In this podcast episode, we interview Shannon Martin, Director of Communications at Podbean, a podcast publishing solution.

Shannon shares what B2B businesses need to consider when starting a podcast, the vital role that podcast hosting platforms play in distributing across different platforms, and how to understand the download metrics of a podcast episode.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Shannon Martin – Podbean

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Shannon Martin

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing b2b Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in b2b marketing today. Welcome to marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I’m joined by Shannon Martin Shannon is the director of communications for pod bean. Welcome to the podcast, Shannon.

Shannon: Thank you glad to be here today.

Mike: It’s great to have you on. And it’s really interesting to have someone who actually works for a company that helps make podcasts easier to do. And actually, one of the things I can tell people listening to podcast, is the reason you’re able to download it is because we’re actually a pod bean customer. So I’m a huge fan of the product. Thank you. That’s great. I mean, to start off with, though, why don’t you give us a little bit of background about your career and how you ended up helping people do podcasts?

Shannon: Yeah, I actually come from a sort of a marketing and communications background, and did that I had a totally different sort of specialty, originally, as many people’s careers take these winding paths, but I was a huge podcast fan. So I sort of came across this opportunity at pod Bean, and not really looking to necessarily get into podcasting. But I really loved podcasts as a fan. So it was kind of a perfect way to take the skills but also put it to use in an industry that I, I had been listening to podcasts since pretty much the start of podcasting. So it was really exciting for me.

Mike: That’s awesome. I think a lot of people listening, obviously, like listening to podcasts, but maybe thinking about launching their own and haven’t ever recorded or published a podcast. So I mean, do you want to explain how do people create and publish a podcast? How complicated is it?

Shannon: It can be relatively simple. And I think, you know, obviously, the things that you need to do, or I mean, first of all, know why you’re doing it and what you’re going to be talking about and what kind of format you’re going to have, there’s a lot of that kind of planning. But as far as the actual recording and getting it out there, you have to record somehow. And there are lots of tools for that everything from the pod bean app has a recorder on it, that’s a free tool to a lot of podcast specialists recording tools, you know, to people repurpose other other things. So you have to obviously get an audio recording or an audio and video. And then in order to get it out all those places that we might listen to a podcast, you need a podcast host, which is what pod mean is, there’s also ways that you can do that on your own if you’re good with programming and a lot of things like that. But, but I would say 99% of podcasts out there choose to use a podcast hosting company to do that. And it provides a feed, which then goes out to all of those places, because we all listen to podcasts, different places.

So pod bean actually is also a listening destination, we have an app, but we make sure that the podcast gets distributed out to Spotify and Apple podcasts and any of those apps where people might listen. So you kind of basically have to record know why why you’re recording what you plan to do, get it set up on a podcast hosting company and get it distributed out and then determine what your ongoing plan is with a series or a schedule from there. And obviously, depending on the type of podcast, there may be tasks, like booking guests or coordinating other things, but you know, it’s some are scripted, so then they have to write a script. So it just kind of varies on the type of podcast.

Mike:  That’s really interesting. I think there’s a lot of really good information there about planning the podcast. And probably that’s something for another show. In terms of the technology. You also talked a lot about different things there. And you explain that pod bean is a podcast host. I mean, I think most people be familiar with the recording tools need to record the podcast. But am I right? You can’t actually just upload a podcast to Apple podcasts. And it’s magically there. Is that correct?

Shannon: Yes, you don’t upload directly to the places where people listen. So you need a host or, again, there’s ways you can do it kind of through your own website and through different tools. But then you really have to know programming and bandwidth and a lot of different factors. So companies like pod Bean, and some of our friendly competitors. You know, that’s kind of what our goal is. And then a lot of us that do podcast hosting, there’s a lot of ancillary tools that go along with that to do everything from potentially recording that might be built in to getting a little more sophisticated with what’s out there for the podcasting, automate some automated marketing monetization. So a lot of us do more than just have that hosting component. But that’s really something that people before they get into podcasting don’t understand. They think that they do upload directly to those directories. And thank goodness you don’t because there are a lot of those. So just uploading to one place. There’s a little setup up front, but the nice thing is you then just upload upon being and The feed gets it out. So you’re not having to go and determine do I want to be on Apple or Spotify or this one or that put that work in every time I do an episode.

Mike: So that’s really important. So what you’re doing is a podcast host, as well as storing the podcast file that people download. You’re actually telling all these different places people go to listen that there’s a new episode, is that really the role of what you’re doing?

Shannon: Yeah, so it uses the RSS feed kind of technology that blogging was built on. So it’s kind of a broadcasting type of thing. And then those directories pull from that the new episodes, and then magically, the person that uses Apple podcasts and subscribe to your podcast gets those new episodes and gets a notification. And it makes it really easy to have one place that you go to do the back end. And then on the front end, the listeners get the podcast episodes.

Mike:   So those platforms obviously very important. I mean, you need to be listed on all the big ones, Spotify and Apple. And so how complicated is that? Are you going to have to manually connect pod bean to each of those platforms? Or is that sort of handled for you in the popping app?

Shannon: Yeah, it there is some initial setup, and we’ve tried to make it as easy as possible. While there is, you know, sort of like, for example, with Apple, there’s an approval process, it’s that you, so you do have to set up an account there and all that. So it takes a little bit up front. But we also have a lot of directories that we have a direct. They have API’s, for example, so we have a direct connection with so in our back end, as a podcaster, you have your account, and there’s a distribution section. And under that it covers all the major directories. And it says, here’s the one step or the two steps that you need to do. And then we also have a more extensive article that goes into every possible thing that’s out there. But all the major ones are covered directly in the pod bean tools. So yeah, it takes I would say, if you want to get a podcast out there, and you have in mind, you want it to be out there this weekend, you need to think about it a little further in advance, because you can’t control you know, for example, how long Apple takes to approve it. But the work that will go into it will be fairly, fairly minimal and fairly quick to get it set up.

Mike: That’s awesome. And then presumably, people are trying to get on as many platforms as possible to get as big an audience. But do you still see things like Apple podcasts being the biggest platform? Or Are things getting a bit more equal?

Shannon: Now, Apple and Spotify sort of vie for that at the moment, and it depends a lot to on the geography of the listeners, because certain countries are more apple centric and certain are more Android centric. So you’ll see some variety in there. So yeah, there’s definitely we hit in that account, we hit in the major directories that we definitely encourage you to be a part of. And then the reality is that a lot of smaller apps pull from Apple podcast directory. So once you’re in Apple, for example, you get into some of these smaller podcast apps and that kind of thing. And then if a listener asks, Hey, I use a certain app, and I don’t see you there, then that’s also you can go in and quickly check what their process is.

Mike: Awesome. That makes it sound so much easier. I know when we set up, it was remarkably easy to get listed on a whole range of different platforms. So that was great. To me, though, one of the interesting things I’m seeing in podcasting is the emergence of people trying to do live streaming. So their live stream or podcast and then make it available on the platforms is that something you’re seeing is becoming more important?

Shannon: Yeah, we actually started an integrated live streaming tool within the podbean app back in the autumn of 2019. So which was interesting, because then in early 2020, sort of pandemic driven, I guess, or you know, that that became, there were a lot of new players, everybody wanted to get into live streaming and stuff. So I guess we were thinking in the right direction. So we do see a lot of that, I think, especially we see people doing podcasts that have other ideas of what they might want to do something a little different, or an every now and then live stream to connect with their audience. But then also new people getting into podcasting that get in through the live streaming, and realise they can repurpose it as an on demand podcasts. So it plays different roles in different podcasts situations. But it’s definitely becoming more popular, I would say.

Mike: Interesting. I mean, I’ve seen a similar thing with people who start live streaming on LinkedIn, and then realise that actually, that’s great content for a podcast. So that kind of reflects your, your view that livestream isn’t necessarily the second step for a podcast actually, it could be the intro in that’s, that’s fascinating.

Shannon: Yeah, it goes it goes both ways. Definitely. We see it so I think it’s it’s nice if someone’s doing an existing podcast, and they’re thinking about different audience engagement options, then that’s one way to go. And then yeah, a lot of people do a live stream and realise, wait a minute, I have this record. What can I do with this recording? What are other ways I can get it out there? It’s perfect for a podcast.

Mike: Awesome. I mean, I guess the other trend is where Oh we’re seeing is video podcasts were currently audio only should we be moving to video?

Shannon: It really depends I we do see a lot more video podcasting. I think it what’s interesting is pod bean has had video, the ability to watch video podcasts in our app since the start, and have has supported video and hosting in the hosting plans as well, since since the beginning, but those were people listening primarily on podcast apps, it’s really evolved more to be related to YouTube. So our podcasters have the option to get sort of a static video they can use for YouTube. But those obviously aren’t as YouTube doesn’t like those as much they weren’t true video. So some people are moving on to recording the video and using that, and a lot of them the focus is YouTube, but then they can get it out other places too. So yeah, it’s supposedly YouTube is perhaps now the most popular place for people to, quote unquote, listen to podcasts or consume podcasts. So it’s definitely changing. But it really depends. You know, I personally, as a listener, listen, while I’m not in a position to watch videos a lot. So there’s still a certain magic to that audio on demand format that we can consume hours while we’re out being healthy taking a walk or something like that. That’s what a lot of people think of as a podcast. So it’s, it really kind of depends on your situation and your podcast and your goals.

Mike: So it really is a matter of finding out what your listeners one, I think from what you’re saying,

Shannon: yeah, it probably wouldn’t hurt and could give you more exposure to have both of those options out there for different people. But also, what is the benefit of the video, I think about that, and the bandwidth. And I don’t, I mean, actual bandwidth. But I also mean your personal bandwidth, and the comfort of guests. And you know what it takes to that mean? Video obviously takes more bandwidth to both record and get good quality. It’s tougher to edit. I certainly and it requires more bandwidth when it’s getting played as well. So those are the potential challenges of it.

Mike: Right. So if you’re trying to understand your audience, I guess one of the things people really care about is reporting knowing when the podcast is doing well. I mean, what stats the podcasters wants to know about their podcasts and where do they get them from?

Shannon: Yeah, so you get them from your podcast hosting company. So that’s another thing that we do and a big part of the role. And the statistics in podcasting. I won’t get into the weeds too much on this, but they’re essentially called downloads. Now, this becomes highly confusing, because people will say often and I read constant discussions and Facebook groups with a lot of misinformation. And they’ll say, but everyone tells me they stream they listen, they don’t download it to their phone. So am I Where are they? I’m missing those How do I know those numbers, but in the podcast terminology, and the standards are set by a an organisation called the IAB, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, we actually are progressively or someone when they’re listening is progressively downloading if they’re streaming. So there’s a standard standard set for an over a minutes worth of content. And it’s kind of a complicated formula. But they’re all called downloads. So when you see I, you know, my podcast episode, this week got 100 downloads, that can mean the person who actually downloaded it, or was streaming it and counts as this according to this metric. And then within that, we’re able to also share things like the geographies where those listeners are coming from what sources so are they listening on Apple podcasts, Spotify, and all of that. And then at pod bean, we also have a specialised statistic or analytics for our business customers, and a lot of them are actually doing internal podcasting. But that actually shows in depth statistics of how the listening pattern was. And so in an episode, what people are skipping and all of that on all of the pod bean based tools, we can’t tell that we don’t get that information back from Apple, for example, but they are doing something similar. And I think Spotify also does. So all together, you could get a really good snapshot of that if you want. And in that particular case, too, we potentially have the ability to give individual listener data, again, with our internal podcast, these companies usually have that permission. Obviously, with data privacy, we can’t give that kind of stuff for the general listener. But there’s some kind of unique opportunities with statistics coming up. But yeah, the kind of who, how many are listening to popularity, and then some of that other source kind of data is what is provided and what people are looking for.

Mike: That makes sense. But obviously, one of the things you’re saying is that a download is not necessarily a listen, is that right?

Shannon: Yeah, if someone listens, it will count as a download. So if they’re streaming it will count as a download. But if someone actually downloads and I listened for example, Have an aeroplane later. You don’t know, did I listen on the aeroplane or didn’t tie it other than if we, we can find that out because we actually have a listening app or if I listen on your site, your pod bean site, we can get more of that kind of information. But generally because of the sort of democratic nature of podcasting, where there’s all these different ways people listen, then some of that kind of what happens from there, we don’t have and no one, no podcast host would have that information. So it’s fortunately it’s fairly standardised across the industry. So if you’re using different podcast hosts, if they follow those standards, you’ll get the same kind of information.

Mike: So everybody’s equal, it’s not quite perfect, but everybody’s on a level playing field.

Shannon: Yeah. And right now, that’s a little difficult. You know, sometimes people say, I want to know who my listeners are some of the demographic kind of stuff, there are some things developing that may be able to, you know, if you think of Nielsen and things with TV, that kind of stuff potentially, might move forward with that. But otherwise, right now, because there’s a platform, and there’s the server side that we see versus where people listen, those are things that aren’t aren’t necessarily available that way.

Mike: Perfect. Makes sense. So you mentioned something a little bit earlier, and I’d like to get back to it. You talked about internal podcasts for businesses, can you explain a little bit more about the difference between a public podcast and then something that’s internal to a particular business?

Shannon: Yeah, it’s one of the specialties at pod bean. And because it’s internal, no one really knows about it very often, we’ve done case studies with a lot of the companies that are doing it, because we can’t share the actual podcasts, obviously. So companies often use this for their employees, and also membership organisations and that kind of thing. So it can be the same very much as a podcast you would listen to publicly, but the purpose and how it’s distributed is a bit different. So we see a lot of them being used for training, and leadership development, learning and development and corporations, messages from CEO and leadership, employee stories, these kind of all data, these kind of things. And basically, it’s produced and created, and you use the pod bean platform. And then we secure it so that only the permitted users, whether it’s members or employees can get it. And that’s either password kind of situation, or a connected to the company’s own sign in. So a lot of our companies actually do it that way. And that way, it’s their own security. And it’s also no extra, you know, accountant to make, since we all have 1000s of accounts nowadays. And we have a special app for that called the pro app, which is actually what a lot of companies use. And we can also develop special apps for them. But that’s how the employees can access it, and have a nice podcast user experience, but not have to be concerned that it gets to competitors and things like that.

Mike: Presumably as well, they can add their own branding and make that that special out there own.

Shannon: Yeah, so we can create white label apps, which are completely separate from the pod bean names that we have several companies that have those, we have one company, it’s the company name, and then on air, that’s the name of their app. And the pro app is what I call a semi white label app. So when a person goes in, it’s obviously it’s called pod bean Pro. So that’s how they download it from the store. But it’s already available. We do all the development. But then as soon as they log in, it goes to a company page. So it has the logo and and everything. So it’s pretty much pod bean name of front pod bean, you know, handles the load the app, but it’s, you know, kind of a white label experience once they enter. So yeah, it’s really a booming i We just were at a conference about a week ago, talking with a learning and development professionals and something that was very popular, they’re all really considering how it can be used.

Mike: Okay, so it’s a fascinating trend. And it’s got to be something that’s going to grow and grow because everybody’s got their mobile device. It’s a great way to reach people. Looking back at sort of the more standard podcasting, I mean, do you see b2b growing in terms of public podcasting, trying to reach customers and prospects?

Shannon: Tremendously? Tremendously? Yes, I think our for example, our internal podcasting business, we see it growing, but we’ve found that that side of our business is even more the public, the branded style podcast, the thought leadership, you know, we really see companies starting to and it’s getting to that sort of tipping point starting to realise it’s something that they need, like they used to realise, you know, they knew they needed a website, obviously than a blog, social media. Now there’s okay, we definitely need a podcast and how can we use it best? And so yeah, and we have a lot of companies have multiple podcasts now for different different sorts of needs. So I think it’s it’s good I really believe in my our CEO has said this a few times that we do think at one point companies will assume that it’s something they need just like a blog.

Mike: And in terms of the b2b space is that different from b2c in terms of attracting listeners and growing the audience?

Shannon: Definitely, I think even the largest companies, or the most beautifully produced interesting story branded story kind of podcasts are going to tend to have a smaller. Of course, this is very much a generalisation because even individual podcasts, some have to listeners, so, but generally, you’re not going to find that you’re going to turn into a Joe Rogan or a serial, you know, millions of downloads, because it’s more niche. And it really has a sort of a different purpose, the purpose is not to get millions of listeners necessarily. So it’s really to there’s many different purposes that can be behind it. And that’s the most important thing to think about when starting for b2b Did the podcast.

Mike: I mean, obviously, you really care about a certain sort of listener, in b2b, it’s very specific. If you’re in marketing, for example, motor drives, you care about people who are going to buy motor drives, and not about people who have no interest. So it’s not it’s not just vanity metrics, and

Shannon: very much yeah, the overall number of listeners is not nearly as important to that I actually, I think I heard this on a podcast originally, and then talk to this person, it was actually a production company that helps people with podcasts. And they had a company that did podcasts. And their success metric was actually achieved before they even put the podcast out into the public. And I thought this was fascinating. I said, Okay, tell me more about this. They said, because they interviewed thought leaders in their industry. And from that they got multiple million dollar sales that they couldn’t have done otherwise, because they asked these people to be on their podcasts, and the people had a conversation with them. And some of them they couldn’t access before, through other sort of channels. And that wasn’t they weren’t sort of doing that in a shady way. They were really intending to put out a podcast, but it ended up having this goal. You know, it was amazing that it achieved more than they ever thought by doing that. So obviously, that that is one potential benefit is just the guest interactions that you might have. And then obviously reaching out that niche customer, sometimes providing really sort of educational, thought leadership kind of information where they see you in that way. And also the intimacy of podcasting itself, the voice really can be come across in a way that other forms of marketing don’t.

Mike: Makes a lot of sense. What’s the best way to promote podcast to get more of the listeners you want? How could we, for example, grow our audience with a Napier podcast?

Shannon: I think that especially talking about b2b podcasts, it’s important to know who is that audience potentially, who are you targeting, Who’s your ideal listener. And to think of that, and that’s kind of echoes from the very beginning of starting a podcast, because even at what kind of format you choose, and how long you make it, and a lot of those things, you might really base that on that sort of Persona and their life and their work situation. And then thinking about where to best market to those people. So a lot of b2b podcasts really, as far as social media, for example, need to focus more on LinkedIn, than Twitter or Instagram. So you may have all the social media for your podcast, but the ones that I know of the b2b podcast tend to focus on those on promoting it on LinkedIn, and particularly, maybe in groups that relate to the industry, making those kinds of connections, sort of CO marketing with guests that are big names in an industry, you know, can make a huge difference. And even sometimes some traditional PR is for any Podcasts can be really helpful. And sometimes it’s overlooked. Because social media kind of you know, everything gets there’s a lot of it, it gets kind of lost PR can still be very valuable, having an article written about what you’re doing with the podcast. And so I think in industry related podcasts, that can be really true because someone reads the magazine or the website of an association. And that’s where they go to for the information. And oh, this podcast is related to that topic. And it’s a more of a fit than just trying to blast everything out there to the general public. So I think those kinds of things are really key. And, again, guest co promoting can be very useful. And similarly, one of the things we see with podcasts in general, and it can work for b2b is even just more direct kind of CO promoting on other podcasts. So if there are other related in your industry things and it may seem like oh, wait a minute, a competitor, but a lot of times, if you’re in a specific industry, there’s probably very little out there. If there’s two podcasts, that’s amazing. You may have to find something, it’s more ancillary even but then talking to them about whether you can do some shared promotion kind of thing because if I’m really into technology, a specific kind of Technology and there’s one podcast out there, I have space to listen to another one probably. So it’s not going to your competition isn’t going to take your listener away most likely.

Mike: That makes a lot of sense. So a bit of friendly cooperation, even with people who may be somewhat in competition is a good move.

Shannon: Definitely. And I think that another aspect that sometimes it depends, again on the podcast, and your and your listener, but there is there are also opportunities in in listening apps to promote. And so if you’re looking at different if you’re actually looking at advertising, and spending some money on promotion, and marketing, that’s something to check. Because when people are in an app listening, it can if generally, for podcasts, it’s a really good place to promote, because they’re already ripe for adding another podcast to their subscribe lists. So there are some targeted ways you can do that within apps that might fit more to get your kind of b2b listener. But that’s another thing to consider.

Mike: Perfect. I’ve got to ask this, are there any mistakes people make any things you should, you should avoid that perhaps if you’re new to podcasting, or particularly in the b2b sector, things that you can do wrong, that aren’t going to help your podcast?

Shannon: I think the first thing is to hear but thinking about it at the start, and because I’m saying, oh, a lot of people, now they’re realising Oh, we just need to have a podcast. But the mistake with that can be thinking, we just need to have a podcast because it’s cool. And we don’t really think about the purpose, and the goals. And therefore, we are hoping to achieve something that that is unrealistic. So maybe the someone in the company, Oh, I see our competitors have podcasts. Let’s get one. Let’s do one. And I see that some podcasts have millions of downloads. So that’s what we need to achieve. That’s your KPI achieve that. And that doesn’t, that’s not a good idea. For a b2b podcast. Generally, those big numbers aren’t necessarily your metric for success. So I think that’s very important in setting things up. And knowing what your goal is, and setting everything up around that. And then I think the other thing is just taking years to do it, because you think you have to buy the most expensive equipment and spend a lot of money and that it’s complicated. And, of course, in some companies, larger companies, that’s also because the processes take a long time. So some of that you can’t help. But if there’s if there are ways to simplify it, and to get the product to market, I would say that’s the way to go. Because otherwise, you’ll find yourself years from now of saying we had a great idea, but it never came to fruition.

Mike: It makes a lot of sense. That’s, that’s great. I mean, I really appreciate everything you’ve shared here from the technology through to advice in terms of granulars it’s been amazing conversation, is there anything else we should have covered or anything you think people should know about podcasting?

I think it’s a follow on to what I just mentioned that it can be relatively easy and inexpensive to start. And there’s a lot of great equipment, and great tools and things you can add on. But I’d say for most starting relatively simple, is very, very feasible with podcasting more than a lot of other mediums. So that’s you can get started and get going. And if you know what your intention is behind it, then that you can have a really good quality podcast by putting out good content. And then you can always improve things and upgrade and and move up from there. But if you bring people something that’s helpful or interesting to them, then you can succeed with it even without spending a lot of money or time.

Mike: That’s awesome. That’s great advice. If people are interested, if they want to learn more, is there a way they can contact you to find out more about podcasting or about popping in particular?

Shannon: Definitely We have lots of ways to contact if there and I am actually I’m on LinkedIn a lot. So if people use LinkedIn, I’m Shannon Martin writes, writes like writer, Shannon Martin writes, and or just look up Shannon Martin podbean. And I’m very open to talking to people having conversations, and we have a lot of we have a million different ways that you can get pod bean information. But rather than listing all those, I’ll just say the website, of course, we have all the social media, and for b2b in particular, we are we have a pretty good presence on LinkedIn. And we even have a group that’s specific to corporate podcasting, both for the external and the internal purposes. And that’s for people to be able to share their own experiences. So I’m glad to connect you up with that group. If you’re interested.

Mike: That’s amazing. I’ll definitely be joining the group. I really appreciate all your time. And all your knowledge has been great. Thanks so much for being on the show.

Shannon: Thank you for having me.

Mike: Thanks so much for listening to marketing b2b Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you’d like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.