Last updated on February 23rd, 2019
In wrapping up Season 1 of the Podcast Growth Show, I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on the topics we have covered this season. So what I'd like to do in this episode is to do that in the form of a podcast marketing checklist.
In other words, these are podcast growth and marketing strategies we've covered in this first season, and I would love to provide a view back on these.
- Podcast Marketing Checklist – The Basics
- How To Get Your Podcast Guest To Promote Your Podcast
- Podcast Guesting – A Cure For Stalled Subscriber Growth
- Paid Podcast Advertising – A Look Behind The Scenes
- Podcast Marketing With Social Contests
- Podcast Homepage Design Patterns For Conversion And List Building
- 5 Reasons NOT to Promote a Podcast on Facebook
- How To: Easy Podcast Distribution And Content Syndication
- Podcast Workflow & Content Strategy Secrets
- Invitation To Join Our Ambassador Network
Podcast Marketing Checklist – The Basics
In my comprehensive podcast marketing guide I provided links to all the podcast directory entries where new podcasters should submit their show, and I dedicated an entire episode to that topic.
Ensuring that your podcast is easy to discover on all existing podcast directories is the most important initial marketing step to take for your new podcast. And even veteran podcasters should review new arrivals on the podcast directories scene about once a year.
We ranked each podcast directory based on their popularity and by how many visits each directory website gets.
There is an increasing list of podcast networks where we can submit our podcast for consideration. We used a free web service called Similarweb to see how popular each directory really is. You can take the point of view that submitting to any and all directories does not take much work, and that such stats don't matter. But I still found it interesting to see how popular some of the smaller directories are in terms of the traffic they generate.
Anyhow, for new podcasters, directory submissions are the first step in any podcast marketing checklist. And this was the topic of our first episode. You can find the list of directories and stats at PodcastGrowthShow.com/e1.
Getting your podcast guest to help with promoting your podcast episode is more tricky than you might think. Episode 4 is how to make it easy for you both.
Many podcasters have an unspoken assumption that their podcast guest will promote "their" podcast episode. But it's important not to fall into that expectation trap.
But make sure this is not an unspoken assumption on your part.
After having launched over a dozen shows, I’ve found that getting your podcast guest to share episode links with their own social networks can be like pulling teeth. It's a bit like asking for reviews, people seem happy to do offer them in principle, but then it rarely happens without gentle reminders. Repeat reminders.
And depending on your own personality type, asking explicitly and sending multiple follow ups may not be in your nature. Especially if your guests don't follow through. I hate sending follow up and reminder emails.
So episode 4, which you can find at PodcastGrowthShow.com/e4 offers some tips on making this easier for yourself and your guest. In our podcast marketing checklist, these tips and tools fall into 2 primary categories:
- Designing a pleasurable experience of being on your show
- Making it super easy to help promote your podcast
Podcast Marketing Checklist – Advanced Topics
Episode 2 reveals why “Podcast Guesting” is one of the best possible marketing strategies for podcasters. And in our tutorial video we show step by step how to automate a highly personalized "podcast guesting" outreach campaign.
Being a guest on other peoples podcasts is good PR – not just for podcasters.
What Are the Benefits?
The primary benefits come from the fact that being a guest on someone else's podcast instantly overcomes one of the more difficult and expensive marketing challenges: reaching podcast listeners in the first place.
The tactical benefits are too many to count.
- Great for your SEO: Guest appearances on podcasts usually result in a back link to your business website. This is a big deal because links to your site are one of the most important ranking signal Google uses. So if you are podcasting as content strategy and want your show to appear in search results more easily, you’ve got to have links to your site. Each time you appear on someone else’s show, this is a likely outcome.
- It’s evergreen: while you are likely to get an initial boost, the episode you appear on will continue to exist. And will allow people to discover your own business or podcast.
- Above all, you can attract your ideal audience: people who listen to podcasts already. If listeners like you as a guest, they will check out your own show. We have seen this countless times. A great appearance on a popular show can skyrocket your own podcast subscriber base overnight, especially if your podcasting website is designed for conversion.
If you can take your own message, mission and values and match it with that of your host’s podcast, you are attracting a super engaged audience.
It's either time & expertise, or money
These sorts of outreach campaigns are time consuming, unless you know how to automate them, or are ready to hire someone else to do the heavy lifting for you. As is so often the case, you have to spend either time or money.
As a result there are several paid programs out there that teach why this is such an effective marketing approach for start-ups, authors, speakers and entrepreneurs to create PR and promote their business.
So episode2 was all about is to provide you with 2 options for taking advantage of this great marketing tactic.
- If you are the DIY type on a budget, but have the time and are willing to learn: Episode 2 offers email outreach campaign templates, swipe files, video tutorials and free automation tools and how to use them to run your very own podcast guesting campaign.
- If you are short of time and patience, but are willing to spend some money to have someone do this for you: Episode 2 lists several programs and services you can sign up for.
You can find our entire downloadable Outreach System, guesting templates and resources at PodcastGrowthShow.com/e2.
Speaking about pay to play:
How effective are paid podcast advertising strategies, and do they work for podcasters trying to promote their show? Which ad platforms are the most effective? And which are the most affordable? In episode 3, we took a look behind the scenes of 3 platforms, Google AdWords, Facebook and Podcast Ad Networks.
Using paid ads for promoting a podcast may not be for everyone.
A lot of casual podcasters are in it just for the fun. If their show grows organically, fine. But spending money on ads is not something they’d consider.
However, when podcasting is part of a business content strategy, then paid promotions seem to make more sense.
Still, here are some common questions and objections:
- It is an expensive way of getting new subscribers?
- Measuring the effectiveness of paid ads is difficult?
- Your ads may not even be reaching podcast listeners?
A Podcast’s Business Purpose
I find that podcasting for business is more inbound than outbound. Successful business podcasts should offer solutions, solve a prospects problems or provide training and education. Thus they are extremely effective in building a brand’s authority.
But Podcasts are not effective for direct response selling to cold traffic.
If you are a business getting into podcasting as a way to sell something, stop.
On the other hand, if a business has a good inbound content marketing funnel, podcasts can serve as a great entry vehicle. As a business podcaster you get to talk to your ideal and relevant audience when they are in a receptive mode. Think about what people are doing when listening to their favorite podcast, the one you are appearing on. They are likely commuting, working out, going for a walk.
This listening modality is very different from interrupting an audience with a paid ad in the middle of browsing through their Facebook feed. So the “getting to know, like and trust” factor is huge in podcasting. And this is why Podcast Listeners are such a lucrative audience. You get to offer solutions, entertainment, education – and present your core ideas to them.
But this takes the vision to invest in a longer term “inbound” strategy.
My personal experience has been that paid ads for podcasts are usually most appropriate for businesses that have a solid web, social and PPC presence already. It can be one piece of the puzzle, and serve to attract an ideal audience into a marketing funnel.
Facebook Ads vs Google AdWords vs Podcast Ad Networks
Conversely then, for solo podcasters focused on getting more listeners, it's an expensive way to do that, all things considered. That said, Facebook is generally more affordable and flexible than Google Ads.
Targeting podcast listeners is not easy on Google AdWords. Facebook makes this a little easier, and one of the resources we share in Episode 3 is our downloadable 5 step process for targeting podcast listeners on Facebook, in case any podcast listeners are experimenting with Facebook Ads.
Episode 3 also explores a 3rd option, which is to create your own audio ad and advertise on podcast ad networks like Midroll, Advertise Cast and others. This approach solves one of the issues that Facebook and Google ads do not address: Presenting your podcast to podcast listeners only.
Visit PodcastGrowthShow.com/e3 to learn more and download our 5 Step Facebook Targeting process.
Some people consider running social contests another form of paid ads, since this is usually done on Facebook, but we included this topic in it's own episode, so let's talk about that next:
Podcast launch marketing with contests is still a great promotion idea. Episode 6 covers how newly launched and older podcasts can attract fans and subscribers using contests.
A few years ago podcast contests and give away used to be mostly associated with podcast launches, when that was an effective technique of boosting a new show into the new and noteworthy section of iTunes. Mostly the focus back then was to gather reviews on iTunes in exchange for being entered into a social contest of some sort.
Episode 6 covers
- Reasons why this is not as popular launch strategy anymore
- But also why this podcast marketing strategy is still a good idea today
- Prize selection tips and why they are key for this podcast marketing strategy
- Contest Structure
- The best paid and free contest platforms
- Tips for setting up and running such contests
Why iTunes reviews still matter today
Getting reviews and testimonials is as hard as it ever was. We've seen this play out countless times. People are happy to offer leaving a review, but iTunes doesn't make this process very straight-forward. So when it comes down to it, even your friends and relatives somehow don't get around to it without repeat reminders.
I would also propose that reviews are still important and should not be ignored. They lend credibility and social proof to a podcast. Seeing that dozens of people are leaving great reviews for a podcast you might enjoy might tip the scale for you to take action and subscribe. On the other hand, seeing a podcast on iTunes with no reviews at all also tells you something.
Free vs Paid Contest Platforms
While I have not personally used all of the contest platforms out there, we review a number of free and paid platforms in this episode.
As I often do, I like comparing free vs. paid solutions. I am always curious to decide for myself if a DIY approach is worth the effort, or if there are good free solutions for those of us on a budget.
In this case, my own view and recommendation was pretty easy to come by: If you decide to run a podcast marketing contest, I recommend using a paid contest platform, as this will save you a ton of time and effort.
So check out our contest platform reviews, and tips on setting up and running podcast social contests on episode 6 at PodcastGrowthShow.com/e6
Apart from getting iTunes reviews, a podcast marketing contest with the right prizes and incentives can quickly add a ton of visibility, and perhaps more importantly email subscribers, to your podcast.
While it may not reliably get you into the "New and Noteworthy" section of the iTunes podcast directory any more, having some great reviews still lends social proof and credibility to your podcast. And email subscribers to your show are a permanent asset.
So talking about email subscribers is a good segway to a topic we discussed in-depth in Episode 5:
As a former UX design lead for a company, I am a bit of a conversion optimization and web design wonk, so forgive me for getting excited about this topic. This episode and complete walk through video explores why podcast website design should focus on email list building instead of on iTunes subscribers. It offers a design pattern optimized for increasing your podcast subscriber email list.
The Upside Down Podcast Page
What we are talking about is a highly converting podcast homepage design pattern called “The Upside Down Podcast Home Page” – optimized to create a guided experience for your site visitors, and to encourage them to subscribe to your podcast via email.
Episode 5 is pretty visual for a podcast, so apologies if you're listening to this. I'd suggest jumping over to PodcastGrowthShow.com/e5 to view walk through video which covers 2 versions of this podcast home page design pattern – a more complete version for established podcasts with multiple seasons or topics, and a simple version for new podcast sites with a narrow niche and a focused audience.
You can also grab a downloadable annotated PDF of the podcast home page design pattern on our podcasting resources guide.
But first I want to outline the reasons behind focusing on email list building instead of on iTunes rank and “New and Noteworthy” presence. I get asked about this a lot, especially by “podcasting purists” and “old school” podcasters who are experienced and may already have a solid audience and following. For them, understandably, the primary goal is to serve listeners on iTunes.
Why Podcast Homepage Design Should Focus On Email List Building instead of iTunes Subscribers
The holy grail of podcasting is to get iTunes Subscribers, right? And to get into the “New and Noteworthy” charts, right? And so podcast homepage design should focus on getting visitors to your site to subscribe on iTunes, right?
Well, not from my point of view. For a number of reasons: The iTunes podcast ranking algorithm as well as the “New and Noteworthy” top 100 charts are seriously being gamed at the time of this recording. They are full of entries who are paying thousands of dollars to overseas click farms for instant presence in the top charts. This is not just my opinion, but has been extensively covered in the podcast news beats. If you want to see a comprehensive video explaining how this is the case, and what the impact on the iTunes ecosystem is, just watch this video by Lime Link.
So why design your podcast website to get people to subscribe on iTunes, when you could be getting people to subscribe to your podcast via email notifications?
I would gladly trade 1,000 iTunes subscribers for 100 podcast email notification subscribers.
Email list building may sound like a trite concept
But even today it is still one of the most valuable assets your business can build. And this applies to your podcast as well. The fact is that you can provide your audience with more valuable context, and you get to better position your episodes through the email notifications you send. Should you still encourage your listeners to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher? Of course, but it is better to do so after they have opted in via email.
The Inbound Philosophy of the “Upside Down Podcast Homepage” Design Pattern
“Conversion Optimization” is such a crass term. Sounds vaguely exploitative, like you are somehow tricking or taking advantage of your audience.
Let me try and debunk that.
The “Upside Down Podcast Homepage” design pattern is intended to better serve your audience.
It is meant to create a better experience for them. It is based on empathy with your audience. Your podcast homepage design should be intended to help your audience discover your best and most relevant content. Content that resonates the most with their own situation and listening goals, and is also what you are most proud of.
Visit PodcastGrowthShow.com/e5 for the walk through video, the downloadable design pattern and additional resources
You may think running Facebook Ads would be an excellent vehicle to promote a podcast. Facebook ads allow you to precisely target your audience amd promise to increase your subscribers in a cost-effective way.
In Episode 3 we already covered using paid ads for podcast promotion, specifically Google vs Facebook vs Podcast Ad Networks. This episode, episode 7, is a bit of a pet-peeve with me:
It's not that Facebook is a poor platform to promote a podcast on. It's that that the method most experts recommend is flawed.
To make a long story short, a lot of experts propose an approach I fundamentally disagree with:
Many marketers recommend promoting Facebook episodes by directly linking to the iTunes or Android or Spotify episode pages.
- They argue this is better than sending people to a show notes page on your site
- In fact, many of these posts argue that you don’t need show notes pages at all, or to simply go with your podcast host’s default episode pages and minimal content
- The writers make the point that iTunes and Stitcher is, after all, where you want people to go to subscribe to your show
- The advice is that direct links to the iTunes episode is the best way for Facebook ads to capture people on mobile devices. And also for targeting Android audiences by sending these ads to Google Play or Stitcher episodes directly
And we see many podcasts following this advice and missing out in the process.
I fundamentally disagree with sending your Facebook Ad traffic directly to your iTunes and Stitcher podcast links
The 5 reasons I gThis applies mostly to people who have decent podcast show notes, additional content that complements and extends the value for your listeners, with links to your guests and resources you feel are helpful to your audience.
Episode 7 focuses on what to do instead
I am not proposing to avoid Facebook or social platforms, to the contrary. What I am saying is that all social and ad traffic to promote your podcast should land on your own great conversion optimized podcast home or episode pages. As I mentioned earlier, I particularly like “The Upside Down Podcast Home Page” design pattern for this.
The effort (or cost) involved in creating a podcast home page and maintaining your podcast show notes are well worth it in the long run. The time spent pales in comparison to the effort of actually creating your content in the first place.
Your content should live on your own site FIRST AND FOREMOST.
Only then should it be shared from there centrally, spreading out to 3rd party platforms for social engagement. Especially if you are using Podcasting as Content Strategy.
Check out PodcastGrowthShow.com/e7 for details.
Ok, so now that we've gotten my pet-peeves out of the way, I guess it's pretty clear that I focus a lot on how your podcast show notes can be a central vehicle for promoting your podcast. So, episode 8 explains how we get the most from our show notes.
When we publish to iTunes, we are already distributing our podcast, right? After all, between iTunes and our RSS feed our podcast lands on all the major important podcast listening platforms.
Wait, not so fast…
When podcasters market their show, RSS feeds and podcast directories are only a part of the story. We're missing something in our podcast marketing checklist, and, in Episode 8 we discover what that is, and a platform to help fill this gap.
What is Content Syndication?
Here is a definition from Search Engine Watch:
Content syndication is the process of pushing your blogpost, article, video or any piece of web-based content out to other third-parties who will then re-publish it on their own sites.
So this applies to podcasts as well. We want to create Brand Awareness for our podcasts by publishing our show notes stories on multiple websites, communities, social media and email channels.
Aren't we already doing a form of this when distributing our episodes to iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and Google Play?
- Answer: Yes indeed we are.
- However, we are only publishing audio content on iTunes.
- And we ought to do the same with episode show notes.
Multi Channel Presence
Content syndication is to our podcast show notes what podcast directories are to our audio files. A way to distribute our content widely. And a way to establish presence on multiple content and social platforms.
Traffic and Discoverability and SEO
This results in greater traffic and discoverability, as well as greater backlinks and more site authority. When your episodes go live, you probably already share your show notes post on Facebook, and perhaps on Twitter. But have you thought about publishing your episode show notes as articles on Medium? (I get a lot of traffic from doing this) Or on Blogger? Or to an Ambassador network?
The idea we explore in episode 8 involves semi-automated distribution of your show notes to as many platforms as possible
And the benefits of this extend far beyond traffic alone. So go check out PodcastGrowthShow.com/e8
- What is Content Syndication? (01:10)
- What Are the Benefits For Podcasters & Bloggers? (01:45)
- How does this work, and how can I automate it? (04:20)
- SCREENCAST: The StoryChief platform we use for this (07:45)
- DEMO: Our podcast distribution and syndication process (12:25)
- COMPARISON: StoryChief's free, basic and pro plans compared (21:45)
- CASE STUDY: Results we have seen
- Invitation to join our ambassador network
Free account on StoryChief:
If you'd like to experiment with the tool we are using, please sign up using the below link:
Disclaimer: the above is an affiliate link, should you ever decide to upgrade to a paid plan I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. My site is pretty much free of endorsements, ads or affiliates, and this is an exception: I truly believe in this platform, and it has provided great results in syndicating our own and our client's podcast show notes.
As we are wrapping up season 1 of the Podcast Growth Show, I thought it was time to zoom out for the big picture in episode 9, and at the same time zoom in to and reveal the specific workflow we follow.
Episode 9 is not meant to be a guide or recommendation or podcast marketing checklist of any sort, this episode is merely about how we approach our planning to execution, and some of the challenges of producing both video and audio for a podcast season.
For those of you who follow us, you realize that we often talk about “podcasting as a content strategy”.
Podcast workflow is not just about recording and producing episodes. It is the result of an overall podcasting content strategy.
So this episode is structured into several segments.
Our Podcasting Workflow Diagram
For both new and existing podcasts, it is good to start with the end in mind, to have clarity about your audience, as well as confidence that the value proposition for your listeners, as well as the reason why you are doing a podcast is clear.
A lot of people just want to get started and hit the record button already. But unless you already have a dozen or so episodes under your belt, you will discover that there is a lot of planning involved. Especially if podcasting as content strategy is something even remotely on your horizon. I talk to new podcasters all the time, and some get lost in the planning stage. Let’s discover how having a planning framework helps us retain clarity.
I’d like to go into how we approach podcast production ourselves. This is only one of many possible ways, and in no way am I suggesting you should adopt our methods. There is a lot involved, and it can sound scary. We tolerate an amount of complexity because it produces results for us. And complexity doesn’t mean things can’t be automated, simplified or even outsourced. Both complexity and simplicity can co-exist. For us, it’s the results that count.
This entire season has been about how to promote a podcast. So we may already have covered some of the methods we use to promote each episode.
If you are curious and want to check it out, I'd invite you to PodcastGrowthShow.com/e9 for our entire workflow. You can find some cool infographics, free access to the SEO research tools we use and free sign ups to our content syndication platform.
Again – episode 9 was just the process we follow because it is producing results for us. I do not recommend it to everyone, and the fact that we are producing video alongside the audio portion complicates things a bit.
If you are a new podcaster or a business considering podcasting as a content strategy, you may well think all of this is overkill.
But keep in mind that the lion share of the work goes into the initial planning, the setting up of templates and designing and implementing the various automation steps. And this is a one time only effort. And the routine production can be done by other people.
Wrapping Up Season 1
I want to express gratitude to you, our listeners and readers, and to all the folks that have taught us, as well as to the podcasters we are lucky enough to collaborate and work with.
Season 1 was a solo effort, and I'm still in the process of formulating what we want to achieve in Season 2 and 3. But one thing I know, I am looking forward to sharing some great conversations and insights from other podcasters out there, and what is working for them in promoting their shows.
In the meantime, here's to better podcasting and podcast promotion.
Invitation To Join Our Ambassador Network
One last thing I almost forgot is the ambassador network. If you'd like to join my podcast marketing ambassador network, I would hugely appreciate it.
Here's how it works:
- When new episodes go live, you will receive an email inviting you to share the episode on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks.
- In return, Ambassadors can let me know when their new content goes live, and I'll share it across my network. (I have some 14K twitter followers, plus I post on our podcast marketing facebook group you are welcome to join)
If we have complimentary topics and our content is in sync from an SEO, or Inbound Marketing or podcasting perspective, this is a great way to support each other.
So here is a signup form where you can join my ambassador network. I would love to have you be part of that, and I would love to be able to support you in any way that I can.