Do you podcast in your content marketing strategy? If you aren’t already using it in your overall marketing efforts, you need to look at podcasts. Why?

For so many reasons, which we’ll cover. But first, let’s start with more than 73 million people listen to podcasts. That listenership has more than doubled since 2013 — plus, the format is poised for significant future growth. And, finally, drop the mic …

If that doesn’t help when you calculate ROI, I don’t know what does. But truly, starting a podcast is a content marketing play.

One of my favorite definitions of content marketing is, “The art and science of providing relevant, useful content to your audiences without selling or interrupting them. Instead, you deliver information that educates— and entertains — before they buy.”

If that’s your definition of content marketing, I can’t think of a better example of delivery than podcasting.

Let’s review many of the reasons why you should incorporate a podcast as part of your content marketing strategy.

A Podcast Shows Your Brand Personality

The format helps humanize your brand. With a host, music and guests, you are literally giving your brand a voice.

And, according to Scripps, it can not only showcase personality but also generate that  awareness we’re all wanting. When looking at other digital ad formats, podcast ads generate more than four times better brand recall.

Podcasting Leads to Genuine Engagement with Listeners

People buy from others whom they like, know and trust. Want your prospects and clients to better know you and, perhaps, like you? Podcasting offers an authentic way to create a conversation with listeners.

On one of the podcasts  where I served as a podcast host, we’d interview prominent speculative fiction authors. What’s interesting is that the co-host and I would receive feedback from listeners that they wanted to hear as much from us about our experiences as authors and people as from the interviewees. The experience told me that we had developed a relationship with our listeners.

And let’s take that the next step: Trust. When you’re knowledgeable and passionate about the topic you’re discussing — or pursuing knowledge through earnest discovery by interviewing thought leaders or informed guests — you’ll develop that difficult-to-attain trust.

Again, consider the aforementioned (it’s worth mentioning twice) Ad Week stat that 65% of listeners are likely to buy a product after hearing an ad in a podcast. Talk about monetization. This speaks to how trust can translate into listeners engaging in your social media content,  website and, by association with you, other people’s products and services.

Ultimately, that’s the point, content marketing should make consumers more informed buyers. By starting a podcast, you can authentically engage your listeners in that process.

Grow Your Podcast Audience As PodcAsts Grow

We’ve already discussed past growth a bit, but podcasting is positioned for tremendous future growth, as well. Your brand could grow along with it.

The average listener consumes nearly seven hours of podcasts in a week. You might think that’s relegated to certain target audiences, but Gen Z is listening.  As the YouTube generation grows older and takes on increasing demands of their time, they’re  shifting to content they can consume while performing other tasks. Monthly listenership surged from 30% to 40% with Gen Z over the last year.

Additionally, other major factors are contributing to growth: distribution expansion and the smart speaker.

Ten years ago, iTunes (now Apple Podcasts) used to be the only game in town. Now, companies such as Pandora and Spotify look to bet big on podcast distribution. In particular, Spotify sees podcasting’s dedicated listeners as a way to not only keep its 207 million existing users tuning in but also to attract new users.

Apple Podcasts may still the rule the roost. But more distribution platforms are playing a role in listenership.

Furthermore, consider growth in where people listen. I always thought the No. 1 place where people listened to a show was in transit (car, plane, train … you name it). Close. It’s No. 2 and No. 6, respectively (more on that in a minute).

With 82% of people listening in their place of residence, it takes home the No. 1 spot (pun intended). And with the advent of the smart speaker (Alexa, Google Home, etc.) I don’t see it giving up that position anytime soon.

The Show Unobtrusively Goes where your listeners go

76% of people listen to podcasts on a smart phone or other mobile device. Source: Edison Research

Still. Podcasts are portable. They can help you reach people any time and anywhere. Listening in a car or truck or on public transportation are No. 2 and No. 6, respectively.

Delta Air Lines recognizes the cultural significance as its SKY magazine “My Bag” feature often highlights profiled celebrities in-flight podcasts favorites. In fact, mobile devices are easily the No. 1 device for listening to shows and have seen a 157% increase since 2014.

About a decade ago, when I helped launch a blog for a prominent financial services brand, we weren’t satisfied with the readership. The content was rich with thought leadership, we won awards, but we knew we could do a better job of contributing to the company’s return on investment.

Ultimately, we discovered the problem: Our prospects and clients thought the content valuable, but they were strapped for time.

Isn’t that true for any of us? We only have so much time to dedicate to watching a video or reading an article. Audio eases that burden somewhat, as it’s perfect for multitasking. You can listen while traveling, exercising or working.

So, we took some of the blog posts, hired good voice talent and converted them to podcasts (No joke. A blog post simply read.). What was the result? The podcast saw three times the downloads as the written pieces did views.

Podcasts Are Easy On Staff and guests

When I was podcasting for an award-winning media podcast, we mostly interviewed fiction authors. These are professional writers, mind you. Over the years, we spoke to nearly 300 guests. Each time, we posed the question, “would you rather write us a guest blog post or participate in the show?”

99% of published authors told us they’d rather speak to us than write us a guest blog post. Why? Even professional writers know it’s easier.

Depending on your staff, it can be easier on them, too. It can easily take five hours (or more) to write a SEO rich blog post. In about the same amount of time (or even less), you can create great content with a podcast episode.

Furthermore, compared to other marketing efforts, creating and managing a radio show quality production costs considerably less. In fact, you can get into podcasting for as as little as a couple hundred dollars a year.

If you have people on staff with 1.) a little technical savvy and 2.) the ability to serve as a host, then all you’ll need are some good microphones, editing software and a place to host your audio files.

Watch a workshop version of my presentation (above, as well) or read more about some example costs (time, including social media marketing of show, and materials — though I’d argue with some proficiency you can cut the times outlined by 20%).

Perfect for Deepening relationships and Networking

Jean Chatzky spends time with former FDIC chair Sheila Bair before a HerMoney podcast interview. Credit: Sparkcade Marketing

Shows can take on any number of formats. But if you create a podcast that features guests, you’ll likely see an additional benefit. Podcasting offers a tremendous outlet to network and deepen relationships with prospects, clients, vendors and other potential business partners.

And it often helps in two ways. First, you get the opportunity for one-on-one time with that individual where you otherwise might not have been able to grab an appointment. The podcast creates a win-win for both you as well as the guest — because you’re showcasing their expertise.

And personally, I prefer conducting an interview over many other networking encounters because you really get the opportunity to explore a shared interest.

Second, the show has the potential to help you build an audience and grow your network within your industry. Your guest should want to share the episode with their network, as you’re showcasing their thought leadership.

What also can be rewarding about the podcasting experience is when you and a guest decide to spend time outside of the interview to get to know one another better. It’s happened to me immediately following an interview or days later in a follow up meeting. Some of those experiences have led to business collaborations and, better yet, friendships.

Time to Get Into The Podcasting Game

With all of these tailwinds, it’s easy to see why the format is positioned for continued growth. And you should seriously look at it as part of your inbound marketing practices now. If you’re a brand, there’s still time to get in early and connect with your audience where your competitors aren’t.

Believe it or not … fewer than 15% of brands are podcasting.

Download our checklist so you can start recording your show. Or learn more about our limited-time 10-episode package. It’s a $2,000 value. And we provide everything you need to get an audio show started.

Either way, we’ll help you get your show published to those podcast directories and grow your brand.