Standard and uncommon ways to get more visibility.
Podcasting is a great way to build a relationship with an audience of potential clients or customers. But podcasting only works if you have, ahem, listeners — preferably as many of the ideal ones as possible. No one wants to put in the effort of launching and producing a podcast, only to feel like you’re shouting into the abyss.
Naturally, that begs the question: how do you get listeners to discover your podcast? Which promotion strategy should you use for increasing engagement? What can you do on a daily basis to see download numbers edging in the right direction?
Below is a list of ideas for expanding the reach of your podcast. The strategies range from fairly standard and easy-to-implement to things that might be a little more outside of your comfort zone.
If you’re starting from zero (as in, no promotion at all), pick just three to five and implement them consistently over the next six months. Start with the ones that feel most appealing to you and then build them into your workflow and track your results. Growing a podcast is a notoriously arduous effort — podfade is a real thing. So adjust your mindset for the long term, invest your effort in a few of these approaches and then adjust or add more as you get comfortable and start seeing results.
Bonus resource: 35 podcasts where you can pitch yourself as a guest (and introduce yourself to new listeners)
⇨ A downloadable PDF with podcasts that interview business leaders and entrepreneurs. Podcast description, guest guidelines, host name and contact information included.
1) Nail down your email strategy
When a new episode goes live, email your list and tell them about it. Whether your list is big or small, email is one of the easiest ways to drive audience to your episode. Neil Patel and Eric Siu relied heavily on email when they were just starting their podcast, Marketing School. After two years, they were hitting 750,000 downloads per month.
You could send an email each time you publish a new episode — to ensure your audience knows what you’ve been working on for them. Some podcasters stagger the email so they get a download spike a few days after it releases. Or you could take the more selective approach and only email your list when you have an especially impressive guest or an outstanding interview. Other podcasters include episode roundups in weekly or monthly emails. Jaime Masters of the Eventual Millionaire does this in some monthly emails and Evo Terra offers a Friday recap with his weekly shows.
2) Create audio clips to share episode highlights
Take snippets of your podcast conversation and turn them into shareable “audiograms,” which is basically a static image that has been converted into a video optimized for social media. According to one test, audiograms generated 5x the traffic when compared with a static image.
There are a few different options for tools to help you create audiograms. This episode of School of Podcasting reviews three of the most popular ones — Audiogram, Wavve, and Headliner — all of which have some free options.
3) Promote via your social channels
It’s a no-brainer here — share your episodes on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and even Pinterest. Slice and dice your episode so you can parse out the most enticing quotes and information for sharing on the platforms where you’re most engaged. Apart from audiograms, you’ll want to create other visual assets. One recommendation is to create seven pieces of social content per episode, which includes: two audiograms, three image quotes, and two optimized thumbnails.
Also, there’s no need to stop sharing! A lot of podcast content is evergreen, which means you can and should keep sharing episodes from your archive.
4) Make it easy for guests to help you promote (and give them a reason to want to do it)
It has become pretty standard for show hosts to ask guests to share episodes — you both have an interest in driving audience to the conversation. But with so many podcasters adopting this tactic, it’s critical for you to make sharing the episode as easy and seamless for the guest, while also giving them a reason to want to share.
First things first, give them a heads up before the interview publishes. Send them a personalized email and include a selection of pre-written language, social shares (see above), and suggested email language that they can easily insert into their content queue. Keep in mind that if they’ve been interviewed on other podcasts, they’ve probably gotten this request many times before. You can set yourself apart with personalization and personality. For more detail on this and templates, see this helpful page.
Finally, think about how you can be most helpful to your guest. Before the interview, ask them if they have something coming up to promote and coordinate the interview to maximize their exposure. Or make your interview stand out by asking them smart questions that are different than the kinds of things that are usually discussed. They’ll more likely want to share it with their audience if the content is good and different. For more, see Mathew Passy’s discussion thread.
5) Get out there — be a guest on similar shows
This is probably the best, most organic way to pick up new listeners: find shows that cover similar topics and pitch yourself as a podcast guest. Listen Notes, a search engine for podcasts, is a great resource for identifying shows. Type in the name of a person who is in a similar thought leadership space and you can see all the episodes and podcasts where they’ve appeared. Podchaser is another excellent tool with helpful lists and categories.
Write a personalized, thoughtful pitch explaining why you’re a fit for the show and outlining the topics you can discuss. You can include your very own podcast one sheet, a useful resource to help communicate why you’d be a great guest and to make it easier for the host to prepare for your interview. You can also add yourself to paid directories like PodcastGuests.com or AwesomeGuests (starts at $50/month).
6) Get your podcast mentioned/linked in the media
A well-placed mention of your podcast can go a long way for discovery. You can bet that the 5,000+ views this article received helped more people learn about the Thriving Launch podcast.
Monitor Help a Reporter Out (HARO) for relevant requests and if you have an episode that helps answer the question the writer is asking, respond with a pitch highlighting the content from that episode. Or find journalists and influencers who will be interested in your content using the PR software JustReachOut. You can even use their LinkLove tool to find broken links and get them replaced with links to your episode pages (adding articles to episode pages is essential if you want this to work).
7) Use text messaging
The vast majority of podcast listening — 69 percent, according to data compiled by Podcast Insights — happens on smartphones. Reach listeners where they listen by using text messages to communicate with your audience. You can use texts to announce new shows and ask audience members to share them.
There’s a lot of software available to support text message marketing, but you’ll definitely want to make sure you read up on the rules and regulations first. There’s nothing worse than a spammy promotional text — tread carefully.
8) Do a giveaway — everyone loves prizes
Offer a prize that will really speak to your audience and then ask them to take an action to be entered to win. Giveaways work because they incentivize people to do something and also create urgency. For example, if you decide you want to focus on getting word-of-mouth referrals, ask your audience to share their favorite episode on Instagram or Twitter over a one-month period with a certain hashtag. That enters them to win the prize, and then you announce the winner at the end of the month. For more on tactics, see this post on how Noah Kagan ran a giveaway that helped him generate more than 500 iTunes reviews (specifically, see step 4).
9) Create a VIP/ambassador community
Generate more buzz for each episode by cultivating a community of loyal fans who will do the sharing for you. Even if you start pretty small, your direct engagement with a group of true fans can grow into a really powerful marketing asset. Matt and Joe from Evergreen Profits offer several ways for listeners to engage and learn more from them.
You might consider inviting people to join through an application process. A brief form will help you filter for people who are really interested. Once you’ve made your selection, invite them to be part of a private Facebook group or Slack channel where you can share behind-the-scenes information, ask for their input and feedback, and keep the engagement up between shows.
10) Spend wisely on influencer marketing
With a relatively small budget, you can work with social media influencers who will help you spread the word about your podcast. One post from an Instagram influencer with about 30k followers could cost you anywhere from $5 to $15. One podcaster in the very active Podcast Movement Community group on Facebook said he saw pick up of 10 to almost 200 followers per influencer post. Spend wisely and $500 can result in thousands of new listeners. So make sure you find the right ones and be sure to pitch appropriately. Influence Weekly is a helpful resource if you want to go deep on influencer marketing.
11) Pass out business cards or brochures
Include your podcast on your business card or create a business card for your podcast. You could even include a QR code that opens your podcast website or in a player when scanned. Daniel Lewis has a good resource with tips for creating effective podcast business cards. Getting printed material to promote your podcast might seem basic, even boring, but getting your podcast information into someone’s hands gives them a physical reminder to check you out.
12) Get in front of people — speak at events
Getting in front of a live audience is a great way to make an impression and boost your podcast visibility. This isn’t just for the A-list keynote speakers of the world. Find local events (or organize one yourself) and pitch yourself as a speaker. You can deliver a workshop, speech, or moderate a panel that aligns with the topic of your podcast. Meetup and Eventbrite are good first places to find events and event organizers to connect with.
13) Tap into newsletter audiences
It’s super useful to identify all the newsletters in your niche and keep tabs on them (they could even be a source of guest ideas for your podcast). Check out industry newsletter aggregators like SmartBrief and MultiBriefs as a starting point. Get familiar with what type of content they tend to include. Send relevant episodes to the writer/editor for them to consider including in a future issue.
For your podcast to be shareable in a newsletter, ideally you’ll have devoted episodes pages on a website and have text supporting and even adding to the audio. Offering edited transcripts or solid show notes that at least summarize the main points of the show makes it easier for others to write about your podcast. This podcast started getting picked up in a major industry newsletter after it added edited transcripts for each episode.
14) Turn your podcast into an article
An interview is a building block of an article. Take your episode a step further and pitch it as a guest post to a website that has audience overlap with your podcast. By offering it in a different channel, you’ll expose new people (and listeners!) to your podcast. Popular podcaster Ryan Robinson of The Side Hustle Project turns his episodes into guest posts and sometimes publishes them in his Forbes column (like this one). Frederic Kerrest, the cohost of Zero to IPO, often repurposes episodes and publishes them in Fast Company.
You can also post the articles directly on the episode page of your website. SEO juice comes from text, especially valuable text. An article is a lot more shareable and link-able than a full, word-for-word transcript.
To take an episode and convert it into an article, you’ll want to carefully listen for the best bits of information, pull out the most memorable quotes and then build them into a comprehensive narrative. Working from a full transcript definitely makes the process a bit easier, but it can still take four+ hours to optimize your work for text. While this can be time-consuming, a strong guest post is a great way to get exposure. And hey, PodReacher can do this for you!
15) Level up your community engagement
Join related business and podcasting groups on Facebook and other forums like Reddit and Slack. Follow people in your industry on LinkedIn and Twitter, and find niche websites with active discussion forums. For example, here’s a list of groups for content marketers. Carve out some time to thoughtfully comment on discussion threads where you can add value. Check on the rules of each group, but in some cases, you can include links to relevant episodes in responses (when appropriate). Keep tabs on discussions by searching keywords to see where there might be opportunities for you to weigh in.
16) Ask for reviews (and then read them)
It’s well known that more reviews = more visibility, especially for the Apple charts. Ask your current listeners to rate and review, but then select a new review each week to read and acknowledge on air — doing this incentivizes listeners to take action. On an episode of Eventual Millionaire, Eric Siu said that doing this helped get more reviews for Marketing School. “Once we started to actually read people’s reviews, our reviews started to go up.”
Do you have feedback to share or other great tips? Let me know what you think on Twitter.