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According to the Pew Research Center, about 40 percent of Americans ages 12 and older have listened to a podcast, and when they do, they have a high completion rate. About 80 percent report finishing a podcast episode that they’ve started, according to Podcast Insights. This market saturation and content loyalty among podcast listeners is something that has grown steadily since the early 2000s, and content marketers should take advantage of this audio format.
If you’ve thought about integrating podcasting into your existing content marketing strategy in the past, but aren’t sure where to start (or don’t know what to talk about), the below ideas can help get you started.
If your blog already covers in-depth topics in long posts, consider what type of information would be helpful or interesting to the audience that is already reading. Then, you can branch off with these related topics for supplemental podcast episodes that give readers a more holistic experience.
For instance, if you were a travel site that did an in-depth guide to the Azores in Portugal, you could include a supplemental podcast about the Portuguese language differences in the Azores or specific holidays or celebrations that are popular in the islands. While both of these topics could be covered in your guide, going into them in more depth could provide a more elaborate experience for your audience.
Another route you can try for add-on podcasts to long content is interviewing experts about the topics you are already covering in your content. In our Azores example, this could mean asking someone from the tourism office to come on, or a local museum guide or business owner to speak more about what it’s like to visit. Oftentimes, hearing from experts who have experienced what you cover in your long-form content can add a layer of relevancy to what was already covered. It’s not enough to hear that the Azores has a museum with an exhibit about shipwrecks; to hear a curator talk about a few of the most impactful or well-known shipwrecks and why it mattered to the islands adds color and context to its facts.
It’s also important to highlight why these types of podcasts are different than the content that the audience has already been reading. Don’t tell your readers that supplemental podcasts are additional content, only to repeat the same type of information that has already been in your guide. They won’t appreciate the repetition (especially when they were expecting something new) and will be less likely to listen to another podcast episode in the future.
Think of supplemental/add-on podcasts as a branch of a tree, which your existing long-form content as the tree. They are tied together but aren’t the exact same parts of the topic at hand.
While podcasts can be an illustrious addition to your text content, they don’t have to be the only way you integrate them into what you’ve already written. You can also repurpose content into podcast episodes often using the time or research that you’ve already spent.
Some of the ways to do this include:
The website Stuff You Should Know does a good job of this. They have long guides on hundreds of topics, and then their podcasts go into more detail and give an oral version of what was covered. Their hosts are really entertaining and have even recorded episodes live in front of an audience due to their popularity.
A good rule of thumb is to simply keep the podcast “top of mind” when writing content. Think about how what you are covering could be turned into an episode. As you get into the habit of repurposing the mental load and research you’ve already spent on audio content, it becomes easier to brainstorm and create episodes.
Another interesting repurposing tactic is to create audio versions of your posts. This is basically audio transcription but in reverse. The author or another team member can record him or herself reading the post. This is great for people who want to read more, but don’t have time and find that listening to podcasts is easier, since they can do it while commuting, working out, cleaning, or running errands.
There used to be an automated service that did this based on the blog post URL called SoundGecko, but it has unfortunately shut down in recent years. Until another app or website creator comes in and creates a natural-sounding AI that specializes in creating audio versions of blog posts, it will need to be done manually or by using text-to-speech software. If you don’t have the resources in-house to complete this, consider hiring a voice contractor on Fiverr or putting out an ad on a remote jobs site like FlexJobs to connect with someone for steady work.
The “written to audio” format is something that both Facebook Ad expert Jon Loomer and social media scheduling platform Buffer have both experimented with. Based on marketers and businesses that have been trying this type of podcast, it usually seems to work best when integrated with other types of podcast episodes. This means all your podcast episodes aren’t just recorded versions of your posts.
The podcast is a variation of expert interviews, add-on podcasts, and other formats. That way the portion of your audience that only listens to your podcast (and may not read your other content) isn’t getting confused or bored by formats they don’t enjoy. However, as with anything in content marketing, this can be tested to see what formats and variations work best for your specific audience.
Another way to transcribe your content in a unique way is to pull the audio from any video you’re producing and turn it into podcast episodes. We did this at Search Engine Journal with a few interviews at Pubcon for the Search Engine Nerds podcast, and while the background noise from the crowds in the expo hall were a challenge, we did get above average listens for those “minisodes.”
If your videos are shorter than your average episode, consider calling them by a special feature name or “minisode” so podcast subscribers will learn what to expect with any episodes that have that label. The Art of Charm podcast, which covers topics in psychology and social science, chooses to do “Minisode Mondays” where their episodes are about 12-15 minutes, about 25% shorter than their average one-hour podcast.
There are several software options to extract the audio from video, including online services that do it for free (though the quality may be compromised). You can also do it for free on QuickTime if you have the full video file and a Mac. Just open the video file, go to File > Export, then choose Audio Only. It does only give you the option to save it as an M4A file, so you’ll have to convert to MP3 if your podcast platform doesn’t accept M4A. You can convert to MP3 on iTunes, which may be a good bet no matter way, as M4A are very high quality and thus are usually large files. If you have a podcast hosting plan based on data, you’ll want to reduce the file size before uploading.
Converting audio from video files are a good option if you have been producing good video content, but it’s not gaining traction and you want to get more mileage out of it. You can also embed the podcast player and your video in a blog post about the content, which is what we did in the SEJ example above. That way it’s up to the user to decide how they want to consume the content.
Many podcast players also allow users to download the audio file (which is something YouTube doesn’t currently do for free users), so this makes it easier for users who want to listen to the episode while they are out doing something else or want to listen on their phone. With audio and videos played on a mobile web browser, the file usually stops playing once a user switches to a different app. Downloaded audio files (or simply streaming the podcast on a podcast app, like iTunes or Pocket Casts) can avoid this problem.
If you want to create more podcast episodes, but don’t necessarily want to repurpose or branch it off of existing content, you can still work congruently with your content strategy by building podcast episodes into your editorial calendar. The easiest way to do this is to build out themed months, so content creation is a lot more streamlined and easier.
Author Ryan Holiday has said in the past that he often reads based on topics, so his mindset is already in that sphere. For instance, if he wanted to read a book about World War I, he might read 5 books about WWI back to back because his mind is already entrenched in that point in history. It can make it easier to comprehend certain phrases or events when you aren’t switching between different topics consistently.
The same can be done for your editorial calendar. If you take the nuances of your industry and turn them into themes over the next quarter or year, it’s a lot easier to get into creation mode when you know that you have to cover a specific topic instead of choosing one at random during every brainstorming session. Your mind is already fresh with ideas, so it makes sense to keep thinking of related topics instead of switching around. This can also save time and mental energy, because you’ll often collect information along the way that won’t work for one piece of content, but can be used in other pieces.
If you need help planning out themed months or quarters at a time, I’d recommend The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington or The One Hour Content Plan by Meera Kothand. Both of these aren’t strictly for content marketing teams but can be adapted to fit your needs. The best approach is to create a master list of themes and then begin assigning them to months. From there, you can work on each month in detail and fill in the slots with topics and content types. If you don’t have an editorial calendar, here’s one I created with a few colleagues that you can save a copy of on Google Drive.
The best podcasts have a variety of topics that keep the audience interested, but they only really reach new and existing audiences if they are done consistently. By using your existing editorial calendar or content to build in podcasts, the burden of new episode creation is a little lighter. Adding podcasts to a regular content marketing strategy can help your business reach more people and give them another content medium by which to connect with you.