Last updated on December 2nd, 2019
If you’re looking to learn how to promote a podcast and grow a listenership, you’re in the right place!
You likely got into podcasting with the goal of sparking a conversation around a topic you’re passionate about. Cultivating a community of listeners from around the world who share your interests, who value your point of view on a topic.
As Hot Pod turned five earlier this year, they asked their readers “What are you most frustrated by about the podcasting industry?”. Readers offered their answers with one saying, “It is so hard to get people to know my show exists. I’ve tried everything to boost my numbers…it’s so hard to promote yourself above the sea of podcasts, especially if you’re not a new buzzy show.”
If you’re like the above podcaster, gathering 50 downloads per episode was thrilling at the start but now you’re ready for more. Consistently hitting hundreds or thousands of listens takes diligence and a willingness to test a few different strategies so that’s where we come in.
Ahead we’re sharing 20 tactics real podcasters use to promote their show. Our goal isn’t to repeat the same strategies you’ve seen everywhere else. Instead, it’s to give you the tools and actionable insights needed to grow a show from one to one thousand listeners.
But first, you’ll need to nail the two pillars of podcasting. These are the cornerstones of quality promotion and growth.
The Two Pillars Of Podcasting
Before jumping right into our top promotional strategies, let’s take one step back to assess the foundation of our podcast. We’ll start with the two main pillars of podcasting, quality content and time. We need to make sure what we’re currently creating is worth promoting and that we have realistic expectations around the timelines of success.
Marketing a bad product is a waste of time. No amount of money, creative marketing angles, or Hail Mary strategies will grow a stale podcast. So before you start trying to crack the code on promoting a show, first make sure it’s up to snuff.
What makes a good product? It has to hit these three qualities:
- Valuable: Your listeners need to gain something from the episode. They either learned new information or a skill, were entertained, or satisfied a curiosity.
- Unique: Your podcast’s point of view adds something new to the conversation, however slight. Uniqueness varies for every topic so start by creating Venn Diagrams against others in your niche. If too many data points land in the middle, focus on refining your differentiating factors first.
- Sticky: You podcast needs to capture and sustain an audience’s attention. If your current listeners aren’t consistently consuming your episodes in full, focus your efforts on the content better. Listen to podcasts that are similar to yours, study their formats, content, and structure. Think about how you can incorporate those features into your show and improve upon what they’ve created.
The best long-term strategy to promote a podcast is by providing value. Gimmicks and shortcuts may work in the short-term, but they won’t sustain you. Instead of leaping on the latest marketing trend, focus on creating value through strong relationships and quality content.
With quality content under your belt, next turn to the second important pillar: time. We know Rome wasn’t built in a day and the same can be said for podcast audiences.
Remember, many hosts produce a podcast for 5-6 months before seeing major upticks in their listenership. That means persistently promoting ten top notch episodes that ultimately see minimal engagement. Don’t get discouraged.
Trust that promoting a podcast takes time and growth depends on consistently producing engaging content.
How To Find The Right Promotional Strategies
With so many marketing strategies to choose from, there’s a process to figure exactly which tactics are right for your show.
As you work to find your perfect marketing mix, keep these two factors in mind.
Focus on your audience
It would be great if your podcast appealed to everyone, but that’s probably not the case. Instead of trying to market to all podcast listeners, focus on the ones who get the most value from your show. Over time, take steps to learn as much as you can about that audience so you can design promotions that finds them with the right messaging.
Aggregate everything you know about your listener into an audience persona document so you can refer to it when crafting marketing copy.
Experiment and measure
Whenever you take steps to promote a podcast, it’s important to try new things and measure their results. In fact, you should run multiple tests to find the tactics that work.
For instance, let’s say you decide to answer questions on Quora to drive traffic to your podcast’s website. It would be smart to add tracking codes to the links in your answer to determine how many people ultimately land back on your site. Without any tracking parameters, it’s difficult to decide if a tactic is successful or not.
The data generated by tracking experiments provides actionable insights into what channels drive new subscribers. In marketing, focusing on the real world numbers is a better strategy than going with your gut feeling.
With a foundation set, let’s start with our TK tried and true strategies to turn up the heat on your podcast promotion.
How To Promote A Podcast With 20 Marketing Tactics
Podcast promotion isn’t a one-size-fits-all game. A strategy that floods hundreds of downloads for one show may be a slow drip for another.
Keep variety in mind when charting out a marketing strategy and see what sticks. You’ll have to go through trial and error at the start, figuring out what works and on which channels. Testing new ideas, different messaging angles, and pushing yourself out of the box may unearth the audience you’ve been searching for.
1. Release at least 3 episodes on launch day
If you haven’t launched your podcast yet, create three episodes before you release. Online business coach Pat Flynn recommends posting three to five episodes at launch so new listeners can binge a bit. “I actually received negative reviews from people who had listened to the first episode and were upset that there was only one,” he says.
If you don’t have a few episodes for new listeners to explore, there’s a good chance they won’t become invested and will probably forget about you.
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2. Convert your podcast into a YouTube video
Get double the exposure from one episode by repurposing its content for YouTube. Creating a video asset from an episode can take a few forms but all have the same goal: putting your podcast in front of YouTube’s 2 billion worldwide users.
The easiest way to upload a podcast to YouTube is to convert the MP3 audio file into a video format. YouTube recommends MP4 files. Next add a branded image to appear for the duration of the video and upload. Be sure include show notes and links to your website, subscribe links to other listening platforms, and social channels in the description.
Another route that requires more equipment is recording both video and audio content as you produce an episode. Rather than having a static image on screen, viewers will see the host talking live as they follow along. This is a great option if you interview guests or have a co-host.
Castos makes it even easier to repurpose your podcast with our automatic YouTube republishing features. Simply upload your audio files to the dashboard then we’ll convert and upload it to your channel for you.
3. Cut that YouTube video into clips
We’re all about getting more out of the amazing content we’ve already created. If you repurpose a full episode into a video, why not go back and create shorter 1-3 minute soundbite worthy clips. You’ll captivate the viewers who consume longer videos and those that prefer to share shorter clips.
New viewers can easily consume these videos, get a sense of what your show is about, and decide to listen to your other videos. YouTube’s algorithm will also suggest your other clips, making it easy for users to watch more of your content.
We’ve all been victim to suddenly spending hours on YouTube, now it’s time for you to capitalize on it.
4. Submit to podcast aggregators and directories
A podcast aggregator, called a podcatcher, is an app that plays podcasts. The most well known podcatcher is Apple Podcasts, the default podcast app that comes with iOS. But there are plenty more, including:
Remove as many barriers as possible for people to discover your show. Create accounts and submit your RSS feed to every podcast directory so new episodes will automatically be published to each platform. This will expose you to new audiences as they browse their preferred listening app for new shows to consume.
Check out your full guide on the top podcast directors where you should submit your show.
5. Optimize your podcast website for search
A podcast website is important. From SEO benefits to being a platform you fully control, all shows should have their own site. But what good is a website if you’re not regularly updating it with your freshest 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 make the biggest impact.
When you create a page, make sure it’s optimized around a keyword people search for to find that kind of content. Put that keyword in the following places:
- The page’s H1 title
- Some of the page’s subheadings including H2, H3, H4, etc.
- The ALT attribute of any images
- At the beginning and end of the content
- In the page’s meta description
- In the page’s <TITLE> tag, if different than the page’s H1
- Scattered throughout the content regularly, but don’t sacrifice readability
Recently, Google started crawling audio material and including podcasts in search results. To capitalize on this update, try targeting episodes to a few keyword phrases your intended audience often searches for. Include those same keywords on that episode’s post for double SEO benefits.
6. Prompt your listeners to subscribe, share, and leave reviews
It may seem painfully straightforward, but often people need a call-to-action in order to take a step. Sometimes they don’t know what they’re expected to do.
Ask your listeners to subscribe, share, and review your podcast at the beginning and end of each episode. The best way to position these calls-to-action is to be authentic instead of pushy. Be honest and explain that as your podcast grows, you’ll be able to produce better content for your audience to enjoy.
Many listeners rely on the psychological phenomenon of social proof to decide if they’ll give your podcast that first listen. If you have a lot of positive reviews, you’ll get more listeners.
Reviews are so important, in fact, that they’re worth spending money on. You shouldn’t buy reviews, but you can incentivize your fans to leave them.
Run a giveaway contest where fans need to leave a review to enter for the chance to win something free. You don’t have to give away much. Stickers, T-shirts, hats, or any type of swag will do. If you don’t have anything like that, give something generic like an Amazon gift card.
Oh, and once you start getting reviews, read them. Some might include valuable feedback that will help you improve your show.
7. Add links to your email signature
Include links in your email signature to places people can download or listen to your podcast. You should also try including a link or two to your most popular episodes. This tactic doesn’t have the greatest return, but it’s a one-time easy setup.
8. Contact people you mentioned on your show
If you mention a person or brand on your show, reach out to them after you publish the episode. Pull out the quote where you talked about their product and ask if they’d be willing to share your show on social media.
This usually only works if whatever you said was positive.
When we asked some of the hosts we work with how to promote a podcast without investing a lot of time, this was a common recommendation. People you mention on your show are usually more than happy to promote themselves by sharing your show.
9. Be a guest and invite a guest
There’s a reason being a guest and hosting one on your podcast makes it on every promotional strategy list. It works.
When we asked our customers how they started promoting their podcast, almost all of them agreed that you have to leverage other people’s followings if you want to get any traction.
Pitching yourself as a guest on another show is a great way to introduce your content to an aligned, qualified audience. Similarly, including interesting guests on your own show produces more engaging episodes and adds a unique point of view for your listeners.
These mutual benefits make working with other podcasters a win/win promotional strategy. As you set up appearances on each other’s shows, define how you’ll promote the content across your channels. Skip using vague language like “let’s promote each other” and get into the details.
Go as far as providing your guests pre-written text for social posts, image assets, and the link you want them to share. In turn, be clear on how you’ll promote the episode you appear on so you each gain equal exposure from the partnership.
Focus on working with other podcasts that are within your niche and have a complementary audience to yours.
To find relevant podcasts to work with, try out these resources:
- r/PodcastGuest Exchange: a subreddit for podcasts looking for guests. Pitch your area of expertise and a bit about your show and others can ask you to come onto theirs.
- Radio Guest List: subscribe to their Guest Request newsletter and receive pitches from podcasts looking for guests every Monday and Wednesday.
- Facebook groups: dedicated podcast Facebook groups like Podcast Movement or Podcasters’ Support Group are great places to swap guest opportunities to mutually benefit both shows.
All Castos customers gain exclusive access to our Podcast Hackers Facebook group. We make it easy to connect with other podcasters, getting you one step closer to finding the perfect guest partnership.
10. Don’t forget about your back catalog
An easy way to get new listeners to consume more of your episodes is to promote them with newer ones. Your back catalog is chock full of interesting content and the perfect way to hook new subscribers.
If you mention a topic that you’ve covered in a previous episode, add a quick aside with the episode number: “If you want to learn more about productivity, check out episode #17 where we spoke to John about managing a busy schedule.” Remember to link to them in the show notes to make it easy for the listener to find.
And don’t forget about social media. Watch Twitter for trending hashtags that relate an episode’s topic. Jump into the conversation and include the appropriate hashtags for new listeners to discover your show.
If you interview prominent guests, set Google Alerts for each person after an episode goes live. When they put out new work, create a Facebook post linking to their project plus your past episode.
Or try following set Instagram trends like #ThrowBackThursday or #FlashbackFriday. Create imagery featuring enticing pull-quotes or audiograms teasing a past episode.
11. Start an email newsletter
Email marketing has the best return on investment out of all the digital marketing channels: 4400% ROI and $44 for every $1 spent. It’s a simple and intimate way to connect with your fans.
Collect the email addresses of your listeners on your website then send an email every time you publish a new episode. OptinMonster, HelloBar, and Thrive Leads are great apps to collect addresses on your site.
Learn more about How To Promote Your Podcast To Your Email List in our latest guide.
12. Add value on social media
Any guide on how to promote a podcast wouldn’t be complete with mentioning social media.
Social media is a great way to connect with new people to grow your audience. But a lot of hosts use social media is an advertising platform. They simply announce their new episodes, promote their promotions, push their merchandise, and advertise for their sponsors.
That is not how people want to interact with brands. They don’t want to log in to Facebook to see an endless feed of what are basically commercials. They want to interact with brands, get more information, and find value. As a podcast host, the more value you put in to social media, the more you’ll get out.
Instead of announcing a new episode on your preferred social media profile, open a discussion into the topic. Ask the community what they think about the topic or what else they know. Put the focus on them instead of you.
Social Media Examiner, for instance, likes to ask their fans questions about current events and trends.
Part of adding value also means giving some things away. Don’t worry – you don’t have to reveal your episode’s big secret/lesson/story, but it’s smart to give your subscriber’s something that exhibits just how much value they’ll get out of the full episode. Here’s a few social media posts that work well:
- Audio snippets
- Images with quotes from the episode
- Photos and bios of guests
- Points from your episode (but don’t give everything away)
We go into more detail about promoting your podcast on social media in our full guide: How to Promote a Podcast on Social Media.
That said, some of your content should be self-promotional. Aim for an 80/20 spread, 80% of content should be valuable and 20% should be promotional.
Learn more: 6 Key Steps To Promote A Podcast On Facebook
13. Add value to online communities
Self promotion can feel uncomfortable but you need to be the champion of your podcast. There are millions of conversations happening on Facebook, Quroa, Reddit, and Twitter likely around the topic of your podcast. One of your episodes could add value to the discussion and introduce the show to new listeners.
Search each platform for threads and forums related to your show. Analyze how much activity the group typically has and the number of people contributing to gauge if it’s worth investing time interacting with the community.
Once you find a few groups with enough engagement, start adding your value. But be mindful. This strategy takes tact. First focus on solely being part of the conversation without promoting your show. Actually being part of the community will be beneficial when a the right post to promote yourself does come along.
Being overly spammy and not contributing more to the conversation is a sure fire way to be banned from Facebook groups and turn off potential followers. Be artful in your responses and target specific posts rather than commenting on everything.
This strategy won’t bring in 1,000 new listeners in a day. Instead, you’ll highlight yourself as a thought leader on the topic, showing potential listeners why your podcast is worth their time. Gaining a few loyal followers will help your long term growth.
14. Get media exposure with HARO
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a service that connects journalists with authoritative sources. By enrolling in the platform as a source, media people will reach out to you when they have questions or need comments for articles, TV, or radio. In exchange, they’ll quote you and link to your site.
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15. Create a dedicated podcast landing page
If your podcast supports your side hustle or blog, create a standalone landing page for potential listeners to explore.
Your landing page should have one purpose: to get people to listen to an episode. Fill it with information to help them make that leap, such as:
- A simple, clear, benefits-based headline that describes your show.
- A few paragraphs that describe your show and the purpose it serves. Make sure to hit your listeners’ pain points.
- Positive testimonials/quotes from listeners or influential people about your show.
- A list of links to recent episodes.
- Buttons to subscribe to your podcast wherever you’re listed.
This Conversion Cast landing page is a great example. Notice how it’s informative, but it also drives you to listen and subscribe.
16. Network with other podcasters
Promoting a podcast well means staying on top of new ideas, trends, and techniques. You want to be the first to know when there’s a new platform or strategy that will help you build exposure for your show.
The best way to keep yourself informed is by joining a community of other podcasters. They will give you help, offer support, and discuss new ways to promote your podcasts. If you invest yourself fully in a community, it can become one of your best resources.
Here are a few communities to explore:
- Podcast Hackers (this is our group – join us!)
- Podcasters’ Support Group
- Podcasting Technology Resource Group
- The New York Times Podcast Club
- Podcasting (Meetup)
- Producing Podcasts (Apple)
- Podcasters’ Hangout
17. Purchase paid ads
This tactic costs money, so make sure you walk before you run.
Paid ads are great ways to collect traffic by connecting with your target audience. Google ads appear for people who specifically search for the keywords you pair with the ad. Facebook ads display to people whose interests align with your targeting.
There are two ways to go about this:
- Purchase ads that link to your podcast’s landing page. This method is easy to set up once and leave it running, but you’ll have to target a broad group, which could be expensive.
- Purchase ads that link to individual episodes. This method is effective because you can target people who are only interested in that episode (often done by targeting your guest’s name), but it’s more complex to set up and you have to do it for every episode.
The challenge with paid ads is that it’s hard to track weather people who clicked the ad actually listen to an episode and become loyal listeners. That isn’t to say that the ads aren’t worth their money, but you should be willing to lose a little bit of money in the beginning.
18. Publish at strategic times
When we spoke with one of our customers about how to promote a podcast, he said it’s critical that you publish at strategic times. Publishing your podcast at the right time can mean the difference between a massive fan base and total obscurity.
Your audience likely sits down to consume podcast content at regular time. Your goal is to put your new episodes in front of them at those times so you are the first thing they see. If you publish too early or too late, your episode may never capture their attention.
When is the right time to publish your podcast? If you’re just starting out, look at similar podcasts and identify when they publish. If you see a trend, there’s probably a reason. Follow that trend until you have your own data.
Over time dig through your podcast analytics to see when people listen to your episode. If you see a trend within your own audience, experiment to see if it’s true.
Castos invests heavily in our podcast analytics to deliver actionable insights to our customers. See at what time listeners tune in and view geographic, device and platform breakdowns. Plus we recently updated our validation checks to ensure the accuracy of all your podcast analytics.
19. Leverage influencer marketing
This is a great tip for how to promote a podcast because it exposes you to a completely new audience.
Influencer marketing is the practice of using influential people to expose your podcast to new audiences. Essentially, you just find someone who has a following that overlaps with your target audience and get them to promote your podcast.
How do you get influencers to promote your podcast? By reaching out to them and building mutually beneficial partnerships.
For instance, if there’s an Instagram influencer in your niche, you would first follow them, like their posts, and add comments. This way they see your name as a fan. Then reach out with a direct message or email that explains why you should work together.
Keep in mind that if you want to work with an influencer, you have to give something back as well. You may have to give them a shout out on your show, free products, or some kind of monetary compensation. Every influencer has their own goals, so be open to unique arrangements.
20. Hacking word-of-mouth recommendations
How did you learn about the first podcast you listened to? We’ll go out on a limb and say someone recommended it to you with a rave review.
Every business, podcasts included, have focused on how to hack word-of-mouth advertising. It’s one of the most effective marketing strategies available but unfortunately, the trickiest to define a winning formula.
Finding the right places to spread your message is step one. Your audience congregates in certain places in the real world so it’s your job to find them and attend as well. Research conferences, meet ups, or local events in your area that relate to your podcast. Then when you go, have a plan ahead of time to make the most of the event.
Network your heart out by talking to the event’s attendees and speakers. Don’t be afraid to mention you work on a podcast and how it relates to why you’re attending the event.
Learning how to promote a podcast is a trial and error process. Finding the right marketing mix requires testing a few different strategies to see what sticks for your show. It takes creativity and diligence to consistently chip away at.
Starting with top notch content and patience are the two pillars when beginning to promote a podcast. Remember no amount of marketing dollars will grow an audience for a subpar product so spend time refining your formula to produce high quality episodes.
Along the way, iterate on the strategies that routinely drive new subscribers and keep your eyes open for new ways for an audience to discover you.
Get started with Castos today
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