10 years ago, many people didn’t know what a podcast was. Now, an estimated 104 million Americans listen to at least one podcast a month, and 68 million listen to a podcast weekly—and the numbers are increasing every year. Podcasts have become a powerful way to offer valuable content to your target audience and strengthen your content marketing strategy.
For many, it may seem like the popularity of podcasts came out of the blue, but both the rise of mobile and the decline of traditional reading have opened the door for this new trend. Research shows that regular podcast listeners listen to an average of 6 hours of podcasts a week—so with compelling content, an audience truly will listen to what you have to say!
That being said, creating a podcast requires much more than just talking into a microphone. To help you get started, there are several things to consider.
Every marketing initiative starts with strategy, and that requires you to think of your audience first. If you’re a financial firm speaking to advisors or a B2B firm looking to acquire new business, determine what information would be most interesting and valuable to your customers. Ask yourself some of the following questions:
Your podcast episodes should be informative and educational, like all of your content marketing projects. Instead of promoting yourself, you are providing relevant and useful information to prospects and customers. Knowing your audience helps you to know what questions they’re asking, and therefore, what’s relevant and useful to them.
Creating compelling content is the foundation of any content marketing strategy. Once you know the questions your audience is asking, that will give you a much better idea of the kind of content to generate. When brainstorming topics, consider a series featuring industry insights or new trends. As you create content that educates, you are elevating your brand as a thought leader.
While the quality and relevancy of your content is important, be sure to define your niche. What’s going to make your podcast stand out? It’s clear that the podcast landscape is growing and becoming busier, so you need to find a way to pierce through the noise. What’s your point of view that’s not already being expressed by others? Listen to what’s already out there, and find your voice. What can you add that’s new or different?
What will be the format of each episode? Will it be a solo podcast, where just one person with expertise talks? Or two co-hosts in a more conversational format? Will you have rotating hosts/experts? Or will you interview guests? Interview podcasts are one of the most popular formats, and if you choose this, keep in mind that you will need to plan a strategy for finding guests and working with others’ schedules.
You don’t have to have top-of-the-line equipment to create your podcast, but you do need good equipment. No one will listen to your podcast if they can’t hear you well or if the sound quality is poor. And while sound effects such as intro and outro music may not seem like a big deal, they’re important for distinguishing between podcast segments and greatly enhance the overall production quality, so good editing tools are essential.
Deciding where to publish your podcast depends largely on your budget, target audience and strategy. If your audience is looking for free downloadable media, then a paid service will immediately deter a following. Some services are free to subscribers but cost the company money, and some rates can also grow with the number of subscribers. Make sure you read about the options for where to host and syndicate your podcast before you make a decision.
As you begin to launch your podcast, think about what podcast communities you could benefit from getting exposure to their audience. Because having guests on a podcast is such a common practice, there are certainly networks of podcast creators that you can tap into. Building up an audience is one of the hardest parts of starting a podcast, as it can be a slow process at the start. So while compelling content is still important, getting your name out there through other established podcasts can help you get off the ground.
At what frequency will you publish episodes? This could be monthly, bi-monthly, weekly, or more frequently. Figure out what’s going to be consistently workable for you, as consistency is key to building, growing and maintaining an audience. Keep in mind that you can block out time to record multiple episodes over a couple days. That way, you build up a library of content ready for release for the next few weeks or months.
Podcast analytics is still in its infancy. You can’t glean as much information as you can with website analytics, and it’s split between all the different platforms where you publish your podcast, instead of all in one place. Therefore, you should define what success is going to look like for you. Before diving into the whole process, figure out what will make the most sense for you in terms of metrics and monitoring, and then track this to help guide your strategy moving forward.
When you set out to create and manage a podcast, there are a number of critical questions to consider that may not be obvious at the start. How are you going to get the podcast edited? Posted? How will you do the show notes? How will you promote it? There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes of a podcast, from strategy to creative to technical work, and it could be beneficial to bring in a partner to help take off some of that burden. And then you can truly focus on the content, which is your area of expertise!
Before you launch, be sure to do some test runs. Record actual episodes as tests and understand that they might not make it on the air, as you’re still learning and working out the kinks. Take time to get used to all the equipment, and practice the process of planning, scheduling, writing and hosting. Then record and store several episodes so that when you launch, you have a number under your belt to help build some momentum as you continue to record. Eventually you will establish a strong podcast series, and your voice will reach more and more ears!
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