Campaign studies by Podtrac and TNS found that podcast advertising is three times as effective as "traditional" online advertising, and seven times more so than TV ads. What's more, in 2007, podcasts served 18.5 million users in the U.S.--a figure projected to rise to 65 million by 2012 (eMarketer).
These tips for launching an engaging podcast will help you build a loyal and responsive brand audience:
· Plan your podcast schedule. An engaging podcast is more than a "one-off" episode. Plan each in advance, and launch them on a consistent day and time.
· Stick to a schedule. If you broadcast weekly, publish a monthly schedule so listeners get a sense of what to expect.
· Make it RSS-accessible. A downloadable mp3 file is only one component of a podcast. Enable people to subscribe via RSS so they can retrieve updates automatically.
· Keep it short. Brevity encourages relevance. Unless you have a strong feature, don't press listeners' patience.
· Don't waste time hard-selling. Don't discuss your product or service all the time. When you do, invite a client or user to speak frankly about it on air.
· Segment your podcasts. Think "Client Talk," "Tip of the Day," or "Your Questions Answered." Content segments give listeners bearings and yield a sense of familiarity with your podcast's ebbs and flows.
· Simplify podcast management. Keep your recording process and RSS feed management simple, so you can focus on developing content. Garageband, Gcast.com, ClickCaster.com and Audacity are the most popular programs for recording podcasts. FeedforAll helps with editing, and its simple GUI eases management of RSS feeds.
· Submit your podcast to popular directories. iTunes lets users submit podcasts from within its program. Pinging services like Autopinger and Pingoat will submit podcast updates to major blogs and search engines. Burn your podcast with Feedburner, which allows you to notify listeners about new episodes through e-mail updates.
· Build a compelling podcast Web site. Keep the site updated with your podcast schedule, and Web site-only tidbits, to build listener loyalty.
· Let Web site visitors commune with one another. Provide listeners with a newsgroup so they can interact. You can also start a Facebook group or invite them to follow you on Twitter.
· Measure and analyze. None of this does much good if you're not keeping metrics on your progress. Some handy tools: Google Analytics, Feedburner, Podtrac and Volomedia.