If it seems like everyone's starting a podcast these days, it's because podcasts are getting more popular all the time and have proven to be a powerful marketing tool for businesses in many industries.

As smart speaker systems such as Amazon Echo and Google Home get more common in everyday life, and audiences increasingly seek out more targeted content to get their news and advice, podcasts are only going to get bigger.

Not every business is a good fit for audio discussions, but there could be more benefits to starting a podcast for your SMB than you realize. And considering the investment involved can be practically nothing, it's a digital marketing avenue that's well worth exploring.

Who listens to podcasts?

Most people do, according to 2020 podcast statistics from Edison Research and Triton Digital's annual study, The Infinite Dial. This survey of Americans aged 12 and older found that 55% of people had listened to a podcast, up from 40% in 2017 – an increase of 37.5% in just three years.

What's more, over a third (37%) of Americans listen to podcasts every month. That's more than 100 million people in the US alone, not counting audiences in the rest of the world. For teenagers and young adults aged 12 to 34, the figure is almost 50%.

How many podcasts do people listen to? Half of people download or stream one to three podcasts per week, but 12% of people listen to 11 or more. Those who listen regularly spend an average of 6 hours and 39 minutes each week listening to podcasts.

This data was published in March 2020, before coronavirus lockdowns introduced podcasts and podcasting to an even wider audience, so the numbers are no doubt larger already. If you're considering whether or not to jump on board, here are the six most compelling reasons to start a podcast for your business.

1. Grow your audience

With so many people already listening to podcasts, there's a huge audience out there to tap into with well-targeted marketing campaigns. Even if you're not having much success with blog content or social media, podcasts have unique appeal and people can listen to them anywhere – when they're driving to work, going for runs or drifting off to sleep.

Since the appeal of your podcast will probably be quite specific – whether you're sharing marketing tips with other business owners, financial advice or recipes – you should focus on targeting people who are looking for podcasts like yours, rather than trying to court a general audience.

When you focus on producing good quality content that's worth listening to, listeners are more likely to stick around and become loyal followers of your brand. Your podcast will also reach more people as it earns good reviews, gets recommended among friends and promoted on industry blogs.

2. Personalize your brand

You control the tone and message of your podcast, but in general, the medium tends to be more laid-back and informal than other types of marketing content, whatever the topic at hand. This more intimate, more human connection is a large part of the appeal of podcasts, and helps to make your brand's personality and values more relatable.

Podcasts may be largely a one-sided conversation, but they still create a sense of community among listeners that can develop into loyalty and trust for your brand, and ultimately sales. Incorporating audience interaction and responding to feedback from listeners shows that your business cares.

3. Establish your authority

If you can talk about topics at length on a regular basis, you must be something of an expert. Many podcast listeners are seeking expert insights and education, so if you can offer this value, they're likely to consider you – and by extension your business – trustworthy and authoritative.

While the same can be achieved with blog posts, an in-depth write-up takes a lot more time and effort to produce than a looser podcast, and people are more likely to make it to the end of a podcast. Arranging a guest spot on other established shows is a great way to promote your own podcast and share your expertise in front of a new audience.

4. More engagement

However well-written your website and social media content is, natural speech is more engaging to our brains than text or even images. While video is the most engaging type of content out there, it can also be more limited than audio podcasts, as audiences can't so easily watch video while on the move or during other activities where podcasts thrive.

If your podcast is good, listeners are more likely to subscribe and keep listening to every episode than they are to follow blogs or other channels. You can encourage more engagement by interacting with listeners, showing that you value their input or offering exclusive offers to subscribers.

5. Source of revenue

Your podcast may primarily be a marketing tool to drive more traffic to your website and increase conversions, but its value doesn't end there. As your podcast gets more successful, sponsors will be eager to pay for a short advertising spot, which today's podcast listeners expect and won't hold against you.

The cost of starting and running a podcast is low compared to most types of marketing, with a good quality microphone usually being the main (optional) expense, so it shouldn't take long for the enterprise to prove worthwhile.

6. Easy to get started

If you've been put off from video marketing because you're worried your videos won't look professional or you're not photogenic, these aren't issues for audio podcasts, which have lower barriers to entry.

Like video production, the technical side of podcasting can be outsourced to another company if it's not something you want to do yourself, but hosting platforms such as Podbean, BuzzSprout, SoundCloud and many more make it easy to upload your audio files, which you can then promote on social media or a dedicated podcast website.

See Limecube's specialist podcast themes that make it quick and easy to set up a website for your new podcast, and don't miss the next part of our podcasting blog series where we'll cover how to get your new podcast off the ground.

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