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Why e-mail marketers should consider podcasting

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More than 12% of Internet users have downloaded a podcast over the past year, according to a report last month from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That’s a significant jump from the 7% of users who reported the same in the research agency’s February-April 2006 report.

The upshot for marketers: they may want to consider podcasting as a way to extend their marketing reach. Existing marketing—particularly e-mail, which can provide a direct link to the podcast content—is an ideal way to spread the word about the new effort. Lisa Wehr, CEO of online marketing company OneUpWeb, provides some insight and advice for those looking to start or improve their podcasting efforts.

Q: Why should marketers consider doing a corporate podcast?

Wehr: Podcasts let you build a one-on-one relationship by connecting with listeners and putting out a message that has an emotional aspect to it. Listeners hear a voice and associate that voice with your company, which is a great way to get them coming back again and again. 

Q: How do you select the right “voice” for your podcast?

Wehr: Particularly in the b-to-b market, it’s important for listeners to hear your message from upper-level management. It lends the message more integrity and comes off as less of a marketing spiel. Business customers want to hear about news and new products direct from the horse’s mouth.

Q: How often should marketers create new podcasts, and how long should they be?

Wehr: The true value of podcasting is to build an audience. To do that, you need relationship and frequency. The listener needs to feel a connection to you or your company, while the podcasts have to be frequent enough to maintain an audience. This usually means a one-off podcast is going to provide very little value. You should try to introduce a new podcast once a week or once a month. As for length, we did a study of podcasters in the b-to-b space. We concluded that there is a wide range of length, but boiled down that most people did 15-minute podcasts, which makes sense. The average commute is 30 minutes, so if you can stay in the 15- to 20-minute range, you’re good.

Q: How should marketers use e-mail to promote their podcasts?

Wehr: Any good marketer knows that teasing the audience a bit with information that’s in the podcast is a good idea. You can pull out quotes or information that’s contained in the podcast and put it into your normal e-mail communications. Also, with each new podcast, you should be doing a summary [of the podcast] and placing it on your site so search engines can pick it up. You should also refer to previous podcasts in current podcasts since a lot of people might come in midstream and you want them to be going back and listening to your existing content.

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