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Top podcast marketing lessons from 2023

Monetising is easier said than done

People often ask us about the best way to monetise their show, and we always say the same thing: it’s not as easy as some lead you to believe. Sure you can join platforms that will help you sell ads but the rates are usually around $10 to $25 per thousand downloads. So unless you have ten thousand downloads – and multiple ads per episode, you’re unlikely to do anything more than cover some basic costs with this route. Other options worth considering include sponsorship, especially good if you can demonstrate you have a niche audience; Patreon-style schemes, if you can generate extra content; and, if your fan base is sufficiently dedicated, merch! 

Preparation pays off on launch day

The best marketing is often done before you’ve published a single episode. This may sound counterintuitive, but the act of ‘preparing the ground’ for your launch is ultimately as important as the launch itself. Whether it’s pre-booking multiple ads to come out in the same week, teaser trailers to prime your audience or making sure you have three weeks’ worth of social media posts ready to go, the more effort you put in to preparation the better your new series launch will be. Read our top tips here

How to interpret audience data 

There were a few articles written in 2023 that looked into audience data but none quite hit the mark like Podspike CEO Dan Page’s two-part guide on How to decode your audience data. Listening stats can be confusing because different podcast platforms record them in different ways and, as a result, podcasters don’t have the same understanding of them either. So it is important to get to grips with the difference between terms such as subscribers, plays, downloads and followers.

While the first part of Dan’s article gives a helpful explanation of the differences, the second part explains how you can use that audience data to learn about the type of person that is listening to your show. This is important because it can guide you in how to market your podcast – and even how you can adjust the content to suit the listeners you want to attract. 

Awards aren’t just for the elite

It’s easy to believe that it’s only ever the established shows that get the plaudits when awards season comes around, but look a little deeper and there are many smaller shows that are receiving the recognition they deserve. Podspike Campaign Manager Suji Owen was one of the judges at this year’s inaugural Independent Podcast Awards and in September she revealed how some of the judging criteria explicitly compensated shows with lower download figures, as well as taking into account creators from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds. At the Audio Production Awards, the judges ensure different producers and shows were judged fairly in regard to the resources they have access to – which includes education and training as well as finance. It is also important to mention that even if a show does not end up winning an award, there are benefits from just being part of the process – such as extra exposure from being nominated and simply getting a chance to showcase itself to influential people in the industry, who are sure to recommend shows they have enjoyed. 

Building networks works 

This year, Team Podspike came to The Podcast Show in London armed with seed cards, sugarSpike sweets and tote bags. As well as working our way around the stalls and catching up with old friends, colleagues and new indies, we co-hosted an unofficial fringe event called Promo Club. This was our own special indie networking drinks night organised collaboratively with Becky Lamb-Pritchard from Distorted – and it was completely free (both in cost and in spirit). The aim was to provide a space for independents to get insights from experts – including US marketing guru Arielle Nissenblatt and Emily Crosby – and have an opportunity to network with others and relax after a busy show. The feedback from guests was really positive and many new relationships were forged. At Podspike we are all about forging networks – they make us all stronger in an industry built on collaboration, and we have some exciting plans for 2024…

Don’t underestimate the power of links 

Marketing that drives listens usually involves someone clicking a link at some point in order to get to your podcast. There are lots of ways of linking to your show, but we highly recommend using a single ‘smart’ link rather than publishing separate links for Apple, Spotify, YouTube and so on. Audiences are busy, so why not make life easy for them – plus, keeping links to a minimum just makes your marketing look more professional. We recommend only two types of links: ones that maximise choice (affiliate link to Podkite) so audiences can find their preferred listening platform; and ones that minimise clicks (link to Podfollow) so audiences don’t get bored of clicking. And best of all, both are usually free!

We do judge a podcast by its cover 

So, in the world of podcasts people really do judge a cover before they listen! The magic is in the content but listeners scrolling through hundreds of different podcasts need to instantly know what the vibe of your show is about, and that means it needs to have a clear title and image. This has proved time and time again to be such a simple thing that is quite often neglected. In the September issue of the newsletter we delved into what makes really good podcast art and had a chat with Katie Tooke, an illustrator and book cover designer. Katie said when designing books, she focuses on emotion, the colour and the balance, and the best typography all to give a sense of the story. 

How to get started with video 

The recent shift towards video in podcasting has given a new dimension to the question: when is a podcast not a podcast? But what we have seen over the past year in particular is the different ways in which podcasters can use video – from full episodes filmed from different angles and uploaded on YouTube, to using short videos on platforms such as TikTok with the sole aim of promoting a show. For those who have no clue where to even start, we published an interview with Stephanie Fuccio on How to get started with video which offers step-by-step advice on the basics, even for those who are reluctant to appear on film.

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