It seems like podcasts are moving into the mainstream media category, considering that at least 90 million people (that is 30% of the population) of the United States listen to or watch a podcast once a month. And more non-podcast listeners are becoming aware, and most of them use Google to discover podcasts they might be interested in. Thus, having your own website and podcast SEO strategy should be to pof-mind when thinking about starting your own podcast.
Read on to see some initial SEO strategies that you should think about before getting started.
SEO Strategy for Podcasts Isn't That Much Different From Regular Blogging
Recently, Google announced that they would be ranking and showing up podcasts on Google searches. That was great news for all podcast creators, owners, and listeners. No one wants to have trouble finding their favorite podcasts.
And for several years, Google Search has been how the general population discovers new shows to listen to. So this assumes your own podcast should have a website.
1. Keyword Ready Your Title and Description
As with regular blogging, anything to do with SEO for podcasts has to include a keyword strategy. Ensure that your episode titles and your episode description are rich with relevant keywords. Don't stuff it with keywords, as Google despises that.
The best idea is to do some keyword research before you even record a podcast. Don't even start with the recording, until you know exactly what Google and your audience will love to hear about.
There are many free and paid SEO research tools online
Examples are Google Keyword Planner or Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest tool
2. Transcriptions of Your Podcasts
Transcripts make your podcast more visible to Google search. This is a difficult one because it can be so time-consuming to create transcriptions of all your episodes. Transcript quality varies greatly, and the AI based transcripts are still often not good enough to use in practice.
We use Rev.com for all our transcripts, and even though this is more expensive than automated transcripts, in the end it saves us hours of editing work as they are 99% accurate in spelling and punctuation.
But if you have the capacity or capability to clean up your AI transcripts, or have a virtual assistant, having transcriptions of your podcast episodes on your website is a great start to a podcast SEO strategy.
This way you can constantly convert your “show notes” into more authoritative articles for your podcast blog, which will ensure you stay in Google's good books.
Here are some tips when using transcripts on your blog:
Don’t just “copy paste”.
Make it readable by adding subheadings, quotes, and images. No one wants to read a wall of text.
Ensure that transcriptions for your podcast you avoid the 'umms', 'ahs', and other pauses. Also, avoid any grammatical errors. No one wants to read a text filled with that.
Save time: Use a transcript cleaning utility like “Text Soap”, which you can find in our podcasting resources guide, as it saves hours of formatting work. Automatically remove unwanted characters, fix messed up carriage returns, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.
This is also a great way of getting at the auditory-impaired audience, who will be able to engage with your podcast even if they can't listen to it.
Feeling like you need more guidance with your podcast SEO strategy? Check out Polymash's SEO Saturdays, where you can apply to get your podcast episode titles or website SEO optimized.
3. Create Your Show Notes on Your Own Dedicated Podcast Website
Even though your podcasting platform probably provides you with an ad-hoc website, SEO for podcasts works best when you host your episodes and show notes on your own dedicated website.
Why would you do all this work, only to drive traffic to your podcast host’s site? That is considered “Digital Sharecropping”, a phrase coined by Nicholas Carr around Web 2.0…
Yes, your own website requires more work, but it means that you can style your website as you wish, putting your own branding, and personal touch into it. If you are considering building your own podcast website, the best platform for this is WordPress.
Over the period from 2011 to present date, WordPress has been the number 1 content management system used worldwide, and has grown at an astonishing rate. According to w3techs.com which uses the top 10 million most popular websites tracked by Alexa, WordPress is now the choice for 41.1% of website owners compared to 13.1% back in 2011. WordPress Hosting Stats
The truth is that focusing on social media is a losing battle because it disappears so quickly. The better idea is to focus on constantly creating new content (Google loves that) by repurposing your podcast SEO strategy content to build your website.
4. Use Show Notes to Increase Backlinks
Backlinks are the backbone of Google SEO strategy. In fact, most websites don't end up getting any organic traffic because they lack backlinks. There are several ways to get backlinks. One way is to ask your guests to link to your show notes from their own blog, website or media pages.
Another passive way for you to get backlinks for your podcast is to create compelling episode mini descriptions that feature links to the full episode show notes article.
You can build backlinks to your podcast episode posts because many podcast listening apps support hyperlinks in the episode mini description.
Tips for getting the most backlinks:
Think of the episode description as the short teaser, which then entices your audience to go to your show notes for the full article, list of resources, links mentioned in the episode.
So keep it short, but include a single link to your website’s episode URL
Don’t put all the links mentioned on your show into your short teaser. This makes it more likely that people will visit your website show notes article.
Use PrettyLinks or other link shorteners to track visits. For example, use mypodcast.com/e21 as the short URL you mention on air. In addition to getting stats about how many people visit your site as a result of listening to your show, this also has the benefit of you being able to change the website URL later.
Cross post your show notes Post on sites like Blogger and Medium.
5. Use Permalinks From Your Episode Hosts
When uploading your episode to your podcasting platform, you might have seen the option to add a custom permalink URL.
If you have a website for your podcast, then it's a great idea to use these custom permalink URLs.
Many hosts support this, like Libsyn and Podbean. This can result in better backlinks to your own website, and social media shares of your episode will point to your own website.
If using a custom permalink URL, just keep in mind a permalink should be unique for each individual episode, and should be a URL that will never change on your site.
Permalinks also ensure that when people share your episodes the shared content links to your episode, and not to a hosting platform like Anchor (who don’t support permalinks). This way you can direct people from content shared via the podcast RSS feed directly to your podcast website and get even more of your audience visiting and interacting with your website.
6. Use Content Briefs for Interview Shows
If you haven't heard of content briefs yet, then you are missing out on an podcast SEO strategy tool that can help you create quality content that your audience is looking for.
Content briefs allow you to create content systematically by going deeper. It uses AI to examine the top listing for the subject you are writing or podcasting about, and then produces content suggestions for you to consider.
You can even prepare for guest interviews by doing comprehensive coverage of the episode subject you are planning, based on the most relevant questions being asked online.
You will never run out of things to chat about, and you will actually talk about things that your audience is genuinely concerned about. A win-win situation!
Want to learn more about how to design interview episodes with SEO in mind? Check out this article by Polymash.
Podcast SEO Strategy Is Easy if You Go Slow and Steady
Remember that a podcast SEO strategy is built up over time. You don't need to do it all today.
You can take some of the pressure off of your podcasting shoulders, and focus on building great audio content for your audiences.
If you are interested in enhancing your podcast SEO skills, consider attending our Polymash SEO Marketing course. It's filled with all the learning you might need to build a successful podcast SEO strategy.
Feel like you could do with a few more SEO tools? Have no fear. Polymash has you covered with Polymash's Tools Stack – tools we promote, endorse, and use!
https://polymash.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/podcastSEOstrategy_b33cfed9c4b7d148ee77893be208e5ca_2000.png6821200Polymash Content Teamhttps://polymash.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Polymash-Logo-2019-680px-Web2.pngPolymash Content Team2021-01-13 08:30:212021-07-14 10:47:266 Tips on Building a Podcast SEO Strategy for Beginners
Are you a content creator or writer who knows about podcasting? We at Polymash are looking for great podcast blog article writers to help us practice what we preach. We need help to produce the kind of content our readers are looking for. Our purpose is to help our audience grow their own podcasts, businesses and websites, and make them discoverable on Google search.
In meeting our mission to serve others, we periodically fall short ourselves.
We’re so busy serving others, we often neglect ourselves. You know the proverb – the shoemaker’s son has no shoes – well, it’s not quite that bad!
For the last eight years Polymash’s focus has been “Podcasting As Content Strategy” – planning, producing, launching, marketing and promoting podcasts and websites along with all the digital assets to help each succeed.
We’ve launched dozens of successful client podcasts shows and websites; presented at major podcasting conferences and are well known in the industry.
We’ve been creating a strong digital presence for our clients, and we’ve grown our business by striving to drink our own cool aid.
And, we have more story ideas, and content needs, than time.
This is where you come in: We are looking for writers familiar with podcasting and content strategy. If you are interested, read on!
What Our Readers Are Searching For
We cover a wide range of topics as we offer service to anyone to who wants to launch, grow and market their podcast. Therefore, we write about most topics that can help podcasters learn more about creating an excellent show from concept through to monetization. We cover the nuts and bolts such as: hardware, software, hosting platforms, social media tools, and reviews of same. We also cover the behavioral, relationship and business side of podcasting: strategy, form, structure, monetization, promotions and more.
Our philosophy is to help people take ownership of their valuable content and take pride in their mission and creativity. Our goal is to help them see value in what they do and become excited to share it widely.
Being A Writer And Content Creator At Polymash
If you are a content creator writing about digital marketing and podcasting and blogging we’d love to hear from you.
Compensation and benefits to you as a writer
You will be compensated for your posts. We have no set or fixed rates. We favor writers who have a passion for the subject matter, and who are open to learning from us as well. We are a digital marketing firm with a high level of expertise in teaching podcasting, digital strategy, content syndication and SEO writing.
Therefore, candidates who are open to a mix of $$ compensation with learning our highly effective content syndication and podcast growth systems will receive preferential consideration.
Our writers receive complimentary access to our entire course library on Podcast SEO, Website Design, Show Notes SEO, Podcast Content Marketing.
We view our writers as partners and collaborators, and with the mixed model, apart from financial compensation, we hope you will benefit in the following ways:
An author profile with bio on our site for articles you write
A valuable high Domain Authority backlink to your own site
Access to our entire course library
Access to our content syndication platform
To see if you are a good fit
The content is podcasting related, so the ideal candidates will be podcasters who write, or writers familiar with podcasting. Please apply to Polymash via this online formto start the conversation. The form invites you to share brief high points of your prior experience. For example:
What you have written about.
Where you’ve written.
Your podcasting experience.
Your preferred topics, or experience on particular blogs or sites.
How frequently you can contribute – weekly, monthly or in between.
Your strengths as a writer.
We are looking for blog articles 1,000 words or more. If writers are working on an hourly basis, we assume writing time of 2hrs for each 1,000 word post, and 3 hours for 1,500 words and so on.
In most cases we have research and a perspective for each proposed topic available. We’ll make these available in content briefs. But for writers or articles that require initial research we’ll add up to 1hr of research compensation for each topic.
Tips for Writers
As a content creator, if you're interested in writing for us, we have some guidelines. Below are some tips to help you at your craft and make lasting connections with our readers. We want our writers to be consistent with a structure so readers come back to us on a regular basis.
Personality and tone
We encourage you to enjoy your own voice and personality, while upholding the credibility and approachability of Polymash. Our tone is represented by our depth of knowledge in the industry, our reputation with our clients, and our collaborative work ethic. In a nutshell, Polymash’s tone: we pride ourselves on our credibility and our generosity with our knowledge and resources. Transparency is a key value.
We tend to informality and openness with warmth and friendliness. We value personal experiences and stories with candor and humor that’s congruent with the message of the article. Conversational tones are more relatable than academic or technical tones.
Informative and actionable
We ask ourselves when writing any post:
What do I want my reader to know or do as a result of reading this post?
This means that every article should offer the reader something they might learn – the “what do I want them to know”- and give them something concrete to use – the “what do I want them to do” – the actions I want them to take.
If you miss asking yourself this important question as a content creator, you can leave the reader a little unsure about the value of the piece. Their take-aways are the most important aspect.
How to Structure Your Article
As an experienced writer, we won’t invest time here to tell you how to write grammatically correct articles – from sentence structure – including punctation -through to paragraph structure – introduction, body and conclusion. The examples you submit in the online application will show evidence of your writing skill. As a content creator for the web, you’d be aware also of the need for easy readability.
Many readers will skim through posts. Therefore, visual layout is key.
You’d know that dense content with long paragraphs, little white space and no headings or subheadings make for not the best reading experience in our world. Therefore, we remind you of the importance of:
Keep in mind which reader you are addressing and wanting to connect with, and what will interest them with regards to the topic you are writing about.
What do I want them to take-away from my post?
Write with that persona in mind and keep asking yourself how is my message impacting this reader.
Your title needs to capture attention and be inviting. Avoid click-bait, but still invite curiosity. Your title may be controversial or provocative. It may offer a solution to a challenge. Most importantly it will contain an SEO keyword or key-phrase we research before each article assignment to enhance discoverability.
The opening paragraph is most important for two reasons:
It’s usually the snippet that gets published as the post’s description on the blog’s home page. Therefore, it serves as the window dressing that invites the reader to click on the Read More Button.
It must contain the key phrase or key word from the post’s title in order to help with search.
Polymash can attribute its own growth and success in part to optimizing for search. We are on page one of Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs) for 100s of podcasting related search terms.
As you write your content with you reader in mind and clear about your message, structure your copy simply, using short sentences, brief paragraphs and subheadings.
Headings and subheadings
To help with the flow of your content, the use of headings is essential. We use Heading 2 [H2] for major blocks – all words capitalized and Heading 3 [H3] for subheadings under the major blocks. With H3s – only first word is capitalized. This post models the heading formats we ask our writers to follow.
As a content creator for Polymash, we would like you to reference other posts or courses on our site because those back links matter. In addition, please provide links to other sites and resources that add value to your message.
Generally, approximately 700 words is a good length for blog posts. We also value – as does Google – long form, authoritative articles of around 2000-3000 words. If you have topics of that length you’d like to write, please let us know. We would be happy to discuss.
There are a number of options. The closing paragraph can act as a book end, meaning you circle back to your opening paragraph rounding out your message in a satisfactory way. You might close with a call to action. You might summarize what you have covered in your article. You might have an anecdote that illustrates your message, or you might offer words of encouragement or possibility.
Remember, we have many skimmers and scanners out there! Attention spans are shortening. If all a reader does is skim or scan through, they are likely to pause on the closing paragraph. If it grabs their attention, they may just skim back up to the top again to take a closer look. You have earned their attention.
About “Guest Post” Proposals
We do accept occasional guest posts, and do not usually ask for money for these article placements. But we have very high standards for them, and closely monitor placed links we allow in such posts. If you would like to see our guest post guidelines, click here.
How To Apply
If you made it this far, I hope you consider applying!
https://polymash.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/PM-Guest-Posts-Author-Boxes-1200x628-layout542-1fsldss_b43693f869b611ba6620be9f13e1eff4_2000.jpg6281200RobynSBhttps://polymash.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Polymash-Logo-2019-680px-Web2.pngRobynSB2020-12-08 09:30:252020-12-13 17:32:40We Are Looking For Writers – How To Become A Content Creator With Polymash
Here is our own "sad" case study – but with a happy ending! We presented some of this at SEO Saturdays.com last week, but I wanted to follow up with the case study here: I have a “hero” episode / blog post that was on page one of the search results for a long time – before dropping off. In this post I want to tell how we “rescued” that piece of content during our last SEO Saturdays livestream, and how we used an app called “Topic” for generating SEO content briefs and content grading. Such content optimization tools can have a massive impact on your podcast website traffic, website rank, and of course subscribers who discover your show by searching no the web.
I will also share how I increased my traffic by 351% in one week. Implications for podcasters with their own websites:
More impactful episode content = happy listeners
Easier interview planning and guest preparation
A data driven approach to dominating a topic in a single episode
Transforming a back-catalog of episodes into a traffic generating machine
Grateful guests who will love to share and link to your episode article
Increased amount of backlinks to your episode article
An increased amount of social shares
So the gist of how all this started is this:
My post “How To Promote A Podcast” was on page 1 of the search results for a year. But lately, new players have been “eating my lunch”, and I slipped to page 2.
This can have a drastic effect on traffic, especially if you have podcast episodes or blog posts that rank for multiple keywords, and then drop. In my case it was over 1,000 visits a month.
Our Research Into Content Grading and Content Brief Tools
Sure, it happens, posts can fluctuate between pages 1 and 2 or 100. However, not satisfied – we aim to practice what we preach. On our last livestream we presented some findings from research done by Brian Dean of Backlinko. His updated article called “We Analyzed 11.8 Million Google Search Results – Here’s What We Learned About SEO” led us to a number of insights and possible areas of exploration. As Brian Dean points out in his post:
Comprehensive content with a high “Content Grade” significantly outperformed content that didn’t cover a topic in-depth.
We’ve long realized that “long form” content ranks high in the Search Result Pages (SERPs). And our long form show notes for podcasts is what is driving podcast discovery and new subscribers. But the key insight for me was this:
It’s not the # of words. Comprehensive Topic Coverage results in a high “Content Grade” – and this trumps sheer length or a high number of words.
So we started exploring a number of tools that help improve an podcast episodes content grade. And this led to another insight: Content Briefs allow you to design comprehensive topic coverage in the first place. And this led us to the question:
What if an podcast host was to use an SEO ”Content Brief” as a way to research his guest, and the topic they want to talk about ahead of time? What if an interview could actually be designed to covering a topic more completely – and thus result in high SEO ranking?
Meet “Topic” – More Impactful Podcasts from SEO Content Briefs and Content Grading
One of these tools that excited is called Topic. It uses sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) to research a topic, and uses big data to create content briefs:
RESEARCH: Topic has a keyword research tool built in, so you can research your episode topic.
PLANNING: Topic lets you plan better for interviews or articles content. Enter a keyword, and Topic's Content Briefs will show you what you need to cover to achieve a high content grade.
EXECUTION: Topic's Content Grader allows you to quickly see what your draft episode show notes article is missing. Create a feedback loop that ensures that every episode article covers what your audience is searching for.
We tried Topic out and it worked. We ran our “sad” post through their analysis, found that I had a content grade of B+. OK not terrible, but I wanted an A++ to see what we had to do to improve the content to fill gaps and voilà!
After making some adjustments, which we demo in our video above at about 0:40, I was able to re-check my content grade, and it is now an A++.
Topic helped me to pinpoint what EXACTLY I had to change in order to rank.
I was surprised how quickly this worked. A week later, and we’re back on page 1 of Google, in a better position than even last year. Our podcast website traffic from this one keyword has increased by 351%. Keep in mind this article ranks for multiple keywords, and they all showed a significant rise in their SERP positions.
What does this mean for podcasters? Web search is how we get our followers, and our clients attract 60% of their listeners and subscribers this way.
Why and When You Need A Content Brief and Content Grading Tool
If you have a new podcast website, your domain authority as well as podcast website traffic will likely be low. There are 2 effective ways you can make up for this:
Make up for your low domain authority – with great content designed by an SEO informed content brief and based on a high SEO content grade
Link building. We can’t say it often enough: You need to make your guests link to your podcast articles and show notes
Coming Up: Topic In The House!
We are excited that Ryo Chiba, one of the founders of Topic will be joining us on our livestream as a co-host, and as usual on SEO Saturdays we will collaborate to do some live SEO for podcasters.
You can apply now for your show to be featured, and allow us to do live SEO research, and help you with content briefs and content grading for your podcast episode ideas.
https://polymash.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/SEO-Saturdays-1920x1080-layout2250-1fboe0f_305d2e3d03e4c9a392056969369dd5fa_2000.png10801920Juergen Berkesselhttps://polymash.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Polymash-Logo-2019-680px-Web2.pngJuergen Berkessel2020-05-09 16:33:512020-05-13 14:12:06Podcast Website Traffic Increased by 351% in One Week [Content Optimization Case Study]
SEO Saturdays – May 2 is our latest in our fortnightly livestream event on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch. We seek to expand and shift podcasters assumptions around traditional ways of marketing and promoting podcasts. We invite guests to join us – those working on elevating their content, and those who have potential solutions to offer. (NB – while our focus is specific to podcasting – this show is equally useful to any digital content).
SEO Saturdays is growing and we continue to experiment. In this latest iteration, we offer
LIVE SEO coaching to those who apply
New learnings and Insights from our research
Guest conversations via Skype
Livestreaming SEO coaching
You’re invited to our livestreaming event every second Saturday when we review content for its SEO strength. What’s the content that you want to bring more eyeballs and/or ears to? It is your website, your podcast, your individual episodes, your blog, your course, your book?
To have your content reviewed, all you have to do is apply and show up! We demonstrate how you can optimize for search with our methods using a range of valuable tools. We invite you to apply because we invest resources in advance by conducting some initial research before we go live. In that way, we can be of real service to our applicants in the moment.
Not only do our applicants receive expert advice specific to their content, they also earn valuable backlinks to their content as we feature them in our show notes, (see below and in our first and second LIVE events).
In this SEO Saturdays – May 2 livestream, we share new insights and learning in the SEO space. It’s ever evolving and so are we. Featured in this SEO Saturday – May 2 were two key valuable reference and resources:
AI tool to help you create content that your audience wants: Topic. Read below for my excitingly successful outcome using this AI.
In our livestream we show you how Topic opened us up to possibilities inspired by Brian Dean’s post. totally had not thought about using a “content brief” and “content grading” approach for podcasts. And there are more possibilities for this than meets the eye.
How a content brief & grading tool increased my traffic 16X
Here is our own “sad”case study: a Polymash “hero” episode / blog post has been on page one of the search results for a long time. Learn what we were able to do to 16X our traffic in one single week:
In this segment our guests share a little of their business objectives and why podcasting is a key factor in their growth strategy. Before the show we do our research and then share observations and recommendations which they react to in real time. We then send them our findings after the show so they can take action.
We’re excited to have these podcasters applying to be on our SEO Saturday’s livestream. Each podcaster is unique and while you may think you’re alone with your issues, we find that with all the excellent teaching moments that surface during the livestream, we recognize we are not so alone. Learning together is truly valuable. Remember, if you missed the livestream, all of this is viewable on our You Tube channel.
Not Real Art Podcast
Not Real Art Podcast is intended for creative audiences only. Not Real Art celebrates creative culture worldwide. It contains material that is fresh, fun and inspiring but is not suitable for pretentious art snobs. Hosts – Man One and Sourdough – are long time friends, collaborators and art world insiders based in Los Angeles. Nothing is off-limits on NOT REAL ART. Sourdough and Man One bring a fresh, devil-may-care approach to discussing their mutual love — and hate — for the contemporary art scene, creative culture, and everything in between!
Sorry To Hear That Podcast
The goal of the Sorry To Hear That Podcast is to help create a community around grief. Host, CJ Williams interviews people who talk about the death of a loved one and talk about their processing of that grief. Sorry to hear that was a phrase CJ heard frequently after she lost her mother and it bothered her – so the show also is an educational resource to help those that have not lost a person to think more critically about the other persons' experience and perhaps give some options about what to say and what not to say.
OutDoor Biz Podcast
Each week on The Outdoor Biz Podcast you’ll hear genuine conversations with Outdoor Industry Insiders. Iconic founders and leaders from brands like JanSport, Eagle Creek, Fishpond, Redington; Industry Recruiters, Sales, and Marketing Executives and many more. These industry leaders talk about their careers, tell outdoor inspiring outdoor adventure stories and offer advice and direction on the path you can take to get your job in the industry and grow your Outdoor Career. Hosted by Author, Speaker, Adventurer, and industry insider Rick Saez.
Our conversation is bound to propel your thinking to take action!
Remember, you earn great backlinks when we feature your show on our site. Each week our featured podcasts, as demo’d above are enjoying that benefit – and that’s just one! Join us next time to find out why this is a GREAT SEO tactic that can flip your script!
Things are always changing, and this is especially true in content marketing. Podcast content strategy is still wide open to get your brand, message, or business out there. If you're in this field, you'd be aware that the internet runs on content. With regards to lead generation and attracting the right traffic with SEO savvy, the rules change often.
Add to this a bewildering array of potential channels for content, it's no wonder that navigating this terrain can seem difficult. With so many bright shiny objects everywhere, many of us lose our way.
I. A Podcast Content Strategy Avoids Digital Sharecropping
We've seen exhausted clients pour all of their efforts into “rented” social media platforms, posting on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Medium, Twitter, YouTube and other channels. To them, it seems like they are doing the right thing. They gravitate to where they feel their audiences' attention is.
Nothing seems wrong with that. But often there is a lack of underlying strategy. More on that in a minute.
Meanwhile, our clients' website's content often lies neglected. It is no longer at the center of their efforts or content they publish. For most clients, social media seems so much easier than blogging. The occasional viral attention gained appears more attractive than building a body of authority content – a convenient and sexy shortcut.
The issue is that social media content has a limited life span. It disappears up Facebook's or Twitter's timeline. Thus it serves no real purpose in growing a website, domain authority and SERP rank. The social posts need to refer to and drive traffic and engagement back to the central website.
The social networks fight this tooth and nail, they want ALL engagement to take place on their own platforms.
So what's the solution?
I won't pretend to have all the answers, but in the last couple of years we have discovered a self-generating content strategy that seems to works well for the “content marketing” challenged: Podcasting as a Content Strategy.
This might surprise you, or you may think of it as another content fad; but hang on for a minute and allow me to explain the often surprising benefits.
II. Podcasting Builds Relationships With Other Influencers
Podcasters are often overly obsessed with subscriber growth, metrics and statistics. Yet one of the most important and meaningful success criteria for most podcasters is hard to measure:
Podcasting establishes lasting relationships
Whenever we review podcasting programs with our clients, one of the benefits they appreciate the most is that they have connected and even become friends with influencers and people active in their field.
So how do you go about this? Reaching out to thought leaders in your field is so much easier if you have a podcast, and then invite them to talk about their passions and insights on your show. Most are happy to oblige, especially once you have an established show. After all, you are helping them promote and grow in return.
In addition, opportunities to be a guest on influencer podcasts yourself will also appear over time, as many influencers have podcasts themselves. But even “guesting” on other shows in your niche will establish you as a thought leader and influcener yourslef over time.
III. Podcasting is a Self Generating Content Strategy
Instead of laboring over creating blog content, our clients interview other people in their field. They love doing it, it’s fun, energizing and not as time consuming as blogging. They jump on a Skype call, hit the record button and discuss a topic they and their guest find energizing, and voilà: original content.
I’m not saying it’s easy or less work, but it’s a less intense effort for clients. They focus on recording a meaningful conversation, and we, as their podcasting partner, take care of the rest. For example, we use a transcription service and edit these conversations, and have an almost instant 5,000+ word article. We then apply both technical and other SEO optimizations – in fact the topics and episode titles are based on SEO research and low competition key phrases in the first place.
Podcasting can serve as the missing center for a multi channel strategy
Once a podcast is recorded, the show notes become the central business asset from which all multi-channel and social media efforts emanate. So yes, we still do “traditional” social media content distribution campaigns to share and boost the podcast show-notes. But that’s only the beginning.
We often produce videos from our podcast episodes. There are some automation tools that help us. These transform audio into video. Later, we publish these episodes on YouTube, DailyMotion and other social video channels.
We syndicate the content to platforms with existing engaged audiences and built-in internal search engines, for example Medium, Blogger, Facebook Stories or LinkedIn.
Michael Seltzner’s “Social Media Examiner” team recently cancelled 3 Facebook video shows. He moved them from Facebook to YouTube. Why? Because the data shows that videos longer than 1-2 minutes penalize your Facebook page rank. So when publishing video to Facebook, the idea is to take 15-45 seconds from the podcast video episode and publish it as “teaser content“ with subtitles. I’m still working on automating this part of the process.
Syndication And Content Distribution Automation:
We use a smart and affordable content syndication and distribution platform from a Belgian company called StoryChief. The reason I like it so much is that it can publish natively to multiple platforms (like WordPress, Drupal etc.), and supports podcast player embeds.
What’s smart about it is their use “rel=canonical” tags. You get to decide where your primary content should live. For those unfamiliar with this tag, it lets search engine indexing bots know where to apply the SERP rank credit and link juice. This way, your podcast show notes will rank pointing to your site, NOT to Medium or other platforms.
Podcast directories RSS syndication:
Promoting a podcast requires submission to dozens of podcast directories. These directories will automatically link to each published episode and your primary website. This results in a valuable SEO benefit, namely, links from high domain authority sites.
IV. Podcasting as SEO Cornerstones
A lot of podcasts tackle content themes. In podcast parlance, these can be thought of as "Seasons". For example on an SEO podcast, you might focus on "Technical SEO" in Season 1, and "Link Building Techniques" in Season 2.
This is the genesis of a cornerstone strategy. You cross link this content to other important long form content pieces on your site. Such content will naturally rank higher because of the relevance of all participating articles. Furthermore, we have seen this content rank very quickly.
Podcast Guesting as a Lead Generation & SEO Link Building Initiatives
For people not interested in launching their own podcast, “Podcast Guesting” is an alternative. It results in effective link building, lead generation and launch strategy for any business. For example, this method has become a very popular book launch technique. The idea is that you find relevant podcasts in your niche and then run an outreach campaign to approach the hosts of these podcasts to invite you on as a guest.
Benefit: Intimacy With Your Ideal Audience
The first set of big benefits include getting 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. The modality is very different from interrupting an audience in the middle of browsing through their Facebook feed.
This is why Podcast Listeners are such a lucrative audience. And you get to present your core ideas to them.
Benefit: SEO Back-Links
The second big benefit is SEO related. Each podcast you appear on will create show notes that feature highly valuable back-links to your site and product or launch. SEO agencies charge a lot for high Domain Authority back-links. And the link building process can be onerous.
You can automate the outreach campaigns, or you can hire agencies to do this for you. We have a free downloadable podcast guesting outreach automation system for this, including outreach email templates and mail merge tools. To learn more how these campaigns can be automated for free, check out our podcast guesting system and templates.
Podcasting Benefits Summary
Our clients love having a podcast. It helps them re-connect with content as their own business asset. “Having a show” re-introduces a strategic purpose and promotes content discipline. Our clients keep on a weekly schedule much more easily than when they were just “blogging”.
The ROI is in lead generation and list building and SEO. A year into their podcasting journey, most our clients with medium sized shows get 65% of their traffic and leads from organic search and podcast listeners. These are for keywords they would otherwise have to pay $1,000's a month for on Google AdWords.
In this season we have occasionally touched up our own podcast workflow. For those of you who follow us, you realize that we often talk about "podcasting as a content strategy". So as we approach the end of season 1 of our Podcast Growth Show, I thought it was time to zoom out for a big picture episode.
Basically, this episode is our blueprint to go from podcast content strategy to execution.
So I'd like to reveal our overall podcast workflow, all the way from strategy to execution. And in this episode I'll reveal all our little secret tips, tricks, tools and gear we use to save massive amount of time along the way.
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. I'll keep that segment short.
We like the concept of seasons, as it provides some amount of flexibility when thinking about the overall goals for your podcast as business content strategy.
Advantage of Seasons
Do we have a solo show or an interview based show? Do we have a co-host? Does our podcast have a theme? Would we like to try a different episode structure? Are we afraid your audience is getting bored with our content? What if we want to change up? Or are we suffering from "podfading" and just plain tired and need a break?
All of these can be addressed by organizing our podcast into separate seasons:
They allow us to take a sabbatical from your own show if we need a break
They enable us to develop focused themes for each season
We can switch the format of the show, including who is hosting, guesting or if it's a solo show
And all of that with no surprises for our listeners, as we announce the end of the current or start of the next seasons
Each season is a good excuse for a podcast re-launch and much needed promotional activities
Value Proposition Design
I know a lot of podcasters who just barrel on producing episode after episode without ever pausing, re-thinking, changing direction or taking stock. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as the audience is with us on this.
Other podcasters plan each season carefully, and conceptualize exactly what they want to cover, who their guests will be, and most importantly what experience they want to create for their audience. Either way:
Periodically revisiting the value proposition of our podcast is an excellent habit.
But just how we do that? We have developed a process for developing a podcast's branding and value proposition. This Value Proposition Design (VPD) process is driven by over a hundred trigger questions designed to achieve clarity about our audience. To be more specific, clarity about what our listening audience is experiencing, what problems we help them solve or wrestle with, and what goals and transformation we help them achieve.
Not only that, there are also over 100 trigger questions to get us to think about how well our podcast topics match up to our audience desires, needs, tasks and expectations.
We have online forms for these trigger questions, and the answers we produce during this process are worth their weight in gold: They become a rich source of podcast themes, episode topics, SEO keywords, episode titles.
Think of your podcast as a product – with a market fit
This clarity is what you can when going through the VPD process.
Focus on Overall Goals
It is also important to keep focused on our podcast goals, and to periodically revisit these.
Perhaps we started out just wanting to have fun and get our message out to the world, but now we are finding ourselves wanting to build a list, or speak on stages, or to use your podcast as a vehicle to help promote a book. These are significant shifts in goals, and require significant adjustments to the way we utilize and market our podcast.
Strategy Planning Session 3 Month
Of course none of this has to do with the week to week podcast workflow of producing episodes in the middle of a season.
I'm just pointing all of this out as an important baseline activity that we try to do every 3 months or so. And to point out 3 things:
If you are about to launch a podcast, take the time to go through the VPD process to achieve clarity and a product market fit for your show
If you already started to podcast without any of this in mind, it's not too late to start and revisit once in a while
If you have a podcast based on seasons, revisit your goals and value proposition for each seasons
SEO = Developing A Business Asset With Positive ROI
Our own podcast website gets 65% of subscribers from SEO search. 50% of my new clients come from search. Our podcast is less than 2 months old at the time of this recording, and has yielded 4 new clients and many more prospects. Not from iTunes discoverability, not referrals. So our entire podcast workflow is based on solid SEO research.
You may think that this is all overkill. And again, I will point out that this is just the process we follow because it works for us and our results speak for themselves. BTW, we have a whole course on podcast SEO.
For Our Podcast, 80% Planning and 20% Execution is Normal
So the assumption is that we do have clarity about our goals and value proposition for the audience. At this point, we want to identify potential SEO opportunities and turn these into topics for our season long episode plan.
The goal is to be able to rank for our show notes pages.
And there are 2 important pitfalls that we avoid by doing some quick SEO research:
If we target impossibly difficult keywords, we will never rank on page one in Google, and thus we will never get search result traffic or new listeners
If we target obscure keywords that no one ever searches for, we may rank on page one of the search results, but no one will ever visit our podcast from that.
SEO Keyword Opportunities
I myself may have a bit of an unfair advantage, because Polymash started life in part as an SEO agency. So we have access to some enterprise level SEO tools.
But the good news for podcasters is that there are affordable and even free tools out there to do the same thing.
So here is a quick demo (at 13:50 ) of how we identify high opportunity keywords using Mangool's SEO suite, particularly the KWFinder utility. This is a central part of our podcast workflow, and KWFinder is by far my favorite and simple to use SEO keyword research tool. We have coached a ton of podcasters to use it to good effect.
It gets better: This keyword research tool is only on part of an entire SEO suite to quickly add the following capabilities to your podcast planning:
KWFinder: Our favorite keyword research utility for podcasters.
SERP Watcher: Allows us to track progress as you start ranking for your desired keywords
SERP Checker: Provides deep insights into Google search results, and allows us to judge which keywords to target and which to stay away from
Converting Podcast SEO Keywords into Episode Ideas
So in the podcast workflow, once we have identified a list of keywords with potential, it is time to take these keywords and base our episode plan on these.
In our Google Sheets planning template we have developed a formula to address the following SEO issue:
Each site has something called Domain Authority and Alexa Rank, which indicates how likely the site's content will rank on Google. This means every site needs to target keywords that are commensurate with their Domain Authority and Alexa Rank.
For old, established and popular sites it is easier to rank for more difficult keywords.
But new site owners with low DA and Alexa rank need to choose key-phrases they can actually rank for.
The formula we have developed matches the domain authority of any site with the keyword difficulty to target on KW Finder. This is all about prioritizing high opportunity topics, from high opportunity keywords.
Google Sheets to Organize Output
We have developed a Google Sheets template to help map this out.
Episode Topic Identification
Here is the process we follow to identify episode themes and topics based on our Podcast SEO research.
SEO Based Topics
As I mentioned earlier, we base our podcast episodes on our prior SEO research. By the time we are mid-season, we usually have a range of potential topics for a season to choose from, and hundreds of potential SEO keywords to choose from as well.
Initially we develop working titles for each episode before we even incorporate relevant SEO keywords from our list. But at some point it is important to design episode titles with relevant keywords that fits the topic, and that are commensurate with the ranking power of our site as well.
Episode Title Optimization
The exact wording of our episode titles is more important than many podcasters realize. You can have a great episode, but if the title is not compelling, click worthy, interesting or thought provoking, people will never click through.
Sure, your existing subscribers may listen. But this is about attracting new listeners and subscribers. Just think about where your episode titles appear, and what role they play in your podcast workflow and the way people consume podcasts.
People may see your episode title on their iPhone or listening device of choice. Will they be interested enough to tap and listen?
People may come across your show notes and episodes as a result of a Google search. But will your episode title be compelling enough for them click through?
Your episodes titles may appear on social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Will it arouse people's curiosity?
So what makes a click-worthy episode title?
CoSchedule Headline Optimizer
There are a bunch of tools out there that help, for example the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. CoSchedule is a well know the social media scheduling platform we use, and they have developed a wonderful tool for designing highly converting titles for blog posts as well as for podcast episodes.
The tool is free, and you can try it out here. Their recommendations are based on a ton of research, word usage and title patterns proven to be successful on social media. Their algorithm checks for the presence of unusual words, power words, emotional words and the structure and length of each title.
Of course, fair warning: Don't become a slave to such a tool.
Making Title Optimization Part of our Podcast Workflow
But my point is more about following this thinking process and formulating a range of potential titles. I guarantee you this: If you formulate only a single title for each episode, it will never be as good as if you formulate 7+ titles to choose from. So it is making this discipline part of our podcast workflow that makes all the difference.
Google Sheets to Organize Output
For us to stay organized and to collaborate on SEO research as well as podcast topic and title planning, we again use our trusty Google sheet template to stay organized.
Episode Recording Preparation
OK so we've finally gotten closer to actually recording an episode.
Pre Recording Notes
Our own podcast's current season is a solo recording effort.
Using StoryChief For Script Development Ahead Of Time
But we also use StoryChief to develop our solo episode scripts. This saves us a lot of time later, after the recording process. And because this season is video based, the podcast workflow to incorporate video is by nature a bit harder.
If you are interested in giving StoryChief a try, they offer a free account:
Beyond this it's 5 stories for 10$/month, 10 stories for 20$/month, 15 for 30, 20 for 40, 25 for 50 up until 30 for 60$; and 20% discount if you pay yearly.
Episode Specific Template Google Docs
Google docs are great for collaboration with clients, and we have designed our template to work for preparing, ID3 tagging, and creating show notes.
Our episode preparation template on Google docs that works for solo, interview or co-host driven formats. We also use this for our own podcast, but that is for capturing titles, descriptions, video metadata, ID3 tag information, embed codes for the episodes once everything is done.
Episode Video Data
This season combines an audio podcast with a video tutorials, demos and more. Because we cross publish each episode to our YouTube Channel as well, it is important to formulate the YouTube tags, description and links for each episode, and again our template allows for this.
Our Podcast Workflow Process for Video + Audio Recording
Finally, after all this planning, we are ready to record something.
ScreenFlow Video Templates For Youtube Channels
I use a somewhat unusual setup for podcast + video recording. You may have heard of desktop screen recorders like Techsmith's Camtasia and Telestream ScreenFlow? These are screen recorders that also use your webcam. Many people use them for creating courseware or evergreen webinar content. We've used both extensively here at Polymash. But for our podcast workflow a clear winner emerged:
ScreenFlow launched an innovation this year that I had been looking for a long time.
It automates the production process with the ability to configure recording templates. These templates then place your video into a template with a pre-existing intro, outro, lower thirds, resizing and repositioning the webcam image as a picture in picture on the screen.
ScreenFlow templates save us an amazing amount of time for our YouTube channel
If you click play on the video above, you can see the effect. After the initial setup of my YouTube channel, I do nothing more to produce these videos, other than to press the record button. Clever, no?
If you are relatively new to podcast, and video is not something you are considering right off the bat, here is our review of several new and highly innovative podcast recording software
VEED, A New Innovative Video Tool For Podcasters
Ever since the COVID pandemic hit, a lot more work is happening virtually. And this means a lot of us are spending more time with video tools. A side-effect from this has been that video tools are increasingly becoming innovative. There is a new player on the scene that is especially interesting for podcasters.
This new platform is called VEED.IO, and here is what it does:
You can record and edit your audio or video podcast online. You can use their live streaming software to record your camera, audio, and screen then edit your recording straight away. Their video editing software features pro tools to help you make high-quality podcasts perfect for streaming on various social media and video-sharing platforms.
Lots Of Creative Video Tools:Video effects and filters, subtitles, auto-transcription, video effects, drawing, cropping, progress bars and ways to add text are only a small part of all that VEED offers.
Screencapture: VEED allows you to capture your screen with multiple layouts, including side-by-side, top-bottom and PIP (picture-in-picture) layouts.
Podcast Audiograms: You can turn your podcast into a video, add your podcast artwork and add a waveform too.
You might also have noticed that in my opening sequences I talk directly to the camera. Hopefully I come across as fluent in these videos, but what you may not realize is that I'm assisted by a mini teleprompter attached to my webcam.
My scripts live on an iPad on my desk, which I can speed up or slow down as I record. It's a strictly one man operation.
The actual teleprompting screen is driven by my iPhone, and all of this allows me to look directly into the camera as I record my episodes.
If you are curious about this setup, below is an (affiliate) link to this amazingly small and affordable teleprompting device.
Meet our unique mini teleprompter
We use a compact, versatile, and easy to use teleprompter that helps us quickly deliver polished show notes to our listeners. Until now, teleprompters have been clunky, expensive, and difficult to operate–and many required film studios or a production team. This teleprompter changes all of that.
It’s a simple tool that helps us nail smooth delivery using just a smartphone and our desktop computer, DSLR, or webcam.
Podcast Quality Audio While Recording Video
One issue with doing a video podcast, especially one where one stands or moves around, is audio quality.
While sitting I can use my microphone and arm easily, but if I'm standing or moving around I like to use a wireless mic. This is also true for general video production or conducting on-camera interviews. I really did a lot of research before investing in this piece of kit.
What we use is what I feel is the most affordable and yet high quality pair of wireless lavalier microphones on the market. I think the quality is as good as the famous Sennheisers, but the price is 1/2. The system is called the COMICA CVM-WM300(A). There is also an optional interview mic to take this setup on the road and conduct amazing mobile podcasts and or video interviews.
Again, if you'd like to check it out, below is an (affiliate) link.
Live Audio through Loopback and Audio Hijack
We produce our client podcasts using a professional audio editing platform called Adobe Audition.
One of my favorite things is when podcast clients comment on how amazing they sound on the podcasts we produce for them.
This is in part because as a former audio engineer and record producer I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get that professional "broadcast" sound. (Let me know in the comments if I should do a special episode on that, happy to share!)
But it is also because Adobe Audition comes with some professional and sophisticated tools to help us shape a warm and inviting sound profile for each podcast host of guest.
So far, so good. But when recording video as well as an audio podcast, things become more complicated. And time consuming.
We would have to extract the audio tracks from video to import them into Adobe Audition to achieve the same custom broadcast ready sound, and then re-import them into the video. Too much work…
Luckily, I'm both lazy and smart:
So we've come up with a shortcut to get broadcast quality video sound, using 2 apps by a company called Rogue Amoeba:
Loopback to create virtual audio devices to take the sound from apps and audio input devices, then pass it to any audio processing software.
Audio Hijack, which functions like a real-time, virtual mixing console with EQ, compression and noise gating built in.
These 2 apps allow me to apply sound profiles in real time. Ordinarily this is done with a mixing console or in post-production, but this happens live. So the final video has that "broadcast" ready sound as it is being recorded.
The other advantage is that I can create profiles to attempt to make my lavaliers sound the same or similar to my Heil PR40 mic. (I can hear audiophiles groaning now). But at least I can get similar sound quality.
Audio Extraction and .mp3 Files From Video
So now that we have the video portion of our podcast recorded, it's time to extract the audio from the video and to export and upload it to our podcasts' .mp3 file
A swiss company called Auphonic has developed a brilliant set of audio automation tools every podcaster should check out. We use Auphonic desktop app to automate the following steps:
Establish a noise profile
Applying Noise reduction from that noise profile
Speech Volume Leveling
Industry standard loudness standards for broadcast ready files at -16LUF
Export to .mp3 formatted output file
This automation saves us at least 20 minutes per episode.
Audio Export to Libsyn
So now we finally have the .mp3 file to upload and release on our podcast hosting software Libsyn. First we apply the episodes title, descriptions and other podcast metadata to the .mp3 file. Then we upload to Libsyn and schedule the episode to go live at the desired time.
Video Export to YouTube
Remember we are using Screenflow to record our video content. It has the built in ability to export each video to our Youtube channel, including custom thumbnails, tags, descriptions and links. So the video portion of our podcast was already uploaded and scheduled on YouTube in a previous step.
Multi Channel Show Notes Syndication
I will keep this short, since syndication and distribution of show notes was the topic of an entire episode, episode 8. Suffice it to say this:
A critical step in our podcast workflow is to distribute and syndicate our show notes to as many platforms as possible.
After all, our podcast's audio files are being syndicated to be available in iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and Google Play.
Content syndication with StoryChief is to show notes what RSS feeds are to your podcast audio.
Finalize Episode Show Notes on StoryChief
Because we prepare our episode scripts in StoryChief, by the time we record our episode the show notes are 90% written already.
Embed YouTube Video Player
So all that's left is to embed the episode video into StoryChief.
Embed Libsyn Audio Player
We love StoryChief as a content syndication in part because it is podcast ready. We easily embed the Libsyn player widget into our episode to allow site visitors to choose their modality: Read, Listen or Watch.
Embed Lead Generation Widgets
Another reason we love StoryChief is that it allows for embedding various lead generation and email capture widgets. So if our episode has a "Lead Magnet" like a bonus guide, mind-map or check-list, we embedding it right in the StoryChief show notes.
Publish to 16+ Channels
At the end of the day, our show notes are scheduled to go live and to trickle out to an ever growing list of platforms, communities and blogs and "Ambassador Networks"
1/2 Year Evergreen Social Boost Campaign
In an upcoming episode I am planning to go into detail about how we create a 1/2 year long automated campaign to promote each episode on social media. Over the years we have tried and used a ton of different platforms for this.
The one I think is most innovative is called CoSchedule. It allows us to design a social campaign on autopilot.
I am lazy, but engagement cannot be automated
I answer every RT, question or DM related to our podcast episodes. But that does not mean I want to spend a lot of time on social media crafting individual tweets and social shares for our episodes.
CoSchedule has a clever automation concept called "social helpers". These are content snippets that help to produce a varied social feed, with different hashtags, images, messages. It shares our episode show notes content, but does not repeat the same tweet or image all the time.
Again, it's the sort of one time up-front effort that takes some time to set up initially, but then saves a ton of time for each episode. If you are interested in seeing this in more detail, let me know in the comments.
Again – this episode 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.
If you'd like to chat and explore possibilities for your own podcast workflow, feel free to book a time with me.
This is the second post in a series about Value Proposition Design and focuses on a technique to build a digital strategy roadmap using the VPD methodology. The series covers what Value Proposition Design is, what its benefits are and how it fits into a larger Digital Strategy.
In my previous post in this series about Value Proposition Design, we covered the high-level benefits of VPD as a design thinking process. In addition to its inherent benefits, it can help establish a common language that connects 10,000-foot level thinkers with their more detail oriented counterparts, be it employees or service providers.
In this post, I will go into how we use the Value Proposition Design process in a slightly unorthodox way. The goal is to create an actionable digital strategy roadmap and project plans, even for solopreneurs and small business owners.
Benefits of using VPD as a starting point in this way are many:
Better web design and site content
Better SEO and link building approach
Better Engagement for blog and social media posts
Increased e-Mail list sign up rates
Better converting lead magnets
Inbound Marketing Readiness
More compelling marketing language
Clarity about what analytics to measure
Clarity around UX goals
More representative UX design processes
So if you are interested in these outcomes, read on!
Origins of Value Proposition Design
So where did Value Proposition Design come from? Many of our readers who are into the start-up scene will have heard of the Business Model Canvas. The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and lean start-up template for developing new, or documenting existing, business models. It is one of the better known “lean” start-up processes. (Wikipedia and YouTube references).
Have you and your business ever looked for partners or investors?
You may not be going in front of Shark Tank, but creating a pitch for potential partners or investors in your business or non-profit happens more often than one might think.
The Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Design processes allow you to communicate and test the ins and outs of your business model. For a good overview of the canvas, check out this Business Model Canvas post on Floship. Some start-ups use it to build their “Shark Tank Ready” pitch to investors covering all the bases in terms of customer segments, product market fit, financials, etc. But it is also a terrific process to test out the viability of new product and business ideas. And we use it in a unique way to feed into our digital strategy roadmap process.
“Do you produce products and services customers actually want? “
Value Proposition Design (VPD) was authored by Alex Osterwalder and his team at Strategyzer.com, and has emerged as a subset of the Business Model Canvas. It focuses specifically on understanding customer segments and product-market fit of your products and services. The clear value proposition definitions that emerge from a VPD exercise are extremely useful, regardless of where in your business life-cycle you currently are.
As I touched upon in my previous post, we often find that many of our clients benefit hugely from creating clear value proposition statements around their products and services. Often these have not been formally established and can be used to connect their various marketing activities and projects in a strategic and holistic way.
How We Use VPD Design Thinking To Impact Small and Large Businesses
I should note that we at Polymash use VPD in a slightly unorthodox way: We do not necessarily create fully fledged Shark Tank ready business plans and pitch decks for investors.
More often we use the initial stages of the VPD process to feed into our own Digital Strategy Design methodology, which creates actionable plans across multiple dimensions of a digital strategy roadmap.
And we do not focus only on supporting start-ups but have found ways to help businesses of any size, including solopreneurs, small businesses, and corporates. To see why this works so well for us, read on.
In short, we call this process “inbound design“, the intentional design patterns and practices that more easily allow you and your business to be customer-centric, and as a result to attract, convert, close and delight your audience and turn them into customers.
Another point of differentiation is that we start by focusing on existing assets, rather than on deficits. Starting with what already works well and can be built upon is a more energizing experience for clients to work on, rather than on solely zooming in on gaps that exist. The “Strength-Based Approach” we use is based on applying “Appreciative Inquiry” methodology. It creates a more collaborative and blame-free environment, with people more willingly contributing and implementing changes, all the while feeling like they are co-creating their own digital future presence.
How Does A VPD Workshop Function, And Who Should Attend?
It is best to invite a facilitator familiar with the VPD process run the workshop. As far as attendees, we think that 3-25 stakeholders are a good size, depending on the size and complexity of the business or product set being worked on.
It is, of course, a good idea to get diverse representation from inside the business. Business owners or C-level execs, product management, marketing, operations, and sales should all be represented. For small businesses, the owners and supporters that know the business intimately can suffice.
But getting input from actual clients representing different customer segments is valuable. For example, if you were developing an educational product or business it would be great to have representation from students, teachers as well as parents.
VPD workshops can be conducted in a single day or spread out into smaller sessions in multiple days, but it will be difficult to be productive in just a few hours. Building a digital strategy is a strategic effort, and we recommend doing at least 2 sessions, usually on separate days.
Session One focuses on customer profiles, value maps and product marketing fit. It produces “Value Proposition Statements” as an end of session deliverable.
Session Two can have fewer attendees who focus on project planning as part of a larger digital strategy roadmap. This is achieved by feeding the VPD statements into each relevant dimension on our Digital Strategy CCC Process.
Suggested Workshop Sessions & Workflow
Identify Customer Segments to Work On
Use Sticky Notes and Dotmocracy to document ideas
Post-It App to digitize
Focus on Customer Profile First
Focus on Value Map Second
Produce Value Proposition Statements
Recap Session One
Evaluate Potential Fits
Focus on Most Compelling VPD Statements
Digital Strategy Roadmap Design (CCC Process)
Follow Up Task and Project Plan
Workshop Trigger Questions
Example Trigger Questions, courtesy of Strategyzer.com
To stimulate thinking during the workshop, the VPD process provides a series of trigger questions that lead participants to consider aspects they may not have thought of before.
“Jobs to Be Done” trigger questions explore key jobs customers do, as well as contexts and even emotional states in which they operate.
“Pains” trigger questions focus on pains customers may experience in their daily lives, in terms of money, time, effort and frustrations they may encounter.
“Gains” trigger questions explore potential gains, in terms how saving time, cost, effort or increased quality can delight customers and lead them to achieve their aspirations.
Trigger questions are also used to explore your current of future products and services, and how well these products and services address gains or pains of each customer segment.
Customer Profile Trigger Questions
Value Map Trigger Questions
Sticky Notes and Dotmocracy
Depending on the number of people in the room, the activities can be split into sub-groups, each working a separate customer profile or product profile for example.
We use whiteboards with large VPD diagrams to work on and place sticky notes with participant ideas to record all ideas.
The sticky notes can be prioritized and sorted in a number of ways. We are fond of “Dotmocracy” sorting, where every participant gets 10 small “dot” stickers they can vote with by placing a dot on the ideas they like best.
Side Note Alert:
There is a terrific way to capture and digitize these sticky notes along the way:
One of my favorite apps in this process is “Post-It Plus App”, which takes a photo of the entire whiteboard and produces digital “sticky note” square images that can be assembled and used to create great looking workshop documentation and client reports after the session.
“Value Proposition Statements” are a quick but formalized way of describing how your products solve problems or create gains for each of your customer segments.
One has to experience the entire process to see how amazingly concise and nuanced the VPD can be for each customer segment. The format to follow is illustrated in the example to the right, taken from a recent educational website we are building for a client.
Here you discover what sort of fit exists between your products and the needs of each market segment you have defined. In his VPD book Alex Osterwalder differentiates between three types of potential fit:
On Paper: Problem Solution Fit
This occurs when you have evidence that customers care about certain jobs, pains or gains, and have designed a VPD statement that matches your product or service up with these needs.
In The Market: Product Market Fit
Occurs when you have evidence that your existing products and services are actually solving customer pains and providing gains the market. In short, you are in the process of getting traction.
In the Bank: Business Model Fit
occurs when there is evidence that your VPD statements can be part of a sustainable and scalable business model
So Now What? How to make the VPD Statements Actionable
This is where the “rubber meets the road”. This is also where we at Polymash diverge from the rest of the VPD and Business Model Canvas process. We utilize a simple “Create, Chuck, Continue” (CCC Process) to define follow up tasks and projects as we evaluate strategic application areas. (More on this later)
The goal is to take the VPD insights gained and to then apply the carefully crafted VPD statements to all segments of a digital strategy.
Application areas quickly become obvious.
1.) VPD Drives Content Strategy
Good VPD statement can drive Content Strategy. For example, clarity gained around customer segments and what they truly value will help you create an editorial calendar with more relevant topics for blog posts that better connect your target audience.
2.) VPD Drives Web Design and Re-Design
Think of how your website is structured. Think about how it is laid out, the pages that exist today. Can VPD help you improve your site design to make the content more compelling, more relevant to your audience? Can you think of creating sections and content that better connect with your customers and “speaks” to their needs? The answer has been a resounding “yes” in our experience. It can inform what pages to A/B test, VPD design can drive SEO keyword and Google AdWords research, it can drive link building efforts, the list goes on.
3.) VPD Drives User Experience
Not all businesses have a UX practice in place, but many smaller and start-up businesses have at least built design personas to understand their customer better. VPD is terrific input into many UX processes, from Design Personas to Customer Journey Mapping or Core Model Designs.
4.) VPD Drives Marketing
When it comes to Marketing, there are too many application areas to even mention. Obviously VPD improves the overall marketing language by being more focused and clear about needs and wants of each customer segment. But it also provides a basis for social media posts, topics of content curation, targeted offers, discount strategy and so on. Applications are only limited by a marketers imagination.
5.) VPD Drives Analytics
Lastly, the overall VPD process creates clarity around what to measure and where to apply analytics. This can help in setting up Google analytics segmentation, can be used to drive SEO keyword research. And of course, the output of analytics can then also be used to inform the next phase of validating, refining, changing and adjusting the overall strategy from year to year.
Building a Digital Strategy Roadmap: Our CCC Process
Building a Digital Strategy Roadmap does not need to be complex or expensive.
One Example of our Polymash CCC Process Template
The overall investment of time is relatively low when compared to the results and ROI we have observed from this approach. And the way in which these insights can be executed can vary from simple to do lists to more robust project planning tools for larger businesses.
The process we use to build a holistic strategy roadmap is our Create, Chuck, Continue (CCC) process.
For each customer segment and for each Digital Strategy dimension we use this process to decide which activities need to take place (Create), what should be discontinued (Chuck), and what should be kept in place (Continue).
At the end of the entire workshop process, this will produce a high-level roadmap of small or large projects that need to take place in each Digital Strategy Dimension listed above. This roadmap can then easily be transferred into to do lists, editorial calendars, social media scheduling tools or an organization’s project planning software.
Strategy Roadmap Case Studies and Examples
I’m excited to be launching several new sites for clients who have gone through the entire VPD process. The client has been delighted with the VPD process, and has applied the insights to the user experience and web designs for his new site, as well as to his content strategy and all other aspects of the digital strategy roadmap we co-created.
The first of these sites is called Ready4Life, it helps parents and kids by providing tools and a practical processes to help them know their strengths and discover opportunities in the world that need what they do best.
The Good Dad Project uses value proposition design patterns to help the audience self select into segments on parenting, fitness or relationships, all topics that provide different resources to each audience.
I’ll be posting additional case studies and success stories soon.
If you’ve read this far, I thank you for bearing with me through this rather lengthy discussion on how we collaborate with our clients to build holistic digital strategy roadmaps.
Since starting Polymash as an app and web design and development company, we’ve observed that most of our engagements are never “just about creating an app” or “re-designing a website”. When asking our client’s fundamental questions about their business goals and reasons behind wanting to start a web or app project, a clear need for a holistic digital strategy usually emerged.
Starting with VPD and finishing with our Digital Strategy Roadmap process has made this a reality for our clients and has successfully produced significant and measurable results.
I’d love to hear your views, observations or questions about this process, please feel free to leave a comment or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
https://polymash.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Digital-Strategy-Roadmap.jpg7091600Juergen Berkesselhttps://polymash.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Polymash-Logo-2019-680px-Web2.pngJuergen Berkessel2015-01-24 11:02:092022-02-10 12:57:34Value Proposition Design Workshops – And How To Build Digital Strategy Roadmaps With Them