Content is the fuel that powers the modern online sales and marketing engine. Most gurus say you must blog, blog more and be patient. For those who want to grow your small business online, this can be daunting. With every dollar precious and time even more limited, most entrepreneurs understand the need but struggle with not seeing an immediate return on investment.
Realizing the challenges faced by solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and small business owners we looked for a better source for online leads. Knowing that content can be much more than a blog post, beginning in the Fall of 2014 we began to test various alternative forms of content. The four goals were to make engaging content:
- Easier for the small business to produce, especially when there is no marketing department
- Provide better conversion rates (visitors →prospects→customers→advocates)
- Provide faster results
- Lower cost in both time invested, and resources required
The trend toward audio and especially podcasting has been widely reported. No longer limited to an iPod, the number of listeners and shows continued to grow. As Dan Miller, the host of the #1 Career Podcast, noted “It’s on demand radio. In 2016, the ability to listen to podcasts in cars will be standard.” Even major marketing companies like HubSpot and Copyblogger have recently invested in their own shows.
While podcasting is exploding, hosting a podcast is neither easy nor inexpensive. The gear need to sound great can cost $1,000 to $4,000. The ongoing costs to produce the show can cost over $200 per episode. We hypothesized that an easier way to tap into this expanding audience was to be an expert guest on established podcasts. As Men’s Business Coach, Aaron Walker of View From The Top explained it:
“Having a podcast is like having a swimming pool. You can build your own and be responsible for all of the day to day maintenance, or you can be invited to be a guest and just enjoy the benefits.”
How to get invited to be a guest on a podcast
Content creators are always looking for great fresh content to share with their audience. Many sites encourage guest blogs. The Huffington Post is the ultimate example of curation. Since many podcasts are based on an interview format, they need good guests. The need is so great that companies like Interview Connections have spring up as match-making service for podcasters and guests.
Identifying your dream customer or ideal buyer persona is the first step. You will only want to target shows that have listeners that would make great customers. Then it is a matter of focusing on those shows, connecting with them and the value you bring to their audience. Often a one-page pitch sheet can be helpful in presenting yourself as a highly sought after expert.
Within the first three months of the experiment, it was evident that being a podcast guest met all the goals we set forth.
Easier for the small business to produce.
The actual interview typically takes 30 to 60 mins. The interview is the ONLY portion that can not easily be outsourced. Routine and repetitive tasks such as identifying the podcasts, introductions, scheduling, setting up the automated lead capturing and email nurturing systems can all be easily outsourced.
Provide better conversion rates (visitors →prospects→customers→advocates)
The best blogs typically convert at 1% to 2%. That means for every 100 visitors to your website you will get 1 or 2 that will provide their email address so that you can begin automated email nurturing. As a podcast guest, we’ve seen conversion rates between 25% and 50%. We believe the reason for this is that the visitor has a much richer and complete sense of the brand and what it offers. They come ready to buy.
Provide faster results
Recent studies have shown that you may need to post at least 200 blogs before you see a large and sustained impact on traffic. Traffic from podcast arrives 30 to 60 minutes after the podcast airs! While traffic decays with time, this audio content is still evergreen producing continual traffic.
Lower cost in both time invested, and resources required
Once set up, the entire marketing system can be run with less than hours a week including one interview. Most people already have all the equipment needed: A computer, internet connections and microphone (the earbuds that come with iPhones work great!)
In addition to run an automated system you will need:
- A website with the ability to make new podcast specific landing pages
- A compelling offer (ebook, checklist, consultation, etc.)
- A lead capturing system to get the emails (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, OntraPort, HubSpot, etc.)
- An email nurturing system ((Mailchimp, Constant Contact, OntraPort, HubSpot, etc.)
The long-term results
While the short-term results with increased traffic, leads and customer was overwhelming, the longer-term results we’ve seen at the nine-month point make us even more committed to this marketing a sales strategy.
Podcast opportunities have exploded. The time invested in finding new podcasts on which to appear has drastically decreased. As past host invite us back and new hosts contact us directly we consistently have 3+ requests per week. This allows us to be more selective on what shows to appear.
Leads from podcasts are more engaged. Our results have shown that those who first heard about the brand on a podcast tend to be more engaged as measured by email open rates, click-through rates, page visits, and ultimately from buying.
Valuable relationships with podcast hosts. The ongoing relationships and referral sources from podcast hosts that we’ve established has already had immense value. Offer for co-promotion, affiliate opportunities, and joint ventures have all directly come as a result of guest podcast appearances.