Harness the power of audio, and dive into a large and deep market by starting your very own podcast. Yes, that’s right… A podcast. Despite being “Oh, so 2005,” according to Time, it’s one of the best avenues for growing your audience, building strong customer relationships, and positioning your company.
It’s also a powerful way to capitalize on the exploding podcast industry. Unique monthly podcast listeners have grown by 300% to 75 million per month from five years ago, and podcast subscriptions eclipsed the 1 billion level in 2013. The percentage of people who listen to podcasts grew rapidly, too:
Image credit: Edison Research
In a research study done in May 2014, podcasts took the second-largest share of time people spent listening to any audio source.
Image credit: Edison Research
So, why has podcasting skyrocketed over the last few years?
Credit technology. Smartphones and podcasting apps have made listening, subscribing, and downloading podcasts extremely easy.
Why You Should Consider Podcasting
Okay, the market is expanding… But, what does that mean for you? And, what does that mean for your business?
Here are the reasons your business needs podcasting:
Podcasting Grows Traffic
“There are about 30 million active blogs on the Internet, but only about 200,000 active podcasts,” says Rob Walch, vice president of podcaster relations for Wizzard Media’s Libsyn platform.
He’s not kidding. A Google search of “ecommerce podcasts” got about 519,000 results, while “ecommerce blogs” got 28,400,000 results. “SaaS podcasts” got 439,000, while “SaaS blogs” got 8,590,000.
Starting a podcast allows you to tap into a less-crowded market to reach potential customers. Also, leveraging podcast directories like iTunes gives you another method to promote awareness and rank well on their internal search engines.
Better still, podcasts help you build a subscriber base. Rather than trying to reach out every time you release an episode, your audience is automatically updated if they subscribe to your feed.
Podcasting Can be A Smart Way to Increase Conversions
Creating a podcast can improve your conversion rates and sales. For example, if you want to boost email subscribers, tell visitors they’ll also get podcast updates. You can further sell your services or products on the podcast. If they’re listening, they will be more likely to purchase because they’ve already made a commitment.
Some case studies found that audio itself boosted conversion rates on websites because it startles the user, builds trust, and adds a human element.
Podcasting Positions You as a Thought Leader
With a podcast, you can share powerful information with your audience and further position yourself as an expert in your industry. This will improve your reputation, separate you from the competition, motivate your customers to look forward to your information, and even attract new talent to your business.
Shopify has a list of the nine podcasts you should listen to if you’re an ecommerce entrepreneur.
CrazyEgg’s podcast offers amazing information for conversion aficionados, like “4 Pricing Strategies that (Shockingly) Yield Higher Conversions” and “The Missing Link to Conversions: Relevance & How to Attain It.” Anyone interested in learning more (i.e., their target audience) will gravitate toward their helpful content and look at CrazyEgg as a leader in their industry.
Podcasting Boosts Engagement with Your Customers
Unlike the written word, hearing someone’s voice unlocks a deeper connection. A speaker can convey so much more emotion and tone on a podcast than a writer ever could with text.
With an ecommerce store, for example, creating more engagement leads to happier customers and more sales. Imagine a women’s apparel brand that offers lookbooks, which is an appropriate form of customer engagement. What if they added a quick weekly podcast of fashion trends directly from the most popular designers in Europe?
With podcasts, people will listen and have a reason to keep coming back to your online store. Also, with the right tools, you’ll make it super easy for them to share this information with their friends, further expanding your brand awareness and sales.
You also can use podcasts to ask users what they like and don’t like. And, you can ask them if they want your podcast to cover a particular topic. If you encourage them to comment on your podcast, you will get a great opportunity to do one simple thing to increase engagement: reply to comments.
By offering thoughtful responses, you’ll improve your SEO, entice commenters to return and read your responses, and create brand advocates who comment again and again and who will be far more likely to buy and share.
Here’s How to Get Started on Your Own Podcast
The problem with ideas is that they’re just ideas, useless without action. We’ve mapped out a step-by-step system to get you from zero to 100. So, take the first step, and, within a few weeks, you’ll be up and running, with a few episodes already under your belt.
1. Start Simple
Don’t compare yourself with podcasters who have been around for years and, thus, have hundreds of thousands of unique listeners per month. Focus on the basics:
- The name of your podcast
- A quick summary of your podcast (for iTunes, etc.)
- What you plan to talk about
- Some artwork for your podcast
2. Decide on the Frequency of Your Podcast
Once a month? Twice a month? Once a week? Twice a week? Every day?
It depends on you, your audience, and what works best. Factoring in the size of your company and your workout, it could be hard to record podcasts every week; for others, it could become something you fall in love with and ultimately dedicate a lot of time to.
Whatever you choose, stick to your schedule. I recommend creating a stockpile of at least three podcasts before launching so you’re always ahead of schedule in case anything goes wrong.
3. Create Great Content
Your podcast needs to deliver amazing information that your listeners will enjoy. This is non-negotiable. What are the top five goals of your customers? How can you address them and offer great advice?
Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast is a great example of awesome benefit-driven content:
Image credit: Smart Passive Income
Wow! It’s like he wrote this for me!
Plan in advance what topics you will cover, what you’re going to say, and how you will structure the podcast. How long do you want to spend on Topic 1? Topic 2? How will the podcast end?
As for the actual content, always ask yourself if your information is benefiting the listener. Can they get the information anywhere else? Can you quantify the results?
Also, improve your speaking voice. If you hate your voice, fear not, our veteran voiceover artists offered these tips:
- Breathe from your belly
- Maintain good posture
- Open your palate
- Use vocal variety
What about a recorded introduction? For simplicity’s sake, I suggest you skip this step until you develop a consistent audience; once you’re ready, draft a quick script that introduces your podcast, explains the top benefit of your podcast, and artfully leads to the conversation. For that extra umph, get a professional voiceover from the dozens of online services that offer great stuff fast and cheap.
4. Determine the Length of Your Podcast
The average attention span of an adult listening to a lecture is about 15 to 20 minutes. So, is that the ideal length of a podcast? Well, let’s look at a few samples:
It’s up to you.
My opinion? Keep podcasts under 30 minutes. Not because of attention spans, drop-offs, portability, etc., but because of the hassle of creating and editing something longer. The longer the podcast, the more you have to ask, the more you have to say, and the more time you have to spend developing content. Also, if you plan on interviewing an expert, especially a notable one, they usually can’t chat longer than 20 minutes anyway.
I would rather have one 30-minute podcast per week than one 60-minute podcast every other week. (In fact, 40% of the top 25 podcasts with a regular posting schedule publish once per week.)
(Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment.)
5. Invite Experts to Speak
Experts on your podcast do three important things: (1) they bolster the quality of your content, (2) they boost your social proof and credibility in the industry, and (3) they give you access to their audience.
But, will experts really appear on my show to chat?
Experts are usually happy to share their wisdom on a medium that requires absolutely no setup. Just call them, press “record,” and talk.
Here’s a sample script to get notable people to chat on your podcast:
My name is __________, I’m the CEO of ________, and I’m a huge fan of _________. [Talk about 2 – 3 things you like about their brand or company.]
On my end, I’m starting a new podcast where we do short audio interviews with SaaS experts to share great info with our audience of 20,000 visitors/month. So far, we’re getting interviews with Mrs. X, Mr. Y, and Mrs. Z.
I know you’re extremely busy, but I’d love to do a short, 20-minute interview with you to talk about [two or three talking points]. I can send you a copy of the interview to put on your site and even send you a transcription once everything is done.
Would you be free for a quick chat sometime next week? I can work around your schedule since I know you’re always busy. I’m always free after 2pm Eastern Time on the weekdays.
The recipe is simple: a super brief intro, a meaningful reason why you like and appreciate what they do, and a quick ask. If they agree, great! Send them an agenda to save them time and ensure they’ll give you good thought-out answers. If they don’t agree, no worries. What I typically do is ask them if I can keep them updated and send them any informative podcasts in the future.
6. Get the Right Equipment and Setup
You’ll need the following:
- Recording software
- Call recording software (to interview experts via Skype)
- Audio editing software
There are dozens of great options available, so get what feels right for you.
As for the setup, it must be absolutely quiet during recording. Background and ambient noises are extremely distracting and take away from the overall message. (For the people who remember, it’s like watching TV with bunny ears when the signal wasn’t good.)
Don’t worry too much about the equipment. I know people who didn’t want to start a podcast because they didn’t have “the right mic” or “the right setup” or they were afraid about the quality. Ultimately, whether you spend $40 or $400 on a microphone, it will NOT make or break your podcast. The content and consistency will.
Here are some great “bang for your buck” options of equipment:
- Snowflake USB Microphone
- Logitech ClearChat USB Headset
- Plantronics Audio 655 USB Headset
- Pamela Call Recorder for Skype (Windows)
- Call Recorder For Skype (Mac)
- Audacity Editing Software
7. Ask Great Interview Questions
There’s an art in asking great questions. Imagine you’re interviewing a SaaS expert who doubled their user base over a month-long period. Here’s a weak question:
“How did you achieve that?”
Here’s a better question:
“What were the two or three highest-ROI things you did to achieve that?”
It’s a similar question, but you’re subtly forcing a specific answer. You don’t want everything, ranking in no particular order. You want the highly effective techniques, which is what your listener wants, too.
Also, wait until the respondent finishes answering the question before speaking. Interrupting the interviewee — unless absolutely necessary — leads to weak conversations, disgruntled guests, and horrible audio quality. A good rule of thumb? After they stop talking, wait three seconds. (You can edit out the silence later.) This also will give you time to gather your thoughts.
8. Prepare for the Edits
Here’s what I love about podcasts: if I screw up, I can edit it out. (Real life, unfortunately, does not offer this feature.) Um’s and you-know’s can be removed later, as well as corrections and long gaps within dialogue.
It takes a while to get used to, but if you say something wrong during a podcast, pause, gather yourself, and say it again. Edits are an accepted part of interviewing. Just make sure that the edits don’t ruin the message:
Also, always record a few seconds of silence for your podcast. This is helpful to remove ambient noises like the hum of an air conditioner or buzzing sounds.
9. Promote Like Crazy
Once you finish recording and editing your podcast, focus all your effort on getting traffic and clicks.
Start by creating juicy headlines.
SaaS Company Podcast: #38 (w/ John Smith)
Learn How John Smith Increased Revenue by 39% at XYZ Company
In the description, write a teaser about all the benefits and important messages listeners will learn. For example, “John explains the one super-easy, yet mind-blowing, framework he used to escape his rut” or “why just ‘getting more traffic’ didn’t work, but the surprising thing that did.”
Ask your interviewees to share the interview on social media and with their email list. Also, submit your feed to podcast directories:
Here’s how to submit your podcast to iTunes.
While podcasts have amazing potential to add value for your customers, some companies wind up producing podcasts en masse in a vain attempt to expand. For example, these websites might take their webinar content, copy it, and use it as a podcast episode.
Don’t do this.
Just like with any other part of your business, cutting corners has massive consequences. First, the content won’t be good. Second, and more importantly, people can tell. It takes years to build credibility and reputation, but it takes only seconds to destroy it. Why risk your brand by releasing some half-hearted audio?
If you decide to launch a podcast for your business, do it because you want to podcast and have something to say, not because it’s a tactic to increase revenue. Yes, there are tremendous financial benefits, but there’s also the benefit of participating in an activity you really enjoy.
How to Optimize Your Podcast for More Listeners
“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
— Oscar Wilde
Entice Listeners to Opt-in
To get listeners to sign up, offer them something beyond just updates. You could give them bonuses, like secret interviews that address a significant pain point.
You also could give them summaries of your podcasts in simple, downloadable PDFs they can print and take with them, in case they don’t have the time or convenience to listen to your podcast. (This also allows you to cover two different mediums with the same content.)
Make It Super Easy for Listeners to Share
Unfortunately, the words, “Please Share,” aren’t always enough.
Instead, make sharing a cinch by installing a social media plugin that follows the user and allows them to share on top platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, LinkedIn, etc. There are numerous plugins that do that, like SumoMe, AddThis, Digg Digg, and ShareThis.
Keep Doing What Works
After a few podcasts, you’ll discover which content drives the most traffic and converts the most listeners. Great. Keep doing that.
If you host an ecommerce podcast, perhaps your best performing episodes will revolve around drop-shipping. If so, consider creating a series of podcasts titled: “The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Profitable Drop-Shipping Business.”
Now, what do you think? What do you like about the podcasts you listen to? How has podcasting helped your business? What mistakes or successes have you experienced? Share in the comments.
About the Author: Anthony J. Yeung is the Editor-in-Chief of Bunny Inc., which delivers awesome voice services through innovative technologies and fanatical support. Get the perfect voice for your script at VoiceBunny.