How to Promote a Podcast: Ideas & Tips on the Best Strategies
We've looked at advertising your podcast. We did a deep dive on growing your audience. Now it’s time to learn how to promote your podcast. We’ll be covering techniques and strategies to help you get the word out. If you haven’t already, be sure to read the posts linked above for a rounded view of these nuanced topics.
How to Promote a Podcast: 10 Proven Strategies
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and aren’t getting the results you want, don’t give up. The strategies shared below will give your podcast every possible opportunity to thrive. Best of all, none of them involve you using a megaphone.
1. Leverage Your Podcast Guests
Perhaps the best way to promote your podcast is to piggyback on your guests’ audiences. Once a podcast episode is live, send an email to your featured guest asking them to share it across their channels.
The more personalized you can make it, the more likely they will be to take action. Take a look at the template we use here at Lower Street for our clients with interview-style shows.
The main thing to keep in mind here is to make sharing as easy as possible for your guests. And if you don’t see anything on their channels within a few days — follow up! People are busy, but since this is free PR for their brand, the majority of them will be happy to share.
2. Mention Your Podcast in Your Newsletter
If someone has opted-in to receive your content via email, chances are they’ll be interested in listening to your podcast, too. Make sure you take advantage of your list(s).
You can include a mention of your podcast in your weekly newsletter, but we recommend sending a dedicated message about the show each week. Along with highlighting the value of the episode, it should also include a call to action to subscribe on whichever podcast platform they use.
Using SmartLinks makes this super simple. We explain how to go about it in How to Grow Your Podcast Audience.
3. Engage in Partnerships and Cross-Promotion
As marketers, we know that in order to find new customers we need to know where our target audience already hangs out and meet them there. The same goes for podcasting.
In this case, our target audience are self-identified audible learners interested in the subject matter that our podcast covers. Therefore, one of the best places to influence and connect with them is through their ears with targeted, relevant podcasts.
There are ways to pay for this kind of exposure, such as advertising, but you can just as easily get by without spending a penny on podcast promotion sites.
One way is via cross-promo partnerships with other podcasters. Find shows with a similar target audience to yours and reach out to them offering a cross-promotion — that is, recommending each other’s podcast to your respective listenerships. This is something that the big podcast networks do all the time — making avid listeners aware of other great shows they might enjoy.
Given that the average podcast listener is subscribed to seven shows, there is no risk of losing your audience by pointing them in the direction of additional good content.
Sending out pre-roll messages recommending each other’s shows is an easy way to yield new listeners. Alternatively, you could offer an episode swap where you both air an episode from the other show on your feed to give your respective audiences a taste of something different.
This is a super effective strategy that all podcasters should be doing more of!
4. Become a Regular Podcast Guest
Appearing as a guest on relevant shows is another way to get in front of other podcast audiences and grow awareness of your show. Similar in theory to cross-promotion, but with some added advantages. It’s an opportunity for you to share your expertise with other audiences and point listeners back to your show.
A certain percentage of them will check you out and subscribe to your show. Plus, appearing on other podcasts is great PR for your business or personal brand.
Finding suitable podcasts and pitching yourself as a guest can be a challenge. I sought the advice of expert Tom Schwab, CEO of Interview Valet, who specializes in booking podcast appearances.
Bigger is not better, it’s just bigger. Better is better. Success comes from targeting the right shows.
The algorithm we use focuses on 4 pillars:
1. The Podcast: Do they share a similar audience and do they have established shows (# of episodes) and a solid base of engaged listeners (ratings and reviews).
2. The Website: Each appearance will give your podcast website a back link, vital for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and helping Google rank your show higher on searches.
3. The Reach: Do they promote the episode on social media and email? How big of a following do they have?
4. Experience with other guests: Do they have similar guests?
Invite people back to your show by name. Too often people refer to “the podcast” or “my new show." You know what you mean but the listener and Google have no idea how to find you.
—Tom Schwab, CEO of Interview Valet
5. Use Your Superpower
Is your product a web app with thousands of users? How can you include a mention of your podcast in your UI and get in front of a huge audience right away?
Are you a business with multiple physical locations? When Trader Joe’s put up notices at all their stores to make their customers aware of their new podcast, they grew a large subscriber base very quickly.
Are you a business with multiple offices and hundreds or thousands of employees? Encourage all your employees to listen and subscribe to the show — that’s a big audience straight off the bat. Can you have all your employees include a link to the show in their email signatures or send a link to their clients directly? That’s a lot of potential reach.
Get your salespeople to mention it to prospects or work with your partners and cross-promote the show with them.
Whatever your business is, identify your superpower and make the most of it. If you’re making a podcast that represents your brand authentically — and does it well — then you should be shouting about it from the rooftops, using every available channel.
6. Request Reviews
Until recently, 5 star reviews didn’t affect your visibility in Apple Podcasts and other directories.
But, now that the New and Noteworthy and What's Hot sections of the Apple Podcast directory are back, it's definitely worth asking your listeners for ratings and reviews. This is how to promote your podcast on iTunes in a simple but effective way.
Beyond that, the reviews act as great social proof and give you an opportunity to learn what your audience likes about your show so that you can do more of it — and fix things that inspire bad reviews. Hopefully you won't get too many of those, but when you do, make sure you learn from them.
A simple call to action at the end of your show will work. For even greater impact, consider holding a competition with some giveaways to some (or all) of the people that leave reviews. (Who doesn't love some podcast swag?)
7. Take Advantage of PR and Earned Media
Traditional PR is a world of its own and not something I’m going to delve into too deeply here. But used properly, it can provide a huge boost to your podcast listener base.
There are a number of ways you can pitch your show to get various forms of PR exposure. They can include:
Relevant industry publications and newsletters.
Traditional publications and news sites.
Other podcasts (covered above).
Press releases and blog posts.
Events and speaking opportunities.
Curator features within podcast apps.
‘Best of’ roundup blog posts.
Be Included in Curator Features Within Podcast Apps
According to the respondents of the 2019 Jacobs Media Techsurvey, 17% of podcast discovery is driven by promotion on Apple Podcasts. With the other 78% being a mix of word-of-mouth and online discovery. So, while getting featured by Apple (and other curators) isn’t the be-all and end-all, it can certainly have a big impact on your podcast’s reach.
Dan Misener reported on the effect of being featured in the Australian Apple Podcast storefront. It catapulted his show from around 100th position in the “Personal Journals” category to 3rd (in the Australian charts). That’s a big leap.
How do you get featured in Apple’s Flowcase (as Apple refers to the featured spots at the top of their app)?
It’s all about really great content. As with all the strategies in this guide, concentrate on making a show that delivers as much value to your listeners as possible. Curators on the big platforms like Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Overcast and so on, will only consider featuring content pitched to them that stands out from the sea of other shows out there.
Kris Lawson, producer and host of Building a Unicorn has commented on the impact that being featured in Pocket Casts had on the growth of his shows. He has some advice for making a solid pitch for your podcast:
Every app has different types of shows which work best for their audience and they’re likely to feature content that fits with that crowd. Also, if your show is branded well with great artwork that stands out it’s much more likely to be in the running for a feature.
—Kris Lawson, host of Building a Unicorn
Dan Misener recommends that you think about the following when looking to pitch your show to other curators and aggregators:
Is my show or episode actually worth promoting? What makes it notable, timely or special? To whom? What’s the hook?
How can I demonstrate that I’m invested in making my show a success on this platform?
Visually, how will my show stand out from the rest?
Can I create custom artwork that doesn’t simply repurpose my existing show artwork?
—Dan Misener, producer of Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids and Head of Audience Development, Pacific Content
Get Featured in a ‘Best of’ Roundup Blog Post
A quick Google search will likely yield a number of ‘Top X podcasts’ for whatever niche topic your podcast covers.
Reach out and pitch your show to be included in those blog posts. It’s a relatively easy win and it's also a great piece of link building for your podcast's SEO.
8. Make Launch Day Count With 3-5 Episodes
You know what frustrates listeners more than bad content? Really great content that’s all by itself. Putting together your first podcast episode will take some doing and you’ll be excited to share it right away.
I hear you, but don’t hit publish until you have at least three episodes in the bag. Five is better, but three will do. Publishing 3-5 episodes right out of the gate has some significant benefits.
According to John Lee Dumas, founder and host of the uber successful Entrepreneur On Fire, releasing a minimum of three episodes on launch day and then spending the first week asking your audience to download all 3 and leave a rating and review is a surefire way to get featured on Apple Podcasts new and noteworthy section.
And he should know. EOF was ranked the #1 business podcast for an incredible 8 weeks straight after launching. Once that happens, John says, momentum will take over and your podcast will continue to climb higher and higher in the rankings.
In addition to your launch day cache, make sure you have another 2-4 episodes ready to go. This means you’ll have the first few weeks (depending on your posting schedule) covered.
9. Repurpose Your Content for Social Media and Elsewhere
Repurposing podcast content is hands down one of the best ways to promote your podcast. These are some examples of ways to mix things up and extend the life of each podcast episode. Take a look at our post (linked above) for more ideas as well as how to go about executing each of them.
While it’s helpful to understand exactly how to promote your podcast on social media, be careful not to spread your efforts too wide. The scattershot approach rarely yields results.
A better, not to mention less time consuming, way is to pick a couple of platforms that suit your content and where you know your audience hangs out. That may require some initial digging, but the effort will be worth it.
Your social media posts will reach the people they will most likely resonate with. Instead of radio silence, you’ll receive positive feedback in the form of likes, comments and shares.
10. Embrace the Art of the Zen Hustle
Nowadays, everyone and their Grandma is hustling. Hustling to make ends meet, to be heard, to make their pipe dreams a reality. To make someday today.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, it implies a sense of urgency that can have an adverse effect on your podcast goals. Podcasting (like most online endeavors) is a long game.
Accept the fact that this is going to take a while. Rather than feel frustrated by the lack of immediate results, think of the process as a fun road trip and enjoy the journey.
One definite no-no is getting hung up on analytics early on. Podcast tracking is important, obviously, but it’s easy to get mired in the numbers. Use analytics purely as a gauge to see what’s working and adjust your content accordingly.
Resist the urge to constantly check how many downloads, shares, comments, etc. your fledgling podcast has had. You’ll just drive yourself crazy. You also run the risk of giving up too soon. Embrace the art of the Zen hustle and have fun.
Remember, while paid advertising can certainly help you promote your podcast, there are plenty of other ways to achieve the same goal without blowing your marketing budget. Spend some time going through the strategies mentioned above and before long you’ll see that needle moving.
Here at Lower Street we’ve done and seen just about everything when it comes to promotion techniques and we’re always keeping our ears to the ground for new ones. If you’re short on time or expertise, the easiest way to promote a podcast is to enlist the help of our podcast promotion service.