Starting a podcast has never been easier. All you need is a good microphone, a computer, and basic editing software to get started. And these days, you can hit the ground running with pretty great audio for a couple hundred bucks.
You can also be pretty confident that there’s an audience for your podcast out there—somewhere. Earlier this year, Edison Research and Triton Digital released a survey finding that fully half of U.S. teens and adults surveyed had listened to some form of online radio in the past week, while those who listen to podcasts on a weekly basis consumed an average of five shows a week. Both metrics represent a significant jump from even a year ago.
In order to claim your chunk of that giant audience, you need to take action and flex a few marketing muscles. Even if you have decent equipment, professional production, and an engaging show.
Building a podcast fan base takes time and effort, and at first it can seem daunting. But with the right tools, it can actually be pretty straightforward.
In this post, I’ve consulted with ConversionCast host and voice actor Tim Paige to show you how to market your podcast so that you can:
- Get listeners to tune in episode after episode
- Turn your listeners into your most valuable source of leads for your business
- Take the leap from podcasting into selling a product or service
I’ll lay out a sample campaign for you step by step below.
Step 1: set up your podcast and get it listed
First things first: you’re going to need a place to host your podcast.
I recommend trying SoundCloud, because it’s inexpensive, it’s widely used, and it offers much more than hosting. Your listeners can share and comment on each episode you post through SoundCloud, which in turn will increase your exposure. Because SoundCloud also functions as something of a social network for audio creators, you can even use your account as a hub to keep up and connect with other podcasters you admire.
Since it’s a web-based player, people can listen either on your SoundCloud page or anywhere you embed the player—including your landing page (more on that in Step 2). And it makes setting up your podcast’s RSS feed really easy.
An RSS feed is essential for getting your podcast listed in iTunes—which is essential for success. The vast majority of your listeners will likely come from this source. It helps new people discover it, and the iTunes name lends instant credibility. Sure, you might be producing it out of your basement while wearing pajamas, but if you’re on iTunes, you’re legit.
The good news is, there’s nothing mysterious about the process. It usually only takes a few days for iTunes to approve your podcast after it is submitted. Learn more in their step-by-step guide.
Step 2: Create a landing page for your podcast
Now you’re in iTunes, and that’s awesome—but the work of marketing your podcast has just begun.
You need to direct new audiences to your podcast, and you actually don’t want to send them straight to iTunes. Once in iTunes, your potential listeners are likely to be distracted by other offerings (especially if your podcast doesn’t rank well yet).
Instead, send people to a landing page that is focused on your podcast alone. Once there, people are more likely to take the desired next steps—actually hitting “play” and even subscribing to your podcast and your email list (more on that in Step 5).
We recently released a new drag-and-drop landing page template designed specifically for podcasters—just log into your Leadpages account and click the Drag & Drop tab to find it:
This template is designed not only to introduce your podcast, but also to strongly encourage people to …
- Download bonus material and join your email list (so you can follow up with your listeners)
- Subscribe on SoundCloud and iTunes (which can boost your rank on iTunes)
- Share and review your podcast on social media (driving more traffic back to your podcast)
Here’s why these landing page templates work so well for building podcast audiences.
The top headline grabs the reader’s attention right away. The call-to-action button offers your audience a reason to give you their email address before they even have to scroll, and prominent subscription buttons create an opportunity to gain loyal listeners.
Scrolling down, you can feature more great podcast content with SoundCloud embeds as well as enticing reasons why your audience should download your lead magnet (more on that in Step 5).
So where can you generate traffic to a landing page like this? Just about everywhere. How about …
- From your social media profiles
- From your blog sidebar or navigation bar, if you already have a blog or site for a different aspect of your business
- From a link in your email signature (think: “I started a podcast! Click to listen to my favorite episode.”)
- From paid social or search ads targeting people interested in podcasts on your area of expertise or fans of more established podcasts similar to yours
While you’re sharing your page, you can continue to perfect your podcast content.
Step 3: Build your credibility and expand your reach
A number of the most popular podcasters first made their mark in other mediums or worked on other shows. (Think Marc Maron, who was already an established comedian before starting his interview-based podcast WTF—and who, incidentally, is headlining our Converted conference in October.)
But if you’re not already at least sorta famous, how do you build enough credibility to get noticed in the crowded podcast space?
I asked Tim Paige, host of our own ConversionCast podcast. Tim’s work on the podcast has contributed to Leadpages’ following of 200,000 subscribers and counting, and he’s become so well-known in the podcasting world that he’s often invited to share his expertise at industry events.
One strategy Tim used to turn ConversionCast into such a success was to focus on interviewing thought leaders from the very beginning. On ConversionCast, Tim regularly interviews highly respected marketers who share tactics that they've used to get great results. These marketers brought their own audiences to ConversionCast, which in turn gave Tim exposure, credibility, and new listeners and subscribers. Ultimately, Tim made a name for himself as an expert in both conversion marketing and podcasting.
If your podcast is brand new and you don’t have much of an audience yet, you might worry that guests won’t agree to come on your show. Don’t let those fears stop you.
“The best news for beginning podcasters is that, for the most part, people are very open to the idea of sharing their message on your podcast. A simple email outlining who your audience is, what the guest can expect during the interview, and how you’ll be promoting the episode should do the trick. Make sure you focus on what’s in it for them, be humble, and prepare for the inevitable, occasional no.”
Step 4: Offer content upgrades to grow your email list
One way that Tim has been able to get ConversionCast listeners to subscribe is by offering content upgrades on the Leadpages blog.
A content upgrade, also known as a lead magnet or opt-in bribe, is a resource created specifically for the listeners of a given podcast episode. Creating your content upgrade doesn’t have to be too time-consuming or require much technical skill.
For instance, you could give away …
- A transcript of the show
- Notes summing up the episode’s insights
- A resource guide expanding on a topic you covered
- Bonus audio such as an unedited version of your conversation with a guest or additional material that couldn’t fit into the show
Tim offers a unique content upgrade for each episode of ConversionCast, and you can do this either on your blog (if you have one) with a Leadbox opt-in form or on a landing page linked to the episode. The latter option doesn’t need to be too time-consuming: if you use Leadpages, you can create one standard page, then clone it for each new episode and edit only the details that have changed.
Once you begin collecting email addresses from these content upgrade opportunities, you can add them to an email nurture sequence—turning them into loyal listeners and ultimately buyers of your products or services.
Step 5: Ask for reviews in a follow-up email sequence
As you begin to build your list of email subscribers (or, ideally, even before), it is time to think about creating your follow-up sequence.
What should you email your subscribers?
Start with a simple welcome email that asks them to leave a review on iTunes if they enjoy your show. This is key because the more reviews you get on iTunes, the higher your rank—and new listener count—will climb.
You can also consider inviting people to respond to you directly if they’ve got feedback about your show to share, an idea for podcast content, or a guest you should invite on the show.
After you send the welcome email, consider sending broadcasts to let people know when you’ve got a big show coming up, and give your listeners a nudge to sign up for your webinars.
Step 6: Take the leap from podcasts to webinars to sell your product
If you’ve followed steps 1–5, you’re well on your way to growing your listener base and building your email list. Now it’s time to think about how you’re going to start making money from this endeavor.
“A webinar is a natural next step for podcast listeners,” Tim Paige explains. “They’re used to hearing from you, and now they get to hear you live and interact with you. Plus, you can share visuals—and close the deal at the end!”
Tim often partners with other podcasters and experts on these webinars, creating an expanded audience that helps get additional viewers (and customers).
To get your listeners to leap with you from the podcast to your webinar, ask them to register during a podcast episode by sending a text to an opt-in text number you’ve set up in advance.
Many podcast listeners are probably already listening to you on their smartphones, so this is a very easy way for them to take the next step and engage with you further.
You can also promote your webinar on your podcast’s blog; in your sidebar or navigation bar; and in your email broadcasts. (You could even use trigger links to let subscribers sign up from one-click inside their inboxes.)
In a perfect world, you’d convert every listener who attends your webinar into a paying customer. Of course, that isn’t even the case for Tim, and he’s our resident expert. But that’s okay.
You can still make sales after the event is over. This is where your email follows up sequence comes into play. Set up a good autoresponder campaign through Drip, or your ESP of choice, to keep your product top of mind with your potential customers.
Your follow-up campaign doesn’t need to be too complex. Start by sending an email to those who didn’t show up for your webinar offering them an on-demand replay. Additionally, send an email to those who did show up but didn’t buy reminding them of your awesome offer—you could even sweeten the deal by giving them a little more time to purchase or another bonus.
A couple of days after sending both of these emails, send a clincher to everyone who registered, giving them one last chance to make a purchase.
Have you ever thought about starting a podcast? What would the topic be? Tell us in the comments!