From Rebranding to Ranking: The Breakout's Race to the Top of the Apple Podcasts Charts
In the dynamic podcasting landscape, standing out requires detailed planning and execution. The Breakout podcast has excelled at this, harnessing the power of rebranding, effective paid promotions, and audience engagement.
Its rapid ascent up the Apple Podcasts charts signals a marked transition from its earlier, less polished predecessor, to a slick, professionally crafted show that not only understands its audience but actively engages them.
Our case study delves into The Breakout's stratospheric rise in the highly competitive self-help category. It highlights how a clear vision, a deep understanding of the target demographic, and a tactical approach to paid promotion have catapulted it from flying beneath the radar to a top-ranking show.
With 74 episodes under their belt, ‘reCHARGE® Your Life’ podcast hosts Dr. Keri Ohlrich and Kelly Guenther decided to rebrand their podcast in keeping with the new book they were writing.
Recognizing that they weren’t podcast experts, Keri and Kelly decided to outsource the project. They chose Lower Street for its dedicated focus on podcasting and because Harry, the company's CEO, and resident ideas man, ‘got’ their vision.
In addition to conducting a comprehensive analysis of The Breakout's current and prospective audience, Lower Street delved into an exhaustive study of its competitors and the overall podcast landscape. All of which informed the rebranding strategy.
Lower Street engineered The Breakout's growth with a burst paid campaign to boost its ranking and get noticed. The audit and the promotional push, coupled with the successful rebrand, allowed for precise targeting of the ideal audience that went on to achieve impressive organic growth in listenership.
The numbers speak for themselves. The podcast jumped from 257 downloads/mo in April-23 to 42,412 downloads in May-23. That’s a massive 16730% increase in downloads. Even more gratifying, The Breakout ranked #7 on the Apple Podcast Charts.
Part 1: The Problem
‘reCHARGE® Your Life’ podcast hosts and CEO, COO and Co-founders of Abbracci Group, Dr. Keri Ohlrich and Kelly Guenther decided to rebrand their podcast in keeping with the new book they were planning on writing. With no interest in producing the podcast themselves (and zero know-how to boot), the pair agreed that outsourcing to experts and focusing on their own areas of expertise was the only way forward.
If we had to produce something that Lower Street produces, first of all, we couldn't do it. But if we tried to do it, it would be at least 20 to 30 extra hours a week.
Dr. Keri Ohlrich
They wanted a professional look that aligned with their book, and they didn't want to do the work themselves. Opting for a more premium, comprehensive service was an obvious solution.
Up to that point we’d done it very homegrown. You know, $20 a month, no editing. It worked for us and it got us a bit of a following. But we knew that if we were going to write a book and have it fuse together with the podcast, we’d have to rebrand it. We wanted to have it be very professional, but we didn't want to take ownership of it ourselves because it's a lot of work.
After doing extensive research on podcast companies, Keri landed on Lower Street for a few key reasons. Most notably because our main (and only) focus is podcasting. That, coupled with Harry’s suggested approach of conducting an audit to understand their podcast and its requirements before proceeding, sealed the deal for them.
We looked up the best podcast production companies and Lower Street came up in numerous lists and they kept popping up. And then I think I talked to probably two or three companies,and Harry was the only one who got it. He said let's do an audit first to understand where you're at. So I think that spoke to us because we also know that every client is very different. And so the fact that you do an audit first was really helpful. It would give us all this data that would help us understand how to rebrand. And so you really felt like a partner in it with them.
Dr. Keri Ohlrich
They felt this strategy was significantly more logical and targeted compared to their marketing agency's recommendation to promote the show via social media and Google ads.
Traditional digital marketing just doesn't apply to the podcast world. They are two very different entities. You need to know the right tools, the right channels, and even the right strategies as well because it's completely different from what we do for marketing a brand. It also means that you can't actually rely on a traditional marketing agency. You really need to find an expert in podcasting.
Claire, Lower Street Podcast Growth Specialist
Part 2: The Solution
Prior to rebranding, Keri and Kelly weren’t clear on their competitive landscape or their target audience. This resulted in vague goals and inconsistent messaging that spanned multiple topics.
Step 1: Giving the Show a Complete Makeover
Knowing this, Lower Street’s first step was to conduct a thorough audit, which deepened Keri and Kelly’s knowledge of their current and target audience's inclinations.
The audit's insights also influenced their choice of experts for their show based on the audience's characteristics and interests. For instance, they discovered that a significant segment of their listeners also considered the New York Times their go-to for news and insights.
Their earlier podcast episodes also suffered from several issues (poor sound quality, rambling, unedited interviews, etc.). Without a cohesive format and storytelling arc to engage the listeners, the consumption rate was predictably low.
By the time we really started working in earnest with Lower Street’s producer, she really knew us. She knew our style. She knew what our voice sounded like. That understanding of who our listeners are, was really important.
This knowledge provided Lower Street with a roadmap to transform the podcast. Several changes were recommended to enhance The Breakout’s appeal and relevance to their target demographic.
The show needed to be renamed to reflect its new direction and focus. 'The Breakout' was chosen for its alignment with the show’s overarching theme of escaping the boxes we build for ourselves based on other people’s rules.
The hosts' chemistry should be better showcased through regular chat segments during the podcast, improving their visibility and adding a personal touch.
Pre-interviews with guests were introduced to ensure they were a good fit for the podcast's theme and audience. These are conducted by Lower Street’s producer, saving Keri and Kelly a great deal of valuable time.
A time-efficient process for interview preparation was established, saving an additional three hours per episode for the hosts.
The recording equipment and locations were optimized to improve sound and overall production quality.
Step 2: Growing the Audience With Paid Promotion
With that out of the way, Lower Street turned their attention to engineering the newly rebranded podcast’s growth with a burst paid campaign to help boost its ranking and get noticed.
Marketing campaigns were implemented across various platforms, such as Apple Podcasts and Castbox, striving for a balance between gaining subscribers and achieving visibility across different platforms.
The marketing campaign strategy also included timing considerations, with the promotional efforts being launched within 24 to 48 hours of the podcast's release to kickstart the algorithm.
A total of 5,069 subscribers were gained overall, with 2,666 of those as a direct result of the paid campaign. This means there was an organic uplift of roughly 2,403 listeners thanks to their high podcast rankings:
#1 in US: Self-Improvement
#1 in US: Education
#7 in US: All Podcasts
The podcast is planning to expand its promotional activities to other channels such as Overcast, Pocketcast, and Podbean for gaining visibility, and host-read ads for reaching specific types of followers.
Part 3: The Outcome
Lower Street's holistic approach, which included a thorough audit, targeted rebranding, improved quality control, and strategic promotional campaigns, sparked a significant increase in listener engagement and downloads.
After the promotion ended, organic growth continued at a steady pace. A clear indication that it wasn't just a temporary surge. This is a great predictor of the podcast’s long-term sustainability and popularity.
The Breakout went from having a few hundred monthly downloads to tens of thousands. Orchestrating the 16730% increase in downloads via a paid campaign also impacted its rankings positively, with the podcast bagging the #7 spot on Apple Podcast Charts.
We were so taken aback by that ranking. We probably thought we would maybe double our downloads. But, honest to God, when those numbers started to come in…one episode is now at 18,000 downloads!
Dr. Keri Ohlrich
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what that entailed:
Launch the rebranded show.
Publish two episodes, then launch the paid promotional campaign.
The objective here is to increase the number of downloads in the shortest possible time. Why? Because all Apple Podcast Charts’ all-important algorithm cares about is how many new subscribers a show has landed in the past week.
Getting the most followers in the shortest possible time is therefore the end goal. Achieve that and your shiny new (or rebranded) podcast will get noticed.
With the increased visibility achieved, the show gains a new following. In the case of The Breakout that amounted to a massive 5,069 new subscribers!
The show's organic growth has been sustained thanks to the combined influence of a solid subscriber base and the favorable attention of the algorithm. Highlighting just how popular the show has become and continues to be.
This bolstered its visibility and appeal to potential guests, widening the net for future expert interviewees and increasing the chances of booking high-profile guests.
We just interviewed a high-profile author who was on the Harvard Business podcast. Because we're a high-class production, he agreed to come on our show. It’s given us the confidence to go after bigger names that we would never have asked before.
Dr. Keri Ohlrich
It will also help Keri and Kelly write their new book and give exposure to their HR business Abbracci.
The podcast will help us with pre-sales; it's definitely a feeder into the success of the book.
Dr. Keri Ohlrich
It's crucial to note that the quantitative gains weren't just a result of a well-executed promotional campaign; it’s also a testament to the significant impact of the podcast's rebranding and overall quality.
Without these foundational improvements lending credibility and appeal, the promotional efforts would not have achieved the desired traction.
The Breakout's trajectory is a solid showcase of how, with the right strategies and tools in place, a podcast can transform from a vague and inconsistent show to one that enjoys a robust, engaged, and ever-growing audience.
In the world of podcasting, success is multifaceted. It's not all about the numbers, but about retaining the listeners and providing them with content they find valuable and entertaining. The Breakout has managed to do just that and the numbers are a testament to it.
While the strategic promotional campaign played a significant role in The Breakout's success, the underlying overhaul of the podcast's identity and messaging was just as crucial. This stands as a reminder that promotion and marketing efforts, while vital, cannot drive success without a high-quality product.
The podcast’s rebranding focused on improving all facets, from content to production quality, making it an appealing product for promotion. And the results speak for themselves.
Are you ready to supercharge your podcast? Get in touch to find out how we can help you grow your podcast’s audience.