How To Do Result-Driven Podcast Marketing
Growth hacking your podcast can make the difference between building an audience of rabid followers and being your only listener. Ok, maybe it won't be that bad but the fact remains that podcast marketing is uncharted territory for most. Papi Digital has decoded the successful blueprint to grow your podcast measurably and methodically.
How Podcasts Work
If you're reading these words, you probably have a podcast of your own or are planning to start one. A podcast is a series of episodes that your audience can download to their device for their listening pleasure. Users can listen to them live through streaming as well and share them across multiple platforms.
Podcasts are popular in niche topics although some variety shows are available for general audiences. The most fitting of the latter is the biggest podcast in the world, the Joe Rogan Experience. Achieving success with a podcast that caters to a wide range of topics is more difficult to accomplish.
The nature of podcasts makes the medium great for niche subject matter. It makes sense that people that are interested in gardening will tune in every week to follow a gardening podcast. The wider the net you cast in terms of subject matter, the harder it is to build a loyal fan base, though it can be done.
How Podcast Marketing Works at Papi Digital
Arthur C. Clarke famously said: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” You can easily claim something similar about podcasting success. The vast majority of people will not understand how a podcast can reach sustainability when starting from scratch. When you reach the point of being able to build a viable podcast, your accomplishment will seem like magic to the average podcaster with a mic and a dream.
The uncertainty is due to podcasting lacking the tools and methods that make other digital communication methods predictable. What Papi Digital has done is to break down how podcasts achieve success and benchmark the process's key components.
A Case Study in Podcast Marketing
Let's look at a Papi Digital client in order to better understand how we approach podcast marketing. Headspace is the client we will be looking at; a company that deals with anything from mindfulness to meditation and everything in between.
In the podcast space, if a company like Headspace wants to increase its listenership, it reaches out to a bigger podcast. Headspace could potentially reach out to the Joe Rogan Experience and request to advertise on the JRE. They could ask for 10 million listeners, for example.
The people at the JRE would devise a CPM for that number. So, in this case, we would take 10 million and divide it by one thousand to get a CPM of $10,000. The problem here is that JREs CPM might be $500,000 to get those 10 million listeners. As you can see, there is a big discrepancy in our estimate with what JRE is asking for.
It's essential to understand that CPM is what you're trying to drive down when promoting your podcast using non-organic methods. How much are you willing to pay per every thousand users? As the podcasting space is still developing, CPMs are very high.
Another challenge with marketing your podcast on someone else's show is the lack of tracking. There are no discount codes for attribution as with other digital marketing methods. You don't have a button on the other entity's podcast linking to your podcast.
Because of these challenges, new and small shows struggle to grow. Only niche shows and those that are use celebrity fame can become sustainable and profitable.
Joe Rogan owns the most successful podcast in the world by following a two-pronged approach. His podcasts, which are normally around two hours long, are displayed as-is on YouTube. The JRE team then takes these shows and breaks them down into bite-sized clips.
Short clips are easier to share and can become viral. This virality can push the clip into pockets of users that are not yet JRE subscribers.
Let's look at how Papi Digital achieves measurable, sustainable growth for its clientele.
First Step: Locate Keystone Episodes
A podcast that has a few episodes under its belt will consist of some episodes that do better than others. Locate these top episodes so that they can drive growth.
In our case study, Headspace manages to get around 50,000 listens per episode on average. However, when sorting by listens, we find that there are a few episodes that surpass the 80,000-90,000 mark. We will identify these as our keystone episodes that will be used to apply our strategy.
Why are these episodes more popular than others? A combination of compelling titles and, more importantly, greater word of mouth, is the hypothesis we are going by.
Second Step: Parse Out Soundbites
Listen to the keystone episodes and look for 30-second to one-minute interesting soundbites. These clips have to be compelling enough to grab the audience's attention.
Third Step: Create Assets
Create an asset that can be marketed through Facebook, Instagram, or other channels. When you identify a few good soundbites, produce different styles of creative for each one.
Although we provided Headspace with our creative, they had branding concerns that caused them to ask for several different versions. Normally, we take top episodes and make one asset for each episode. In this case, we made five different versions for one episode.
The problem with promoting podcasts on Facebook is that they are an audio medium. With only 23% of Facebook users scrolling with their sound on, and some sources put this figure at 15%, the wrong approach can be a waste of money.
Talking head videos are therefore not the way to go. Most people will scroll past it as turning the sound on may not be an option for them. Inherently, you need to overcome this conundrum to achieve your goal.
Take the sound bite and create an intriguing visual representation of what is being said. Create an asset that can be as effective without sound as it would be with speakers on full blast.
Two of the ways with which you can draw eyeballs to your podcast on Facebook are typography assets and notoriety assets. A typography asset uses your text to maximize user experience in conjunction with any images or animation. Notoriety assets use the notoriety of an individual from a niche along with captions to appeal to users.
Fourth Step: Tracking
Although tracking is practically non-existent in podcast marketing, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't blaze a trail. At Papi Digital, we use Chartable, a technology that helps with tracking. This tool has smartlinks capability that we can use to extract data on important activity.
Chartable also helps us optimize for mobile, an essential task considering 65% of users devices listen on their mobile devices.
Tracking the listener's journey once they click is important because, without it, you cannot draw useful conclusions. You will not be able to make decisions that translate directly to conversions. This is one of the greatest reasons why the vast majority of podcasts either fail or remain unproductive side projects.
After drawing stats from Chartable, it's time to run a few calculations to determine how effective our time spent is. For example, let's assume that we have 750 clicks on our marketing asset. How many of these clicks resulted in a listen? In this case, that number is 164.
We go into the client's podcast platform, which in this case is Simplecast, and we find that there are 22 streams with an average completion rate of 27%.
Taking 22 divided by 164, we get a 13% conversion rate, or in other words, 13% of traffic turns into listens. Then, we take the amount spent, which is $39.17, which when divided into our streams (22) gives us a $1.78 cost per listen.
The calculation above pertains to one day. To obtain a more accurate metric, take an aggregate and come up with an average cost per listen. This number will be the benchmark against which you compare your effectiveness.
Start Growth Hacking Your Podcast Today
Some creators will look at the challenges in marketing a podcast as a reason to drop out of the space. An entrepreneurial-minded podcast creator will consider the high barrier to success as an advantage. Those that find a way to quantify their effectiveness can build flourishing podcasts that draw thousands of listeners.