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Podcast Best Practices: 10 Tips on Making a Great Show

Podcast's are the ideal marketing tool! Create a great show, and offer engaging and valuable content for your audience with our podcast best practices.

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Many brands and businesses are turning to podcasts as a marketing channel. Plenty of branded podcasts are raising the bar by releasing consistently quality content; however, a wealth of companies are not quite hitting the mark. 

That's why we have created a list of podcast best practices—we want you to be able to enter this growing market and offer top-notch podcast episodes for your audience. But, before we dive in, let's look at why your company should consider starting a podcast in the first place.

1. Get S.M.A.R.T

All brands looking to podcasts as a marketing channel should always have a solid set of podcasting goals. Without clear goals for your podcast and its content, your show will lack direction and purpose for your listener. 

During the phase where you are identifying your objectives, you need to get S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) goals. During your initial podcast brainstorming session, ask what exactly you want your podcast to achieve- what is the end goal here?

Here are several common branded podcast goals:

  • Generate leads
  • Establish authority
  • Build brand awareness
  • Gain subscribers
  • Attract high-profile clients
  • Increase your network 
  • Build an active community

How do you achieve that goal? Below we break down each letter of the acronym so you can get a clearer idea of how you want your podcast to 

S: SPECIFIC

For a goal to be effective, you have to get specific. A specific goal answers questions like "What steps need to be taken to achieve it? What needs to be accomplished? Who's managing or responsible for it? When do I want to achieve this goal?"

Ruminating on these types of questions can help you get into the weeds of what you're aiming for. 

No one podcast is going to hit all of the above goals in one swoop- so instead of casting a wide net, be specific and strategic about what you want to accomplish.

M: Measurable

Quantifying your goals can sound tricky, but doing so makes it easier to track progress. So, how will you measure success? For podcasters, the instant knee jerk reaction is only monitor downloads. But there are many others to consider, too. 

Again, it all depends on your goal. Are you aiming to generate more leads or attract talent? Build a strong email list or create customer connections through episode engagement? To get the best measurable data possible, you have to make sure the metrics you're tracking make sense.

  • S.M.A.R.T Goals can be directed towards improving your existing workflow rather than increasing your workflow. Think about how you would want to measure that workflow. Is it better audio quality? Increasing your episode frequency? Perhaps your mic technique? 

No matter your goal, you want to tie it to measurable metrics. Any podcaster will tell you that podcast growth usually happens over a long period. So having specific KPI touchstones and using that data to drive decisions is key to expanding and perfecting your podcast over time.

Examples of measurable goals:

  • Build brand affinity → → Track and measure podcast downloads and external engagement
  • Recruit new employees → → Track and measure candidate pipeline
  • Gain high-profile clients → →
  • Thought leadership → →Track and measure external mentions of the podcast
  • Lead/demand generation → →Track and measure marketing-qualified leads (M.Q.L.'s) and Sales-qualified leads (SQL's)
  • Sales → → Track and measure deals created and closed

A: Achievable

Reality check time! Now that you have defined and refined your goals and metrics, you need to establish the time and resources you need to make the podcast.

Finding a host or hosting a show can take a lot of time and resources. Is there someone on your existing team who can do it, or will you need to look elsewhere and outsource? Then you have to consider thigs like scripting, pre-interview prep, equipment setup, recording, editing, reviewing and re-editing, written content, social copy- the list goes on and on.

"I want to be the #1 podcast in the world!" While that goal isn't entirely impossible, you have to ask yourself, can you achieve that with your niche content? The answer is probably no, so take your ambitions down a notch. Instead, why not aim to reach the top ten in the marketing category in the U.S.? With the right marketing strategy, that is achievable (trust us, we've helped make that happen).

R: Relevant 

Refine your reasoning. Now is the time to go back and look at everything you've laid out so far to ensure it's relevant to your audience and goals. Aligning your audience and your podcast's concept is key to reaching a niche relevant to your brand. 

Ask yourself, what goals make sense in combination with what you're doing? Do your goals, your content, your audience, and even your personality fit each other? Does your podcast align with your broader marketing goals? And what about other marketing campaigns and channels? Will the topic you've chosen still be relevant next quarter?

Remember, every podcaster wants to succeed, so take this initial stage to evaluate how relevant your podcast's overall metrics are, compared to larger company goals.

T: Time

Create a deadline for your goals and break it down into actionable steps. 

After stress-testing your podcast, give yourself a timeline and establish any time constraints. Having a specific (and realistic) deadline is essential for most projects.

Map out your podcast calendar. Then, start thinking about when your podcast will launch, how many episodes you need to produce, and how many episodes you want in the docket before you launch. Also, what other marketing collateral that will run parallel to your podcast? (Cover art and branding, blog posts, videos, and social media etc.). 

For branded shows, do you need stakeholders' approval? Do you have a dedicated designer that can work to your timeline? How long will it take for all these pieces to come together? What about constructing a paid-ads campaign? How long do you want it to run?

While you can set annual goals, quarterly or bi-annual checks could ensure that you're tracking against the plan.

2. Have a Consistent Publishing Schedule

Publishing episodes on regular schedule helps to generate listener loyalty. When audiences know when an episode is set to release, they will often go out of their way to tune in. 

As you put together your content strategy, think carefully about when you want to publish that content. Most businesses implement a content schedule, which ensures that content is consistent and reliable. This schedule needs to be adhered to, especially if you want to maximize engagement. 

A late episode here or there won't affect listenership. But, if you have a random episode release pattern, you will lose any listener loyalty you may have gained. 

Assess how much time it takes your team to make an episode from beginning to end. From writing a script, guest research and prep, rehearsing, recording, editing, show notes, marketing content, and artwork. Use that timeframe to determine how often episodes can be released. Podcasts can be broken up into series to help keep production on schedule. 

  • If you have planned everything carefully and still run out of time, warn your audience and apologize for the delay.

3. Respect Your Listener's Time

Your podcast's content needs to be crafted with your listener in mind. Whether your podcast is short and sweet, or a epic tale, you need to ensure that the content is well-paced. Don't overstay your welcome, and strive to understand how long it takes to get your message across.

A significant podcast best practice is to consider how long your episodes are. While the average podcast episode length is around 42 minutes, the time spent listening to podcasts is only 22 minutes (and that's for those listeners who commit beyond the first five minutes). 

Be organized. Be considerate of your audience's time. Don't ramble and don't be afraid to leave chunks of redundant content on the cutting room floor during the editing stage. 

4. Encourage Audience Feedback and Reviews

In times past, 99.9% of all pop culture was been directed by audience feedback. T.V. shows got canceled over poor viewership, albums discarded after poor record sales- and the same is certainly happening in the digital world.

Platforms like Apple Podcasts are primarily controlled by algorithms that operate similarly to the rating systems of old that used to determine what made it into the mainstream.

  • Ratings and reviews tell Apple Podcasts, "Hey, look over there - this podcast is getting noticed!" which helps boost your podcast in the charts and helps get more eyes on it. 

But ratings and reviews aren't just about chart rankings. Sometimes, to keep creating great content, you need to get outside of your bubble. Tools like Speakpipe or even a Google Voice number give listeners the capacity to actively contribute to a show. 

And then there's reviews.

Reviews are vital for the evolution of a podcast. Not only do those golden 5 stars encourage more listeners into the fold- but it also pushes listeners to give a visceral opinion on what they're just heard. Whether good or bad, reviews are valuable, ad provide a small window into what is and isn't working for listeners.

Encourage your audience to give feedback. Ask them what is and isn't working. Are there improvements you could be making or topics you should be tackling to make a great show? A quick way to get more reviews is to add a call-to-action at the end of each episode. When you get that feedback, digest it and take it on board. There could be something that could help transform your podcast.

5. Know Your Audience's Interests 

It's a fundamental starting point, but having a clear focus on topics that interest your listeners (and sticking to them) will attract listeners, encourage sharing, and cause your audience to grow.

Statistically, only 44% of marketers use ideal listener personas. To create content that converts, you have to start with the who. An "Ideal Listener," sometimes referred to as a persona or avatar, can give you the foresight of the topics you should be covering. For example, a busy entrepreneur may want you to touch on time-saving A.I. and scheduling software. Marketers may need a resource that provides up-to-date marketing trends. 

  •  Demographic: personal information such as age, education, income, gender, relationship status, etc. 
  •  Psychographics: human characteristics, such as opinions, values, interests, behaviors, attitudes, and lifestyle. 
  •  Behavioristic: their listening behavior can include knowing if a listener is brand loyal and how much time they spend listening to a similar podcast to yours. Where do they listen (at the gym, washing up, on their commute)? 

To design your one dream listener, write down their demographics; age, occupation, family situation, income, likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc. Again, be specific, even if that means creating more than one persona for a podcast.

6. Rehearse, Prep and Coach Your Guests. 

By reaching out to your guest before recording the episode, you can ensure everyone understands what to expect throughout the interview and that there are no surprises! You want to set your guest up for success.

Check all equipment. If your guest has never done a podcast interview before, they will most likely be nervous and sometimes intimidated by all the tech needed for recording. Guide your guest through simple microphone techniques and help them through their tech setup.

We suggest doing a brief run-through to test the audio.

If you're conducting an interview remotely, make sure your connections are strong enough for the entirety of your recording.

Have a chat: Don't just go straight into the interview. The key to getting the best information from an interviewee is to make them feel comfortable and relaxed enough to be open from the start. Ask them simple questions, "how's your day going?" "How was your weekend?" 

Professional broadcasters do this all the time, and guests appreciate it. Before you record, talk about the interview, the format, overall length, and other helpful preparation. 

7. Refresh Your Podcast

If your podcast has been around for a while, it may be time to review your podcast performance. Referring back to your S.M.A.R.T. goal, you can evaluate whether the podcast's content is performing as well as it needs to and whether it's meeting your ideal podcasting goals. If it isn't, you may need to switch things up. We aren't talking about starting a brand new podcast. Instead, invest energy towards breathing new life into your show.

  1. Change Up the Format: Look at adding new segments, answering listener questions, exploring different topics, switch segments around.
  2. Change Your Podcast Intro and Outro: Add new brand-friendly intro music, record a new introduction, change the call-to-action
  3. Repurpose Old Content: Recycle old episodes, repost high-performing episodes for new listeners, and roundup episodes. 
  4. Rearrange Your Recording Environment: Revamp your physical environment and improve the recording space. Add new furniture, pictures, plants, etc.
  5. Increase Audience Engagement: Host a giveaway or contest, answer listener questions, or even have a listener on your show!

No podcast idea should be set in stone. Audiences will always appreciate a change in direction if it helps make the content more valuable. 

8. Transcribe Your Podcast Episodes

Your podcast should be accessible to everyone. While we know podcasts are an audio medium; there is a place for written content. To increase the listener experience, transcribe all your podcast episodes. 

Transcription is the process of translating audio into easy-to-read text. Not only are transcripts great for listeners, but creators too. Investing in transcripts is one of the most invaluable resources a podcaster can have- especially from a content standpoint. Transcripts are a treasure trove for content and are a repurposing dream. Lift text for pull quotes, blog topics, social media snippets, etc. 

  1. Inclusive: Podcasts rely on hearing audio to participate. According to the World Health Organization, over 500,000,000 people suffer from hearing loss, and podcast audio can be a significant obstacle for many. Transcribing your podcast episodes can only expand your audience further while simultaneously upgrading your reputation as an inclusive podcast that's accessible to all.
  2. SEO: When optimizing your podcast for search engines, transcribing your podcasts will also help SEO. Google can crawl the text, which in turn boosts your searchability. 
  3. People Prefer Reading: It's not just deaf or hard of hearing audiences that benefit from transcripts, but also those who prefer to read or find it more convenient than listening.
  4. Social Media Friendly: Transcripts make your podcast easier to share on all social media platforms, especially when pulling quotes, highlights, or interview segments. 

Transcribing audio to text is easy nowadays with lots of online transcription tools. OtterRev, and one of our favorites, Descript, offer affordable plans that will help convert your audio to text.

9. Mic Technique  

Using your microphone correctly can improve the sound quality of your audio. A stand or boom arm allows you to maintain an appropriate distance– about 3-5 inches to 1 foot away from the head of the microphone. All microphones behave differently, so you will need to experiment to find that sweet spot.

Invest in a pop filter to reduce the likelihood of your microphone picking up any plosive sounds. Plosives are produced by small bursts of air when a speaker uses one of a variety of consonant sounds (such as the first 'p' in the English word "podcast" or "puppy"). Other plosive consonants include the 't', 'k', 'd', 'b', and 'g' sounds.

Pop filters are thin pieces of circular mesh positioned in front of the microphone. These filters act as a barrier between the speaker and the microphone and help disperse the air so it doesn't interfere with the microphone's internal diaphragm.

  • We've already put together a comprehensive guide on Proper Microphone Techniques & Placement here.

10. Hire People

Creating the best podcast content possible won't come easily to everyone– Sometimes, you need to ask for some help. Hiring a professional team can steer you away from the usual rookie mistakes many first-time podcasters make. In addition, if you already have an established podcast, a strong production team will be able to audit your show and advise you on where you could improve it so you can achieve success.

Hire people to do the legwork for you. These jobs can include brainstorming topics, research, guest research, editing, overall production, scripting, handling marketing, sponsors, and general logistics.


Audio content can be an essential tool in your marketing toolbox. So now that you know the most influential podcast best practices, you can start to maximize the potential of your show. Keep evaluating the content you are creating, how your podcast sounds, what your listeners are saying, and the areas you need to improve.

Author

Claire Gould