Digital MarketingEmail MarketingPodcasts in E-Newsletters: Give Your Articles a Voice

Podcasts in E-Newsletters: Give Your Articles a Voice

Has reader fatigue set into your newsletter? Hear what’s new for e-newsletters.

Have you noticed a little reader fatigue setting into your e-newsletter publishing efforts? Now you can get your readers to perk up their ears for what you have to say by adding podcasts to your e-newsletters.

IMN, a leading e-communications service provider, recently introduced podcasting to its Web-based e-newsletter service through its own e-newsletter, “Informed Marketer News” and is offering the capability to other e-newsletter publishers. Tune in for yourself. As you can see, a full transcript of the podcast appears on the same page to give readers the option to listen or read at their own convenience.

I talked with David A. Fish, CEO of IMN, on the venture’s outcome, and he reports great results. He said this podcast/transcript combination outperforms the next most popular article in the e-newsletter by 225 percent — something he could measure since IMN’s e-newsletter platform can track podcast consumption as easily as any other text or link.

Since e-newsletter podcasts are relatively new, I had a few questions for Dave that may be occurring to you as well.

Gedney: What applications do you see for podcasts in e-newsletters?

Fish: Right now, if you go to the Web site of any big technology provider, such as IBM, you can download podcasts. Putting podcasts in an e-newsletter is just a logical extension of this strategy. Technology vendors could, for example, produce a podcast Q and A interview in place of a written white paper.

You can also feature recorded product testimonials or new product announcements. Many e-newsletter marketers open their e-newsletter with a letter from the editor, and podcasts make these notes even more personal.

Gedney: How does podcasting work in a cubicle culture, where there are no barriers to block out sound?

Fish: If you walk around in a lot of today’s offices, you’ll see that an iPod culture is evolving, particularly at high-tech companies. iPod ownership is off the charts among IT professionals. Also, many teleservice and salespeople wear headsets as part of their work. Most upper managers still have their own offices and can shut a door, and many people telecommute from home.

Gedney: How long should a podcast be?

Fish: We’re recommending a maximum length of anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes. Our feeling is if someone is going to commit their undivided attention to your podcast, they have a real interest in your topic and will give you the time to explore it. For example, I’ll listen to podcasts while eating lunch.

Gedney: How important is including a written transcript of the podcast?

Fish: At this point, we’re seeing that about half the people listen to the podcasts and half read the transcript. So, to reach the most people, we recommend that you publish both for now. Though over time, as podcasts gain even more traction, transcripts may become less necessary. It’s too soon to tell.

Gedney: What does it take to produce your own podcast?

Fish: All you need is MP3 recording software (there is a lot of low-cost software and freeware out there) and a microphone. From there, we can load your MP3 file into your e-newsletter as easily as we can insert a graphic.

Gedney: What does it take to listen to a podcast at work? Does every PC have the capability? Do you need an iPod?

Fish: Every PC can play MP3 files with QuickTime or other easy-to-download programs. You just need speakers or a headphone to listen. Of course, you can also download to your iPod.

Gedney: Do you foresee an upsurge in vocal coaching as we all become broadcasters?

Fish: Our experience is that the less scripted you sound, the better. Listeners want to hear from real, live people with all their quirks and idiosyncrasies. Of course, no one will listen to anything that is unintelligible, but that’s rarely an issue.

Thanks, David. In my own experience, I’ve listened to podcasts in e-newsletters from fellow business coaches. Curious to hear what they sounded like in real life, I tuned in immediately to their first podcasts. Although sometimes the listening experience was seamless in that the person’s voice was a real reflection of her writing style, in other cases, the dissonance was quite jarring, with too many “ums” and “duhs” to sound professional.

If you’re considering a podcast of your own voice, you may want to ask some friends and colleagues for an honest critique. Remember, back when “talkies” were introduced, a lot of silent-screen stars were put out to pasture!

For me, it may be time to finally get some voice training to tone down my New York accent before ClickZ requires columnists to podcast. Otherwise, readers might start saying “Fuhgeddaboutit!” after tuning in!

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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