How to Market Your Podcast: A Strategy for Success
There are currently more than 2.4 million podcasts worldwide with some 66 million episodes between them. With the number of podcast listeners predicted to increase to 424 million by the end of 2022, the market is far from saturated.
That said, it is becoming increasingly difficult for new podcasts to gain traction. Marketing is more important than it’s ever been, but when you’re just starting out it can be overwhelming.
We’ve put together some tips and strategies to help you grow your audience and your business. We’ve also included a checklist to make things even easier. Let’s dive in.
4 Key Components of Your Strategy
Investing in a professional podcast marketing service is one way to go about it. Having the experts take care of the planning, implementation, data monitoring and more can certainly take the headache out of promoting your podcast. But, not everyone can afford to go that route. Fortunately, learning how to do it yourself is relatively straightforward.
The folks at Spotify say that a successful podcast marketing strategy has four key components:
- Leveraging the right promotional channels.
- Creating engaging promo content for social media.
- Utilizing your current audience.
- Collaborating with similar creators and guests.
We'll touch on all of these within this article.
Marketing Requires Quality and Time
Before we dive into the tactics, it is crucial to remember that the two most important pillars of the marketing process are quality and time. You need to ensure that your content is worth promoting and that you have a realistic timeline for achieving success.
Quality Is Key
Without good quality content and audio production there’s no point even thinking about marketing your podcast. Even if you feel like you've nailed it, there's usually room for improvement. Good content must tick these three boxes:
- Value: Your listeners should always gain something from your podcast. Whether that's information, guidance or entertainment. Ask yourself if the conversations you're having provide your listeners with added value that they can't get anywhere else? Are you teaching them a new skill or sharing new information? Are you prompting 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 them hooked. Monitor the 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. Seek inspiration from similar podcasts. Pay attention to their format, content, value proposition and structure.
- Uniqueness: Humans might be creatures of habit, but we still enjoy content that is fresh and unique. Being unique helps podcasts perform better, especially when they offer something new and interesting. Research podcasts within your niche to see how you can improve or expand on your content.
Pro Tip: Don't resort to marketing gimmicks to garner attention. Focus on the long game by creating content that’s engaging and useful.
Take Your Time and Be Consistent
Podcast fame doesn't happen overnight. "Going viral" doesn't happen in the same way as it does for video or social media. In our experience, most podcasts don’t see any organic listenership growth for at least 5-6 months from launch.
This is because the podcast industry is largely based on word-of-mouth, which takes time. There are plenty of strategies that can kickstart the process, such as running competitions, encouraging shares and reviews on social media, etc. Ultimately though, it comes down to creating great content on a consistent basis.
Make peace with the fact that there’ll be minimal engagement at first and focus instead on providing value. In the end, your efforts will be rewarded.
How to Market Your Podcast to the Right Audience
Your podcast won’t appeal to everyone. That's just the sad truth of podcasting (and any other kind of content, for that matter). Even Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the granddaddies of the podcast industry, doesn't sit well with every single ear he crosses.
Rather than casting your net as wide as possible, focus instead on fishing out the people you know will be interested in your content. Reaching the wrong kind of listeners won’t drive traffic to your podcast. They’re not going to subscribe to your channel. They won’t leave reviews and they won’t consider sharing it, either. Target the people who will subscribe, review and share your podcast and you’ll have a far greater chance of success.
Develop Ideal Podcast Personas and Avatars
Creating content that converts starts with knowing your “who.” For your communications to have an impact, your ideal consumer must always be front of mind. Narrow your audience down by putting yourself in your customer's shoes. Getting to grips with their needs and pain points will guide you on the kind of content you should be producing.
An "Ideal Listener," sometimes referred to as a 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. With that person in mind, it’s much easier to structure your marketing process and plan your content.
Start by writing down your ideal listener's 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.
Reach Your Target Audience
When it comes to marketing a podcast, it’s imperative that your message reaches the right people. If understanding your target audience is your number one priority, reaching them in the right places comes in at a very close second.
Define Your Niche
If you haven't already, now is the time to define and refine your niche. Niching down and becoming very specific about the content you're offering can help your ideal listeners find you. A common mistake with new podcasters is that they focus on a topic that’s too broad. They mistakenly believe that by having a broad topic they’ll reach more people, but that isn’t the case.
People won't subscribe unless you offer them something they want and/or need. Rather than creating yet another marketing podcast, create a marketing podcast that’s aimed specifically at IT consultants or lawyers. When you take that approach your audience will be there for a specific reason and they will be more likely to stick around.
Determine What Your Ideal Listeners Are Listening To
To find your target audience, 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 audience:
1. Apple Podcasts
As one of the top players in the industry, Apple Podcasts has a vast catalog of podcasts to choose from. To discover podcasts that are similar to yours, search for your podcast (or one you know is similar to yours) in Apple Podcasts.
When you scroll down to the bottom of the page you’ll see two rows.
Top Podcasts In [your chosen category] shows comparable podcasts within your niche.
You Might Also Like highlights even more shows with shared audiences that might be of interest to you.
Listen to a few of the podcasts that appear within these searches and take note of their format, production value and the types of topics they cover. This will provide deeper insight into the type of content that’s popular within your niche
PodNews.net is a well known resource for industry information. Its excellent search functions also make it the perfect place to find out more about your potential audience.
Type your category or topic into the search bar and browse through the results. Scroll down to the bottom of the search results to see the podcasts that fall under the keyword you searched for.
Take a look at the search results for ”marketing“ on podnews.net.
Podchaser is an incredibly user-friendly site that helps podcasters discover the latest podcasts, ratings and reviews, guest appearances, curated lists and much more. Although it can be pricey, the paid version offers valuable insights into a podcast's demographics.
The "Insights Pro" tab allows you to review a podcast's estimated monthly listens, contact information, their Apple and Spotify chart positions as well as the countries they're ranking in and much more.
With some of the highest performing podcasts, you’re also able to get a look at listener demographics such as gender, income, median age, occupation, interests, influencers, top brands, etc.
Platforms like Rephonic are ideal for scoping out your competitors. Using their "Audience Graph" option, you can view a podcast’s "Listeners Also Subscribed To" data, which is displayed in an interactive 3D map.
Rephonic's simple web-like design provides an overview of the podcasts your target audience is already listening to, giving you the opportunity to do some quality market research.
5. Listen Notes
Listen Notes is a free tool with multiple search functions. It allows you to search for episodes based on topic or person without having to subscribe or scrub through hours of audio. Rather than a specific podcast or category, you can instead search according to your industry. Even using topic-related keywords will yield a wealth of podcast results!
The Listen Explorer search option is perfect for seeking out podcasts that are similar to your own. Type your chosen podcast into the search bar and you’ll receive a host of recommendations. With such a comprehensive database, it’s no wonder Listen Notes is considered the Google of podcasts.
3 Basic Podcast Marketing Tactics
Once you’ve nailed your niche and gotten clear on who your ideal listener is, it’s time to get started with some basic tactics. These might be relatively simple to carry out, but don’t underestimate the effect they can have on your overall strategy.
1. Submit to Podcast Directories
The most impactful way to build an audience is to upload your podcast across every podcast directory 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. It doesn’t matter where your listeners tune in, your show should be available anywhere people consume podcasts.
Other equally popular podcatchers include:
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.
2. Get People Talking (Word-of-Mouth Recommendations)
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? We're glad you asked.
Interaction and connection: Connecting with your audience is incredibly important. Get to know them through your social media channels. Ask questions, encourage engagement and spark a conversation around 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 audience in the real world by researching online conferences, meetups or local events in your area that relate to your podcast. Speak 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 your reason for attending the event. Depending on your podcast topic, get your coworkers and internal networks talking about your podcast, too. You'll be amazed by how quickly the word will spread.
3. Produce Multiple Episodes Before Launch
When it comes to podcasting, it pays to be prepared. Having multiple episodes (preferably between 5-10) ready to go prior to launching will reduce the pressure on you and your team and give you the space to deal with any teething issues.
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 can also provide insight into ways you can improve.
Leverage Your Guest's Audience
Extend your content's reach by leveraging your guest's audience. Like-minded people usually hang out together. If your 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 on their own podcast, their audience is likely to 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. We all know that communities help drive engagement. Leveraging this will only aid in making your podcast more visible.
Be Clear About Your Expectations
Don’t just assume that your podcast guest will automatically share the interview with their audience. Very often they will, but it’s not a given.
Make sure you prompt them into action by keeping the process as simple as possible. During your guest onboarding sequence, make it clear that you would love for them to share the episode on their social networks once it's live.
On the day of release, send a friendly reminder 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.
Remember to include any links to the episode (especially on Apple Podcasts). Let them know when the show will go live and provide them with all the social media captions, calls-to-action and shareable links they might need.
Present Your Guest in a Good Light
Create a solid onboarding sequence for when you're booking guests. Ask them to fill out a straightforward form where they can include their social media links, anything else they're looking to promote (books, products, services, promotional offers, etc.), a short bio and a profile picture.
Be sure to add this information to your show notes. For example, you can create a guest section that includes their bio and relevant links. Showcasing your guest in a good light will motivate them to share the show notes with their audience.
Remember, a big part of being a great podcast host comes down to research. Get to know as much about your guest as much as possible before you actually sit down to record. This will help you avoid asking the same questions as everyone else and enable you to bring a fresh angle to the conversation.
Review their social media feeds, 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. They’ll also be more inclined to share a podcast episode when they feel like they've been taken seriously.
Become a Regular Guest on Other Podcasts
Becoming a guest on other shows is a great way to introduce your brand to an already qualified audience. Before you start pitching yourself to other podcasts, take some time to consider which ones will provide value to your business.
- Look at the reviews: A podcast's reviews will 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?
Find relevant podcasts to work with using 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 spreadsheet to help you keep track of the podcasts you want to reach out to. Begin by researching similar shows to yours via Podchaser, PodNews, Rephonic, Google, Apple Podcasts, etc.
- 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 that have a complementary audience to yours.
Publicize 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.
How exactly do you promote audio on social media?
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 then update and reuse for every episode. And create a short, 15-25 second sound bite clip to upload to Soundcloud, which you can instantly share to Twitter.
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 features their guest. Whichever route you choose, make sure to tag or mention your guest on social media so they can comment on and share 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 allows you to do just that. Headliner also has a user-friendly process that enables podcasters to create shareable audiograms easily.
- Remix your show content into channel-specific content pieces: Podcasters often 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?
While there is some debate about their efficacy, audiograms help bring some animation to your audio. Simply pick a great audio clip, animate it and then share it wherever you like.
Post Frequently to Create and Carry on the Hype
Social media is great for creating hype, both prior to and after releasing your podcast episodes.
Share a teaser of your newest episode 24 hours ahead of time, and keep reminding your audience about the show via posts multiple times throughout the week. Ideally, you want to produce three Twitter posts and share all of them on the first day. Next, create and share two posts to Facebook within the first week.
While some people steer clear of Instagram Live, it can be a great tool for podcast marketing. It gives listeners and followers a glimpse of who the host is and puts a face to the voice.
Persistence is key here. Keep talking about your show and make sure you stay visible. Things can easily get lost in the sea of posts on social media. The more you post, the more chance there is of people seeing your content.
Pro Tip: People are curious about how things are created, so be sure to share some of the behind-the-scenes content in an Instagram or Facebook story. Where possible, try to include your guests in these posts.
Run a Giveaway Contest
Never underestimate the deep-seated allure of free stuff. Giveaways can be a powerful motivator to drive listenership and build traction, especially amongst internal teams.
Get listeners to review and subscribe to your podcast on Apple Podcasts as part of the entry requirements for your giveaway. As you encourage people to interact with your show, you'll enjoy a sudden upswing 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
- A 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. Be sure to mention it on your show, along 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. It’ll only encourage people who have no intention of following your brand.
Publish at Strategic Times
It isn't often talked about, but there’s something to be said for knowing the best day to publish a podcast. Depending on your audience, the time an episode drops can be crucial. One way to determine the best timeframe to publish is by seeing when other podcasts are doing it. If you notice any trends it might pay you to follow suit.
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.
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 you to find topics related to your expertise, industry or experience.
Media representatives in need of an expert may approach you when they have questions. Alternatively, you can directly respond to any journalists' queries that you're suited to answer. By sharing insightful responses, you'll be quoted and have a link featured within their content.
Paid Ad Strategies to Reach Your Podcast Audience
If you have a reasonable time frame to work within and the budget to boot, using paid ads to market a podcast is an excellent route to take. This can be especially beneficial if your podcast is part of your overall marketing strategy, where lead generation and email list building are your primary objectives.
There are a few options to consider when using paid ads:
- 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. The reason they're so effective is because you're meeting your audience where they are.
Placing an ad or having the host read an ad for you is surprisingly powerful. According to Midroll, podcast listeners trust their favorite hosts. Which is probably why 61% of them have made a purchase based on podcast ads.
Costs can vary, but generally speaking podcast ads are priced on a cost-per-thousand downloads model (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. For 100,000 downloads, it’ll set you back $2500.
Repetition is vital for host-read ads, so having a healthy paid ad budget is necessary to keep the 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.
Follow a Podcast Marketing Checklist
We’ve given you a lot to take onboard and consider with regards to marketing and promoting a podcast. To get the most out of everything we’ve shared, our advice would be to take it a step at a time. Read each section and apply what you learn.
Creating a successful plan takes time and patience. Using a checklist will help you ensure you don’t miss anything. It’ll also reduce the risk of overwhelm.
Consider adding your own items to the checklist as well.
1. Create a ‘Coming Soon’ Landing Page
Having somewhere to send people to learn more about your podcast has numerous benefits. You can tell them about the launch date, upcoming episodes and give them an opportunity to subscribe to your email list. Take a look at our podcast website examples for inspiration.
2. Submit to Apple Before You Launch
While it can happen within 24 hours, Apple typically takes 3-5 days to approve your podcast once you’ve uploaded it. Make sure it’s approved beforehand to avoid the embarrassment of having nothing to show on launch day.
3. Set Up Social Media Profiles
Create social media profiles on your chosen platforms before you launch so that prospective listeners can learn more about your podcast and the type of content they can expect to hear. Make sure your logo and banner artwork matches your podcast branding to drive awareness. And don't forget the importance of eye-catching cover art!
4. Create Promotional Material for Social Media
Having a bunch of pre-written posts (including images, sound snippets, etc.) will take the pressure off in the lead-up to your launch. The last thing you need is the additional stress of trying to come up with engaging content on the fly.
5. Build an Email List
If you don’t already have one, get started on building an email list of people you can market your podcast to. Having a list of subscribers is hugely beneficial. You can let them know when new episodes are published and ask for feedback on content.
What to Do Going Forward
A big part of marketing your podcast will come down to trial and error. You’ll have to test different strategies and approaches to see what works for your show. Before long you’ll land on the right formula.
We’ve shared many different ways to grow your audience, but it’s important to remember that engaging content must always be at the heart of your podcast marketing endeavors.
Average won’t get you more listeners. Make the effort to produce high-quality audio. Be creative. Look for new and different ways to drive subscribers to your brand. If you build it they will come (but only if you do a good job of marketing it first).