Podcast distribution and discovery is a difficult thing.
We know how it goes – you pour your heart and soul into producing a terrific show, but you really don’t know if you’re getting listeners or not. You think you, you hope you are, but it’s not that easy to be sure. And your podcast distribution network isn’t really helping you with stats.
This isn’t really a new situation, just an ongoing one; the difficulty level is growing every day – since there’s an almost overwhelming number of new podcasts that debut each day. And once you’re past the New & Noteworthy point in iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, etc, you are pretty much on your own when it comes to marketing your podcast.
There are some large podcast distribution networks, but most podcasts aren’t part of them – it’s still a small producers world for the most part.
3 Simple Ideas to Grow Your Podcast Listeners
As we always say, this isn’t rocket science, but it does take some dedication and grunt work to get things moving in the right direction – and to keep them going that way.
Podcasts are the darling of millennials, commuters, and other creative types – they’re easy to digest, portable, and can be played any time or anywhere. Whether it’s the train home from work, when hitting the ski slope, or just hanging around the house, there is no easier means of taking entertainment with us than the humble podcast.
#1 – Promote your podcast everywhere.
This might sound like a silly thing to tell you, but it’s true. If you aren’t promoting your podcast, no one but (maybe) your friends and family are going to hear it. If you check the sidebar (or the bottom bar if you’re on mobile, which is VERY likely), you’ll find the links to listen to our podcast – we use iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, and our own servers.
Every email we send out, every web page we publish, pretty much every piece of collateral that we produce has a link to our podcast on it. Do we get a million new subscribers each week because of those links? Not that many, but we get a few new listeners almost every day, and that adds up over time.
#2 – Social media ads can really boost your listens.
Whether you like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Snapchat isn’t really the issue here. The big deal is that you can use your social media pages and posts to help boost your podcast traffic.
If you’re buying social media ads, try running a Facebook carousel for 3-4 episodes that you think are particularly riveting; you’ll be surprised by just how much you can increase listeners with social media promotion.
When we run FB ads to our posts, it never fails that we get a bump in listens as a side benefit – but that’s because we practice what we preach in #1 (promote it on those blog pages!). It took us a while to figure this one out, our numbers kept rising but we weren’t clued in to the fact that people actually do click those sidebar links.
#3 – Use mobile to connect with your listeners.
You do realize that 85% of your listeners are on their mobile phones when they’re tuning in, don’t you? We know that the Apple TV percentage is growing, but that’s a tiny part of the overall number of listens you’re going to see in a given week.
We use our own mobile wallet ads to promote our podcast, and every time we update the episode, we provide a lock screen notification for our listeners who follow us on mobile.
Here’s a screenshot of one of our lock screen updates on iPhone –
Listeners immediately know that we have a new episode, and they can access all the apps to listen directly from the back of the mobile ad.
If we look at our stats, it’s clear that each time we update, we have a bump in listens –
So we know that it works. We’re not shy about asking customers to show us their stats graph after they’ve done an update to their wallet ads, and we see the same results.
You’re fighting with 300,000 podcasts to get listeners.
Yep, that’s right. iTunes lists more than 300,000 podcasts in their directory, and at least 65,000 of those are actually updated on a regular basis (at least once in the past 4 months). That’s a lot of podcasts, and it can be really hard to stand out in that crowd.
We’ll mention it again – you can’t rely on iTunes, Stitcher, Spreaker, Google, or SoundCloud to bring you listeners. It just won’t happen. You’re going to have to go out and get them on your own and that can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t have a plan.
If you’re selling advertising on your podcast, you’re going to need some big numbers to justify the cost, especially if you’re not on one of the podcast distribution networks (do you work for NPR by chance? If so, we’d love to chat!), then you’re definitely going it alone.
If you use your podcast (like we do) to market your products or (like we do) to help your customers make better use of your products, then you really do need a more aggressive marketing plan if you want to see any sort of ROI from your podcast.
Our conclusion: podcast distribution and discovery is broken.