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5 reasons why the recommended Facebook ad process to promote a podcasts is flawed

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.

And I totally agree. Facebook is the best paid promotion platform for a podcast, our regular listeners may remember Episode 3 “Paid Podcast Advertising – a Look Behind the Scenes“.

My point with this episode is not to argue that Facebook is a poor platform to advertise podcasts on. Rather to point out that the Facebook Podcast Promotion Process most bloggers and marketers recommend it is flawed.

There has been a slew of recent posts on how to best advertise podcasts on Facebook. I fundamentally disagree with the premise of these posts. Here is why:

So what’s the problem with using Facebook Ads to promote a podcast?

The issue has to do with where to send traffic once someone clicks on your Facebook ad.

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 for the following five reasons:

#1: It Costs Too Much

The Cost To Promote a Podcast
Facebook Ads cost too much if all they are used for is to send traffic to iTunes

Sure, your ads may get you more listeners for your podcast on iTunes and Stitcher. But Facebook podcast marketing ads should also have a better goal in addition to just adding listeners. Because the cost per new listener is usually quite high.

Think of it this way, in terms of analytics:

“Cost per anonymous listener” IS NOT THE SAME THING AS “Cost per qualified lead or email subscriber.”

Instead, you could be getting greater value and ROI from your Facebook ads by focusing on lead generation and list growth. Instead of on just getting more listeners, you could be adding leads for your business, building your email list, increase the rank and traffic for your site, and building a digital asset for your brand.

FB Ads for Podcasts: ‘Cost per anonymous listener’ <> ‘Cost per qualified lead

#2: iTunes and Google Play Do Not Need More Traffic From Your Facebook Podcast Marketing

Apple and Google don't need more traffic from promoting a podcast
Apple and Google don’t need more traffic from your promoting a podcast

You are paying for ads traffic that you are sending to iTunes and Google Play Music.

Really?

Instead, your own site could be benefitting from greater traffic, rank, and authority.

#3: Blind Dates

Would you go on a date without ever asking the other person's name?
Would you go on a date without ever asking the other person’s name?

Don’t let your site visitors and podcast listeners stay anonymous. That’s like going on a date without ever asking the other person’s name.

iTunes and Facebook may know who your listeners are. But they won’t let you, the publisher, in on that secret. You won’t know how many listeners subscribed to your show on those platforms.

  • Click here for a complete analysis of Google AdWords vs Facebook Advertising for podcasts

More importantly, you don’t know whose these listeners are. Since you are not capturing their email address, you have much less of a chance to engage with them. Even if they are big fans of your show. If you don’t attract listeners to visit your show pages, you are essentially going on blind dates – without ever even asking for a name. So, a very passive way to promote a podcast.

Instead, your podcast listeners could be coming to YOUR site, because you offer valuable additional episode information there. They could be signing up to receive podcast notifications via email. They could discover links and resources about your guests. And they could be downloading relevant resources from you in exchange for an email address.

So, when recording your podcast, make sure you mention an easy to remember episode show notes link like “mypodcast.com/132”. Mention this often, for example at the start of the show, create your own mid-roll segment inviting people to visit your site, and include it again in the outro.

#4: No Digital Sharecropping

Digital sharecropping
She who does the work should benefit

In my opinion, too many authors, speakers, entrepreneurs and small businesses spread their entire online presence across 3rd party platforms. They want authority and recognition in their space. But are also conscious of the promised audience, engagement, ease of use and time savings these platforms promise.

The term “Digital Sharecropping” was first coined by Nicholas Carr

…the distribution of production into the hands of the many – but the concentration of the economic rewards into the hands of the few.

So, what we often see with new clients who come to us for help is this: They post all of their valuable intellectual capital and thought leadership content on platforms like Medium, LinkedIn or Facebook. Their videos can be found only on Youtube, their podcasts episode only on Soundcloud, iTunes or Stitcher. In other words, on platforms they themselves don’t own outright, but platforms that have a built-in audience and engagement.

In the long run, this is short-sighted

What to do instead?

I am not proposing to avoid these platforms. However, I am saying that all social and ad traffic to promote your podcast should land on your own great conversion optimized podcast home page. We recently published a video walkthrough which showcases a highly converting podcast website design pattern. It is called “The Upside Down Podcast Home Page”.

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.

Outward Syndication

We call this process “Outward Syndication”. Many podcasters build their own system for sharing new podcast episodes once they are published.

The process we follow for our clients cross promotes their episode show notes posts gradually, across a range of platforms. These syndication channels include Youtube, Medium, Blogger, Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages, Linkedin Personal pages, LinkedIn Business Pages, Google Plus, BeBee, and other social networks.

Why do this gradually?

Before episodes are promoted on any 3rd party platforms, we want to ensure that the show notes page goes live on our own site first. And that our own episode page gets indexed by Google first. We don’t want to search for our episodes online only to see our medium article pop up in the search results. Therefore we use a “rel=canonical” tag to indicate where the original article lives. This is true to Google, Bing and other search engine crawlers as well.

There are several ways to do this and to ensure our episode is indexed on our own site first. First, we can use Google’s webmaster tools (AKA Google Search Console) to manually submit our episode post for indexing. This is quicker than waiting 2-3 weeks for Google’s crawler to come around and visit your website. Typically we do this the day we publish to instantly be included in the search results. We discuss the importance of SEO based podcast cornerstone content strategy elsewhere on my blog, but we have seen episodes rank in the top 30 results within a week using our approach.

Delay by 2-3 weeks

So it is only after that has happened that we publish and syndicate on other platforms. Getting back to the “rel=canonical” setting when publishing on other platforms. Take Medium for example: It is very important to use their own content import tool, which uses the “rel=canonical” tag and honors the original source of the article and channels the Google rank score to that original post. So do not just copy / paste your episode show notes into a new Medium article, use their import tool.

Podcast Promotion and Syndication with StoryChief

Automating MultiChannel Syndication For Podcasts

We utilize a platform Called StoryChief, which automates the cross platform syndication of podcast and blog content. What I really like about StoryChief is that it

  • Automatically applies the “rel=canonical” settings when publishing on other platforms.
  • Supports Libsyn Podcast player widgets

I will talk about how we utilize StoryChief to automate much of our podcast episode syndication in an upcoming episode. If you’d like to find out about StoryChief in the meantime, below is a link (disclaimer – this is an affiliate link:)

StoryChief Content Syndication Platform

Content syndication for your podcast episodes

There is a one-time up-front effort in setting up multiple platforms to syndicate to, but promoting an episode to multiple platforms with built in audiences like Medium makes this worth it.

To conclude the topic of “Digital Sharecropping”

Having your own SEO optimized podcast show notes pages builds a much more valuable asset on your site, audience, and email list.

  • Would you not rather build free traffic and rank for your site? Don’t overlook the value of SEO for your show notes pages. This is one of the deadly podcast marketing sins I often write about.
  • I think most marketers would agree that an email list is still the most valuable asset to build for your digital presence.

#5: Analytics & Measuring Performance

Analytics is important when using Facebook to promote a podcast
Analytics are important when using Facebook to promote a podcast

How do you measure your investment in Facebook ads?

For me the answer is this:

Success = how many people SIGN UP for your podcast or blog.

The Facebook marketing term for this is called a “conversion”. It is NOT how many people clicked on your ad, nor how many more anonymous listeners you might be getting on iTunes.

Before running ad campaigns on Facebook, you get to decide the “Goal” of each ad campaign during the setup process. Simply measuring “clicks to a website” is the weakest form of available analytics. Yet this is the only goal you can use when sending traffic to iTunes or Stitcher.

Facebook ads cannot measure who subscribed to your podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. Facebook won’t know if they listened to an episode after clicking on your ad. So how do you optimize or test your ads? If you are sending your ad traffic to iTunes and Stitcher as proposed by many marketers, then the only way you can tell if these ads are even working is to see if your Libsyn or Blubrry stats increased during the time you ran the ad. And of course, even then you don’t know the identity of the people who subscribed.

So don’t set this as your Facebook Ad campaign goal.

A better goal is to measure “Conversions”

Facebook algorithms are more effective when optimized for conversions. When setting up an ad campaign on Facebook, you can choose “conversions” as the goal. A “conversion” is triggered every time someone goes to your podcast subscriber “thank you page”, so you will need one of these on your site.

Facebook learns from who signed up and then increasingly shows your ads to the best possible and highly “converting” audience. You will need to install a “Facebook Pixel” on your site, so that actual sign-ups to your podcast email subscription list can be recorded on Facebook. Having a Facebook Pixel on your site is not complicated, there are great plugins for this. (My favorite is PixelYourSite, which makes installation and managing Facebook Pixels a snap)

Conclusion

If you use Facebook to boost or promote your podcast, don’t send traffic directly to your episode pages on iTunes and Stitcher. Instead, send traffic to your own episode show notes pages. Be sure your site features a “subscribe by email widget” that redirects to a thank you page, and triggers a “conversion” on Facebook.

Podcast Marketing With Social Contests And Give-Aways

Promoting a newly launched podcast with a Facebook contest used to be a very popular podcast marketing tactic. The idea was to launch a contest featuring a relevant give-away and to boost it with paid Facebook ads. To enter the contest, contestants were asked to subscribe to the show, leave an iTunes review, and then to email the iTunes ID name used for the review to the podcast host as proof. The podcast host would then enter the applicant into the contest drawing.

Why Contests Are Still A Good Idea For Marketing A Podcast

In today's episode we examine:

  • The 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
  • We will cover some of the best paid and free contest platforms
  • Tips for setting up and running such contests
  • Need some help for your own contest launch?

iTunes Focused Launches Have Changed

Podcast marketing no longer focuses on iTunes alone
Podcast marketing no longer focuses on iTunes alone

The reason this was a successful strategy a few years ago was that the "New and Noteworthy" algorithm within iTunes was driven by the number of reviews a podcast would receive in the initial weeks after launch. And contests were a great way to get lots of reviews in a short amount of time.

Since then, the algorithm to rise to the top of iTunes has changed. It is no longer driven by the number of reviews. Instead, at the time of this writing, the number of new subscribers have the most impact, followed by the number of episode downloads. Therefore the number of reviews no longer contribute to being at the top of the “New and Noteworthy” section.

As I have said elsewhere:

I feel that podcasters needlessly obsess about getting into the "New and Noteworthy" section.

The reality is that over the last two years iTunes has become a highly competitive space, given that major popular radio stations have shifted their energies from terrestrial and satellite radio to podcasts as a way to create a digital presence.

And there has been evidence that being featured in "New and Noteworthy" typically yields only a few hundred additional subscribers.

Podcast marketing through “Launch Contest” is less common now

The main reason is that N&N is no longer as influenced my the number of reviews a podcast gets. Besides no longer being as effective, setting up a launch contest usually takes a good deal of time to set up. You need landing pages, marketing automation capability and time. Or money to spend on contest platforms.

But if you have the passion, time and effort to spare, a launch contest will still give your podcast launch a great boost, for some of the below reasons:

But iTunes Reviews Are Still Important

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.

Why a Launch Contest is Still A Good Idea

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.

Contest Prize Selection

Prize selection matters in podcast marketing  with contests
Prize selection matters in podcast marketing with contests

Adding the right prizes and incentives is key. The selected giveaways don’t have to be expensive. It is more important that they be relevant, and related to the podcast topic or context.

So for example, for a customer experience podcast you might have a contest to win free tickets to the biggest yearly Customer Experience conference. That beats offering an iPad as a prize, simply because your subscriber and contest participants are much more likely to actually care about your podcast and topic, instead of just trying to win an iPad.

Another example might be a podcast about podcasting, podcast growth and promotions such as my own show. If I were to run a contest for the Podcast Growth Show, I would choose to give away a premium microphone or podcasting gear package as the grand prize.

Why Choose Multiple Prizes?

But one prize is not enough. By giving away multiple prizes, you increase the desirability and success of your contest simply because there are better odds and many more ways to win.

The most successful contests offer a single grand prize, and then a number of secondary prizes in decreasing value.

In fact, you should give away a free resource for everyone entering your contest. This could be a simple lead magnet PDF, as long as it is related to your podcast's topic and focus.

Podcast Marketing Contest Example Prizes

For the Podcast Growth Show, here is how I would plan to structure my own podcast contest. My goal would be to attract new podcasters. So my prize selection would focus on thinking about what would be relevant for new podcasters.

Pretty much every podcaster I know tried to save money during their initial studio setup. And the thing they most likely tried to save money on is their microphone boom arm. A cheap version of this can be highly frustrating to use, and a more professional model with greater reach and a more solid feel is a pleasure to use. Believe me, podcasters will appreciate the difference.

  • 1st Prize: Premium RODE PSA1 Swivel Mount Studio Microphone Boom Arm (a $109 value)
  • 2nd Prize: A Great Dynamic Podcast XLR and USB Microphone – The Audio Technica AT2005 (a $79 value)
  • 3rd Prize: 15 copies of our "Podcast Marketing & SEO Online Course" – (a $97 value)
  • 9th-25 Prize: Our Podcast Marketing Bible Ebook (a $9.97 value)
  • Prize for all contest entrants: "How To Market Your Podcast" ebook and access to our online "Podcasting Resources Guide"

Contest Structure

Podcast promotion contest structure
There are many facets to consider when launching a podcast promotion contest

As I previously mentioned, the launch contests of yesteryear focused on getting iTunes reviews. But that should no longer be the only focus now. For me, it is much more important to attract the right listeners to join my email list and to subscribe to my podcast through email notifications.

So my focus would be to get contest entrants to

  1. Subscribe to my show via email
  2. Subscribe to my show's YouTube channel, because I feature lots of cool "how to" and demo videos there
  3. Like my podcast's Facebook page
  4. Join our Facebook podcast marketing group
  5. Leave an iTunes review

Multiple Actions to Enter The Contest

These are multiple actions to take, and people might think this is a lot to ask just to enter a contest. And that is right, except:

Each action completed creates additional chances to win the prize

So the logic is this: You must subscribe to my email list, that part is required because otherwise I cannot communicate with you and send you the prize. But if you complete the other additional steps, each completed tasks enters you in the contest additional times, greatly increasing your chances of winning one or more prizes.

And, each action is weighed differently: For example, subscribing to my Youtube channel is worth an additional 5 entries, but leaving an iTunes review is worth 25 additional entries.

The genius of this approach for podcast reviews is that it makes it a no-brainer for a contest entrant to do the hardest thing: Leave you an iTunes review.

Later in the podcast I explore the differences between a DIY approach versus utilizing one of the contest platforms out there. This approach of multiple contest entries for multiple actions is only possible by using proper contest management platforms like.

An example of multiple actions to increase your chances

In our video we feature a great example of this in a contest currently underway. The company is Syrp, and they are giving away some photo gear. Click below to start the video at 10:44 seconds:

At 10:44 – an example of multiple ways to enter a contest

Is it necessary to validate iTunes Reviews?

Unfortunately I don't know of any platform that integrates with iTunes directly to validate if someone actually left an iTunes review. But in my mind, most people will do so if asked, because they are afraid of missing out and being found out. What if you were to ask them for the iTunes name they left a review under before sending them their prize?

  • Note that with the Gleam.io platform, there are several easy ways to enter a contest by answering a question or by leaving a comment – and here you can simply ask the user to enter the iTunes name under which the review was left.

Creating Contest Landing Pages

If you want to create a contest, you will want to set up a contest landing page. A contest landing page is a distraction free website or page where you can send ad traffic to, and where people can learn about and sign up for your contest.

You can build such pages manually, but you may not need to when using the contest platforms we will discuss a bit later. They handle the creation of and simplify the design of landing pages, and some even allow you to create multiple versions of these pages and conduct A/B tests to see which ones perform best.

Q: Do you need to A/B test pages? A: It depends. There are people out there that have tested their contest pages. Here are some links to these tests and their outcomes. Why not learn from their tests and model your landing page on their winners? This will save you time and effort.

Generally speaking, it seems that contest landing pages with video perform better.

The Facebook Ad Campaign

Once you have a landing page, it's time to set up a Facebook campaign to boost your contest landing page. Facebook marketing is too big a topic to tackle in this episode, but here are a few tips to make this work:

Setting Up And Using Facebook Ads Manager

Creating A Facebook Ad

There are many easy ways in which you can create a Facebook ad. You shoot a quick video or FB live post, create one or more images about your contest, and come up with some fun language to use for a Facebook post.

We use the AIDA method when creating Facebook ads and landing pages for contests:

  • A =Attention – Ask a provocative question or make a statement that earns the attention of your audience
  • I=Interest – Expand on attention grabbing line with something that will peak their interest and explain.
  • D=Desire – What's in it for them to enter your contest. Duh, that's easy, right?
  • A=Action – This is the call to action, what you want them to do

Finding The Right Audience

The key in making Facebook ads effective and affordable is to show your contest ads to only your very best, most relevant audience. In Facebook parlance this is called "audience targeting". If you have never done Facebook ads before, this can be a bit tricky. Basically you are trying to limit the number of people who see your ads to only those interested in your primary topic.

Targeting Podcast Listeners

But that is not all: You also want to make sure the audience your Facebook ads are shown to are likely podcast listeners, and that part is much harder.

podcast marketing with Facebook Ads
The 5 Step Process to Advertise To Podcast Listeners On Facebook

We have a 5 step process to target likely podcast listeners on Facebook. It walks you through our method on Facebook Ads manager, and you will learn how to target people generally interested in your podcast's topic, but who also are likely podcast listeners.

Free vs Paid Contest Platforms

Are paid contest marketing platforms worth it?

Should you use a paid contest platform like the ones we outlined above? Or is there a way to build this all for free?

Advantages of Paid Contest Platforms

Paid contest platforms are the way to go. For a relatively low monthly fee they offer a range of distinct advantages over a DIY approach.

They integrate with social networks. This means they validate that someone actually shared a post, liked your Facebook Page or Youtube channel. All of this before they are entered in the contest.

Most paid platforms offer pre-built contest landing pages for you. You get up and running much more quickly, and don't have to invest in fancy landing page builders.

They send out custom email reminders. This saves you from having to create your own email funnels, saving a lot of time.

Some have A/B testing built in. This means you get to test out multiple landing pages to see which perform better.

Here are some of my favorite contest platforms to consider:

Rafflecopter

  • Rafflecopter – One of the most affordable platforms out there. Rafflecopter offers a free plan, trials for the more advanced plans starting at $13 a month at the time of this writing. While an easy platform to start with, it is basic.
  • It lacks some of the more innovative features features found on higher priced platforms.

Gleam.io

  • Gleam.io – I really like Gleam.io. It is a smart and flexible contest platform. It rewards people to take multiple actions to promote you while entering your contest. This increases the viral potential of your podcast marketing or launch contest. After having reviewed about 10 different contest management platforms, Gleam has emerged as my favorite. It is, however, not the least expensive, the Pro plan being $45 a month.

Upviral

  • Upviral – a good alternative to Gleam if the expense of that platform is a hurdle. By automatically emailing reminders, setting goals and providing incentives/rewards, your contest entrants stay on track and deliver. They get rewarded, you get new subscribers and everyone’s happy! Upviral has an example case study on their site of their own podcast launch contest which resulted in 7000 contest site visitors, 450 leads and 50+ reviews on iTunes.

Contest Domination

  • Contest Domination – a flexible platform that offers 7 day trial and a per contest payment option for $100 for a month. The benefit of their approach is that you get access to all features, where some of the other popular platform restrict their features for the basic plans.

To summarize these contest platforms, I feel that Gleam is the most innovative platform to try, and you can expect to spend perhaps $90 for a pro plan for a 2 months campaign. The major spend for podcast launch campaigns comes from Facebook ads anyhow, I would expect to spend between $20-$50 a day for the duration of the campaign. Be sure to check out Episode 3 of our podcast on Paid Podcast Advertising – A Look Behind The Scenes [S1E03]

Free Contest Platform Options

If you want to run your podcast launch contest with absolutely no additional expense, here are some ways to do it as well as some things to keep in mind:

  • To save money on prizes, you can give away content and prizes that don't cost you anything, like courseware, or eBooks or other premium content you have previously developed
  • You can use your own email list software like Mailchimp or Constant contact or even free Gmail automation tools like YAMM (we covered YAMM for Podcast Guesting Outreach in episode XX of our podcast)
  • You will need to develop your own landing pages on your podcast or blogging site.
  • Rely on your social network for free promotion and awareness of your contest, with a big enough following you can save on promoting your contest with paid ads
  • You can use tools like GoViral – a free platform from Growth Tools which ensures and validates social sharing. It is great to use as an add-on for thank you pages.
  • Try out GiveawayTools – a new contest design platform that's currently still in beta, but is free and integrates with several social platforms.

So it can theoretically be done for free, but it will require a large investment of time on your part.

My own view is that a zero cost and DIY approach is not likely to succeed

And the question you should ask yourself is about the relationship between time spent and likely effectiveness of the contest campaign you are setting up.

Need a guide to help with your own contest launch?

I've just published a resource for folks wanting to set up their own contest. This is published in "Open PDF" format, meaning the entire guide is provided on-line with no sign-up required, but you can download it guide as an option if you want.

Podcast Marketing with Launch Contests
Podcast Marketing with Launch Contests

I also offer some ways to collaborate around setting up your own launch contest, from low cost "DIY" sanity checks all the way to "Done for you" contest setup and management.

Conclusion

Apart from getting iTunes reviews, a podcast marketing contest with the right prizes and incentives can quickly add a ton of visibility and 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.

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.