July 01, 2008

New Chart: Let Content Determine Podcast Length

SUMMARY: Most B-to-B podcasts run 20 minutes or less -- with 15 minutes just about the median, according to a MarketingSherpa study of 150 B-to-B sites. But, more importantly, what we discovered is that content should dictate the duration of your podcast.
New Chart: How Long Should Podcasts Be?

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This week’s chart breaks down the length of podcasts from 150 business-to-business sites examined by a MarketingSherpa analyst. Lengths vary from short (5 minutes or less) to long (31 minutes or more) – 10% each, with most podcasts (79%) 20 minutes or less in length but almost the same percentage of podcasts more than or less than 15 minutes.

We were simply looking to establish benchmarks around this medium. In the meantime, best practices emerged.

Here are four key takeaways:

->Takeaway #1: Content Determines Length
Content should dictate everything else – including length. The ‘best practice’ seems to be short podcasts – 10 minutes or less, but we found that most podcasts are longer with some very successful outliers. It might be helpful to follow the format of radio news broadcasts. You can get your message across in a few minutes; an ‘in-depth’ story is usually 5 to 7 minutes long.

->Takeaway #2: Focus on Single Topic
One reason many good podcasts are short is that they focus on a single, discrete topic. It’s not the only way to approach production, but it’s probably a good idea especially when starting out. Potential listeners eyeing podcast titles generally will give a new provider a whirl if the topic of the podcast is very specific.

->Takeaway #3: Stress Content, Not Production
Perfect sound and music and good product values will not make or break your podcast –the quality of the content will do that. Low-fidelity user-generated content has inured us to poor sound quality, and inexpensive software can smooth out the sound and get rid of all those distracting “ums.”

->Takeaway #4: Webinars: a Good Model
Look at your existing catalog of recorded webinars when you want to get started – you can often break them down into podcasts, almost slide by slide. Think of a webinar as a string of discrete podcasts in the making.

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MarketingSherpa’s 5th Annual Business Technology Marketing Benchmark Guide 2008–09:

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