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Since the introduction of audio blogging in the early 2000s, the advent of the podcasting industry has grown geometrically. Whereas only 20% of Americans were familiar with the concept of podcasting 15 years ago, that number has swelled to approximately 75%, who are not only aware of the media, but regularly listen to at least one podcast.Because these shows can cover almost any conceivable topic, professional or otherwise — and are often produced in a way that allows them to be consumed quickly — it’s no wonder that they have grown in popularity. And that trend is expected to continue; according to market statistics provided by Grand View Research, the podcast industry had an estimated value of nearly $10 billion in 2019, and is projected to grow at an average clip of 27.5% each year until 2027. This expected advancement should serve as a signal for every podcaster to stay as updated as possible with evolving trends in order to maximize growth.Related: How the Podcast Industry Found a Voice During the COVID-19 PandemicHere are a few key principles to bear in mind:1. Understand audience demographicsRegardless of the type of podcast you produce, as with any other brand, it can’t grow without an audience growing parallel to it. This makes understanding listener demographic data vital, especially when we consider that the 12-to-25 age group makes up 40% of audiences, that 60% of those who regularly listen to podcasts hold at least one degree at the college level or higher, and that students and employees (both part-time and full-time) comprise 80% of listeners. Furthermore, 62 million Americans listen to podcasts routinely (at least once every week) and average eight hours of content consumption each week, across seven separate shows.Qualities of and appetites among listeners vary, depending upon genres of podcasts. For example, beer, carbonated beverages and pet food tends to be purchased more commonly by regular streamers of comedy podcasts. In contrast, those interested in business-centric or politically-focused shows prefer coffee. Podcasters need to have a firm understanding of which market appetites their audience is likely to have, then apply it their own analytics, which will also be an engine for producing higher-quality show content.Related: Podcast Advertising: Is Programmatic the Next Big Thing?2. Growth and competitiveness are dependent on qualityPodcasts are inherently a form of digital branding. As such, creating content simply for the sake of producing higher quantities is more detrimental than helpful. Listeners are far less likely to stream or download content they consider low quality, which will naturally affect advertising revenue. One that embraces higher quality content is more likely to grow its listener audience and receive additional revenue from advertisement partnerships or sponsorships.Though the industry as a whole might seem saturated, the annual growth rate projections mentioned above show that expansion is inevitable. In fact, when compared to other digital media platforms today, podcasting remains a somewhat untapped market. For instance, although YouTube hosts more than 37 million channels on its platform, the total amount of podcasts currently available total a mere 5% of that number — just over two million. Put simply, there’s much opportunity to be had.3. Content must be optimized for voice searchPodcasters need to familiarize themselves not only with what voice search optimization is, but how it can be used to improve the quality and reach of a brand. In today’s hyper-digital world, omnichannel marketing through social media, email newsletters, paid advertisements and sponsorships is the key to achieving growth, and a fast-growing way of augmenting it is through the integration of voice search within a podcast’s online content.According to Google’s own analytics, approximately 50% of searches made in 2020 were conducted through voice, and 27% of all general consumers have used voice search on their smart device at least once. To add to this, a recent announcement from Google that the company would start integrating podcasts into its engine’s voice searches means that, regarding your show’s outreach and/or SEO strategy, the best phrases and keywords should embrace more conversational (rather than technical) language.Related: So you can make money on Spotify with your podcasts, see how paid subscriptions that compete with Apple work4. Listeners can be keen to accept ads, prompting more sponsorship opportunitiesBecause advertisements in podcasts are often shorter in length than more traditional digital ads, content creators are able to utilize their own creativity to make them more engaging, which means an audience is less likely to view them as invasive.Think briefly about the YouTubers or other online influencers you follow. Do you tend to generally trust their opinions on topics or the B2C products or services they review? If so, it’s likely because that person is more knowledgeable about the matters they discuss. Podcasters, like most other modern digital influencers and brands, possess a unique ability to attract virtual audiences through content. Those who regularly download and consume your content do so not only because they enjoy it, but because they place their trust in you as an expert and so in the services, products, or brands you choose to promote. As a corollary, podcasters with more loyal audiences and engaging, high-quality content are more likely to receive marketing partnerships and advertising sponsorships, which can have the sanguine effect of growing a listener following.