Should I start a podcast for my Shopify store? The answer is most likely yes, but it depends on a few factors.
Podcasting is getting hotter and hotter every year. As more consumers start listening, more big-time sponsors start advertising. It’s not surprising that many businesses are wondering how to get started. Let’s take a closer look and see if podcasting fits your business strategy.
What are podcasts?
Podcasts are radio talk shows posted on the internet. Usually, it’s two or more people having a conversation with each other around one topic. Sometimes, like talk shows, a podcast can take the form of an interview with a guest.
“Podcast,” like “blog,” is an invented word. It’s a mix of the words “iPod” and “broadcast.”
Podcasts have a variety of production styles. They can be just audio, or they can be audio and video. They can be pre-recorded or livestreamed. They can also just be recorded in an ordinary room or on a professional set.
With this freedom in creativity and flexibility in production style comes a lot of effort and expertise to produce.
Pros and cons of podcasts for eCommerce stores
Like blogging, the main goal of having a podcast for your eCommerce store is to pull people in, give them real value and eventually ease them into making a purchase. The technical term for this is content-driven commerce or inbound marketing.
Podcasts are accessible and convenient
People don’t need to stop everything they’re doing to listen to your podcast. They can listen while driving to work, walking on a treadmill or doing their laundry.
Let’s look at an example. Imagine you have an online store that sells cute clothing and toys for kids, with working parents as the target audience.
You decide to produce a podcast about managing life as a full-time parent with a full-time job. Even while busy with work and household chores, a parent could play your podcast in the background without feeling like they have to give up valuable time to do so.
In fact, they can now be entertained, learn something new or be inspired while doing something else. A win-win for your podcast and your listeners alike.
Podcasts make a deeper impact
Podcasts are more intimate than blogs because the main vessel for expression and communication is the human voice. Conversations are an integral part of everyone’s life, so verbal communication packs an impact. Listening to a podcast by a company feels more intimate than reading an article online, even if it’s about the same subject.
In addition, you can have real life interactions with your audiences through live chats, livestreaming or live audiences. And this type of back-and-forth interaction is important for helping your customers feel connected to your brand.
Podcasts have all the benefits of long-form content
Just like other types of long-form content, the length and effort that goes into podcasts pays off in several key ways.
For one, podcasts help your SEO and content marketing efforts. How? One of the factors that search engines value as important is the average time a visitor spends on a website. So, if your online store also hosts a 15-minute podcast, then the 15 minutes a person spends listening to it on your website would count as toward the average session duration.
In addition, podcasts bolster your authority and can contribute to your company’s role as a thought leader in your industry. Consumers are more likely to buy something from someone who knows their stuff.
To illustrate how being perceived as a thought leader can help sales, imagine that you’re a consumer interested in buying a new vacuum cleaner. You have two choices of companies to buy it from. The first choice is, a large brick and mortar store that sells appliances, and the second choice is a small, lesser-known shop. But you have heard from multiple people that the small shop is the “expert” in vacuum cleaners. There may be multiple factors that go into that purchase, but most people would rather buy from the “expert,” because they trust that their products are high quality.
Finally, long-form content like podcasts are recyclable. You can repurpose your podcast content into a blog post, a quote for social media, or a short video clip.
Podcasts provide enticing guesting opportunities
Guests are one of the most coveted components of marketing and networking, second only to user-generated content. That’s because having an outside person with influence appear on your podcast (or write a guest post for your blog) likely means they will share the content to their audiences, thereby expanding your reach.
Podcasts offer guests an opportunity to speak about their own story through an interview. This can be more appealing to influential people than the prospect of taking the time to write a guest post and make them more likely to say yes.
Podcasts require a big time investment
Time is the biggest drawback of producing a podcast for your business. You have to carve out multiple hours a week to accomplish everything that goes into creating just one episode of your podcast:
- Scheduling and coordination of guests and content
- Preparation (researching your guest, preparing a script on your topic, etc.)
- The duration of the podcast episode
The longer the podcast goes, the more benefits it has--and the more effort and time it requires.
However, not every online store owner does all the work alone. There are services available to help you with every aspect of producing a podcast, from just hiring an editor to hiring a team of specialists to do the entire podcast for you. Of course, hiring external help can be expensive.
Podcasts can get expensive really fast
Yes, you can get started with a low budget setup, but there’s still some expense involved. Plus, buying the wrong equipment in the beginning can lower the quality of the audio and lead to increased cost when you ultimately need to replace it.
If you have a marketing budget, you can include the podcast in it. But if you’re strapped for cash, then the expense of producing a podcast is definitely a big consideration.
But even if you’ve got the budget for making a podcast, you should still do research into the equipment you purchase and the people you hire to avoid overspending.
Wanting the best equipment to sound more professional is a valid concern, but keep in mind that podcasts are just tools to improve your store. They shouldn’t take more of your money than your core business. Here’s a scenario to demonstrate how it’s best to think about spending for your podcast.
Your favorite wooden chair in your podcasting room broke its legs. It’s time to replace it. You consider buying a high-tech (and pricey) chair that’s designed just for podcasters’ ultimate comfort and optimal speaking posture. But you know you could get an ordinary chair for much cheaper. Ultimately, you decide to get a less expensive, less high-tech chair because you realize it makes more sense to invest money in the main core of your business--your eCommerce store.
The podcasting market is getting more and more saturated
Remember when we said that podcasting is getting hotter and hotter every year? That’s good news in the sense that there’s an audience out there waiting to be tapped...but bad news in the sense that you’ll have to compete against a lot of other podcasts for their attention.
That means you may have to work harder and longer for the benefits of podcasting to be felt in full. But keep at it. The surge in podcasts’ popularity is still at its peak.
After podcasting begins to decline in popularity, many companies will eventually leave to pursue other content marketing tactics. If you remain in the podcasting world, you will have built a small but loyal community of listeners, who are likely potential and existing customers. And they will have room to grow.
How you can use podcasting for marketing your Shopify store
Highlight your products
Use your podcast to provide detailed explanations about your products in a creative and engaging way. For example, invite guests on your show to try a brand new product or invite loyal customers onto the show to share what they love about their favorite product.
You could also include a segment on the podcast where you accept questions and suggestions for your products. Keeping the conversation alive about what you sell has amazing marketing benefits.
Invite influential guests onto your podcast
Having guests on your podcast is networking and marketing in one fell swoop. Guests could promote your products on your show, or they could share your podcast with their audience, giving your brand more reach than ever. (And potentially netting you more customers!)
Plus, inviting a guest on your show is great for networking with other business owners or other podcasters. Guests and hosts can refer one another to other guests or hosts on podcasts, which means you have even more opportunity to reach new audiences.
Be a guest on other podcasts
Guesting goes both ways. If your guests have podcasts, it’s not far off that you will be asked to be a guest on their shows as well. That way, you can promote your store on their show and reach another community of potential customers.
The relationship you build with other podcasters is mutually beneficial. Consider this example: Let’s say Bob was your guest on your podcast about fishing because you sell fishing equipment. Your target audience is not extremely specific, just anyone who is passionate about fishing.
Bob, on the other hand, is a life coach for parents, especially dads. His podcast is about being a dad. Let’s say that you are a parent which makes you a perfect candidate for Bob’s podcast.
Guesting on Bob’s podcast gives you the opportunity to promote your fishing equipment to Bob’s audience, while his audience gets to hear about your experiences as a father, business owner, and fishing fan.
Encourage community engagement with your podcast
One of the most important performance indicators of a successful marketing strategy is engagement, which means how often your audience is interacting with your content. The more audience engagement with your content, the easier for you to sell your products.
With podcasts, you can encourage engagement with your show by requesting feedback, commentary or questions and responding or answering during an episode.
Or, you could respond to live questions and comments through live chats. Podcasts have the capability to be livestreamed with either audio or with video, and YouTube and Twitch have a built-in live chat function while streaming. You could also use chat platforms such as Discord.
The last option for community engagement has the highest impact but is the most expensive. It’s a live podcast at a venue. Hosting a live podcast at a venue means that your audience has the opportunity to meet you and one another in person, which deepens feelings of connection.
Commerce-driven content: earning money from your podcasts
A podcast is not only helpful for SEO and marketing your eCommerce store. It can also be another stream of income for you.
You could get sponsorships or ads for your podcast
Usually, podcasts have three ad spots: pre-rolls at the beginning, mid-rolls as a commercial during your show and post-rolls at the end. Prices would depend on the duration and placement of an ad. If your podcast is prolific and famous enough, it could make enough money on sponsorships and ads to pay for itself (and in some cases, provide a significant profit).
For example, let’s say that an average ad would be $15, and you have three per podcast. That is $35 per podcast. You post your podcasts twice a week, every Tuesdays and Saturdays. Your podcast could then earn up to $280 per month or more!
You could do affiliate Marketing on your podcast Affiliate marketing is endorsing a product or service and giving out specific links that your listeners can use to buy the products. If people buy using that link, you get a commission. For example, imagine you have an affiliate marketing deal with a sleepwear company. On your podcast you mention a pair of comfy slippers you’re wearing to stay warm. You can include that listeners can buy the slippers at a certain link.
Many people who do affiliate marketing through their podcast disclose what the affiliate link does, but it’s up to you. The most common explanation or delivery for that is: “Purchasing items through this link supports this podcast. And it lets them know we sent you.”
You can sell your own merchandise through your podcast
Merchandise is, as the kids say, “swag.” These aren’t items that you necessarily sell through your eCommerce store, but items that represent your brand. Think of band shirts, but not for bands.
Podcasts are essentially shows. Shows will eventually have fans. As fans, they will want to share that they are a part of a community by wearing or owning items that represent your brand. Also, most of them sincerely want to help or give back to content creators that gave them knowledge, inspiration or entertainment. Buying merchandise satisfies both those needs.
Some content creators rely on selling merch as a main source of income. But these creators are usually in the entertainment space, where diehard fans are more common. Other types of businesses could still use merch, but should not solely depend on this revenue stream.
You could ask for funding from your audience
Using crowdfunding platforms like Patreon or asking for donations is another way to generate income from your podcast. However, this type of money-making is usually leveraged by creators who aren’t using their podcast to market another business.
You could offer exclusive, paid content on your podcast
This option is recommended if the podcast already has a sizeable community. Loyal listeners would be willing to pay for additional, especially, exclusive content. This is also recommended as a supplement to other sources of revenue from podcasts.
You could leverage your podcast into other paid opportunities to share your knowledge
When people feel like they get so much value from your podcasts, they may want you to speak with their community directly through paid speaking engagements or talks. Others may hire you for coaching or consulting. It’s even possible you could get a book deal out of your podcast.
This could be profitable for you but would take your attention away from your store. This is also what we meant when we told that podcasts could become a separate entity from your store.
You could turn your podcast into a live event
Hosting a live podcasts cost a lot of money to plan and execute. However, it could also be a big opportunity for networking, marketing and revenue. Events like this often get sponsors to help offset the costs, and you could charge money for tickets.
Should you do podcasts, blogs or both?
The answer depends on the level of financial and time commitment you are willing or able to give.
As we have discussed on our previous blog post, it’s easier and less expensive to get started with blogging than it is to start a podcast. However, for podcasts, while the market is becoming more saturated, it has nowhere near the level of competition that blogging has.
If you can do both, you’ll get the benefits of having multiple forms of long-form content.
So, are podcasts for your online store?
Yes, but only if you have the resources
Podcasts are highly recommended if you have the time, money and dedication. You can’t commit half-way because doing it right requires a huge chunk of your attention.
With podcasts, it’s not just the quality of your content that matters. It’s the little things that surround the podcast that could make or break your podcasts: audio quality, logo, specificity of topics, guests, production, and more. There are many moving parts to a podcast, which means there are more points of failure than other types of content marketing.
The biggest resources you must have are time, manpower or both. Podcasting requires more specialization and expertise behind-the-scenes. Even if you already have the technical know-how, you must also have a huge amount of free time for the preparation, recording or livestreaming, editing and posting the podcast. Otherwise, you must hire a team of people to do that.
Yes, if you already have an established community
If you have already have a steady count of regular customers, website visitors, blog readers and/or newsletter subscribers, podcasting will be easier in the beginning. Podcasts are not for drawing people in, they are for retaining people and strengthening a community.
Yes, as a separate revenue stream
Another thing to keep in mind: podcasting could be a different endeavor from your eCommerce business altogether. There are multiple podcasts out there that differ from their original branding. Take for example The Joe Rogan Podcast. He is famous for being a mixed martial arts commentator. Yet his podcast talks about diverse topics ranging from social commentary, politics, news, comedy and many more things. Now, he is known more from his podcast than his original career.
You can use your podcast to cater to another niche for your store. Let’s say that you sell healthy snacks, and your target audience is young professionals. You are also a doting parent, but that has little to do with your eCommerce store. Out of curiosity about podcasts and the passion you have for parenting. your podcast ends up being about parenting. Now, you’ve diverted from your core audience. But in doing so, you can target parents. Your podcast may become a stand-alone revenue stream separate from your healthy snack eCommerce brand. Or, you may tap into a new market for your snacks--parents who want them for their kids. The possibilities are endless.
Yes, if you’ve read this whole thing and you’re still interested
All business decisions are ultimately experiments. You won’t know the outcome unless you try. If you’re still reading this, it means that you are really curious about making a podcast.
That is a great reason to start a podcast. But keep in mind the technicalities and the time you need to invest. It may be a long time before you learn everything, have the workflow going smoothly and have regular listeners. But if you persevere through that, your store will feel the benefits of your podcast--and you might also have a new revenue stream.
Ready to get started? Here are some of our favorite, comprehensive guides to launching a podcast for your business:
- How to Start a Podcast in 2019
- How to Start a Successful Podcast (For Under $100)
- How to Start a Podcast: The Definitive Guide for 2019
- Podcasting 101 – How To Start a Podcast (2019)
- How to Start a Podcast Podcast
- How To Start A Podcast From Scratch 2019 Tutorial Equipment And Software
If you liked this blog post but would rather listen than read, check out our podcast, the Honest eCommerce Podcast, all about running a better eCommerce business. You can listen on the go with Spotify, Apple Music, Player.fm, Libsyn, or PodParadise.
If you want us to make a blog post, podcast or a video about podcast basics, tips on production, how to get started or even behind the scenes, let us know. Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.