listeners.

    How the Sponsor Can Benefit from Your Promotion

    What’s in it for your sponsor? How can they benefit from your audience and your podcast?

    Again, this isn’t all about how many subscribers you have. What’s important is how respected and trusted you are in your niche and how well you engage your audience.

    Countless podcast hosts don’t have a crazy amount of subscribers. But within their small audience, they achieve impressive engagement rates and have established credibility and authority. Podcast hosts like this are more valuable for brand sponsorships than creators with thousands of subscribers but no niche authority or below-average engagement rates.

    You can’t deliver the same value for all sponsors you reach out to either. Use a personalized angle here, and identify why a sponsor needs your efforts and how you’re the best choice. 

    The only way to get this right is by understanding your sponsors and what they need well enough. Take time to research brands to find where you can add value to them. 

    Does this business need an improved social media image? 

    Is this sponsor only known in a limited location? 

    Do buyers trust their brand?

    Remember, brands have podcast sponsorship goals. Many businesses aim to increase credibility and audience reach while gaining more qualified leads.

    Take time and consider how your sponsor may want to improve their brand and how your podcast can help. 

    Podcast sponsorships and buyers stats
    Source: Search Engine Journal

    Summary: What to Consider to Land Podcast Sponsorships

    To approach podcast sponsorships, consider factors like:

    1. The size of your audience
    2. How healthy your analytics are
    3. Who’s talking about your podcast
    4. How can the sponsor benefit from your promotion

    Who are Your Best Sponsors?

    1.Banks

    Banks are some of the best sponsors for podcast hosts, and this is no secret. Wells Fargo is the top corporate sponsor, with US Bank in 7th place and Bank of America in 8th. 

    There are several more banks on this list. Like PNC Bank in 16th place and Union Bank and TD Bank in 23rd place. Many banks only sponsor podcasts in specific niches like finance, environmental, culture, etc.

    Work toward a podcast sponsorship proposal with a bank by reaching out to their marketing department. Personalize your pitch when you contact them, and share your mission, vision, and sponsorship goals. Also, mention how the brand can benefit from your promotion. 

    2.Food Brands

    Get sponsorship deals with food brands! Brands like this include Coca-Cola, Burger King, Pepsi, and Starbucks. Because of how well-known these companies are, you might not know how many characteristics your brands and audiences share.

    When deciding which food brands to work with, consider the ones you already like. And there are various approaches you can use for working with this sponsor. 

    Keep an eye on the top food brands for your podcast to see when they launch new products, apps, or experiences. Reach out to the brand’s marketing department and pitch your podcast.

    For instance, let’s say Starbucks launched a new feature for their app, making drinking and buying coffee more fun. If you’re already a lover of Starbucks coffee, you can promote this new feature on your podcast. 

    Podcast stats
    Source: Qallann Marketing

    3.Insurance Companies

    Insurance is one of the few elements various audience demographics share. I’m sure you’ve seen several insurance sponsorship ads on TV and social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram. 

    Like banks, insurance companies often have specific categories of brands they sponsor. Contact an insurance company’s marketing department and pitch a sponsorship. Ensure your approach is realistic, as insurance companies have highly targeted audiences. 

    4.Major Retailers

    Many global retailers like Nike, Walmart, and H&Mt make fantastic podcast sponsorships. Retailers are also a much safer option as they seldom decline targeted exposure.

    Be vigilant when choosing sports retail brands because these brands work with hosts and creators passionate about sports. Unless you have a golfing, tennis, swimming, or football hobby, you’re better off with brands more suited to you.

    Summary: Who are Your Best Sponsors?

    1. Banks
    2. Food brands
    3. Insurance companies
    4. Major Retailers

    How to Calculate Your Rate?

    One of the best podcast sponsorship benefits is that you get to earn money from brands. There are three ways to calculate your rate, and these include:

    1. Fixed-rate: You can charge a fixed rate for ad placements and market the ad on other social platforms. 
    2. Cost-per-mile (CPM): You can charge a fixed rate per 1000 episode listens. 
    3. Cost-per-action (CPA): Your sponsor pays you for every sale generated from your podcast through an affiliate link.

    On average, the CPM for a 30-second ad is $18. For an ad double the length, the CPM rate is $25. Brands can pay anything between $1000 and $3000 to buy an ad on a podcast generating more than 100,000 listens. 

    From the methods to calculate your podcast sponsorship rate, notice how similar CPA is to affiliate marketing. This approach can be highly profitable as some sponsors pay creators up to $100 per sale, but it’s tricky model to use.

    If your sponsor fails to deliver what they promised, this can deter sales and leave you with nothing. Regardless, the sponsor walks away with brand awareness, making this approach much riskier for the podcast host.

    Many factors influence how much you can set your rate, such as:

    • The size of your podcast audience.
    • Ad length.
    • When the ad will play. There are peak times when your audience is most active. You could charge more for these ads.
    • Niche. The more relevant your podcast, the more you can charge.
    podcast ad rates
    Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

    Be realistic about how much you charge based on the factors we discussed. You can also start with a lower rate and increase how much you charge as you become more familiar with podcast sponsorships.

    Summary: How to Calculate Your Rate?

    To calculate your rate for podcast sponsorships, there are three ways you can do this. Podcast hosts can set a fixed-rate, where they charge a standard rate for ad placements. You can also opt for a cost-per-mile (CPM) rate which is a fixed price per 1000 episode listens, or a cost-per-action (CPA) rate for payment per action taken like clicks or sales tracked with a unique code.

    How to Find Brands Looking for Podcasts?

    1.Podcast Advertising Marketplaces

    Podcast advertising marketplaces are networks podcast hosts use to compete for sponsorships. To join any of the best podcast advertising marketplaces, submit your podcast and provide details on your audience and podcast.

    After completing that information, you’ll have your marketplace listing. Because of this, ensure you use a unique sales pitch that makes you stand out from the crowd. These marketplaces will take their commission from your sponsorship deals.

    Some of the best podcast advertising marketplaces include:

    2.Join a Podcast Directory

    List your podcast in a directory so sponsors can find you. Research podcast directories and choose one best fitting to your brand. 

    Some of the top podcast directories include:

    You’re not limited to how many podcast directories you can join. And by joining multiple, you can expose your brand to a much wider audience. 

    podcast listeners recall
    Source: Medium

    3.Reach out Directly

    You can reach out directly to brands for podcast sponsorships. But it may take several messages to catch the right people’s attention. Especially if you’re contacting a large company.

    Research the brand and see if you can find specific contact details for the appropriate people. Doing this is much better than reaching out on general contact lines and never getting through to a decision-maker.

    When you reach out to brands for podcast sponsorships, personalize your pitch. Understand the brand’s values, audience, and how you can work well together. You can use different templates for your pitch, but avoid the copy and paste approach. 

    4.Network Online and In person

    Whenever you can, tell people about your podcast online and in person. Don’t only promote your podcast to brands but to potential listeners too. Through conversation, you could end up networking with people that can help you secure podcast sponsorships.

    You can also use in-person and online promotion tactics to promote your podcast to a centralized group. For example, in-person and digital events, featuring on other podcasts, and joining podcast communities in your niche. 

    Summary: How to Find Brands Looking for Podcasts?

    1. Use podcast advertising marketplaces
    2. Join a podcast directory
    3. Reach out directly
    4. Network online and in person

    Which Other Methods Can You Use to Monetize Your Podcast?

    1.Use SEO for Podcasts

    Like for blog content and YouTube videos, use SEO techniques to help your podcast episodes reach more listeners. You can do this by using specific keywords during your podcast episodes. Research to find high-volume, trending keywords and focus your podcast scripts around these keywords.

    More SEO techniques for podcasts include:

    • Optimize your podcast page. Your podcast hosting server will allow you to create a page to showcase your podcast. Use keywords on this page to make it easier for targeted users to find your podcast.
    • Optimize your podcast description. Your podcast description should connect to your target audience and prove what makes your podcast unique. Mention when subscribers can expect new episodes. 
    • Optimize podcast episode titles. The title of your episode gives subscribers an idea of what the episode covers. Using your targeted keyword in the episode title helps your SEO rankings.

    2.Affiliate Marketing

    Affiliate marketing can help you generate steady revenue. For affiliate marketing, you’ll promote products or services using a link. When your podcast listeners click on this link and purchase, you’ll earn money based on your affiliate commission rates.

    Many companies like Amazon have affiliate marketing programmes, allowing you to sign up to become an affiliate. However, there may be requirements, and your earning potential relies on the size of your audience.

    When launching an affiliate marketing campaign, use these tips:

    • Research and determine what products your audience would purchase.
    • Consider affiliate programs aligned with those products.
    • Run a trial run to understand if your audience is interested in the products from the affiliate program.

    Affiliate marketing is a fantastic way to earn profits besides podcast sponsorships. 

    Affiliate marketing for podcast sponsorships
    Source: Medium

    3.Request Donations

    Request donations from your audience through Patreon. Many podcast hosts do this and earn money to reinvest into their podcasts. However, a significant and engaged following is required to monetize your podcast through donations.

    More fans than you’d think would be willing to donate. To collect your fan contributions use Stripe, GoFundMe, or PayPal. Be honest about why you’re requesting donations, and genuinely use it for those purposes. 

    Summary: Which Other Methods to Use to Monetize Your Podcast?

    1. Use SEO for podcasts
    2. Affiliate marketing
    3. Request donations

    Conclusion

    Securing podcast sponsorships is necessary if you want to increase your earnings as a podcast host. But sponsorships aren’t easy to land. Consider the most-fitting brands to work with. Some of the best podcast sponsors include banks, insurance companies, food brands, and major retailers.

    There are many methods you can use to find the best podcast sponsors. And once you do, use the top SEO tactics and develop an affiliate marketing campaign to monetize your earnings. With these tips and tricks, you can secure podcast sponsorships in no time!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is a podcast sponsorship?

    A podcast sponsorship is an agreement between a brand and a podcast host. In this agreement, the host must promote the brand's products/services during one or two podcast episodes. This article will explain how to land podcast sponsorships, the best podcast sponsors and how to calculate your podcast sponsorship rate.

    How do you approach podcast sponsors?

    To approach the top podcast sponsors, consider the size of your following, how you can add value to your sponsor and how healthy your analytics are. Podcast sponsors aren't going to work with just any podcast host. Read this article for more details on how to approach podcast sponsors, the top podcast sponsors and how to make more money from your podcast in 2023.

    What are the best ways to monetize your podcast?

    To monetize your podcast, you should implement the best SEO tactics, develop and manage an affiliate marketing campaign to earn commission and request audience donations. Read this full article to find out how to maximize your podcast earnings and land profitable podcast sponsorships.

    References

    Ranker: The Most Ubiquitous Podcast Sponsors, Ranked

    Statista: Podcast advertising spending in the United States from 2021 to 2025

    Shopify: 30+ Influencer Marketing Statistics to Have on Your Radar (2022)

    ZipSprout: TOP 60 CORPORATE SPONSORS IN THE UNITED STATES