101 Tactics To Promote Your Podcast (The Definitive Podcast Marketing Guide)
Over the years, most content mediums have grown more sophisticated, more dependent on technology, and more in line with futuristic experiences, like AR and VR. However, one somewhat archaic medium’s recent and unprecedented surge in popularity has content marketers everywhere rethinking their strategies.
Enter the podcast. Originally introduced in the early 2000s to coincide with the release of the iPod, these (typically) audio-only weekly or semi-weekly broadcasts have been undergoing a massive renaissance, with 40 percent of adults having listened to podcasts, and 24 percent of adults having listened to one in the past month.
Breakout hit podcasts like Serial, which is credited with playing a major role in the recent resurgence in popularity, have helped to redefine the medium, and hundreds of influencers have flocked to snatch up a piece of the pie.
Podcasts are especially attractive because they don’t cost much to produce (in terms of time or money). Anyone with a decent microphone and knowledge on a particular subject can talk for an hour and release an episode (though high-quality podcasts take more effort, as we’ll see), and if you can build up a big enough audience, you’ll see a surge of traffic to your site, or a new stream of revenue from advertising opportunities, or both.
The catch, of course, is that building an audience isn’t easy. There’s a lack of in-depth resources on the subject, which is why I wanted to put together this list of 101 tactics you can use to market your podcast. Ultimately, these tactics will seek to accomplish one (or more) of three goals:
- Attract new listeners. Though quality often means more than quantity, success in podcasting is often a numbers game. More listeners means more potential traffic.
- Retain old listeners. You also need to keep the listeners you already have; loyalty and recurring listenership are keys to success.
- Convert existing listeners. You’ll also need a way to “convert” those listeners, to build actual revenue or influence further actions.
So if you can, use as many of these tactics as possible to grow your podcast’s range of influence:
1. Make sure your podcast doesn’t suck. Before you do any planning (or any execution), take some time to listen to some podcasts that already have a substantial following. You can use any podcast app or podcast directory to browse for the most frequently downloaded casts, but make sure to search for popular podcasts in your own industry. Get a feel for what makes a “good” podcast before moving on. Above all, it should be unique, and offer value to listeners, whether in the form of entertainment, humor, advice, emotional support, guidance, news, analysis, stories, or simply creating a community. No amount of marketing tactics will work if your podcast sucks.
2. Choose a good podcast hosting platform. Your podcast is going to be syndicated using an RSS feed, and you’re going to need a good podcast hosting platform to generate that RSS feed, syndicate it automatically, and provide you with a central “command hub” where you can edit things like your podcast’s title, description, keywords, and other metadata. Furthermore, a podcast hosting platform allows you to access analytics that are crucial to know about your podcast, such as total downloads, downloads by day, downloads by episode, technology being used by your listeners, and traffic sources for your listeners. I have only used Libsyn for podcast hosting, so I can’t compare it to other hosting options, but I can certainly recommend it.
3. Publish your podcast everywhere. iTunes is probably the most common place to list your podcast, but it’s best to list your podcast in as many podcast directories as are relevant to your subject. There are dozens of directories available, each serving a different segment of users, and it won’t take much effort to list your podcast in each one. For a good start, ensure your podcast is listed in these directories: iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, SoundCloud, Stitcher, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, blubrry, Podbay, and Podtail. Your podcast hosting platform may provide you with ways to get syndicated in other popular directories or outlets, such as iHeartRadio, too.
4. Keyword-optimize your podcast listings. You can (and should) optimize your podcasts for search, both for typical Google searches (when they’re hosted on your site) and for the search engines of each respective podcast directory. Fortunately, most of them work the same. You’ll want to include target keywords in your podcast name and description, as well as each individual episode’s name and description. I recently helped a video game podcast called What’s Good Games change their name in the Apple Podcasts app from “What’s Good Games” to “What’s Good Games: A Video Game Podcast” in an effort to rank in search results for keywords “video games” and “video game podcast.” The result? They went from not appearing in the search results for either keyword to displaying #2. Huge results for such a simple tweak! For help figuring out what keywords you should target, see Keyword Research: The Ultimate Guide for SEO and Content Marketing.
5. Create a website for your podcast. Next, create a domain that you can use to “anchor” your podcast’s brand. When you release new episodes, you’ll do it through podcast directories, but you’ll also need a space for information on your podcast, including news, blog posts, and an archive of older episodes. This will be incredibly helpful for other tactics.
6. SEO-optimize your website. It’s one thing to have a website, but it’s another to have a website that gets found by potential listeners. Use search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to ensure your website gets as much search visibility as possible in order to continually attract new listeners. For help, see 101 Ways to Improve Your Website’s SEO.
7. Publish keyword-optimized content on high-authority publications. If your keyword is “video game podcasts” then wouldn’t it be great if your podcast was included in a list of the best new video game podcasts? Sure it would! Work with journalists, columnists, and contributors at various media publications to pitch them ideas for such a round-up. You never know who might work with you to create such a list which includes your podcast! You can work with PR or content marketing agencies like mine, AudienceBloom, to help match you with journalists who might be interested in working with you.
8. Create a page on your website that lists all the locations listeners can find you. When a potential listener comes across your website, you want to maximize the chances of turning them into a loyal listener. Do so by creating a page on your website that lists all the locations your podcast can be viewed or listened to, with easily clickable links to each one. Some users will prefer to listen to your podcast on Spotify, while others will prefer SoundCloud, while still others will prefer to watch on YouTube. Accommodate everyone here.
9. Tap your network for initial listeners. Your first few regular listeners will be the hardest to get, so get whoever you can. Talk to friends, family members, and employees to drum up initial interest. Ask them to share it with their friends, colleagues, and social media audiences, too.
10. Submit a press release to announce your podcast’s launch. When you launch your podcast initially, take the time to write up and syndicate a press release, which should only cost you a few hundred dollars on PR Newswire or PRWeb. You’ll get some new inbound links to the podcast website, and a burst of initial exposure to new potential audiences.
11. Pay for initial advertising. Once you’ve figured out what keywords to target, consider paying for paid advertising on Google Adwords, Reddit Ads, Facebook Ads, and Stumbleupon Ads—at least as a temporary measure. Your first listeners are going to be the hardest to get, so it’s worth the money you’ll spend to net early listeners.
12. Pay to be mentioned in other related podcasts. If you know of another similar podcast with lots of listeners, consider paying the other podcast to announce your podcast’s launch and recommend it. You can even rent their email list to make an announcement via email.
13. Ask your listeners to subscribe at the start of each episode. The best way to keep listeners coming back to your podcast is to get them to subscribe, so they automatically download or listen to your latest episodes. Accordingly, it’s on you to request that your listeners subscribe (preferably at the beginning and end of each episode).
14. Periodically ask your social media audiences to subscribe in Apple’s Podcasts app. According to a 2015 study, 82% of mobile podcast listening happens on iPhone, mostly using Apple’s Podcasts app. Be sure to remind your social media audiences periodically to find your podcast in the Apple Podcasts app and subscribe to it.
15. Keyword-optimize each individual episode. Each episode you release will likely deviate in some small way from your main keyword targets, so spend some time optimizing each episode for search. For example, since What’s Good Games is a video game podcast, their episode topics will cover different news and different games. While the general topic of the show is “video games,” one episode might be particularly relevant to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, while the next might be focused on Horizon: Zero Dawn. Be sure to optimize the titles, keywords, and descriptions of each episode for their topics of relevance so they can be found easier by potential listeners.
16. Create robust, keyword-rich show notes for each episode. Your show notes are the description, keywords, timestamps, and other metadata that will be included with every episode you publish. Take the time to create compelling, interesting notes that compel people to go ahead and start listening. Nothing is quite as much of a turnoff as boring show notes.
17. Use eye-catching logo/background art. Most podcast listings display a piece of background art associated with the show; typically a brand logo. You can use this opportunity to catch prospective new listeners’ attentions; create a piece of art that falls in line with your brand, and preferably one with a single, dominating color, with elements that don’t make it appear too crowded. Often, this art will be viewed on a mobile device (two-thirds of podcasts are listened to on a phone or tablet), so ensure that the text is large and easily readable on a small screen. Use your image or icon stand out from the other podcasts in the list.
18. Ask for shares and recommendations early on. The fastest way to grow is for the word to spread through other people. You can make this happen faster by deliberately asking for shares and recommendations early on; you can do this on air or off air, depending on your preferences.
19. Create social accounts for your hosts and your podcast brand. After naming your podcast, you probably thought to claim the social profiles for it on mainstream platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Make sure to fully flesh out your profile on each of those platforms. Then, claim profiles for each of your hosts (if they haven’t already been claimed); to make your podcast successful, you’ll want the power of personal branding to amplify your messages.
20. Have your hosts promote the podcast on their personal and business social media accounts. Your hosts are going to become the face of the brand, so they need to be active on social media, interacting and engaging with users, and promoting the podcast.
21. Build your social media following. If a tree falls in a Facebook page and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Aggressively build your social media likes and followers using interest-based targeting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and wherever else is relevant for your podcast. For help, see 101 Ways to Get More Social Media Followers.
22. Syndicate your podcasts on social media. Whenever you release a new episode of your podcast, announce it and syndicate it across your social media channels—both on your main brand’s social channels and on the personal accounts of your podcast’s hosts. If you’re publishing weekly, consider also scheduling follow-up announcements a day or two after it’s released.
23. Tweet a SoundCloud link for every new episode. People can play SoundCloud audio right from their Twitter stream, so go ahead and push your SoundCloud link on Twitter. Be sure to schedule follow-up tweets at later days and times, too, since Twitter is a fast-moving platform where tweets quickly get pushed down by other, newer tweets.
24. List your podcast in content discovery apps. Next, list yourself in content discovery apps, such as Stitcher, which connects listeners to thousands of different radio shows and services, and blog readers like Feedly.
25. Add your podcast link to your email signature. How many emails do you send every day? Think of how many new people could learn about your podcast if you took the simple step of adding a blurb and a link to it in your email signature.
26. Get theme music. You don’t need to hire an especially accomplished composer; even a string of a few notes can serve as your introduction music. Some podcasts even rely on a basic sound effect. The key here is to cue the listener that your podcast is about to begin, and differentiate it from competitors. If it’s catchy, all the better. Theme music becomes associated with positive emotions if your users hear it every time they start a new episode (assuming they enjoy your podcast). Those positive emotions translate to longer listening times, a more engaged audience, more word-of-mouth referrals, and higher conversion rates when it comes to monetization.
27. Score your episodes. In the same way, you should consider musically scoring your episodes. Narrative formats, which tell dramatic stories, need scoring more than discussion panels, but a bit of background noise and music reflective of the mood can take any podcast to the next level.
28. Choose a strategic time to publish your podcasts. Look at some of the podcasts syndicated by your competing brands. When do they roll out new episodes? If you want to avoid getting lost in the clutter, choose a publication day that’s offset from those competing times. Or, if you choose to release your episode at the same time as your competitors, make sure do one or more of the following: 1) have a better show; 2) promote it better.
29. Be consistent. Whatever you do, do it consistently. Consistency is the best way to make sure your current listeners keep coming back for more. If you run half an hour, keep your podcasts at half an hour. If you post every Friday, keep posting every Friday, and never miss an episode. Listeners will make your show a part of their routine, and missing even one episode could break those habits and cause you to lose listeners, or have them doubt your consistency.
30. Promote specific episodes using Facebook ads. Whenever you publish a new episode, use Facebook ads to promote the Apple Podcasts App link to that episode (targeting iOS users on Facebook) or the Stitcher URL (for mobile users not using an iOS device). Here’s a fantastic step-by-step walkthrough on how to do it.
31. Promote your main podcast page (in the Apple Podcasts app) using Facebook ads. As we learned earlier, 82% of mobile podcast listening happens on iPhones, so target your audience where and when they’re most likely to take action: when they’re on their iPhone. You can set up an ad that targets only users who are accessing Facebook using an iOS device, and which opens the Podcasts app and takes the user right to your main podcast page within the app. Here, they can view your latest episodes and subscribe. Compare running these ads targeted to people who like your page as well as people who don’t, and see what gives you a better ROI.
32. Hold contests to get more ratings and reviews. Try holding contests where your listeners can win prizes in exchange for leaving a review of your podcast in iTunes. The condition of entry would be that they leave a review and then email it to you in exchange for a chance to win the prize.
33. Experiment with multiple formats. There are multiple ways to pull audio for your podcast, so to keep things interesting, experiment with a variety of formats. Talking into a mic, playing old recordings, and making phone calls are just three examples here.
34. Cater to emotions. The best way to capture attention from prospective new listeners is to provoke strong emotions with your episode topics and titles, such as fear (as in: “does sitting increase your risk of death?”) or nostalgia (as in: “why 90s cartoons still haven’t been topped”). The more invested your audience is, the more likely they’ll be to share your material, as well.