Loop11 is an Australian website-user testing tool; it diagnoses website issues related to navigation and overall usability. The company of the same name is a leader in the online space of “user experience”, commonly known as UX. Hosted and produced by Loop11’s Product Lead, Ben Newton, True North is a fortnightly podcast series with guests who are influencers in the field of UX.
Ben Newton says the company saw podcasting as a way to contribute to and engage with the user- and customer-experience design community. Podcasting achieves engagement with audiences more effectively, he insists, than written content like blogs or articles.
Loop11’s clients are some of the same people they invite on as guests to the podcast. The target audience for True North are those who design a product or service and who fine-tune the user experience for their own customers.
Podcasting is “like a conversation with a friend on the phone or something similar to that,” says Ben. “It’s very personal and you can really communicate your message and personality. There’s probably a really strong component of trust that is conveyed in a good podcast episode which I guess why advertising in podcasts is so popular.”
True North is a fortnightly narrative podcast, highly edited and curated, like an ABC or NPR audio documentary. Ben spends up to 40 to 60 hours preparing, recording, editing and assembling each episode.
Distribution & Amplification
Ben uses an innovative strategy to increase podcast listenership: prior to the release of an episode, he offers a written article about that episode to a non-competing third party blog whose audience Loop11 wants to reach.
“The most useful way we’ve found to grow our listener base is to identify areas where we don’t have a reach into and then try and partner with the owners of that space.” – Ben Newton.
“A lot of our goals were not something that could be easily measured via KPIs via a dashboard,” says Ben. “They were brand awareness, they were making us a part of a conversation just in general with Design and UX through various communities we monitor. We see that people say, ‘Hey go and check out True North, Loop 11 does this podcast.'”
Advice to other brands
Ben was clear from the beginning that the podcast needed to be unique, and that’s what he would suggest to others looking to produce a podcast. Loop11 wanted to aspire to a high-quality podcast in the league of Gimlet or This American Life (creators of Serial). It was, he says, their North Star, their own “true north”.
Ben says you have to commit properly, whether that’s someone in-house who has the time, energy and skills, or outsourcing to a third party to produce an engaging podcast.
We interviewed Loop11’s Ben Newton on BE Podcasting. Listen here