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Several early-adopting companies have already begun creating a podcast to further push their content marketing efforts. There are loads of data sources out there that point to podcasts as the next frontier for media engagement, especially for the coveted affluent millennial demographic. Everyone has a blog, videos are hit or miss, podcasts could help move the needle for your marketing efforts, reach new customers, and increase engagement with your brand.

But, like with the early days of blogging, don’t expect it to be easy or cheap. Out-of-touch business leaders often point to blogging as a free marketing tactic, however, they’re not realizing the time, effort, and actual money that goes into making a blog successful. Nothing’s free. A successful podcast strategy will take considerable investment as well.

1. The Right Equipment

I apologize in advance for the continuing blog comparisons, however, they seem apt for content marketers. You should already know that a successful blog is more than just words online. You have a reliable and user-friendly CMS, an editorial process, publishing queue, SEO analysis, and a lot more.

Podcasts need all of this foundational operations to be successful too, along with actual hardware needed to ensure high quality recordings. If you think simply plugging your headphones into your computer and recording a podcast in a quiet room will suffice, think again.

Most successful podcasts, and even bootstrapped ones, make substantial investments in their equipment. Make sure you check out the right microphones for podcasts, a mixer, editing software, and I would also highly encourage you to create some sort of makeshift studio to create a sound vacuum.

2. A Game Plan

Like with a blog, and a content marketing strategy as a whole, you need to be able to answer the question “why are we doing this?” Are you trying to gain brand awareness? Nurture leads? Increase share of voice? Starting off with clear goals will help the entire team work collaboratively to accomplish them. You’ll also be able to look back after 6 months, a year, two years, and more to see how you’re doing in accomplishing your goals.

When you created your company’s blog strategy, you didn’t throw up a blog domain and randomly push content there. The best blogs have an editorial calendar, a publishing cadence, and specific goals tied to their content. A podcast is no different. For first time podcasters, it’s best to create a repository of podcast episodes before officially launching your podcast since most new podcasters are surprised by the amount of time it takes to produce an episode. If you want to post weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, make sure you factor these development times and always have a queue of podcast topics and/or interview guests lined up.

3. Metrics and Optimization

Like any marketing tactic, careful data analysis is key to understanding how you’re doing and where you are along your path to your goals. If your podcast is intended for brand awareness, look at your engagement levels, downloads, subscribers, social shares, and other metrics that provide indicators people are actually consuming the content you’re putting out.

iTunes is releasing advanced listener metrics soon that will show in-episode engagement and drop-off levels as well. Use these to see if your listeners are actively engaged throughout your podcast or download and never listen.

If your goal for your podcast is to generate leads, how are you accomplishing this? Most podcasts will direct listeners to a vanity URL they can then tie back to the marketing campaign. What’s your listener to user conversion like?

These are the questions you need to constantly be asking yourself as you begin your podcast journey. Optimizing the content itself (which themes are people most interested in?), the distribution method (are people more involved through social?), your hosting channel (iTunes vs. Stitcher vs. something else), are important to pushing your content marketing podcast strategy.