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Promoting a Podcast Properly
Many companies are deciding to dip a toe in the uber-popular ocean of podcasting. Perhaps your organization has too. The groundwork has been done. Clearly, a lot of work has already gone into getting the podcast off the ground. It might have taken weeks or months to get to this point. The desire to publish the first show immediately after recording/editing it will be overwhelming. Don’t. That would be a rookie mistake.
It is critically important to think through how to promote a podcast properly in order to get the best results. Why? Because for a business, the goal of a podcast is not just to get long-form content ‘out there.’ The goal is for the podcast to be a vehicle to augment client engagement, customer acquisition and brand recognition. And all of that is intended to eventually increase business and enhance the bottom line. Unlike people who produce a podcast as a hobby, ego trip or way of connecting with other like-minded individuals, for a business the point of a podcast is the same as the point of any marketing strategy: ROI. Podcasting is a great way to reach the masses cost effectively and allows the hosts to delve into rich, complex and sophisticated topics better than most any other medium used today. For a business, a podcast can potentially deliver the most marketing-bang-for-the-buck. But only if it is promoted properly so that lots and lots of the right people listen to it.
Focus on Doing Well on iTunes
If the idea is to get lots of the right people to listen to a new podcast, then focus on doing well on iTunes. iTunes matters more than any other podcast aggregator. Just as Google is the 800-lb gorilla of the Search world, iTunes carries the same heft in the podcasting world. In fact, most podcasting experts agree that iTunes is responsible for about 70% of all podcast’s listens and downloads. So if a podcast does well on iTunes, then it is doing great. That may explain why most of the advice on how to have a successful podcast is focused on iTunes as the key channel for growth and attention. So make getting to a good spot in the iTunes listings the number one promotional goal.
The ideal is to make it to the “New and Noteworthy” section of iTunes… the pinnacle of podcasting. Making it onto that list for a podcast is like making it onto the NY Times Bestseller list for books. In short, it puts the podcast on the superhighway of listener traffic. One of the most significant factors in driving a podcast up the charts in iTunes and into the New & Noteworthy section is the rate at which downloads and positive reviews accrue in the first couple weeks. A new podcast has eight weeks from the time the podcast launches to get to New and Noteworthy. The first two weeks are especially crucial. To drive listeners in those first 6-8 weeks, kick the marketing up to high gear.
Here are some podcast promotion strategies to try in order to do well on iTunes.
1. Record a Series of Episodes before Launch
Even though there is sure to be pressure from leadership, guests or the host to start publishing the first episode right away, don’t do it. Do NOT record the first episode and publish immediately. Instead, wait until there are several episodes recorded, edited and ready to post before launching. Many fans of podcasts want the option to be able to binge several episodes in a row if they like what they heard. The days of being able to keep an audience hostage waiting for the next episode is over thanks to streaming services. The same impatience permeates the podcasting world.
Experts recommend recording at least 5-10 episodes before launching. Then, release no less than three episodes on day one and have several more ready to release after that on a regular basis. There are famous podcasters who have shared that they actually received negative reviews from people who had listened to the first episode, liked it but were upset when they learned there was only one episode available.
A good approach might be to release three episodes on launch day and then release two more each week for three consecutive weeks… just to keep the audience engaged and excited. It is this strategy that has been key for many podcasters who made the “New and Noteworthy” section of iTunes.
2. Market the Podcast to the Guest’s Audience
For podcasts where the format is to have guests or do interviews, those guests / interviewees are excellent sources of contacts to which to market a podcast episode. In fact, when choosing guests, it would be good to keep in mind just how big of an audience they can attract. Guests who have a lot of contacts on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook can potentially attract a lot of listeners. This is especially important for the first dozen episodes of a new podcast, which is the most important time to get noticed on iTunes. So choose guests for the first few shows wisely.
For example, if a home remodeler wanted to create a podcast about home design and décor, then it would be wise to invite design and remodeling luminaries to be guests. Interior Designer Paloma Contrera did something like that by launching “The Style Files”, a podcast of hard-hitting design starts, including Bunny Williams, Mark Sikes, Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Alexa Hampton. Such design superstars can attract scads of listeners by promoting their episode with their millions of Twitter followers and Facebook fans.
The key is to make it easy for guests to promote and share the episode of the podcast they are in by creating snippets and ‘pull quote images’. One way to do this is by sending the guest an email on the day their episode goes live and include shareable media items such as pull quote images, memes of the podcast name and title of the episode, prewritten tweets, status updates for Facebook, and tiles to post on LinkedIn. The goal is to motivate the guest to help get the word out about the podcast to potential listeners.
Or, you can ask the guest to help promote the podcast right after it airs. Here is a sample email that could be sent to the guest after the show:
Hi Betsy Helmuth (an actual NY-based designer and self-proclaimed budget decorating guru),
I hope you are doing well and keeping safe.
We are super excited to share that “Décor Galore’s” new podcast episode — titled “Break the Rules, Not the Budget” – is officially live across the web! Thanks again for your time and willingness to do the interview and for being one of our very first guests on the show. I know our audience is going to learn tons from your episode!
If you’d like to check it out, you can find your episode on iTunes here (provide link). It’s also on Google Play (provide link) and on our podcast landing page at (put in domain address).
We’d love it if you shared it with your audience, but absolutely no pressure to do so. We put together a few tiles and images if you want to share them with your fans, followers and friends.
Please let me know if you have any questions about the episode or the show. We are at your service.
3. Submit the Podcast to Podcatchers and Aggregators
An aggregator is a program that keeps track of all the podcasts to which a person subscribes. The aggregator will automatically download new podcast episodes for any show to which the person subscribes. The aggregator basically hangs out in the background and periodically checks to see if there are new episodes to be downloaded – and downloads them when there are. There is a host of aggregator sites that feature new podcasts and assist with discovery.
A podcatcher, on the other hand, is a special type of news aggregator that is geared specifically toward playing podcasts. There are dozens of podcatcher apps that collect and play podcasts. Every day, the list of podcatchers grows longer. Here are some popular ones:
- Pocket Cast
- Android iOS
- Podcast Republic
- Podcast Addict
Most podcasts work fine with any of the service, especially if already on iTunes, but the best bet is to try each app out to ensure a smooth experience for listeners.
Thus it makes sense to submit a podcast to as many Podcatchers and Aggregators as possible.
4. Promote Each Episode on Social Media
Another strategy is to leverage the social network of company employees and show guests. Promote each episode on those social media pages in a variety of ways. Share rich media soundbites, video segments, images, teaser posts, etc.
Start by generating buzz about an upcoming episode 24 hours ahead of time. Create quote images using Canva or some other simple online design tool and share them as standalone social updates with a link to iTunes. Record 15-second soundbite clips and upload those to Soundcloud and then share them on Twitter. Note that Twitter has a useful implementation of Soundcloud audio in which users can play the audio right from their Twitter stream.
After an episode is recorded, besides pinning, tagging or linking the episode and sharing via a tweet or on a Facebook post, feature it on the iTunes URL. Reshare the podcast episode multiple times. How often is a subjective decision but 2-3 times on each social media site in the first week is fine. On Instagram, discuss the behind-the-scenes back-story of the episode recording session, info about the guest, anything funny that happened during the show, and what inspired the topic.
5. Convert the audio to a YouTube video
Smart companies will repurpose a podcast in as many ways as possible. Mixing in video with the audio is one way to do that. There are many benefits to doing this. First, video has more SEO value. Google values video about 50 times as much as text. Also, YouTube adds closed captioning and generates a transcript automatically, which increases accessibility. That can be used as Show Notes, which can help rank better for long-tail search terms, such as “[Guest Name] Interview.” So based on the example above, it might look like:
Betsy Helmuth Interview
Interview with Betsy Helmuth
To convert audio (for example .mp3) to video (.mov), there are a variety of different tools now that are easy to use. Select a canvas of 2,560 pixels wide by 1,440 pixels tall for best viewing at 2K resolution. Stock video footage can be purchased on sites such as iStockphoto or Dreamstime, or for free on Freepik, Pexels or Pixabay. It is easy to drop in a thumbnail of the show’s masthead and the guest’s photo at the beginning. For those who are more ambitious, the video can also be annotated with links, cards, and more from within the YouTube creator studio.
6. Transcribe the audio
For companies that don’t want to convert the audio to video and won’t get a transcript from YouTube, it is worth converting the audio to text anyway. Many successful podcasts offer a full transcript of the entire show. There are affordable services like Fiverr and Rev.com that handle transcribing audio to text. A transcript is great for SEO, and can serve as a lead generator when tied to a sign-up form.
7. Offer a Giveaway
Run a giveaway to provide the winner a shout-out at the end of the show or a 5-minute guest spot on the podcast.
8. Host an Event
Throw a virtual party on launch day on Zoom. Build an email list or outreach list before the podcast launches and invite every one to the Virtual Launch Lunch. For companies that want to go all out, they can have box lunches delivered to anyone who registers to attend Launch Lunch and then listens to the podcast.
These are just some of the ways to get a new podcast off the ground properly and give it a shot at being the true marketing darling that it can be for any smart business today. Now, get going.
Quote of the Week
“Human beings love to buy stuff. But we hate being sold to through the old paradigm. So consider that when you podcast because at the end of the day, you should be selling.”
Glen Carlson, The Dent Podcast
© 2020, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.