Early Results And Growth Strategy Looking Ahead


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Early Results And Growth Strategy Looking Ahead

Audience was born to be an unfiltered, raw look at one brand’s quest to test the most popular podcast growth strategies. To stay true to our word, we’re looking back at our results to date and detailing what lies ahead.

In the 10th episode, Early Results And Our Growth Strategy Looking Ahead, we’re diving into the important growth numbers to see how we’ve done.

Growing a podcast takes diligence, strategic thinking, and an eagerness to keep at it. We’re currently not hitting our goal of at least 1,000 listens per episode but with these strategies, we hope to get there soon.

Audience’s Podcast Format And Workflow

In terms of the content mix, we’ve focused the format on monologues instead of interviews to start. This was because we wanted to cover a lot of technical and practical advice about podcasting. Our host, Craig, has years worth of podcasting experience to draw upon and we felt he was the perfect voice to get our listeners up to speed on podcasting basics.

We also wanted to get into the groove of our show’s workflow and figure out how to fit this project into the overall work we’re doing at Castos. Audience is one part of our content strategy, so we needed to find the balance of producing the show alongside our larger projects. At episode ten, our workflow looks like this:

  1. At the start of the month, plan the topics of the upcoming four episodes
  2. Outline each episode’s script on the Monday the week of the episode’s release
  3. Record the episode on Tuesday and edit on Wednesday
  4. Write a blog post, show notes, and email blast on Wednesday after the episode is finalized. Generate a transcript of the episode using Castos’ automatic transcription feature.
  5. Publish the blog post, send the email, and promote the episode across social media on Thursday when the episode goes live

We’re operating on a short timeline each week to allow for potential pivots if a more engaging content topic pops up unexpectedly. Outlining, recording, and editing an episode within one week may not work for most hosts but we’re getting our process down to a science. For hosts who are just starting out, we can’t stress enough how important it is to figure out your most efficient workflow from the start. This will help you create new episodes consistently and keep you from podfading.

But now with nine episodes under our belt and the basics covered, we’re ready to transition more into the interview format. Future episodes promise to feature interviews with subject matter experts in key areas of podcasting.

These expert interviews should prove to be “really good radio”, and we hope you enjoy them too.

Audience’s Analytics To Date

Here is where Audience differentiates itself from many of the other podcasts about podcasting. We’re transparently laying out our stats, including our successes and missteps.

At the start, our goal was to generate 1,000 listens per episode. We started out on the right foot but we have some major room for improvement to get there. As of publication, we have 3,984 total downloads from our first nine episodes. With a few promotional tactics up our sleeve, we hope to increase the number of downloads to our back catalog and new episodes.

Read on below for more color around how our audience is consuming Audience.

Our most popular episode, Crafting The Narrative, has 646 total listens. This episode was released in our launch week and featured an engaging interview with two expert storytellers. The success of this episode is why we want to lean more into the interview format, offering actionable tips along the way.

A misstep we ran into with this interview was not finalizing how our interviewees would promote the episode after its release. We likely would have seen a higher listen count if we asked our guests to cross-promote the content to their channels.

Luckily there’s always the opportunity to re-promote your back catalog to gain additional listens at a later date! This episode sees a healthy amount of listens, even a month after its initial release. To capture even more listens, we’re planning a roundup of our favorite podcast interviews and see an opportunity to promote the episode within that blog piece.

Audience podcast total listens for crafting the narrative episode podcast analytics
Episode 3, Crafting The Narrative, has ongoing engagement over a month after its initial release.

Learn from our misstep! Whenever you secure an interview for your podcast, be clear in how you’d like the guest to cross-promote the episode to their audience. Detail which channels (Facebook, newsletters, Instagram, etc.) everyone will use to promote. Go as far as providing sample copy points and imagery to make it even easier for your guest to talk about their appearance.

We were also excited to see how much engagement our Teaser episode received. At 630 total listens, it’s our 2nd highest performing episode. It’s a great reminder that promoting a trailer before a show’s official launch can generate buzz for when the first episodes go live. It also acts as the perfect introduction for people who are unfamiliar with Castos to give the show a shot.

Audience podcast total listens by episode podcast analytics
Audience’s top episodes by listen count as of January 29.

While our trailer was 10 minutes long, many shows try shorter durations too. Make your teaser episode just long enough to give an overview of your podcast’s topic and format. And don’t forget to really hammer home exactly why someone should tune into your show by leading with what makes your podcast different from the rest. End the teaser with a call-to-action that encourages listeners to subscribe to the show.

Create a teaser episode to get your RSS feed started. Remember, you can’t submit a podcast to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcast directory without at least one episode live. Use this as an opportunity to publish a trailer so your show is listed on every directory before you launch.

How our listeners are tuning in

We’ve submitted Audience to every major podcast directory. But the listening habits of our users highlights why having a podcast website is extremely important.

People tuning into Audience are primarily listening via a web or mobile browser like Chrome or Safari. Without a podcast website, we’d miss out on 67% of our total listens!

audience podcast listening method podcast stats
The majority of Audience listeners are tuning in from their web or mobile browser.

Learn from our success! A podcast website helps your listeners find and consume your show. If you’re a WordPress user, use Seriously Simple Podcasting to easily feature episodes on your website.

Not a WordPress user? Don’t worry. Every Castos plan includes a customizable Podcast Page that houses all of your podcast content. Make it easy for anyone to listen to your show by using Castos!

Unsurprisingly, even with the recent debate on Apple Podcasts versus Spotify analytics, Apple Podcasts is our most popular podcast directory. We’re also seeing people consume episodes across Overcast, Pocket Casts, and Podcast Addict.

This marks an important piece of advice for new podcasters. Submit your podcast to every platform people consume podcasts on. There is no advantage to making your show exclusive to one directory. Instead, put your show as many places as possible to increase its discoverability and allow potential listeners to tune in from which ever app they prefer to use.

How We Plan To Grow Audience Moving Forward

Looking forward, in order to grow the podcast more effectively we are going to do two things:

  • Create highly produced interview style episodes
  • Begin some proactive, paid acquisition marketing strategies
  • Make engaging our Podcast Hackers Facebook community more of a priority

Starting with adjusting our content strategy, we will commit more resources to producing interview episodes. These episodes will mirror the structure of Crafting The Narrative where we’ll spend time editing the content to feel like a This American Life interview.

For paid acquisition, we recently purchased an ad spot on Overcast. We targeted the business category and spent $675 for a month-long placement. Currently, we have about 100 listeners who consume Audience via Overcast. We think there’s an opportunity to reach their larger user base with these ads.

overcast podcast ad placement business category podcast stats
We purchased a month-long ad placement with Overcast to promote Audience to their users.

To set up, we had to submit a simple image and brief description. Overcast forecasts we should 90-100 additional subscriptions from the placement. Taking the lower ranger, at 90 new subscribers we will have acquired them at $7.50 per subscriber. On a future recap episode, we’ll detail the ad’s actual performance and see how many new listeners we attracted.

overcast ads estimated performance
Overcast forecasts Audience should see 90-100 additional subscribers as a result of our ad placement.

The last point we discussed in this episode was the importance of building a community around your podcast. Creating a two way dialogue with your audience is a long-term strategy at keeping people engaged. We encourage new podcasters to think about how to cultivate a community for their listeners right out of the gate.

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:06 Hello and welcome back to audience. I’m your host Craig Hewitt from Costos. Well it’s been a couple of months since we’ve launched the podcast and today in this episode we’re going to walk through some of our analytics. Uh, that’s kind of the whole point of the podcast here is to follow us on our journey as we build a podcast audience from scratch, uh, with only the resources we have kind of already built in within kind of our business and our brand and in our audience that that’s already existing outside of the podcast. So we have nine total podcast episodes that we’ve released. The first of which was a teaser episode, which I don’t really count as being an official episode. It was about 10 minutes in length and was kind of an episode zero is the terminology that a lot of folks in the podcasting world use. Uh, it was just to kind of set the stage, let folks know what the podcast is all about, uh, what they can expect out of listening to it and a way to kind of promote the podcast ahead of the official launch date.
Speaker 1 00:57 Then on day zero, if you will, on the launch date of the podcast, we launched with three episodes, uh, two of which were monologues like this of me talking. And one was an interview, uh, with actually a customer of ours who, uh, is all about storytelling. So we called that episode crafting the narrative and that was all about how to tell an effective story, engage listeners and keep them kind of coming back for more, uh, and following along with you as you’re telling the story of your brand and the journey that you and your, your listeners are going on together. From there we had kind of a recap of what launch day looked like, how we launched the show, why we launched with three episodes, why we did a teaser episode, uh, why we had two monologues and an interview. Uh, and a little bit of content planning.
Speaker 1 01:36 They’re talking a lot about just why we did what we did. We’ve been podcasting, you know, people in our group and our company and myself been podcasting for, for years. And along the way I’ve picked up, you know, a thing or two and kind of walked through some of the logic around why we did what we did and shared some very early, uh, kind of lessons and results of, of kind of how the, how the podcast launch went from there. We went into another interview was Shreeny Ralph from the unmistakable creative podcast talking about being a content leader. Uh, and so Shreeny really, uh, prides himself and rightfully so, and he should get a lot of accolades for, for standing by kind of what he believes and what he wants his podcast to be all about. Uh, and he mentioned Oprah in his interview and I really think that’s a good, uh, a really good analogy is, you know, she is very steadfast in what she believes in the kinds of people she has on her show and the types of content she creates.
Speaker 1 02:27 And I think Shreeny is the same way and he has a very broad definition of creative and his show is called unmistakable creative, but it’s just really interesting people doing interesting things and again, kind of sticking with their guns. And, uh, and following through on what types of content they want to create and what kind of message they want to share with their audience. And then from there we followed up with a couple of more strategic, uh, content episodes, uh, talking about co effective podcast promotion as the next episode. And then a few tips about how to podcast more efficiently. I think one of the things that we all into is, you know, podcasting is hard work. There’s a lot of hurdles to to get over to get an episode out the door. And the more we can work to minimize those hurdles, make it easier for us to record content, edit it, produce it, get it out the door, uh, schedule guests is just going to make all of our lives easier, going to make our podcasts go out more consistently, which is one of the huge keys to growing our audience.
Speaker 1 03:22 In the last episode before this one, we talked about the four best paid acquisition channels, uh, to grow your podcast audience and listenership and, and kind of when and where each of those paid acquisition channels might be best for you. And growing your show. Uh, and so here we are in episode 10, kind of talking about some of the results from, from our podcast thus far. Uh, I think in our first, uh, recap episode in our launch day episode, we talked about some of the early analytics around the show and want to follow that up today because one of the things when you talk about podcast analytics is it’s not just how many downloads did you get on the day and episode went out. Uh, that that’s an important thing because that’s kind of maybe like a surrogate for, for subscribers. How many listeners you might get say in the first 48 hours or something like that.
Speaker 1 04:09 Something like that is, is a good indicator of how many people are subscribed to the episode. Because if you’re subscribed, the podcast downloads automatically when you’re in wifi. Uh, and so you, if you release a podcast on, you know, January 10th and on January 12th, you see that episode has 200 downloads, then you know, most of those probably are subscribers. Um, and so looking at those peaks that you’ll see in any analytics graph for a podcast of, of the number of downloads on those peak days is an interesting thing to look at. And you know, I think that’s, that’s kinda make it your core listenership or, or some percentage of your core listenership. But then the total listens for a podcast and about six weeks after an episode has been released is the thing that a lot of advertisers look at. You know, the, the number of weeks or the amount of time after a podcast has been released varies depending on which, uh, which sponsor or advertising platform you’re looking at.
Speaker 1 05:05 But, but there is some time that you say, okay, I’m going to get most of the downloads from an episode in say four or six weeks. And you can look at after your podcast episode has been off for that amount of time. Okay, let’s look at kind of how it’s done, if you will. And so that’s why here in episode 10, we’re kind of looking back all the way at, at some of our original episodes and some of the more recent content to see how well things have done overall. And so today our most popular episode has been the, the crafting the narrative, uh, with the folks from storyboard media. Uh, this was a episode all about storytelling, uh, and was really, really interesting, really well done. Uh, from a, from a content perspective, it was really highly produced. I’ll say it was kind of an, an NPR or a Gimlet media style episode, which is really cool.
Speaker 1 05:50 Um, as on the, on the production side, I’ll say it’s very difficult, uh, because what ends up happening there is you, you do the interview and then you basically go back and cut all of your part out because it’s just you asking questions, which are, we’re just kind of boring. And then you coming back in it and recording a bunch of little segments where you give some narrative around something that the guests just said. And then frame the question you asked and the response that they’re about to give. So if you go back to the crafting the narrative episode of the audience podcast, you’ll hear how we did that. And I think the results speak for itself. It’s our most popular episode by, by kind of a lot by say like 25%. And, and so I think the results and the thing that I will take away from this is one, an interview has been our most popular episode to a really highly produced, uh, interview was more popular than the only other interview we’ve done.
Speaker 1 06:41 Um, so that’s interesting. Uh, there was several weeks in between those two. Uh, our next episode after this is going to be an interview and it’s going to be a really super interview with somebody that a lot of, you know, uh, so I’ll be very keen to see, uh, how the, the results of that turnout a few weeks after it’s been released. Um, but, but I’m sure that things are gonna kind of go up and spike after we release this next interview because it’s just with a really big name in the podcasting space and somebody whose show I’m sure a lot of folks listened to. So stay tuned there. Um, subscribe if you haven’t already subscribed to the audience podcast, uh, audience dot dot com so that you get that next episode right when it comes out. Uh, from there, you know, as I’m looking at our analytics, uh, the other thing I will notice is that, you know, obviously the, the most recent episodes have less listens than some of the older ones.
Speaker 1 07:28 I think that’s normal, that long tail, even though the time after the episode has been released, every day they’ll get a few more listens, you know, new people subscribe, want to listen to the back catalog. So the more recent episodes have less lessons than some of the older ones, just by virtue of time. So today, our most popular episode has about 650 listens, which is, uh, which is okay. You know, I have to say, I was hoping that we would hit a thousand Mark here about, you know, six weeks after the podcast has been launched. I was hoping we would get about a thousand listens per episode at this point. And we’re not there, you know, we’re, we’re about halfway there maybe. Um, so that’s, that’s a little discouraging. Um, from a content perspective, I feel like we’ve been doing more solo episodes like this than interviews. And so that’s something we’re going to be changing up here going forward is we have several interviews with really interesting guests, both talking about tactical parts of, of audience building and podcasting and storytelling and creating effective content, um, but also kind of strategic and practical things you can do to be a better podcaster, um, just in terms of running your show.
Speaker 1 08:33 So, so stay tuned there. We’re gonna be having more interviews. So from a content perspective, we’ve only had two of our nine episodes so far have been interviews. Uh, we’ll be having at least half and half going forward. Honestly, a big part of this is scheduling the scheduling interviews is just hard. It takes time. It takes discipline, it takes intentionality to, to get on somebody’s calendar. It’s usually not the next day that you can talk to them. So you have to get on their calendar two or three weeks ahead of time, you know, have your content calendar matching up with their timeline. And so this is something that we need to put a little bit more discipline and effort into to be producing episodes that are, that are interviews on a more regular basis. From a content perspective. I feel like we’ve intentionally been leaning more on the how to side of things.
Speaker 1 09:19 And we’ve done this on purpose because we want to lay the foundation for, for how to podcast. Uh, there’s no sense in offering a lot of really advanced advice in interviewing people who are really top notch podcasters if we haven’t covered the basics of gear and storytelling and how to launch a podcast and effective promotional strategies and things like that. So, so we’ve laid some of the groundwork here in the first few episodes and, and I’m glad we’ve done that. I think that people who are already podcasting might see some of those episodes and say, that’s just not for me. So I think we might have alienated some of our audience by focusing more on the beginner aspect of things. Certainly everybody can learn from some of these core lessons, but I think that’s something I take away from, from looking at the numbers here saying like, okay, some of our more basic how to episodes might not have been as popular because some of our audiences just past that potentially.
Speaker 1 10:12 So don’t want to talk about our, our marketing strategy and going forward. I talked a little about content, so we’re going to be inter in doing more interviews here going forward. Also going to be kind of moving the, the content strategy from, from beginners to I’ll say intermediate to advanced podcasters. I think even beginner podcasters can pick up some of these things that we’ll be talking about with more advanced podcasters. Uh, it certainly is more interesting to talk about the really cutting edge things that, that podcasters are doing, uh, as opposed to it’s covering the basics, which a lot of blog posts cover as well. So from a content perspective, more interviews, more advanced topics around growing your audience. And then from the marketing perspective, what we’ve been doing thus far is obviously, you know, poaching the podcasts. They’re in all the directories, Apple podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Google play, and we’ve been publishing in is our blog as well.
Speaker 1 11:00 So dot com slash podcast you’ll see all of our podcast episodes there. Uh, and then we’ve been sending out dedicated emails to our entire list announcing each of our new episodes. Uh, so the episodes go out on Thursdays. We also typically send out our emails on Thursdays. So the email has been going out to toy list saying, Hey, in this week’s episode of the audience podcasts, we talk about, uh, eight tips to more, uh, efficiently produce your podcast episodes or the four best paid acquisition channels to grow your listenership. Uh, and I think those have gotten really good reception. We have a lot of discussion in our podcast hackers, Facebook group about the episodes and things that I talk about and resources that I mentioned and people saying, Hey, do you use this or I like that better. And that’s really cool. I mean it, to me that tells me that, uh, they were striking a cord and that we’re, we’re hitting on things that people find interesting and useful.
Speaker 1 11:50 And that’s great because honestly that is a big challenge in podcasting is a, it is in a lot of ways a one-way medium. You talk, people listen, unless you have a place like a Facebook group or a Slack channel or a, an in person event that you can go to, um, you’re talking, people are listening but they don’t have a chance to give you feedback. So if you haven’t enabled a mechanism for your listeners to give you feedback and continue to the discussion about your podcast episodes in between episodes, I definitely would do it. I think if you talk to a lot of really successful podcasters, they will say that building a community around their show is the best thing that they’ve done. And the flavor of that will be different for everybody. For us, it’s a Facebook group for you, it might be, you know, an in-person luncheon that you do once a month or something that might be another kind of online group, whatever it is.
Speaker 1 12:43 Again, that will depend on you and your brand and where your audience typically hangs out and, and connects and things like that. Uh, but I definitely would suggest, uh, having a place where you can build a community around your show, uh, to, to kind of continue that engagement. So, so we’ve been publishing, we’re in all the directories, we send dedicated emails for all of our podcasts. We have been creating headliner videos for social media. Uh, we’re experimenting also with a tool called lumen five and I’ll put a link for that in the show notes as well. Um, automatically creates, um, kind of a similar looking video that, that something like headliner uses, but it’s slightly different. Uh, and we’ll put some examples of these in the show notes for this episode as well. I really like these videos. They have a lot, they’re more text heavy, uh, than an audiogram, uh, and they’re automatically generated using the lumen five tool.
Speaker 1 13:32 So, uh, definitely kind of worth considering if you want to take a look at it. Uh, we’re really enjoying kind of doing a bit of both of these and sharing these on social media. The next thing that we’re going to be looking at is paid acquisition for the podcast. So we talked about the four best paid acquisition channels that we think are effective for growing podcast listenership in the last episode and those for our Facebook, the overcast podcasting app and a combination of Cora and Reddit. And the last one was other people’s podcast advertising, your podcast on other people’s shows. And the first one that we’re going to explore is promoting our podcast in the overcast app. Uh, and so we’re going to be promoting the audience podcast in the overcast app. We’re going to buy an ad spot as they’re available. We’re still looking into the availability depending on the category that we want to advertise in.
Speaker 1 14:22 Again, overcast is a podcasting app and you can buy dedicated ad spots for the month in different categories of podcasts that people are listening to. So if you want to advertise in the business section, you, your ad would only show up for people listening to business related podcasts on their phone. Uh, so, so we’re exploring this and this is the first place that we’re going to go for the paid acquisition side of, of growth. Um, and typically they see somewhere between, you know, a couple of thousand impressions and then a couple of hundred new listeners, uh, per advertising cycle, so per month. Uh, and so for us, that would be good. That would move the needle quite a bit. I think if you’re a big podcast and you have 10,000 listeners already, this wouldn’t move the needle that much. And our guest next week, uh, has some experience with this and so we’ll be picking his brain more about how he’s grown his podcast in the organic, in the LSA partnership or collaborative arena and in the paid arena.
Speaker 1 15:16 I think that that middle one, that partnership and collaborative, uh, aspect of, of audience growth, whether it’s for your podcast or any other kind of content that you’re doing is, is probably the most powerful one. So how can you partner with someone else and leverage their audience and them leverage your audience so that you can both grow your listenership, both grow your exposure, uh, and kind of further your brand. So this is the place we haven’t done as much work as, as I would like to and as we probably should have, the two folks that we’ve had on for interviews so far have shared the podcast out with their audience. That’s been great. And I think that’s the reason that the episodes are so popular and we just need to do a lot more of that because honestly that’s the best way to kind of cross pollinate your podcast with other people who don’t know who you are and don’t already follow you and your stuff and your show.
Speaker 1 16:05 So this is a hit. This is a bit of a therapy session. I guess with me talking about how we’re doing, looking at the numbers is really healthy because it says, okay, this is working, this isn’t, we need to do more of this and less of that. And uh, and that’s the plan here going forward. So we’re going to be changing up the content a little bit. We’re going to be investing in some paid acquisition via overcast and we’re going to be really focusing on the guests and the promotion of our content through our guests. So having our guests really, uh, promote the episodes that they’re on as a way to spread the word about the show and hopefully folks in their audiences find it helpful and subscribe and follow along as well. So if that’s been an interesting look at our podcast and really being transparent about kind of how things are going with us so far, um, you know, I always wished the things were going better at, you know, wish we had tens of thousands of listeners already.
Speaker 1 16:55 Uh, but that’s not practical. And I think that’s a, that’s a good lesson here is that building a large podcasting audience does not happen over time. If you plan on doing this for less than a year, uh, and having a big audience, I think you’re fooling yourself. Uh, unless you’re the one in a million that this kind of thing happens to a just out of the blue and poof, you have a big huge audience. It takes time. It takes putting in a effort and publishing the episodes every week and being really practical and strategic about how you go be a creating the content, who it’s for, how you can engage with other people’s audiences and how you can grow your, your listenership, uh, strategically and effectively. So I hope that’s helpful, uh, and entertaining. And, uh, if you have any questions or comments for us about this episode, please drop a comment in the show notes for this episode. dot com slash podcast and as always, our ask is if you’re enjoying the podcast, finding it in informational and entertaining and helpful for you and your podcasting journey. If you could share it with another podcast or you know, uh, that would be great. And help us kind of spread the word about our show and help other folks and follow along with our journey. Thanks so much, and we’ll see you next week.

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