Having great, engaging content for your podcast is a start -- but marketing it so that people will actually hear it will determine its success level.
In my previous two articles, I outlined reasons why brands benefit from podcasting and outlined how to get started with your own branded podcast. In this final installment, I will cover essential marketing strategies to maximize reach, engagement and ROI from your podcasting efforts.
With an overall format and frequency refined, the next step is producing a single show. For best results, consider starting with a storyboard or outline. This provides an opportunity to talk through the most important elements of the show, including segment timing and transitions. Consider mapping out the show with minute marks, like the professionals. If needed, create a script for your hosts and questions for your guests (ideally provided in advance). Prepare a strong open and close that includes calls-to-action like subscribing, sharing a link to your website, thanking sponsors or sharing advertising options.
While there is always a chance your podcast doesn’t make it to a second season, it’s always prudent to plan for the long-term. Consider archiving your podcasts for free via YouTube. Beyond saving monthly hosting fees for old podcast episodes, YouTube offers an opportunity to reach a global audience (and is the second largest search engine by volume). It is important to include a compelling thumbnail as the visual element to support your podcast audio on YouTube. As a bonus tip, consider recording your podcasts with a digital camera (DSLR) or camcorder from day one, so you’ll have native video and images ready for YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and other platforms.
Each key element of a podcast can and should be optimized for reach and engagement. It all starts with the show title, which should be unique, memorable, relevant and of course, keyword optimized. Next up is the show description: which should be descriptive, yet intriguing and keyword-infused. One element podcasters typically don’t spend as much time thinking about is the show category. It’s an important decision and should be researched before finalizing. The trick is balancing topical accuracy with the desire to maximize visibility with potential audiences. Most podcasts pick a category and stick with it, but flexible show formats may consider unique categories for each podcast. Don’t forget the small elements that provide polish, like introduction or transition music (check out Serial for inspiration).
From a bigger picture perspective, podcasting provides an opportunity to repurpose content, whether it starts with video or audio, it can be leveraged into images, text and other form factors. Even unused content can be repurposed for promotions or future episodes. Creating bonus materials can also help maximize reach and engagement. Consider developing additional video, checklists, worksheets and resource lists for your website or blog to keep listeners engaged outside of the podcast. Bonus content has the added benefit of measurability, especially if it lives online, outside of the podcast.
Beyond optimizing podcast episode title and description, consider creating a show summary on a blog or website and embedding the audio file within the page. Google appreciates the added context and will rank websites and blogs that incorporate multimedia higher than those that don’t. Transcribe episodes for the blog or to create additional content to promote the episode on social media or your website. Syndicate the blog or episode summary page via social media in addition to syndicating a link to a podcatcher or host site. When syndicating each episode on social media, leverage hashtags, especially for Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Beyond industry-specific language, consider podcast-specific terms like #podcast, #podcasting, #podcastguest or #instapodcast.
For visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, utilize behind-the-scenes images or video as teasers for upcoming (and archived) episodes. Don’t forget to syndicate to Google+, as the platform is utilized by Google to inform organic search results. For YouTube, leverage playlists to combine relevant episodes. If your podcast is business-related consider posting teasers and episodes to LinkedIn, as well as support via targeted advertising to maximize listenership.
To maximize reach and rankings, boost posts on platforms like Facebook and consider testing a targeted ad campaign to grow your subscriber-base. The added benefit of advertising is that you can grow your listenership quickly, and influence visibility on podcatchers. Generating significant listens in the first 24-48 hours can help earn a spot on iTune’s New & Noteworthy section, for example. Speaking of rankings, the best way to maximize visibility on podcatchers is to maximize downloads, subscribes, ratings and reviews, so remind listeners to support you with calls-to-action. For podcasters looking to grow a large following and revenue, explore a pay-per-conversion affiliate program for referring site traffic resulting in listeners. Also consider expanding advertising to Google with text and display ads.
Don’t forget marketing fundamentals when promoting your podcast. Incorporate a link to your latest podcast or episode page in your email signature file. Promote episodes in your newsletter and on your home page. Provide pre-made promos to guests and partners to maximize reach. A more advanced strategy is to identify and engage superlisteners (evangelists). Bonus marketing ideas include leveraging timely news and media outlets and exploring cross-promotional opportunities with other podcasters/shows.
Creating a podcast doesn’t have to be daunting, but it does require a reasonable investment of time and money to do it right. The investment is typically much less than video and other form factors, and podcasts have the added benefit of expanding into a relatively under-appreciated but fast-growing format: audio branding. Take advantage of the current excitement and growing consumption of podcasts to build your brand.
Kent Lewis is the president and founder of Anvil Media.