How to Promote a Podcast: Checklist, Ideas, Tips & More
Once you've launched your show, how do you increase your number of listeners? We cover best, easiest, and most effective podcast promotion strategies.
If you’ve seen our posts about how to advertise your podcast and how to grow your podcast audience, then here’s the final piece of the puzzle: how to promote a podcast. We’ll be covering some additional techniques and strategies that weren’t covered in the other posts, but it’s a good idea to read all of them for a rounded-view of these nuanced topics.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and aren’t getting the results you want, don’t give up. This is all about giving your podcast every possible opportunity to thrive. The best way to promote your podcast will depend on who is in your target audience and where they are online, so it’s crucial to understand these things.
Leverage your podcast guests
Perhaps the best way to promote a podcast is to consistently find new listeners week after week by piggybacking on the audiences of the guests or contributors of your podcast. So once an episode is live, send an email to whoever was featured in it asking them to share it across their channels. This is one of the most useful and best answers to the question of how to promote your podcast on social media - get other people to do it for you!
The more personalised you can make it, the more likely the guest will be to take action. Here’s an example template we use here at Lower Street for our clients with interview-style shows:
Hi _____, A quick note to let you know that your episode with _____ about _____ has been published to the podcast feed today and our subscribers are listening right now! We'd really appreciate it if you could share it with your network to help your interview reach as many listeners as possible. To make it easy, here are the things you need: Link to your episode: _____ A short video snippet we created for social: _____ Here's a suggested tweet: _____ Or if you just want to retweet us, here's a link to that: ______ Thanks again for being a part of the podcast, I think our listeners will get a ton of value from the episode. If you have any questions let me know. Cheers, _____
Whatever you send to the guests, just make their job of sharing it as easy as you possibly can. And if you don’t see anything on their channels within a few days - follow up! People are busy, but this is free PR for your guests, so the majority of people will be happy to share.
If someone has opted-in to receive your content via email, chances are they’ll be interested in hearing your podcast, too. So definitely take advantage of your list(s).
You can include mention of your podcast in your weekly newsletter, but we recommend sending a dedicated message about the show each week. It should highlight the value of the episode, how to listen, and of course, have a call to action to subscribe on whichever platform they use.
Use SmartLinks as described in this post to make things super simple.
Partnerships and cross-promotion
As marketers, we know that in order to find new customers we need to find out where our target audience already hangs out, and meet them there. The same goes for podcasting.
In this case, our target audience is podcast listeners interested in the subject matter that our podcast covers - self-identified audible learners. So one of the best places to influence and connect with them is through their ears on targeted, relevant podcasts.
There are ways to pay for this kind of exposure - which we’ll get to later on - but there are ways to do this without spending a penny on the podcast promotion sites.
The first is through cross-promo partnerships with other podcasters. Find shows that serve a similar target audience to you, 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 towards more good content.
Cross-promotion could be as simple as pre-roll messages recommending each other’s shows, or it could go as far as an episode swap where you both air an episode from the other show on your feed to give your audiences a taste of the content.
This is a super effective strategy that all podcasters should be doing more of!
Another way to get in front of other podcast audiences to grow awareness of your show, is to appear on relevant shows as a guest. The theory is exactly the same as the cross-promotion, but in this version you 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. So I sought the advice of expert Tom Schwab, CEO of Interview Valet who specialise 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 you 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
Use your superpower
The team at Pacific Content often talk about using your superpower to market your podcast and in many cases this is an overlooked channel that could make the biggest impact on your podcast’s growth.
Is your product an 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 reach there!
Get your sales people 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 and using every channel you have available to you to promote it.
If I was wondering how to promote my podcast, the aforementioned tips are some of the very first things I would do.
Until recently, 5 star reviews didn’t affect your visibility in Apple Podcasts and other directories.
But the New and Noteworthy and What's Hot sections of the Apple Podcast directory are back. So once again, it's well worth asking your listeners for ratings and reviews. This is how to promote your podcast on iTunes in the most basic form.
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 (but I’m sure you won’t get any of those ;) )
A simple call to action at the end of your show will work. Or for a greater impact, consider holding a competition with some giveaways to all, or some, of those that leave reviews. Everyone loves a bit of podcast swag.
PR and earned media
Traditional PR is a world of its own and not something I’m going to go into deeply here. But used properly, it can provide a huge boost to your podcast listener base.
There are a bunch of ways you can pitch your show to get various forms of PR exposure. They can include:
1. Relevant industry publications and newsletters
2. Traditional publications and news sites
3. Other podcasts (we covered this above)
4. Press releases and blog posts
5. Events and speaking opportunities
6. Influencer collaborations
7. 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 getting featured by Apple (and other curators) isn’t the be-all and end-all, but it certainly can 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.
But how do you get featured in Apple’s Flowcase (what Apple call their 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 before setting your mind to promotion. 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 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 out 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 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
8. ‘Best of’ roundup blog posts - a great podcast SEO tip
A quick Google search will show you that there are likely a number of ‘Top X podcasts’ for whatever niche subject your podcast covers.
Reach out and pitch your show to be included in those blog posts. It’s an easy win and is also a great bit of link building for SEO.
Out of all the ways to grow and advertise your podcast, the promotion category has the most opportunity to veer off the tracks and really get creative. With paid advertising, there’s really only so much you can do (Not to say that your ads can’t be creative), but when you open your mind to the idea of promotion in the ways mentioned above, it’s only a matter of time until you start coming up with podcast promotion tips of your own.
Speaking of more ideas, we’ve done and seen just about everything when it comes to podcast promotion ideas, and we’re always keeping our ears to the ground for new ones. The easiest way to promote a podcast, from your point of view, is to reach out to us to take advantage of our podcast promotion service.