Episode 13: Why Podcasting is a Growth Hack
February 22nd, 2021 | Podcast Episode
Podcasting creates content opportunities and establishes itself as an authority in its space. This is 100% a Growth Hack! Find out how in this week's episode where Caitlin Van Horn of Simplecast drops into guest-host. Learn what it takes to growth hack a podcast in a way that's friendly to your marketing budget.
Welcome to Growth Hack by Papi Digital tips and tricks to master the algorithms from industry insiders. Now here's her Haute, Julian quinoa. Welcome back to another episode of growth hack with me. Oh, wait. I'm not your usual host. I'm Caitlin Van Horn from Simplecast. For those of you who don't know what simple cast is, we're a podcasting CMS.
We help podcasters publish and analyze their shows and I'm taking over hosting growth hack today. Why? Well, I was bored. No, I'm kidding. Julia asked me to be on the show and then we got to talking about how he markets podcast. And I said, wait, I want to interview you about that. And he was nice enough to hand me the keys to growth hack.
So today we're going to be talking about why podcasting is great for your business, whether you're B2B or B to C. And how to grow your show. After all podcast, listeners are a growing audience and a great audience to deliver your brand message to we've seen a 54% increase in podcast listenership since 2017 and 55% of the us population has listened to a podcast in the past month.
So let's talk about how to reach them. Welcome Julian Espinosa. Thanks for having me here. Okay. So I think we can start with like a big opener of a question. Why do you think this message should be making podcasts? Well, that's a great question. And, and the premise behind the show. So it sounds like you listen to semester, so it sounds like, you know what you're doing, the big reason why podcasting is such a growth hack is really two things.
The first thing is content, and the second thing is reach. So when I talk about content, we talk about. All the different channels and all the types of content that you can produce from a podcast episode. So let's think about it for a second. You're recording an episode, we're recording one right now. It's going to probably be 45, 50 minutes.
I always wish I could talk to you longer, but then it ended somehow. Right. And what we're going to have is we're going to have 45 minutes of audio. We'll have 45 minutes of audio can be tailored down to, you know, A two minute video can be tailored down to a 15 second clip. It can be shifted over to a YouTube.
So there's just so many different pieces of assets. That one particular audio forty-five minutes can get you. And then you can go all over the place. You can create a graphic off a quote from the episode, you can then take it and do a blog post. I mean, there's just so many pieces. And the biggest problem that we're seeing from a content generation standpoint and marketing standpoint is the lack of content and people asking me, well, I don't know what content to create, but if you create a podcast episode and you create a conversation around a particular topic that might be of interest to your consumers, Then there's a bunch of pieces of content right there at your fingertips.
The second thing is the distribution. So the distribution is actually incredible because what you're asking someone to do is not buy your service. You're not asking them to sign up for a form. You're saying, Hey, go listen to a free audio podcast. And so the cost to acquire someone to listen to an actual episode for you. Instead of signing up for a thing it's, it's much cheaper to expose your brand and create that brand awareness from that particular episode. So the growth hack behind it is that it's very inexpensive to reach an audience, to entertain them with a podcast that's about your business. And you're talking about a particular subject that's of interest.
I in the work that I do, I need a lot of people who are podcast curious. They maybe aren't there yet. They're ready to dip their toes in. But the main thing that they're concerned about is the workload and bandwidth. And also if podcasting is right for this current moment in time, what would you say to them? There's so many ways to market a business. The first thing I tell people when they're marketing a business is if you can avoid digital marketing, don't do it. Don't do anything like literally go get business. Most people are convinced that they need to do marketing to get business. The simple answers you can just go get business.
Like there's nothing stopping you from getting business. When you do marketing as your first initiative, when you grow a company, you're banking on the fact that your marketing is going to work, the reality is marketing. Usually doesn't work and it takes time to get it to work. So it's an interesting point. I wouldn't immediately recommend it for a brand new startup. I probably wouldn't immediately recommend it for a company who is struggling with sales. I would say digital marketing should be for a company who has at least a six month runway. Right? Let's say you don't get a lot of customers over six months and you've built up your resources and infrastructure.
I'd say. Between six to 12 months, that's when you want to start doing any digital marketing, then the question to your point is, is podcasting the right channel, right? So if your channels need a lot of content, right? Whether it's like an Instagram, it's a Facebook it's a maybe even Snapchat or, or, or Tik TOK or LinkedIn.
You definitely want to consider podcasting as your first piece. So for us, when we first started marketing, we tried all different types of content. I tried graphics, I tried content creation and it really wasn't working well for us. We were struggling really, really hard with our marketing. So we basically for a whole year stopped. We stopped marketing for a whole year. And I did a LinkedIn post about this, how it's like the co the cobbler's son's shoes, dilemma, where the cobbler's son's shoes don't he doesn't have any shoes. Right. And so it's a really good point is podcasting, right for you. The simple answer is if you need customers right now to pay your bills or to keep your employees employed, the simple answer is no.
Once you've build the infrastructure and the business is stabilized. That's when digital marketing is for you. And you should definitely question if podcasting is the first step in your digital marketing journey. I think a lot of people, you know, I mean, you and I both come from an e-commerce background.
And I think sometimes people come to podcasting looking for direct results, one-to-one attribution. And it's like, okay, well, there's, there's a podcast option for you, but it is not having your own podcasts. It is podcast advertising. And I think it's important to make that point that like, Podcasting is a brand building exercise.
It is not something that will give you a one-to-one conversion data on it yet, you know? Well, we might get there eventually, but right now, no. Well, let's chat about the actual podcast that you were doing with planned for, and sort of what the audience looked like. And what your, what your ultimate goal for it was first off.
Yeah, huge shout out to Joe and Matty from Jam Street Media. They gave me the opportunity to work on this particular podcast. So huge shout out to Jam Street Media. They host a bunch of podcasts and their podcast creators. So they gave me an opportunity on something that honestly, I fanboyed so hard to hear.
Okay. Reasons I can understand. Maybe it's because my Cuban heritage. I've always been attracted to the topic of mafias, right. And specifically the Italian mafia and specifically LA Cosa Nostra, which is the Italian mob in New York, in the late seventies and early eighties, the FBI and law enforcement really didn't understand the mafia.
Really didn't understand how the hierarchies and how, how the mafia was working at the time and how they could combat it through an initiative. They infiltrated the mafia. And the particular guys FBI name is Joe histone and Joe Pistone went undercover as Donnie Brasco. And how do you start?
What, what is this campaign look like? Absolutely. So the first thing that I had to look at was. Target audience. And that's the first thing that I look up with any particular campaign is who is this particular audience? Because it doesn't matter how cool the show is. If it doesn't appeal to this particular target audience, you know, it just, it's not going to work so Facebook over the years has been very interesting from a targeting perspective.
That we used to have a lot more fancy tools, but people started breaking them and they started putting in more stop gaps to not letting us do the things that we could do. So nowadays it gets a little tougher to use detailed targeting. So there's a tool on Facebook that I use is detailed targeting.
And I go in there to find audiences based on certain attributes. What I found was there was some law enforcement stuff. But the big thing that I've found that that had the most the biggest audiences were movies and the movies behind these particular this particular genre. So there was a lot of movies back then. Good fellows, Donnie Brasco the movie itself casino below. There was a lot of these mafia. Drug-related John dramas that. It kind of had big followings on, on Facebook and Instagram. So what I did was I extracted those audiences and I put them together. I test a couple other audiences too. Once you've got your audience dialed in and you've looked on the backend of Facebook or Instagram or whatever the marketing platform you're going to be using.
And you've found that audience, then what you do is you start setting up the structure. So the next step in the process is creative. Creative is incredibly, incredibly, incredibly important because what you think works may not work and we need to be okay with that. And that's, that's the big thing about marketing as a whole. Everyone believes they need to like the marketing of their own company. And the simple answer is you. Don't what you need to realize is that this is out of your hands and it's the users that tell us what's successful and what's not. Then when we went into the creative, I tested five different creative types.
So then once we had some really top producing creative and we knew which creatives were going to work well, we then moved over to the third stage, which can we scale this particular piece of creative? Can we scale beyond, you know, a $500 budget or reaching only. You know 15,000 people, can we reach 80,000 people?
Yeah. Occasionally I have had campaigns and they just top out at a certain budget. And I think it's important to know that as good as your creative might be as like really, really laser-focused as your audience might be at a certain point, you might just. Run out of people to talk to. So what what kind of safeguards are built into each of these phases to make sure that your budget and workflow like, do not go off the rails?
That's a really good question. So, you know, I'm working with. Different sized podcasts. We're working with episodes that receive 15,000 listens. I'm working with a podcast that's receiving 80,000 listens per episode. So it's all, you know, it's all really relative right to our goals. Really. I can do tests on each creative for a couple hundred bucks.
It really doesn't. You don't really need that much. We don't, we don't look at it just for the bump. We look to make sure it can scale over time. Right. So. The safeguards are really simple. I mean, Facebook implements a really solid system, Instagram, they all really solid systems on how much you spent.
They had to be really careful so that businesses don't overspend because if you overspend they'd be pissed. So basically the safeguard is simple. If you need to test an audience, I, you can probably test audits between 500 to a thousand bucks. And if you don't have that kind of funds. Don't start a podcast because you need distribution.
And that's a really solid, like simple budget. Then you can for another, probably another grand or two grand, you can probably test different creative types. How much money is a podcaster spending to enact a campaign like this? I want to clarify. The reason it really was successful is because Donnie Brasco and Joe Pistone that intellectual property that IP has existed for a long time.
Joe Pistone has gone on to do documentaries he's whenever, whenever there's any mafia, anything Joe's probably on it. And he's probably got an incredible talent manager agent who gets them on all these, all these things, but Joe's Pipestone and his name and his brand has been out there for a long time.
Right. And so. That name recognition really helped us. So if he was a no namer and he really wasn't, it's probably what had done well, because it's a great topic. It is a really interesting topic, right? If no, if let's take the same exact scenario and no one knew anything about this, and this has been 30 years ago in this same infiltration happened and it was the same FBI agent, but no one knew about this.
I think this would have done well, but it didn't when to have done this well. And at scale at scale, I was able to get per listener. 8 cents per lesson, which is insane. Like I don't, I, I don't know how familiar most people are with how expensive it can be to get podcasts listeners, but I have had. Very large organizations just sort of tell me, like we don't do digital marketing in that way for our podcast because our cost per listener is so high.
They're averaging things like $20. The fact that you have 8 cents is wild. It's crazy. Crazy. Don't do anything less than three grand. I'd say three grand would be a really good start. To doing this, you could probably do it with two grand, just depending on exactly what you're looking at. But between two to three would be your idea to pull this off.
If you were doing this by yourself, obviously if you're hiring a company like ourselves or you're hiring another marketing agency, you'd have to factor in the retainer, but just from a media buying standpoint, you're looking two to three K. The most valuable asset of your podcast is your audience. A lot of the time, it's not true across the board, but pretty often it is.
So I think like building an audience is always a worthwhile investment. Totally. And, and as much as you go putting into a successful podcast episode should equally go into the distribution of that podcast episode. And I think that's where a lot of people miss the boat. Right. A lot of people are saying, okay, I have a great topic.
I've got a great gas or I've got great access to many guests and we're going to start this thing and we've got this great thing, but you know, where's the distribution, but I do follow a meme channel, violet Benson. And I follow her and violet started her Instagram many, many, many years ago. She has 4.3 million followers. Okay. She was a successful Instagram influencer, right then. Only within the last year, she then started a podcast, but see how that makes sense, because she was a influencer with a following, with a distribution channel. Her podcast is too tired to be crazy, and it has 175,000 followers on her particular podcast. Right. And so that's what I'm talking about here is really, you want to look at if you're going to market a podcast, I mean, you kind of need to look at your distribution channel and like, where do you have access to? Do you think that this particular way that you like found your audience and tested the creative, do you think that this can translate across different niches or subject matter or audiences?
Or is there anything that you think of immediately and were like, Oh, one to one, this would work in X category. Well in simple terms, my structure, my infrastructure on how I, I strategically think about marketing. Any company applies to every, every, every subject, right? Yeah. So first you started with the audience and then you go to creative and then you go to scale, right?
So it's just really simple right there. It doesn't matter if you're a mafioso, if you're a plumbing company, if you are a Bitcoin specialist, whatever, whatever category you're in, whether you're in podcasting or, or, or any business. It's always the same. Who's your audience. And then what's the creative. I think when I was first starting, like working in social media, I'm working in marketing.
The most valuable advice I heard about like finding the right audience is, you know, you have to think about the person listening to your show as an actual person, because the best way to find and target them is to think about what they actually like in their day to day. So I was doing a campaign for like, Pet insurance. And it was like, well, okay. I can choose to target people that are interested in pet insurance on Facebook, but that might not get me far people who are really interested in luxury pet food though, like that audience overlap exists. So I think, you know, once you can hone in on who an actual person is then you can think of the other ways to target them appropriately.
We always end up talking about a show creation ideas, right? And so this is, this is more marketing, but for show creation idea, like, think about that pet insurance company. Right. We can't just talk about pet insurance on that podcast. Actually, you should never mention pet insurance on that fricking podcast. Okay. You should only probably talk about like fun stories about pets and like cute stories or. Get creative. Right? We shouldn't be trying to talk about pet insurance, who the heck even cares about that. You ran this campaign besides the results and the fact that you apparently adage to like bust up everybody's expectations on how much it costs to get a podcast listener.
Did anything really surprise you from either the results or the workflow or the reception? You know, the simple answer is every time I run a campaign and it works, I get surprised. It's true. And I've been doing this for, for so many years. But every time I run a campaign and it works off the bat, I'm just like, wow, that's so freaking cool.
It it's, it's either I'm picking better clients or filtering out clients better or I'm just getting better myself. What do you wish pod-casters would take away from this with regards to sort of advertising and growing their audience? Yeah, that's a really, really good question. There's probably a billion things, but the simple thing is, think, think distribution, right?
Think about how you're going to get the word out there and then start thinking about your key Mark episode. Something that I've came up with. And I don't know, like if there's a. Name for it. I just had to come up with a title to it is a landmark episodes. These landmark episodes, my definition behind it are these episodes that are like in the charts that may peak, right?
It's your explore inflection points when it's your highest listened to episode, because it is such a trending topic. What that probably means is people were sharing it from peer to peer. Like, Hey, listen to this podcast, Hey, listen to this podcast. And so there's a lot of sharing that happened and the fact that there was a lot of sharing there.
Probably means that that podcast episode has a lot of bits and bytes to it that really can be used to market and promote the podcast. So what you're looking for is your landmark episodes, your top performing episodes, and take a look at those and then chop those down into those beds. So the takeaway here, being that start considering what are your best podcasts episodes and chopping them down into little bite size.
2242, one minute clips and get those out there. Yeah. So important to look at top performing episodes, not only because they drive your marketing, but they can also help refine your show. Like if you know what works, do more of it. And then, you know, your show will increase or you'll, you'll get more listeners.
It'll be better as a whole. Thank you so much for not only letting me be on my very first podcast, but also letting me host it has been wonderful. And I really appreciate it and I hope to see more people advertising and growing their shows in the future.
Thank you for having me on my own show. I appreciate you. And thanks for all the listeners. We got more episodes coming down the pipeline, please tune in and we'll see you guys later. Peace.