Have we passed ‘peak podcast’?

Molly Raycraft

24 Apr 2023

The podcast industry is booming. There are currently more than 5 million podcasts in the world, and there’s a total global listenership of 464.7 million people, as of the beginning of 2023. This number is expected to rise to 504.9 million listeners by the end of 2024, according to Demand Sage.

The stats clearly show there’s a growing appetite for podcasts, meaning we’re not passed the peak in terms of listenership.

For businesses, it means podcasts are a great format for building a brand. In the B2B space, regularly recorded discussions about trends and developments provide proof that a business has got its ear to the ground and is a credible brand within the industry.

Meanwhile, the use of audio itself, poses the possibility of connecting with audience members at a much deeper level. This is because when we hear a person’s voice it creates a level of familiarity, which can be a huge asset in building a spokesperson’s public profile.

However, the market is already very saturated, which could make it harder to stand out when trying to reach your target audience.

So, at this stage in the game is it still worth a brand investing time and effort into a podcast that can successfully compete?

In short, the answer is yes – if you can get your approach right.

Why should tech businesses consider producing a podcast?

Business podcasts rank as some of the most popular in the UK, as well as in other parts of Europe and the US. In fact, Steven Bartlett’s The Diary of a CEO is at the top of the rankings, proving listeners are ready and willing to listen to topics that centre on the working world.

However, despite an audience – the tech space is still very much lacking in terms of brand-led podcasts, perhaps indicating opportunity for businesses yet to make the leap.

It seems particularly promising when you consider tech brands often have experts with the specialist knowledge to provide in-depth content. And it’s even more opportune that many of these businesses have customers looking to boost their own brand. So, an invite to be a podcast guest on your show could just serve your customer’s needs, as well as improve your relationship with them.

How to make podcasts which stand out

There are now many tools which make it easier to produce podcasts. But many go wrong in thinking a podcast is just a case of recording a conversation. Work needs to be done right at the beginning, to ensure producing a regular podcast is worth the effort.

Firstly, podcasts need to be grounded in content strategy – which is what many failed podcasts neglect. So, what’s the concept of your podcast? How can you differentiate your angle from other players in the same space? And how can you offer something new to listeners?

Once you’ve decided your concept, think about how your idea will materialise. Is it through a one-to-one interview with a different customer or business partner each time? Could it be a short round up of industry news? Or is it a magazine style feature delving into various trends with several interviews?

Most importantly, how long is your podcast going to be? This is such an overlooked question, but it’s crucial if you’re to really land your content with your audience. For example, if you’re targeting a podcast at the financial services sector you may know that there’s a tendency to work from the office. And considering many people listen to podcasts during their commute, a podcast that runs to 20-30 minutes might be best to fit into that time (otherwise you’ll notice listeners dropping off before the end of the podcast).

It’s useful to note here, mini podcasts have had a big surge in popularity – running from anywhere between 4-10 minutes. The Times News Briefing and World in 10 podcasts are good examples of shorter audio content.

Next, how are you going to create your podcast? You don’t necessarily need high-tech equipment to produce a podcast. Video conferencing software, a quiet room, and headphones can be a good starting point. (*See our side note on microphones). If you take this approach do send guests an information sheet prior to the recording advising them on how to minimise background noise from their end.

You’ll likely also need a producer that can handle audio editing and any post-production. If you don’t have staff trained in this area you could seriously detriment your chances of prospects tuning in or sticking around – so don’t scrimp on this part of the process.

If you’ve lined everything up and secured your guest all that should be left to do is plan out your show because good podcasts aren’t just a recorded conversation. An effortless flow woven into a story arch takes planning, so consider what you’ll discuss, in what order, as well as any regular features.

*A side note on microphones: As far as kit investment goes, we would recommend looking at this if you’re serious about producing podcasts long term. Research has shown low quality audio makes content less trusty-worthy – and the in-built microphone on your laptop won’t be good enough.

Creating a podcast that lands

Launching a new audio venture is exciting but make sure you’re setting expectations for yourself and other stakeholders. For instance, your podcast is probably not going to rise to the top of Apple’s podcast ranks after a couple of episodes.

Really making an impression will rely on consistency in every aspect of your podcast, from regularly promoting your episodes, to securing useful podcast guests. It will also depend on relevancy, which often means being hyper targeted around a niche audience and having upfront budget to produce numerous episodes before you start seeing real long-term traction.

Evidence of this approach working can be seen in brands such as Mimecast, who have invested time in consistently producing a podcast for a niche security audience. Its ‘Phishy Business’ cybersecurity podcast has established itself firmly by devoting time to digging into niche questions plaguing those working in the sector with an elevated discussion. As a result, it’s now reaping the fruits of its labour through incredibly positive engagement figures.

So, all in all, if you’re really considering launching a podcast for your brand, you can most definitely break though the saturated market and reap big rewards. But first check that your business has the commitment, skillset, and budget to do so.