With technology improvements the bar has been lowered on producing podcasts, but raises a challenge in that most businesses don’t know how to promote their podcast in 2020 or at least not effectively. Alban Brooke, Head of marketing at Buzzsprout (a podcast hosting platform) and host of the podcasts “Buzzcast” and “How to start a podcast” shares his insights into how to promote your podcast in 2020 and in the future.
- A key challenge businesses have with podcasting
- Why is a lot of money being invested in the podcasting space?
- Should companies use podcasting as an extension of their publishing arm or use it to pump out content to drive lead generation?
- How to best monetize a podcast
- How to brand your podcast and position your podcast content
- How do you deal with the transient nature of a podcast audience and build the know, like, and trust factors?
- How to leverage audio as a medium for marketing
- How to develop and produce podcasts to maximize SEO benefits
- How to promote your podcast in 2020 and maximize distribution
- How to use influencer marketing to promote your podcast
- How to create high converting ads to promote your podcast
- How to use visual platforms to promote your podcast
- How to repurpose your events and podcasts
- Other tips for building your podcast audience
- How to deal with content shock in the podcast space
- How to differentiate your podcast in a crowded space
- The value of your podcast audience
- Why do you need to publish consistently?
- Listen to the episode with Alban
- Some topics we discussed include:
- Links and resources mentioned
- Connect with Alban
A key challenge businesses have with podcasting
According to Alban, people often think of podcasting the same way they think of radio.
They really think podcasting is internet radio, but it is very different. Understanding the differences will help you understand how to use podcasting in a business context.
When you think about radio, the main constraint on radio is geographic area. In addition, there’s such an intense allocation of capital to even get an antenna up. And then you have to appeal to a broad audience in a particular area.
Alban lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and if he wanted to start a sports radio show, he could only ever talk about the local sports team, as opposed to English Soccer Leagues or any other sport that would not make sense to the people in the limited geographic area where the radio signal reaches.
Podcasting is very different because:
- It can cater to a worldwide audience.
- There’s not a big investment.
- You can build a real niche show and focus on a really tiny audience.
That way you have the ability to create a much closer connection with your audience.
Why is a lot of money being invested in the podcasting space?
We’re seeing a lot of money coming in, from quite a few different areas.
Alban says that quite a bit of it is self-targeting and building niche audiences online.
Before we look at how to promote your podcast, you need to decide how you could best use podcasts. It can be a quick way of generating leads and revenue, or you can play a longer game by publishing great content.
Should companies use podcasting as an extension of their publishing arm or use it to pump out content to drive lead generation?
Alban says businesses need to decide whether they want to use podcasts as a lead generation system through advertising or engage their audience by publishing content that is of value to them. The latter could also allow for lead generation, but not necessarily in the short term.
How to best monetize a podcast
Alban says a lot of people think that ads are the way to go to monetize their podcast, but that is not the best objective for most podcasts.
Facebook and Google were so successful in the ad space that it has in some ways become accepted wisdom that you should throw ads into what you’re doing and that will make money. But the fact is that it rarely works. It’s often the very worst way to make money from a piece of content.
If you have a business, and you are driving leads to that business, that is thousands of times more marketable and more valuable than just inserting ads that are in a way a total red herring from what you’re actually selling, which is yourself.
How to brand your podcast and position your podcast content
Podcasting is a form of content marketing, and one of the fundamental aspects of content marketing is that you must be providing something of value to your audience, that you understand your audiences’ problems, and that as an expert in the field you can help eliminate or solve the problem.
There are two scenarios with regard to branding your podcast that you need to be aware of.
If your audience hasn’t heard of you, you should not build a podcast around:
- Your products or services,
- The company name, or
- In the case of a CEO or consultant, their own personal name
If you were talking about an area of expertise and marketing the podcast around the issues that your target audience faces, they may be interested in it. As a result, they would then be introduced to you in whatever business you have.
On the other hand, if your audience is existing customers or if you’re a SaaS company and your goals are:
- to reduce churn or
- to get existing customers to continue to buy from you
then you can brand it.
Because what you’re really doing is, you’re speaking to people who know who you are, and you’re reminding them over and over that you are the expert.
Alban says a study by Moz (an SEO tool) showed that the more time a person a person read or interacted with their content the lower the churn rate would be and the longer they would stay as a subscriber.
Because Moz was building up this incredible level of trust and authority with their audience. When a customer would purchase the product, they would not look around for an alternative because they knew that Moz were experts so they trusted Moz’s solutions.
How do you deal with the transient nature of a podcast audience and build the know, like, and trust factors?
If you were to compare podcasting’s repeat come back rate to other media like blogs or YouTube, then you’d find it is a lot like building out an email list.
Your audience may not listen to every episode but they stay subscribed for much longer than other media as long as it doesn’t have a sale pitch in just about every episode.
To improve listener retention, you really have to be saying to your audience that you want to teach them how to solve certain problems on their own, talk through important issues in the industry.
With the call center example that Alban shared before— he wasn’t saying, “I’m the best call center guy.”
Instead, he was saying, “Let’s talk through issues like what to do when you have a mid-level manager who is getting a very bad report from his subordinates.”
In talking to those issues, he is building up trust, and people are going to listen again because they now have a perspective on how to solve an issue that is relevant to them or they know how to deal with it in the future.
So, is it really talking about the pain points on an ongoing basis?
How to leverage audio as a medium for marketing
When writing or creating video, there is an expectation that it needs to be highly polished content.
Podcasting is more like a conversation you have with a friend, so the level of production is actually going to be quite lower, and for most podcasts it is. NPR type podcasts that are heavily edited are the exception.
For the most part, podcasts involve one or a couple of people talking. That may feel like you’re not putting a ton of effort but in reality, they’re showing their authentic selves.
They’re talking to the potential leads or to the audience around their area of expertise or topic of choice.
What are the best ways to market your podcast?
The big tech companies want to solve the distribution issue because people don’t find new podcasts very readily. There are no algorithms yet recommending podcasts to us.
A lot of it is done right now by word of mouth, and so it’s incredibly painful to get your first few listeners.
To solve this issue of distribution and marketing your podcast, you should:
- Leverage your existing networks or existing communities. You could reach out to your personal friends and family or colleagues that you know would like to listen to it. You could get 20 or more people through that.
- Get your guests involved. As you record podcast episodes with guests, you can get them involved in the process. Some may have a large existing audience on Twitter or other platforms. After the episode, you can create content—be it a visual clip or audiogram of the episode or written content—and ask them to share it.
- Find online communities interested in the topics you cover on your podcast. You might find a Facebook group or a Twitter chat or Slack channel. Engage with the audience in an authentic way and try to bring value to them by sharing the podcast. So, in essence you’re trying to find where people have already collected together, and then you can bring the podcast as a value add.
- Focus on content that converts.
How to develop and produce podcasts to maximize SEO benefits
Podcasts by their nature are great for SEO.
The individual episodes now are indexed and included in search engine results.
And they’re often included in search engine results that have really high volume, a lot of competition and yet these episodes are getting in after only being around on the web for a week.
The opportunity to draw listeners to your podcast on valuable real estate on Google is actually pretty good.
Having said that, you need to be doing basic search engine optimization. This means you need to:
- Know what keywords you’re trying to rank for.
- Include the keywords in the podcast title.
- Build an episode that hits all the key points on that entire subject, and discuss it thoroughly. That way Google actually reads the transcript and figures out what it’s about, they realize it is about this particular area and they will serve it up in the appropriate search engine result.
Should you include a transcript with your podcast show notes?
We know that Google and Apple are both transcribing podcasts themselves.
But if you transcribe it, you do have a few more ways in which your podcast is accessible.
Think of anybody who’s hearing impaired, they would probably enjoy being able to read the episode. By adding a transcript, you not only have a podcast episode that could be found in Google. You also have a web page that could be found.
In other words, you now have two pieces of content, and that could rank a lot higher because the transcript has much more detailed notes and it is available to everybody.
From a sharing and social perspective, if somebody wants to grab a quote to share, they can go search for it and find the transcript.
If you are podcasting for a business, you’re already investing in the production—at least with your own time. Yup. The dollars it’s going to cost you to have it transcribed. That is a no brainer and a really great way to extend the reach of your podcast.
Should you develop a blog post to promote your podcast?
Quite a bit has been written about repurposing content, and quite a few people try to create multiple pieces of content all at one time.
Alban says this is the approach they employ on the blog:
- Write a blog post.
- Monitor it to see if it resonates with people and it’s converting. If it is resonating but not converting, that can be changed quite easily.
- Once you know it converts, then create a video of you discussing it. Now that video is great content for YouTube, and the audio from that video is great for a podcast.
- Now you have three distinct pieces of content, and you can group those together later on and put them all into a course.
An important thing to do is to try to figure out what the typical workflow will be for you. You don’t have to do it all right off the bat, but you could invest in one or two to start with and build out from there.
How to factor podcast consumption in how you promote your podcast
One of the biggest factors to consider is how a podcast is consumed differently than video or text.
A podcast can be consumed passively in that you could listen to it while driving or when you go for a run. If you wrote the way you spoke it there’s a good chance it would turn your audience off because it hasn’t been edited as they would like it to be. With video, your audience is required to focus on that one thing and therefore expect it to deliver a lot more.
However, with a podcast, if your audience is out on a run or driving there is this passive engagement and they’re usually quite happy to listen to a longer episode that goes more in depth.
Another aspect of promoting your podcast is the favored apps your audience uses to listen to your podcast. You want to try to get the actual listing for each app and make them available for each episode. That will reduce friction when people see the blog post and think this might be worth listening to.
Is having too many options to access your podcast a bad thing?
There are only three that are really important.
- Apple podcasts
- Google podcasts.
This covers 95% plus of all listeners.
If you have those covered, then you can start adding in others to make it more discoverable.
How to promote your podcast on social media platforms
Here is what Alban recommends and why:
- Use short visual clips on your social media to encourage click throughs and subscriptions.
- Visuals for your podcast can take the form of moving waveforms even if you don’t have video footage of the interview.
- Quite often the clips play on social media platforms with the audio off, but your audience sees something moving and a transcript at the bottom which then encourages them to start listening or watching, and that encourages people to listen to the full episode or even subscribe.
Listen to him below—
Which form of visual content is better?
Is visual content consisting of a simple way form better than a video with people talking?
Alban says he doesn’t have data behind it, but he believes that video with people conversing in it is the best kind.
From a neuroscience point of view, we know that people are hardwired to prefer looking at a face than a wave form.
In a lot of instances, people have only an audio file, and they need to figure out the best way to create a visual component to it. Just using a static image on YouTube won’t work as well because that platform wasn’t created for that kind of content, so people aren’t likely to listen for very long.
Research by Podiant found that podcasts that were automatically republished to YouTube were not performing as well as they wanted them to.
A better option would be to record the video and then publish that on YouTube.
How to promote your podcast in 2020 and maximize distribution
Using YouTube has made sense for a long time given that Google has prioritized YouTube content on its search engine. Having said that, Facebook has prioritized native video rather than YouTube content. So, there are some benefits to going live and distributing that content through tools like Restream to various social media platforms simultaneously.
Alban does recommend focusing on one social media channel at a time because you want to do one thing really well rather than being overwhelmed with trying to do things well across a number of social media channels. That way you can focus on adding a few more listeners with each episode. Over time you build a large, committed audience.
How to use influencer marketing to promote your podcast
Alban recommends getting influencers on as guests on your podcast as an initial step to speak on topics that pertain to your podcast that have expertise on.
- You can then interview them on the podcast
- Ask them to share the podcast—you can make this easier for them by providing two or three clips for them to share over a period of a few weeks.
- You could then ask them for access to their Facebook audience to run ads for a day.
- You could say something along the lines of—
How to create high converting ads to promote your podcast
Alban recommends keeping the following in mind in creating high converting ads to promote your podcast:
- For each of your ads, have 30 to 60 seconds to engage somebody
- Go through the whole episode and find three clips that are between 15 seconds and a minute long that might capture someone’s attention.
- Turn them into direct quotes with the person’s image on the post.
- An alternative and possibly better option would be to create a visual sound bite that engages your audience and encourages them to click through to the full episode to listen to the podcast.
How to use visual platforms to promote your podcast
One of the most popular visual platforms at the moment is Instagram stories. Inspirational quotes or things that are aspirational work really well on that platform.
If you have someone who has been quite successful, you could talk about their story and what they have attained and what has worked really well for them.
You could also, while recording the podcast, do a promo segment—where you say, “Here we are having a conversation with so and so, we are talking about XYZ and UVW—check out the podcast in a couple of days.”
Instagram, however, does not make it easy to link out to other platforms, so some people put a link in their bio so others who have a larger number of followers can swipe up to get a link.
How to repurpose your events and podcasts
Alban says that live events work really well when you’re connecting with a community that already exists, so you might consider doing a public presentation at a meetup or a local rotary club and doing a live recording of the podcast.
It would be related to that community group, and often you’ll be the only podcaster that somebody has ever engaged with so they might be quite interested to listen to your show.
Other tips for building your podcast audience
Here is what Alban recommends—
If you have a budget, use Overcast. They run ads for podcasts inside the app. If someone’s listening to a new podcast, they’ll see a pop up at the bottom that says, “Would you like to listen to it and subscribe?”
They’re not cheap, but for $800 you can probably get about another hundred listeners. That sounds very expensive but if you think about it the average podcast is only getting about 150 listeners per episode. So, if you’re doing above that, you’re actually above average. And if you think about all the time and effort you’re putting in to getting some listeners, especially in the beginning, spending maybe $800 to get a firm foundation of a hundred listeners, people who can give you feedback and actually help your podcast grow is worth that money especially if you have created a podcast that converts and will lead to sales down the line.
You can also look for ways to cross promote with someone who’s creating similar content, but on a different medium.
How to deal with content shock in the podcast space
Alban says there are fewer than a million podcasts in existence.
The average podcaster will podcast only for a few months of actually putting out new content.
Quite a lot of the podcasts that are being created are not really focused around a deep understanding of content, deep understanding of certain subject matter.
So, if you’re a business and you’re willing to put time and your own expertise behind the podcast, you will create something unique and valuable.
If you think back to what the content space looked like in 2004, it probably felt like content shock because we went from a small number of blogs to a ton of blogs, and all of a sudden there’s so much written content online.
But what we didn’t realize was that while the number of people creating content was growing quite fast, the audience was growing much faster.
We are seeing the same thing right now in podcasting.
Alban says from his experience at Buzzsprout that—
- The number of podcasts on Buzzsprout has doubled.
- The number of listens has gone up by 3.5 times.
So, your takeaway should be—
People are listening to podcasts in increasing numbers. New podcasts are being created.
But if you could commit to creating a podcast and working on it for the next five years, you’re almost guaranteed to have a very successful podcast that will make a real impact in your industry.
That doesn’t have to be dozens of hours of work a week. It could be a total of one hour sitting down, recording an episode, and sending it off to an editor.
How to differentiate your podcast in a crowded space
Alban says to think about this—Why would anyone out of the billions of people in the world choose you to be their friend or spouse?
The answer lies in the unique things that you bring.
In the same way, you need to lean in to what makes you different. This could mean—
- really embracing your sense of humor
- embracing your personality
- embracing the content,
- focusing on the areas you really understand.
The value of your podcast audience
In figuring out how to promote your podcast in 2020 you need to realize that podcasting is hard work. It requires an investment of time, energy, and perhaps budget, but that is also the reason it makes each listener so valuable.
The average person listens to only seven podcasts. That may sound like a lot of podcasts. But compare that to the number of blogs the average person reads or how many YouTube channels they watch.
People are actually much more committed to podcasts than anything else.
So, all that effort you put into getting your first 100 listeners is worth it. Those 100 listeners will likely stick around. They will hopefully recommend other people listen. And that really helps.
Why do you need to publish consistently?
Podcasting is seen as cool and sexy. A lot of people jump into podcasting, but then they don’t see an ROI in the first 3 episodes, and they leave.
The ROI on podcasting does not come early. It comes later. So, you need to enter podcasting with the expectation that you won’t see a real ROI for three months, but you will commit to being consistent in producing and releasing a new episode at the frequency you decide on. Evaluate your progress after 3 months.
If you have that mindset, you’ll be able to get over any of the hurdles. And in the end, you’re going to see a real audience. Then, when you start looking at the ROI, you will see it grow as time goes on.
By being consistent, you are building a habit for your listeners who will soon expect to listen to your show whenever it gets released. In other words, people expect that they can listen to your new episodes, and they are actually disappointed when they don’t see something new.
That’s what you’re hoping to do with your audience when you start a podcast.
Listen to the episode with Alban
Some topics we discussed include:
- What most businesses misunderstand about podcasting
- The best way for B2B companies to approach podcasting and how to promote your podcast in 2020
- How to approach monetizing a podcast
- How B2B companies should brand their podcast
- How to build your podcast audience and grow the know, like and trust factor
- The best ways to leverage podcasts for promoting your business
- How to promote your podcast in 2020 – key areas to keep in mind
- How to approach podcast SEO
- Is it best to include a podcast transcript
- Why content repurposing can pay big dividends
- How to approach the issue of making your podcast as accessible as possible to as many listeners as possible
- How to use social media channels to increase the visibility of your podcast
- Is your audience be experiencing podcast shock if so how to handle it
- and much much more
Links and resources mentioned
Connect with Alban
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