Podcasting is growing from strength to strength. According to Podcast Insights, as of April 2021, there were 2,000,000 active podcasts with over 48 million podcast episodes. Compare that to February 2018, when there were only 500,000 active podcasts. That is a massive increase, showing clearly that podcasts are now mainstream.
There are many different genres of podcasts from entertainment through to self-help and business. They are the go-to source for listeners who want to gain knowledge and grow.
From a marketing perspective, podcasts offer an experience that provides in-depth information and value to the listening audience. It’s a great way for small businesses to build their brand and audience, and reach out to new audiences.
When embarking on a podcasting campaign, you should use digital marketing and automation tools to keep organized and manage your time effectively.
You will also need to do some prep work, including creating a plan, building a content strategy, finding guests, and scheduling episodes.
In this article we'll look at what podcasting can do for your business, plus how you can get started, and grow your audience and brand.
It’s easy to get started
Podcasting is a relatively easy way to engage with your audience. It’s an accessible form of communication which doesn’t need expensive or fancy equipment; nor does it require the podcaster to be a technical guru.
To create a podcast, all you need are quality microphones and headphones, an RSS-friendly podcast hosting platform, and podcast software to record and edit audio.
Small businesses and solopreneurs can start slowly when putting out their first podcast. Because podcasts are so popular, many helpful resources are available to help anyone start, such as YouTube videos, how-to-blogs, and even other podcasts.
Once you sort out the basics, you can always upgrade to more sophisticated and expensive equipment and tools. The main goal is to provide valuable audio content that engages your audience of listeners.
This small business guide to starting a podcast infographic covers getting started with podcasts and the technical gear you need, as well as constructing, uploading, promoting and optimising your episodes.
Grow your audience and increase your brand reach
If you think you can’t start a podcast because you don’t have a following, think again. A podcast is actually a brilliant way to build and increase your reach to your target audience and wider.
Podcasts are a great way to connect with busy people who can listen in while doing other tasks such as driving or cooking. People who prefer listening to reading or watching and enjoy your podcast will come back for more and become loyal listeners.
If you provide valuable or entertaining content, they're likely to recommend your show to friends, family, and social media connections. Over time, this will expand your fan base of listeners.
Take advantage of the marketing opportunities of social media to increase brand awareness.
Make sure you develop and follow a well-managed and consistent social media strategy. If you try to juggle many campaigns on multiple social media platforms, you’re likely to get caught up in a whirlwind of chaos.
Luckily, centralized social media tools such as Hootesuite can help you automate, plan, analyze, and track your campaigns.
Remember that even if you have an active and engaged Facebook and Instagram following, starting a podcast opens your brand to a new audience by sharing your message across other platforms.
Some of the ways to increase your reach are to:
- include your podcast in players and directories so listeners can find you
- upload and publish your podcast to YouTube
- make sure you have a mobile-first design, as 65% of people listen to podcasts on mobile devices
Expand your reach even further to new audiences by interviewing influencers in your niche. Getting an expert to share their experiences and insights will make your podcast more relatable and enjoyable to your audience, and provide them with valuable content.
As well as establishing a relationship with other industry leaders, it also opens up your podcast to their followers and builds your reputation for quality content.
Managing brand awareness
Podcasts are powerful tools to attract potential clients or customers. While providing valuable and relevant information to your listening audience, you can also promote your products and services during the broadcast.
You can suggest that your audience visit your website to learn more, mention your offerings in the podcasts, or a combination of both.
However, keep in mind that you will lose your audience quickly if your podcast is too promotional.
According to a survey by Mozilla, avid podcast listeners may subscribe to a long list of podcasts, but tend to be devoted to between 2-10 shows which they listen to regularly. They will often listen to multiple episodes of the same podcast and try to catch new episodes shortly after they are released.
If you manage to establish a loyal following this gives you a chance to increase your brand awareness, and build familiarity and trust with your target audience, meaning they will think of you when they need a product or service you offer.
Enhance your consumer experience
Don't forget, other companies in your niche are also competing for audience attention in a world where everyone is inundated daily by an overwhelming amount of information.
Distractions and the sheer volume of ads, marketing messages, and emails make it difficult for us to focus 100% on a specific piece of content such as a video or lengthy article.
Podcasts are convenient for people as they can listen while doing something else. For example, you can listen to a podcast while commuting to work, cleaning the house, or exercising.
Listening to a podcast, rather than distracting from your current activity, actually enhances it. It's amazing how fast an hour-long walk on a treadmill can go by listening to something you enjoy.
When a listener interacts with you and downloads a podcast, sending them a confirmation email is an excellent way to connect with your audience.
Manage your event workflow
Podcasts have a lot of moving parts, so you need to set up your processes in advance. Event planning software will help you:
- keep track of dates and guests
- easily create forms
- set up automation
- integrate with other applications
You can even set up workflows in advance for repetitive tasks. Processes are what separates people who fail from those who succeed. There are many free workflow apps on the market. Find the one that suits you best.
Managing brand reputation and authority
No matter what marketing activity you are engaging in, be it sharing a blog post, posting on social media, or providing valuable content to attract more leads, your goal is to increase sales and establish your brand as an authority in your niche.
Starting a podcast gives you another platform to reach your audience. By consistently offering helpful advice on a specific topic, or exploring related themes, you are increasing your authority in the minds of your target audience.
However, it takes time, organization, and preparation to consistently deliver valuable audio content to your listeners. An editorial calendar will make managing your podcast campaigns easier and more efficient, giving you a framework to plan episodes and reach out to contributors.
Sharing your passion, experience, and expertise across multiple communication mediums shows confidence in yourself and your business and puts authority behind your brand and name.
Listeners will hear your genuine passion and connection to your industry from your tone of voice. This, in turn, will increase the level of trust between you and your audience: it becomes a more personal experience.
It's easier to convey emotions, excitement and passion through your voice, and podcasts are more engaging than text. Because of this, and the value and convenience they offer to listeners, they continue to gain popularity.
Managing and repurposing your content
Many people do not have the time or patience to read a long-form blog post, no matter how relevant and informative.
However, the same blog content in audio format is much more entertaining and delivered to your audience conveniently.
Many successful podcasters will repurpose and repackage long-form content rather than starting from scratch, extracting full value from their content.
According to Chris Ducker, Founder & CEO at Youpreneur, the average blog post is about 700 words and can take approximately five minutes to read, while the average podcast is usually 35 minutes, which makes it 4,550 words. In other words, podcasting gives you the opportunity to deliver way more information.
This doesn’t mean you should abandon blog posts - written content will always play a significant role in branding, marketing and SEO.
However, podcasting allows you to explore themes in greater depth and deliver information in a highly accessible way. It also gives you the opportunity to express your personality and connect with your audience in a more engaging way.
Managing email communication
So, you have created an awesome podcast episode using the best hosting software, headphones, and microphone, and people will now become listeners, correct?
Not exactly. Competition in the world of podcasts and all other forms of digital marketing is fierce.
Email marketing can bring in more listeners and help promote your episodes.
Consider using emails for:
- follow-up or greetings messages for listeners who sign up for your podcast
- notifications of special episodes
Pro tip: Include your latest podcast episode in your email signature.
Below are some key steps to grow your podcast audience with email marketing:
- build your email list using lead magnets, such as a free resource, in exchange for contact information
- use a custom-built optimized landing page to improve conversion rates
- utilize social media to drive traffic to your landing pages with engaging content such as image quotes and GIFs
- promote your podcast by sending emails to your regular listeners to notify them when a new episode has been recorded and is available for download
Be sure to personalize your email messages to build and nurture relationships with your listening audience.
Are you ready to start a podcast?
Whether you are a new business or an established brand looking for more ways to expand your audience and increase sales, podcasts are an excellent platform to use.
The surge in popularity for podcasts has continued to rise, with 116 million Americans listening to a podcast monthly in 2020.
Leverage the popularity of the medium as an opportunity to expand your reach and convert loyal podcast listeners into paying customers.