How to Market Your Podcast: A Strategy for Success
There are millions of podcasts currently in circulation. While the industry isn't totally oversaturated, like some other media channels, the struggle to get noticed is certainly ramping up.
Today, having a good podcast marketing strategy has never been so important.
But, understanding how to market a podcast isn't always easy. Podcasters are faced with a broad spectrum of options, and it can be challenging to know where to start. While some are relatively simple, others take some time and planning.
So how do you successfully market a podcast to help grow your audience and business?
A Plan to Promote Your Podcast
Investing in a professional podcast marketing service will always be the most rewarding option. After all, they are the experts and can take care of all the intricate planning, implementation, data monitoring, and tactics. But, for anyone taking a more DIY approach, there are some simple, yet effective, ways to market a podcast.
The folks at Spotify suggest that for any podcast promotion game plan, you should invest in four key strategies:
- Leveraging the right promotional channels.
- Creating engaging promo content for social media.
- Utilizing your current audience.
- Collaborating with similar creators and guests- all of which are covered within this article.
All of which are touched on within this article.
Quality and Time
There are two important foundational pillars of the promotional process; quality and time. By considering these two aspects, you are making sure that a) your podcast is worth promoting and b) you have a realistic expectation for your timeline for reaching success.
It may seem a bit obvious, but you need good quality content and audio production before you can even consider marketing your podcast. So often, clients want us to tackle their podcast marketing, but when we start our content audits, there are usually so many opportunities to improve their content. The bottom line is, even if you feel like you've nailed it, there's usually room for improvement. So, we suggest tackling that avenue before focusing on paid promotion.
So, here are a few things to keep in mind:
To market your podcast effectively, you need to hit the three qualities of good content:
- Value: Your listeners should always gain something from your podcast- whether that's information, guidance, or entertainment. So ask yourself, are the conversations you're having providing your listeners with added value that they can't get anywhere else? Are you teaching them a new skill or piece of information? Are you provoking listeners to think about something in a new way? Does your content entertain or tell a story?
- Retain: Strive to grab a listener's attention and keep it. Monitor your metrics and data provided by your hosting site. If listeners are switching off at specific points within an episode, note the timestamps and review the content. If it's a regular occurrence, it might be time to mix things up and improve. Take inspiration from similar podcasts, especially their formats, content, value proposition, and structures.
- Uniqueness: While humans are often creatures of habit, we do like our content fresh and unique. Uniqueness helps podcasts perform better, especially when they offer something enticingly new and interesting. However, uniqueness differs between topics. Begin by researching similar podcasts within your niche and create multiple Venn Diagrams to see how many data points land in the middle. If there are a lot, focus on improving and expanding on your differentiating factors first.
- Pro Tip: Don't jump on the marketing trend bandwagon because short-term gimmicks definitely won't sustain you. Instead, focus your attention on the long-term strategy.
Time & Consistency
Any strategy that we suggest will always come with the caveat that podcast fame just doesn't happen overnight. Podcast growth or "going viral" doesn't happen in the same way as video or social media. In our experience, most podcasts probably won't see any organic listenership growth for at least 5-6 months from launch.
This is because the podcast industry is very word of mouth-based, which takes time. There are tons of strategies that we can all do to kickstart that, such as running competitions, encouraging shares and reviews on social media, etc. But instead, you need focus on creating regular content because, in the end, consistency is what will seriously pay off.
So, be open to receiving minimal engagement at first, keep creating and publishing great content, and your efforts will be rewarded.
Know Your Audience
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your podcast will never appeal to everyone. That's just the sad fact of podcasting. Even Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the granddaddies of the podcast industry, doesn't sit too well with every single ear he crosses.
Instead of focusing on casting the widest net possible, you need to focus on fishing out the people you want tuning in. If you think about it, the wrong kinds of listeners aren't going to subscribe, review your podcast favorably, or ever consider sharing it. So, your job is to target the people who will.
Ideal Podcast Personas and Avatars
If you want to create content that converts, you have to start with the who. Any marketer worth their salt understands that you must always have your ideal consumers in mind for their communications to have an impact. It's no good trying to target the world as a whole, so you need to narrow your audience down. By putting yourself in your customer's shoes and visualizing their needs and pain points, you'll have a deeper understanding of the kind of content you should be producing.
An "Ideal Listener," sometimes referred to as persona or avatar, allows you to do just that. It's that one singular person you'd love to have to listen to your podcast. Having that person in mind makes it easier to structure your entire marketing process and plan your content.
To design your one dream consumer, write down all their demographics; age, occupation, family situation, income, likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc. Be specific, even if that means you have to create more than one persona for a podcast.
Statistically, only 44% of marketers use ideal listener personas. By building a persona for your podcast, you are already one step ahead of over half of the podcasters out there.
Reaching Your Target Audience
The main goal of podcast marketing is to ensure that your messages reach the right people. So, as stated above, understanding your target audience is 100% your main priority. Then reaching those target listeners in the right places comes in at a very close second.
Define Your Niche
If you haven't already, you should define and refine your niche. Niching down and becoming very specific about the content you're offering can help your ideal listeners find you. The common mistakes we see is podcasters trying to work within a topic that's too broad. The thinking is often that by taking on a broad topic, you'll reach more people, but that isn't the case.
People won't subscribe if you're not offering them what they want and need. Rather than creating yet another marketing podcast, refine your topic and make it niche. Instead, create a marketing podcast specifically targeted towards IT consultants or even lawyers! That way, your audience will be there for a specific reason- and most likely stick around.
What Are Your Ideal Listeners Listening To?
To find your target audiences, you want to research what other kinds of content they are already consuming. One of the most effective channels to look at is other podcasts. Tracking down podcasts that share a similar audience or topic to your podcast can give you a quick insight into the kind of content they want.
Here's a list of tools for reaching the best podcast audience:
1. Apple Podcasts
Apple Podcasts is one of the top podcast players in the industry, which means they have a vast catalog of podcasts to choose from. To discover similar podcasts to yours, search for either your podcast or a similar show within Apple Podcasts. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Here you will find two rows. The first, "Top Podcasts In [your chosen category]," shows similar podcasts within your topic. The second is "You Might Also Like." By finding these podcasts, you build a network of interconnected shows with shared audiences that you can utilize.
Listen to a few of the podcasts that appear within these searches and take note of their format, production value, and topics they cover. This will help build a greater picture of what the content world within your topic looks like.
PodNews.net is known for providing daily global news for those involved in podcasting. Not only is it a fantastic resource for industry information, but it also has great search features to refine your podcast research. All you need to do is type in your category or topic into the search bar and scroll through the content. For example, if you want to look at just podcasts, you'll need to scroll down towards the bottom of the search results. There you will find multiple podcasts that fall under the keyword you're searching for. Here are the search results for "Marketing" on podnews.net.
Podchaser is an incredibly user-friendly site that helps podcasters discover the latest podcasts, ratings & reviews, guest appearances, curated lists, and much more. We highly suggest opting in for a paid subscription. Although it can be pricey, the insights you get into any podcast's demographics are deeply insightful. By using the "Insights Pro" tab, you can review a podcast's estimated monthly listens, contact information, their Apple and Spotify Chart Positions, and the countries they're ranking in, along with so much more.
With some of the highest performing podcasts, you may also see listener demographics such as gender, income, median age, listener occupation, interests, influencers, top brands, etc.
Programs like Rephonic are ideal for scoping out your competitors. Using their "Audience Graph" option, you can search for a podcast and view all the "Listeners Also Subscribed To" data displayed in an interactive 3D map.
Rephonic's simple web-like design gives you an overview of the podcasts your target audience is already listening to. This provides you with an opportunity to do some quality market research.
5. Listen notes
Listen Notes is a free tool that provides multiple search options, including podcast episodes surrounding a specific topic or person without needing to subscribe or haplessly skip through hours of audio. What this means is, you don't have to use a particular podcast or category as a search term. Instead, your industry or topic keywords will yield a wealth of podcast results!
The Listen Notes team has built the most comprehensive podcast database and is considered the Google of podcasts. The Listen Explorer search option is perfect for seeking out similar podcasts to your own. Just type into the search bar your chosen podcast and get a list of recommendations.
Basic Podcast Promotion Tactics
Submit to Podcast Aggregators and Directories
The most impactful way to build an audience is to upload your podcast across every podcast directory and aggregator possible. A podcast directory also referred to as an aggregator or podcatcher, is an app that plays podcasts. The most well-known podcatcher is Apple Podcasts, the default podcast app that comes with iOS. No matter where your listeners tune in, your show should be available anywhere people consume podcasts.
But there are plenty more, including:
All you'll need is your podcast's RSS feed link, which is generated by your podcast hosting service (Transistor, Libsyn, Buzzsprout, etc.). Then, create user accounts and strive to submit that RSS feed to every podcast directory and aggregator available. Conveniently, you only need to do this once. After that, the directories will automatically update each time you publish a new episode.
Word-of-mouth (WOM) advertising is a powerful tool. WOM plays a role in 50-90% of all buying decisions. Most people tune into a podcast because they've heard about it elsewhere. So, how do you build hype and turn your podcast into a hot topic of conversation using gossip?
Interaction and connection: Connecting with your audience is incredibly important, so don't ignore your audience. Speak to them through your social media channels. Ask questions, encourage engagement, and spark a conversation surrounding your show.
The Earlybird Special: Create a waiting list for your upcoming podcast launch. Listeners can get early access to episodes and exclusive content by sharing the link on social media, emailing it to a friend, or liking a tweet about the launch.
Network: Find your audiences in the real world by researching online conferences, meetups, or local events in your area that relate to your podcast. Talk to as many of the event's attendees and speakers as you can. Don't be shy about talking about your podcast and how it relates to why you're attending the event. Depending on your podcast topic, get your coworkers and internal networks talking about your podcast too. You'll be amazed at how quickly the word will spread.
Produce Multiple Episodes Before Launch
"Be prepared" shouldn't be a phrase reserved only for the scouts. It also applies to podcasting. Having multiple episodes, preferably between 5-10, at your disposal before release will help relieve any pressure on you and your team and help you iron out any issues you may have as your episodes progress.
On the day of release, drop at least three episodes. People love to binge, and having a catalog, albeit a small one, will give listeners the chance to hear the host's voice and get used to the style and flow of your show.
"I actually received negative reviews from people who had listened to the first episode and were upset that there was only one."
Pat Flynn, the founder of Smart Passive Income.
Pro tip: Share your first episode with your internal team before its official release, and ask for feedback. This simple act can be invaluable. It will help you understand if the content is relevant and engaging and give you an insight into how you can improve.
Leverage Your Guest's Audience
Extend your content's reach by leveraging your guest's audience. There's a saying, "birds of a feather flock together." However cliché it sounds, there's some truth to it, and that truth is great for podcast marketing. Essentially, like-minded people do hang out together.
If your podcast's content is compelling and based on a topic they care about; your guest will be more than happy to share your podcast with their network. Whether that's through social media or their podcast, their audience will be full of people with a potential shared interest in your topic.
Harnessing your guest's audience network allows you to build an entirely new, active community around your content. Communities help drive engagement which will only aid in making your podcast more visible.
Make Your Promotion Expectations Clear
Never assume your podcast guest understands promotion etiquette and that they'll automatically share their podcast episode.
So, you need to prompt them and keep the promotion process simple. During your guest onboarding sequence, make it clear that you want your guest to share the episode on their social networks once it's live.
On the day of release, send them a friendly note with some shareable media such as graphic pull quotes sized for individual social media channels, Audiograms, audio clips, short videos, and any pre-written tweets or social media posts.
Don't forget to include any links to the episode (especially on Apple Podcasts). Explain when the show goes live, and provide them with all the social media captions, calls-to-action, and shareable links they'll need.
Present Your Guest In A Good Light
Create a solid onboarding sequence for when you're booking guests. For this phase, ask them to fill out a straightforward form to jot down their social media links, plus anything they're promoting (books, products, services, promotional offers, etc.), a short bio, and a profile picture.
Be sure to spread all this information throughout your show notes. For example, you can create a well-thought-out guest section containing those links and bio using that content. You want to formulate show notes that your guest would be all too proud to share and promote, so add as much complimentary guest content as possible.
Before you even sit down to record, you should strive to be a great podcast host, researching your guest as much as possible. This is because so many interviewees are asked the same questions repeatedly.
Gather as much information about your guest as possible. Review their social media, connect with them on LinkedIn, listen to other podcasts they've either hosted or been on, and read their books. Guests genuinely appreciate it when a host is well-informed and prepared and will be more inclined to share a podcast episode when they feel like they've been taken seriously.
Be a Guest
Becoming a guest on another show is a great way to introduce your brand to an already qualified audience. However, Before you start pitching to as many high-performing podcasts as possible, you'll need to consider which podcasts will provide value to your business.
- Look at the reviews: A podcast's reviews should give you an indication of whether listeners are engaged and enthusiastic about the podcast.
- Search their social media accounts: Examine their social media following and engagement with the podcaster. Are users commenting on, liking, or sharing their content? If they have a high engagement rate, they'll be more inclined to share your episode.
- Watch Their Data: Try to establish what their overall data looks like. Do they get a lot of downloads and reviews? What do their demographics tell you about the audience?
To find relevant podcasts to work with, try out these resources:
- PodcastGuests.com: This service puts podcast producers and hosts in touch with high-quality and relevant guests.
- Create a List of Prospective Podcasts: Create a tracking sheet that helps you organize which podcasts you want to reach out to. Begin by researching similar shows to yours via Podchaser, PodNews, Rephonic, Google, Apple Podcasts, etc. Add podcasts to the spreadsheet as you find podcasts you want to target.
- Radio Guest List: Subscribe to their "Guest Request" newsletter and receive pitches from podcasts looking for guests every Monday and Wednesday.
Focus on working with other podcasts within your niche and have a complementary audience to yours.
Promote Your Podcast on Social Media
Great podcast marketing is all about making sure your show is available in as many places as possible. Social media holds a lot of power in generating organic listenership. But, social media promotion almost seems like a mystery marketing channel for many podcasters. How exactly can you promote audio on social media?
With just a little imagination and ingenuity, you can share rich media, soundbites, video, images, teasers, and more across your channels.
- Tease featured guests in an upcoming episode: Get fans excited about tuning in by creating a short teaser trailer. Some podcasters create audiograms with the audio straight from the episode. Others might create a short video that includes their guest. Whichever route you choose, make sure to tag or mention your guest on social media so they can share or comment on your posts.
- Share highlights of your latest episodes in short clips or audiograms. If you're looking to create social-friendly clips for free, Spotify's hosting platform Anchor can allow you to do just that. Also, Headliner user-friendly process enables podcasters to create shareable audiograms easily.
- Remix your show content into channel-specific content pieces. Podcasters seriously underutilize Twitter threads and Instagram stories. If you offer multiple opinions or information on a particular topic, why not share those insights as a Twitter thread or an Instagram Story series.
Start by sharing an update when the episode first goes live. Make sure to pin your Tweet or Facebook post along with a link to your Apple Podcast.
Use free online design programs like Canva or Pablo for your social media posts. You can easily create templates for quote images or bold ads that you can update and reuse for every episode.
While there is some debate about their efficacy, Audiograms help bring some animation to your audio. You just pick a great audio clip, animate it, and share it wherever you need to.
Create a short, 15-25 second sound bite clip to upload to Soundcloud, which you can instantly share to Twitter.
Run a Giveaway Contest
Never underestimate the deep-seated allure of free stuff. As we've experienced, giveaways can be a powerful motivator to drive listenership and build traction- especially amongst internal teams.
The catch? Listeners have to review and subscribe to your podcast on Apple Podcasts as part of the entry requirements for your giveaway. So as you encourage audiences to interact with your show, you'll have a sudden uplift in the social proof of your podcast while simultaneously getting Apple Podcasts to take notice.
Here are some free and paid giveaways ideas:
- Product discounts
- Small merchandise items such as stickers and coasters
- Mention in the show notes
- A mention at the end of the show
- A 5-minute guest spot on the podcast
Start by launching the contest on social media, and be sure to mention it on your show, with simple instructions on how to enter and when the winner will be announced. One word of advice, avoid generic giveaway items like Amazon gift cards. You'll receive a lot of people who have no intention of following your brand.
Publish at Strategic Times
It isn't often talked about, but publishing at the right time does hold a lot of weight. Depending on your audience, the time an episode drops can be crucial. One way to determine the best timeframe to publish is by looking at when other similar podcasts are doing it—noticing any trends? Well, there's probably a reason why.
As you continue to publish your episodes, you'll begin to gather a healthy bank of data. Look through the numbers, identify any patterns in listener behavior, and experiment with release times and days based on that.
When and How to Release Your Podcast Episodes
Once you have established your preferred publishing days, you will need to create a bit of hype around every single episode before you publish. Tease the newest episode 24 hours ahead of time and keep sharing this post multiple times throughout the week. Ideally, you want to produce 3x Twitter posts and share all three on the first day. Then, create and share 2x posts to Facebook within the first week.
While some people steer clear of Instagram Lives, it can be a great tool. Often it gives listeners and followers a glimpse of who the host is and puts a face to the voice.
Podcast marketing on social media is all about persistence. Keep talking about your show, and stay visible. So often, things get lost in the sea of posts on social media, so the more you keep posting, the higher the chance people will see it.
Pro Tip: People are curious about how things are created, so talk about anything behind-the-scenes in an Instagram or Facebook story. Try to include your guests in these Instagram posts where possible.
Use HARO to Get Media Exposure
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a service that connects journalists with experts to add authority to their reporting. Enrolling as a source via HARO's pitching process allows sources (i.e., podcasters) to find topics related to their expertise, industry, or experience. Those within media who need an expert will approach you when they have questions, and in return, you'll be quoted and have a link featured within their content.
Using Paid Ad Strategies To Reach Your Podcast Audience
If you have a reasonable time frame to work within and the budget to boot, we've found paid ads for promoting a podcast is an excellent route to take- especially if your podcast is part of your marketing strategy, and lead generation and email list building are your primary objectives.
When it comes to promoting your podcast using paid ads, there are a few options:
- Banner Ads
- Programmatic Ads
- Sponsoring a podcast/ host-read ads
If you've tried and failed with both AdWords and Facebook, it's probably because you're advertising to non-podcast listeners. In-podcast advertising networks help solve this problem. They're so effective because you're meeting your audience exactly where they already are- listening and subscribing to podcasts.
Placing an ad or having the host read an ad for you is surprisingly powerful. According to Midroll, podcast listeners trust their favorite hosts, and therefore 61% of them have purchased from podcast ads.
Costs can vary, but generally, podcast ads are priced on a cost-per-thousand downloads model or CPM. For example, if you are quoted $25 CPM for an ad spot on a show with an average of 10,000 downloads per episode, it will cost $250. So, for 100,000 downloads, it's $2500. We've found that repetition is vital for host-read ads, so having a healthy paid ad budget is necessary to keep that momentum.
WE CAN HELP
- If you're looking to promote your podcast the Lower Street podcast growth specialists are right here and ready to help Contact us today.
Promoting a podcast is a constant wave of trial and error. Finding the best way to market your podcast requires testing a few different strategies and channels to see what works for your show.
Start with quality and engaging content because quality trumps all. You'll never grow an audience if you have an average product, so put your efforts into producing high-quality audio.
Creativity is always welcome in the podcast industry, so look for new and creative ways to drive subscribers towards your brand.