When my PR agency started pitching podcasts 4 years ago, we didn’t know what a powerful platform we’d tapped into. At the time, podcasts were a sideshow that supplemented our traditional PR work with outlets like Fast Company and Entrepreneur, as well as focused work with influential blogs in our clients’ niches.

So you can imagine my surprise when podcasts immediately started outperforming all the other media work we were doing at the time. Clients were getting 10x the traffic and leads from podcasts than they were getting from guest blog posts and traditional media coverage.

While I continue to believe in the benefits of a robust PR plan that includes multiple channels, I launched Podcast Ally to support clients and other PR companies in leveraging podcasts, because in my experience, very few companies understand the unique benefits that you get when you appear as a guest on a podcast. 

Podcasts may share a lot of similarities with other media channels, but when you dig into why podcasts outperform other media types in traffic and lead generation, you can see why they’re an underutilized channel.

1. Podcast audiences are highly engaged and interested in what you have to say.

When it comes to building awareness for your work and reaching new audiences, it’s hard to top podcasts as a medium. Simply put, podcast audiences are growing and their engagement rates are through the roof. 

According to the latest data from Edison Research, 51 percent of Americans over the age of 12 have listened to a podcast, which amounts to 144 million people. One in five, or 62 million, people have tuned into a podcast this week.

The share of listeners has nearly doubled in the past 5 years and is projected to keep rising.

But what makes podcast audiences special is not their sheer numbers — it’s their level of fandom and engagement.

Here’s where it gets good. According to research into the listening habits of podcast fans

Podcast listeners consume a lot of content. The vast majority of them listen to seven individual podcasts a week, for a total of 7 hours of listening time — more time than they spend watching TV each day.

Put another way, podcast listeners are super fans.

Podcast listeners stay engaged with each episode.  According to a survey conducted by Midroll, the average podcast listener makes it through about 90 percent of a given episode.

When Ira Glass implores a podcaster listener to, “Stay with me,” they do!

Imagine for a moment having a full hour-long podcast episode to reach a new audience and share your message…. 

2. This high level of audience engagement leads to results. 

One of the least-understood benefits of podcast interviews is how they can fast-track the standard sales process for a business. 

Businesses are used to a standard sales funnel, where you need to nurture your audience before they are ready to work with you, and they expect podcast audiences to engage in the same way.

However, it’s a common experience for clients and business owners to sign on a few new customers within days of a podcast appearance.

When you reflect on the stats I’ve shared, it becomes obvious why a podcast listener is more likely to take action than someone you reach through another channel.

The podcast host acts as a referral source. They fact that you’ve been invited onto a podcast listener’s favorite podcast gives you instant credibility.

Then, you get up to an hour to speak deeply about topics that matter deeply to you, all while earning their trust.

3. By the end of an hour-long interview, your audience is already sold — and this is true whether your goal is to sell a product or your message. 

We’ve had clients use podcast interviews to support their recruiting and retention efforts, to share ideas they’re passionate about, to support their sales efforts and to promote new books.

The idea that podcast listeners are primed to take action is born up by one additional stat. Research into the habits of podcast listeners have also turned up data on their buying habits, and the data is compelling.

Nearly half of respondents (48.8%) to the Podcast Consumer Report said they purchased an item after hearing it advertised on a podcast.

Whether you’re hoping to sell a service or spread your message around a cause you care about, podcasts are a powerful and effective platform to not only reach new audiences but move them to action.