If you're a marketing professional, you've probably heard of podcasting. You may even listen to podcasts. But are you producing one for your company?
Podcasting can seem a little intimidating to some but it's not as hard as it looks. We get a lot of questions about this medium so we sat down with our CEO and co-host of our own podcast, Michael Reynolds, to ask some of the most common questions about podcasting.
Q: Why should I podcast?
A: Podcasting can have quite a few benefits. It's a great medium for helping your audience get to know your brand better through human connections. Reading written material is fine and can be very useful, but there's something about listening to content that is more intimate and interesting.
A lot of times, the buyer's journey starts with low-commitment action (reading articles, download guides), then on to medium-commitment actions (attend a webinar or live event), and finally on to high-commitment actions like talking to a sales person or getting a proposal. Webinars make great "middle of the funnel" content but they can be time-consuming to build. A podcast is a great way to create content that helps your audience get to know you better along the buyer's journey, but in a low-maintenance, casual way.
Q: How often should I podcast?
A: My suggestion is to produce a new episode no less frequently than once a week. I see a lot of organizations that try to start podcasting and they take the approach of "let's start with once a month or once a quarter" because they are afraid they can't commit to once week. This is almost not worth doing.
A podcast is like a "show" - it's important to have consistency and frequency to build momentum. You need to give your audience a reliable routine so they can get to know you and make your podcast part of their routine.
Q: How long should a podcast episode be?
It depends. If you're doing an interview-style podcast and your keep your topics pretty focused on one thing per episode, I would shoot for 15 or 20 minutes per episode. That's perfect for a commute and is not too much of a time commitment for your listeners.
If you have a more varied agenda and you can keep the energy level high, then you can go for 40 or 50 minutes. You really need to keep it moving, though, to engage your audience for that long. Be interesting!
When in doubt, try for 20 minutes.
Q: What is the best way to record an interview-style podcast? (Skype, phone, something else?)
I've tried lots of different tools-- and I've seen problems with all of them--but it really depends on how your system is set up. If you're set up with a pretty good set of audio equipment and you're using something like Spreaker, then Skype is my tool of choice for bringing in remote guests because it integrates with your console.
If you are going more low-tech (which is fine) and you just want to use your computer and earbuds, then I recommend GoToMeeting. It lets you record the call and is very reliable. I've found GoToMeeting to have the best sound quality in the "low tech" space, as well.
Q: How do you build an audience?
This is the hard part! You have to own your podcast. I don't mean in the sense that you "own" it because it's yours but rather you have to commit to making it a part of your brand and your marketing strategy. Give it prominence on your website. Put it in your email signature. Tell people about it. Post it on your blog. Email it to your database. Run social media campaigns to promote it.
One of the best ways to grow your audience is to invite guests who also have an audience. Look for people who align with the theme of your show and who will agree to share the episode with their audience. On SpinRadio, we pay our guests to be on our show which helps us attract people who might otherwise be hard to pin down.
Q: How do you measure ROI, or do you?
I would look at ROI the same way you measure anything else. Find ways to connect your podcast to marketing actions. For example: do you see leads into your website who heard about you through your podcast? Do you use audio calls to action and track this through landing pages?
Sometimes ROI is not what you think. We've gotten high-profile speaking engagements because the event organizer listened to our podcast, liked our style, and then booked us for keynote presentations. That's not only a speaking fee but also a chance to present in front of a room full of prospects who can become leads. That's pretty good ROI!
Q: What are the minimum equipment requirements to get started?
You don't need much. You can start with a computer, earbuds, Garage Band or Audacity, and GoToMeeting and that's it. If you want to improve the quality of your podcast and you are willing to walk down the rabbit hole of buying hardware and the infinite loop of tweaking your sound settings, check out the post "How to Produce an Internet Radio Show" that I published for HubSpot. It has a good snapshot of the equipment we use.
Q: What is the most popular format (interview, live radio show, conversation, monologue)?
I'm not sure what format is most popular from a pure data standpoint but I do see a lot of interview based shows. I think it's popular because it's pretty easy to set a theme, come up with questions, and invite guests on to create your content.
I personally like the model we use on SpinRadio, which is the co-host format with a teaching agenda. It's a little different and it lets us focus on the message we want to share. Plus, it's a lot of fun, and we've developed a great groove over time which helps our show flow very smoothly.
I also like the live element. I don't see a lot of live podcasts but to me it's the most fun because you're talking to people who are hearing you in real time and whatever happens happens. It adds energy to the show.
Q: Is it important to maintain sound quality, episode to episode, when you have a mix of recorded content (phone interviews, Skype, in-person)?
I think so. I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it, but if you can keep your sound quality consistent, I think it makes your show sound more professional.
Q: Anything else you'd like to add?
Have fun! If you look at your podcast as a chore or another marketing tactic, then it's not going to get much momentum. You need to have a desire to teach your audience and to share your passion for your topic. Then you will have a great podcast that others actually want to listen to.
Have more questions about podcasting? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer your questions on the air on SpinRadio.