This month's consultant: Dan Page
Dan is founder and CEO of Podspike and has made it his mission to give podcasters access to easy, affordable and effective marketing services. He was one of the speakers at this year’s London Podcast Festival Makers Weekend
In this edition of Ask the Consultant, rather than answer a specific question we have taken a look back over the various themes we have addressed over the past year – either in The Podcast Clinic or in working with our clients to help them move forward with their podcast promotion. As the holiday season is the perfect opportunity for podcasters to reflect on what they have done and start to think about what they might do differently in 2023, we’ve put together a handy guide of 10 ways you can revitalise your marketing efforts.
We’ve included links to previous Ask the Consultant articles so you can take a deeper dive into a specific area, or you can take a browse through the list of previous posts to find what you are looking for.
1. Success doesn’t have to mean downloads
Each podcaster we speak to has a different reason for having a podcast. Some want it to be a way to promote their business and drive leads, for some it’s a passion project and for others it’s a way to boost their personal profile. Regardless of which it is for you, success isn’t necessarily defined by downloads in any of these situations. Business leads should be driven by the quality of the listener (e.g. how meaningful they are to your lead funnel) rather than quantity. If your show is a passion project, then the act of making the show and having people listen is a success in itself. And if creating your podcast is about raising your personal profile, then it’s as much about how and where you get coverage for the show as how many people listen. Whatever your goals, it’s worth considering how much they would be met by downloads alone.
2. You’re probably doing better than you think
Downloads are an easy and tangible metric you can measure, whereas ‘profile’ and ‘lead quality’ are much harder to get a handle on. But even if you are using downloads as your primary measure of success, it’s worth considering that you may be doing better than you think on the numbers alone. According to Buzzsprout, if you receive more than 105 downloads in the first seven days after publishing then you’re in the top 25% of podcasts globally. To put it another way, half of podcasts get less than 30 downloads in the first seven days. So next time you check your stats, you may be pleasantly surprised!
3. Stop asking, start giving
Something we touched upon in our article on social media marketing was the importance of giving rather than asking. Podcast marketing is ultimately all about inviting people to spend time listening to your show rather than doing something else (including listening to another show). So to help audiences make that decision, you need to focus on what it is you’re offering them in return for their listening hours. This could be as simple as a promise of entertainment, information or education; or it could be showing them you’ll help them feel a certain way. Whatever it is, make 2023 the year in which you stop asking people to listen to your podcast and start offering them a reason to do so.
4. Social media shouldn’t take all your focus
Promoting your podcast on social media can be easy and it can also be really hard. It’s easy in that it doesn’t cost much time or effort to write a post. But it’s also hard for the same reasons, because everyone else is doing likewise for their podcast. So you need to make your posts count, which means you need to spend more time and effort on them. This is fine if you find it a natural way to communicate and enjoy doing it, but otherwise it can become a big drain on your time – and a seemingly never-ending one given social media is always on and always hungry for content. From our experience, while social media marketing can help – and should be part of the mix – it shouldn’t be your main focus. Why? Because pound for pound (or dollar for dollar) and hour for hour, it just isn’t as effective as other marketing options when it comes to getting those all-important subscribers.
5. In-app ads are most cost-effective way to gain subs
Our research shows that when you crunch the numbers, spending $100 on an in-app ad for your podcast (in a podcast player such as Podcast Guru) is the most cost-effective way to build your subscriber base. Why? Easy. People using apps are looking for podcasts to listen to – so getting featured in an app puts you in front of these content-hungry audiences. And being featured means you get to be seen ahead of the tens, if not hundreds of thousands (arguably millions) of shows available. If you want to go down the social media route, our research shows that targeting Facebook ads is a good second choice, with newsletter and host-read podcast ads coming in next.
6. Smartlinks are a must
Many podcasts use links that send would-be listeners to their website. Others send audiences to Apple Podcasts. The problem is that not everyone wants to listen to a show via a website (or can be bothered to click through to their preferred player) and not everyone has an iPhone (you can’t get the Apple Podcasts app on Android). So what you really want is to have a way to offer people an easy choice when it comes to how they consume your podcast – or to make a sensible choice for them. Enter smartlinks. These are basically a clever type of link that – when clicked on – either give you a list of ways to listen, or detect which device you’re on and send you to a place you’re likely to want to listen. Using a smartlink shows that you care about your audience and makes it easier for them to listen. Best of all, they’re free, so there’s really no excuse not to use them. We recommend Kitelinks* if you want to maximise choice or Podfollow if you want to minimise fuss.
7. Niche is good
As we wrote in last month’s newsletter, having a podcast about a niche topic can be a really good thing when it comes to marketing your podcast. This is because niche audiences tend to live in niche places – so if you can find those places and offer something of value (see Stop asking, start giving), you can reach these audiences. Why not consider what makes your podcast niche and start exploring options for marketing it from this angle in 2023.
8. Are you the USP?
Every podcast needs – and has – something unique about it when it comes to podcast marketing. What if that USP is you? Humans love to be comfortable – we naturally want to do what’s familiar – but if you’re the host of the show (and the thing that makes the show unique) and you’re not putting yourself at the centre of your marketing, you may be missing out. Pushing yourself as ‘the draw’ for the show can be difficult if it puts you in unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory but if your show is centred around you, your knowledge and your experiences – and people are listening – then they’re listening because of you. So it is worth exploring ways in which you can integrate yourself into the marketing more: this could be as simple as putting yourself on the cover art, writing blog posts or engaging with audiences on social media via a personalised account rather than one for the show as a whole.
9. Budget for marketing (be it time or money)
Free marketing doesn’t exist. Time is money. If you’re promoting via social media, then you’re spending time – time that could be spent doing something else. Whether that something else is earning an income, being with family or relaxing, every hour is valuable in some form. A good way to estimate how much an hour of your time is worth is to ask yourself how much you’d be willing to spend on a taxi that saves you having to walk a mile home. £5? £10? £20? Whatever the answer is, multiply it by three (you can walk about three miles in one hour) to get a figure that’s a useful indicator. So when it comes to planning your marketing for the year ahead, it makes sense to create both a time budget and a money budget. How much you plan to spend will obviously be influenced by your individual circumstances, but a good rule of thumb would be for every two hours you spend making a show, plan to spend one hour (or it’s monetary equivalent) marketing it.
10. Road-test your ideas
Big companies spend tens of thousands on focus groups. Why? Because it gives them measurable and controlled feedback in a very human form that they can then act upon. Are you focus-grouping your podcast ideas? Luckily you don’t need big budgets, you already have ready made – and free – groups that you can call upon: friends, family and colleagues. The downside is that they may well give you a rosy picture rather than unvarnished feedback, but as long as you account for this, there’s nothing stopping you from testing out different cover art concepts, options for episode titles or even asking what they think about the audio quality. The golden rule is that you should never argue with the person giving feedback or try to defend yourself – simply accept the feedback and thank the person for it. You don’t have to act upon it (or like it!) but you should treat it as a valuable insight into how other people perceive your show.
How many of the above things are you doing already? How many do you think you might try in 2023? We’d love to hear more about your personal podcast marketing journeys, so email us at email@example.com to tell us your new year’s podcast marketing resolutions!
* Contains an affiliate link, which means if you purchase a paid service from Podkite, we will earn a small commission.
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