Podcasts have been around for nearly two decades, but the format has come into its own over the last six years. A vast variety of shows, celebrity endorsements, new investments from large companies like Spotify, and the disruption of technologies that boost awareness such as smart speakers, have all contributed to this “podcast boom” that we witnessed in recent years.
According to Podcast Insights 2021 there are currently more than two million active podcasts across the globe. Three years ago, there were only about a quarter of that.
According to podcast statistics, 2021 was the industry’s most successful year. Podcasts generated $1.13 million advertising revenue in 2021 – a 45% jump over 2020. The Middle East is following this trend. Even more local content is being produced, access is improving, and lifestyles are changing, causing local listenership to surge.
Of course, these stats are encouraging for anyone in the podcast business, but this rapid growth has also brought new challenges. In a sea of content, it can be hard to get noticed. When designing a podcast for your business, it is important to reach your audience. Until perhaps a few years ago, you would have been competing with 2-3 podcasts covering a similar theme. Today, however, there are at least 10 podcasts that are battling for the same audience.
This is where podcast promotion comes in. The best way to ensure that all those days and days of hard work that you pour into creating an episode are not wasted is to follow through with a top-notch podcast promotion strategy.
In this article, we are offering you a step-by-step guide to podcast promotion, Poddster style! We use these very techniques at Poddster, and so far it has yielded excellent results, not only for us but also for the numerous podcasts that we are producing and promoting.
Here are some fundamentals to keep top of mind before we dive into our recommended podcast promotion plan.
Remember that quality of content is the best promotion tool. High-quality podcast content is the foundation of any podcast marketing strategy.
Consistently producing great content will not only help you gain and maintain your listenership but also will improve the status and visibility of your podcast channels. Relevant and engaging podcast guests, compelling contemporary stories, and high-quality audio and video are must-haves if you intend to create a successful podcast. In addition to this, you should consider including a transcript of your audio for each episode, as well as helpful “show notes” (the written description that accompanies each new podcast episode).
If you are planning to host the podcast show, ensure that you have what it takes to be the main promotion asset of your podcast. This includes your appearance, voice, knowledge of the guest’s areas of interest, and the capability to guide your guest to speak about what you and your audience need to hear, not just what your guest wants to talk about.
Almost anyone can host a podcast show with enough practice and growing the right skillset. For some of the lucky ones, this will come naturally to them, but many of you may struggle with some of the aspects of hosting. If you are finding yourself in this position, you could alleviate a lot of your stress by consulting with an experienced podcast producer who can guide you through the process and help you overcome some of the challenges you might be facing.
If you are choosing an anchor for your podcast, don’t forget about your target audience. Make sure you choose someone your audience will easily trust and relate to. Your host should look and sound like someone they can identify with. A helpful exercise is to imagine the ideal listener of your podcast and pick someone to host the show who most closely resembles that imagined audience persona.
Did you know that most hosts produce a podcast for 5-6 months before seeing any major traction in their number of listeners? In the beginning stages, you’ll have great episodes with good promotion, but see little to no results. Don’t get discouraged. Podcast marketing is a long-term endeavour.
Develop a podcast promotion plan and keep modifying it until it works. With amazing content, trust us: it will be worth it.
There are many components to comprehensive podcast promotion. Sometimes it can be overwhelming when you are getting started, so we like to divide the promotion plan into 3 segments so you can tackle it in bite-sized chunks:
- 🎙 Pre-Launch
- 📢 Launch
- 💬 Post-Launch
Organizing your promotion plan like this allows you to examine every step of the podcast production and build a strategy for your podcast accordingly. Constructing this 3-stage plan at the start of your podcast journey also allows you to have a 360 view of your promotion strategy. It also makes it easy for you to elevate how you are tackling every part of the process every few months.
Let’s get into it!
The pre-launch phase can be the most daunting to tackle. Production during this phase includes designing your podcast, creating a concept and format, choosing guests, creating branding material, equipping the studio, acquiring equipment and writing script, to list a few. All of this needs to be followed up with a rock-solid promotion strategy that will prepare everything for the big day.
Here are the steps you need to follow to ensure that everything is in place for the release of the first episode of your podcast.
Hone your focus. This will help you identify the topics that are most meaningful to your audience and tailor your content accordingly. You can find your audience by looking at the typical age range, education level, geographic location, and related interests of your ideal listeners and the listenership of your competitors’ podcasts.
If you want to build your podcast promotion team, keep in mind that the scale of your audience is not going to be measured in millions, at least at the beginning. Our best advice? Start small before you go big. Of course, there are exceptions. If you have lined up a couple of superstars as guests for your first episode, it makes sense to invest heavily. Usually, however, a promotion team of 2-3 people will do the job. Starting with a CMO, Account Manager and Content Manager in most cases will be more than sufficient.
The other way to approach this is to hire an external podcast marketing team who will do all this for you rather than you having to manage everything internally. This has proven to be the best and most cost-effective option when starting a brand-new podcast. A dedicated promotion team, like the one we have at Poddster, can help you take your first steps into the podcast industry and introduce you to the whole process of podcast promotion.
Before you choose podcast graphics for your shows, you should consider two important factors: the style that you and your podcasts hold to, and the prevalent style dictated by the modern design conventions of the time.
The first thing you should design is cover art for your podcast that will represent its visual identity. We recommend doing this before you do anything else so that all other visual elements can remain consistent within the brand identity and make it easy for new and existing listeners to recognise your podcast on any platform. Once you are completely satisfied with your cover art design, you can develop the other visual elements for your podcast. This includes:
- Podcast cover art
- Covers and thumbnail images for each episode
- Banners for any relevant content and social platforms
- Audiovisual branding elements like music, lower thirds graphics, profile pictures for social platforms, visuals for different types of social media posts, and even professional photographs of your host(s).
A podcast website functions as a powerful and accessible hub where your listeners can easily find any of your episodes and choose which of their preferred listening platforms they would like to use to listen to your show. Not only that, but it will also help boost your podcast’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Start by creating a podcast website or landing page that has content relevant to your focus of interest. Make sure you include keywords your potential podcast listeners are searching for online. You can use the visual branding theme of your podcast for your website too so the visitors can easily connect the website to your podcast.
Your podcast will need to be hosted on a platform that enables you to upload and distribute your show to Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other listening platforms. We like Buzzsprout and Anchor for their ease of use and versatile functionality. Create accounts and submit your RSS feed to every podcast directory you can think of so every new episode you publish will appear on those platforms. This will expose you to new audiences as they browse their preferred listening app for new shows to consume. This is one of the easiest and most effective podcast marketing tactics you can use.
Social media platforms are the most cost-effective way to promote your podcast, both pre-launch and afterwards. They enable you to build a community around your podcast, easily connect with your audience and promote engagement. You can start doing this by posting teasers about your exciting new podcast before it launches so your audience is ready and waiting to listen when that first episode drops. You can post these teasers for free, but you also have the option of using paid ads to reach an untapped podcast audience in a more targeted way. Influencers can also help you with your podcast promotion pre-release. Find an influencer relevant to your audience and build a lasting relationship with them that will benefit both of you.
An “Episode Zero” is an introductory video wherein the host of the show explains the concept of the podcast and what your audience can expect from upcoming episodes. It is an excellent way to promote your podcast on social platforms before the show has even begun and to get them hooked from day one. This video should be short: less than 3 minutes in duration, covering the premise in an informative, dynamic and engaging way.
So, everything is in place, and you’re ready for launch day! Your branding is perfect, the teaser has been online for a couple of days, and the first episode is ready to go live. Now it’s time to press the big, red “PUBLISH” button.
Let’s dive into the podcasting marketing steps that should be followed after this event:
The visibility of your podcast is crucial, especially in the beginning. That’s where microcontent comes in handy. Share engaging media – soundbites, videos, images, teasers, quotes, polls, anything you can think of – on social media platforms. These short pieces of content will reach your audience much faster than the full podcast episode. It is also the best way to drive traffic to your podcast channels.
Curate a relevant email list of people who could be new listeners of your brand new podcast. Before we dig deeper into this stage of your podcast promotion plan, we would like to emphasise that this is one of those tactics where quality trumps quantity. You have no use for the email addresses of those you know will be uninterested in your podcast. Don’t spam people’s inboxes. Not only will this tarnish your brand image as a whole, but it could also cause you to violate the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), so make sure you are only sending out newsletters to those who have made it clear they would like to opt in to updates about your podcast.
An email newsletter about the launch of your podcast is a great way to introduce you and your podcast to your audience and spread the word about your new venture.
Allow your existing audience and potential listeners the opportunity to join a mailing list via a sign-up link on your podcast website or in your episode show notes. Going forward, you will find that email can be an effective way to give listeners early access to new episodes, announce upcoming podcast guests, and promote giveaways.
Most people know “Google ads” as those ads that show up at the top of the search results when they perform a search in Google. However, did you know that Google’s advertising programme, Google AdWords, actually encompasses a lot of other areas of online marketing beyond just search advertising? With Google AdWords, you can run text search ads, display ads on other websites, and even YouTube video ads (Google owns YouTube). All three forms of marketing can be effective ways to get your podcast in front of new potential listeners who might be interested in the content you are creating.
Your rich network of colleagues, friends, students, former professors, co-editors, and writing partners will always be a great help with podcast promotion. However, your guest’s network can also aid in this regard. Encourage any guests to share and subscribe to your podcast so you can tap into their audience and reach individuals who might be interested in subscribing to your podcast.
At this point, the first few episodes of your amazing podcast are online and the number of listeners is steadily growing. Now it’s time to ensure that numbers keep going up. Here’s how you can tackle this stage of the podcast promotion strategy.
As we mentioned earlier, transcribing the audio from your podcast recordings is a fantastic way to introduce the episode to the audience. Bonus: it’s also excellent for SEO. Use this transcript to create a blog post about the first episode. You can publish it on your website or any other website(s) you partner with.
A podcast website is vital. From its remarkable SEO benefits to its functions as a platform that you fully control, all shows should have their dedicated site. However, a website is functionally useless unless you are regularly updating it with your latest content.
Each time you upload a new episode and it’s distributed to every listening app, create a new post on your website too. The post should have an embedded player, transcriptions, and show notes to maximise its impact.
When you engage online with fellow creators and industry influencers and experts, they might share your show with their audiences, thereby increasing your visibility. You can connect with fellow creators on social media by highlighting other shows you love and podcasters you collaborate with.
Another way to join forces with fellow creators is to cross-promote, i.e. feature them on your show as guests and join them on their show in return. If they’re further along in their journey, this approach can help their audience learn about you and increase the likelihood that they check out your podcast.
Invite influencers from the industry you are highlighting to come onto your show as guests and encourage them to spread the word about your amazing podcast. You can make this easy for them by providing creative elements like soundbites, episode snippets, quotes, behind the scenes images, and other microcontent they can share on their social platforms.
It’s no secret that giveaways are, and have always been, one of the greatest tools to build an audience, even if you don’t give away something with a high monetary value attached. Set up a giveaway event where the winner receives something that relates to your brand and other items like merchandise that prominently feature your podcast’s branding. Relevancy is crucial here. Do not give away something generic like an Amazon gift card. This will result in sign-ups from people who don’t truly care about your brand and are therefore unlikely to stick around in the long run.
We hope that you found this step-by-step guide to podcast promotion helpful and that you feel empowered to tackle all stages of launching your new podcast with confidence.
These ideas draw on the comprehensive strategy that we use for podcast marketing at Poddster. If you need a customised plan for promoting your podcast, our team of experts is here to help. We offer podcast studio and equipment rentals, content creation and production services, and we can also craft a detailed marketing strategy for your show. We can even handle the entire rollout so you can focus on telling stories about the topics closest to your heart.
Good luck on your next podcasting adventure! We’re here, every step of the way.