Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
So, you have a fantastic idea for a podcast – you may have even started producing it – but how are you going to get it out into the world and make sure that people listen?
We know how important it is to carefully plan the production of your podcast, but don’t leave it there. You need to put as much effort into the actual promotion and marketing of your show too. Otherwise, even a great podcast might not get the recognition and success it deserves.
With thousands of podcasts being released on a weekly basis, you need to give your show the best chance possible of standing out in a busy crowd. We mustn’t assume that just by creating a podcast and putting it on a hosting platform that it will grow an audience. Even once the audience has found your podcast, making it a part of their listening routine is an even harder challenge.
The good news, however, is I’m going to be giving you some tips to help your podcast hit the ground running and have the best chance of staying in the lead.
The 3 phases of a podcast launch
To help plan your launch campaign, it’s helpful to break it down into three core phases:
Stage 1: prelaunch
The prelaunch stage is all about building anticipation for your podcast, and getting people interested in it before it’s even out.
It’s also arguably the most important phase, but given so many people at this stage of their podcast journey have a very limited audience, it’s also the most difficult one to get off the ground. So here are a few things to think about:
Naming your podcast
How many times have you heard about something interesting but then been unable to find the exact content you are looking for? No google search seems to be able to pinpoint exactly what you’re after. Well, this issue happens with podcasts too. Given the promotion of podcasts is primarily within the audio space, it needs to have a unique name and (preferably) an uncomplicated spelling. Take the time to search on podcast platforms and ensure that the name you choose isn’t already attached to another 10 podcasts!
If you need any more guidance about naming your podcast and improving its SEO ranking, take a look at our blog post ‘5 SEO Tips for Podcasting’.
Have an impactful creative toolkit
Like every new film or TV show, a podcast also has a piece of key art that will help to capture the attention of the audience. At a minimum, you need to ensure that the creative will cut through against similar podcasts – consider colours, artistic style and title art. If you have a creative agency, this is a huge benefit, but if you are working to a shoe-string, consider whether finding an artist to bring to your show to life is worth the investment.
TOP TIP: Although the key art is square, have a think about other formats that it might be good to create. Think about things like website banners, social media icons, or email footers which might require a different shape or layout. Apple give some useful guides for their different formats: Promotional requests & artwork – Apple Podcasts for Creators.
In advance of sharing your key art, trailer or a press release, a teaser campaign can encourage some conversation. This is particularly helpful if you have a well-known host (with a large social following) or a controversial topic that people have a strong opinion about. Simply posting a photo or hinting at the launch of something new and exciting can spark anticipation ahead of the launch.
If you are working with a PR agency, then they can ‘announce’ the new series through a media release to capture the interest of the relevant publications or news outlets.
You might even be able to offer ‘access’ to talent within your podcast for interviews or bespoke content, which will improve the likelihood of your story getting picked up.
However, if you want the podcast reviewers to check out your show and rate it, you probably need to share a few shows under embargo before they will give it any media coverage. This is because they are bombarded with new shows and therefore are quite selective about what they listen to or feature. Giving them early access will help.
A week or two prior to releasing your first show, it’s a good idea to release your trailer. This is beneficial for two reasons. 1. It allows you to direct your audience to listen to the trailer and ‘follow’ your show on their preferred podcast platform and 2. you can almost treat posting your trailer as a practice run before you release the full show. It gives you a chance to get everything up and running on hosting platforms and check that it’s all working as it should before launch day.
TOP TIP: Apple can take a few days to approve new content so allow a bit of extra time for this to process – much better in the prelaunch phase than the launch phase! In addition, Apple have released some tips for you to get your podcast promoted on their site. It’s not fool-proof, but it’s definitely worth a try: Optimize podcast promotion requests – Apple Podcasts for Creators
If you are an existing company or you have your own social presence, then make sure that you tell your audience, or network, about your new show. Share your trailer through your social channels, website, email newsletters or any other form of communication that you have at your disposal.
Stage 2: launch
So, you’ve made it through the prelaunch phase – well done! Now we’re onto one of the most exciting stages: launch time.
During the launch phase, you want to be driving audience growth as quickly as possible in order to drive the success of your podcast. However, it’s also important not to jump the gun.
Let’s say you’re going to put paid spend behind your launch (great decision, by the way!). Have a think about exactly when you should be doing this. Assuming you have the budget to allocate to this, there are two deciding factors: 1. Does your audience need to listen to a few shows to get a feel for it before making it a part of their regular listening? If so, maybe delay spend for a few weeks to ensure they have a few shows to check out when they first tune in. Or 2. Is the show ‘good’ enough to get people coming back for more? This is really important because it doesn’t matter how successful your launch campaign is, if the show just isn’t very good, then the audience will drop off very quickly.
If neither of these need to be taken into consideration, then you can promote your show from the day it goes live, which will help you to build your audience as soon as you can.
Here are some of the building blocks that might make up the launch phase of your podcast:
Paid media – to drive awareness
Broadcast media is the most expensive channel, but it can drive mass awareness very quickly. There are a lot of options to choose from, but do bear in mind that media such as newspapers, out of home, or audio can be difficult to understand the success of (in terms of spend) without overall audits of the media e.g. econometric modelling.
That being said, consider buying media into the audio space, such as podcasts or local radio, as that will allow you to reach your audience. Most advertising platforms can help you with this. Auddy currently have over 350 shows in our portfolio, but it’s also possible to buy media through Spotify and Acast.
Targeted media is also effective in podcasting to reach specific audiences. Paid social such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok can be useful and you can drive click-throughs, but it can be difficult to link this data to actual downloads.
There is also another emerging industry to consider: pay for downloads (PPD). Although this can be effective in delivering downloads during the campaign period, it’s worth being aware that the audience rarely continues to listen to the show so you will also need to grow overall awareness and listeners.
If you have a store location or a strong PR agency, create an event or stunt to drive bespoke assets and PR. Content from these events or stunts (remember the flash mobs in train stations?) can be captured to help it go viral or be picked up by the press.
PR Press Office
PR doesn’t just happen in the prelaunch stage. Podcast reviews and consumer media titles are really important to aid the discovery of your podcast. The more places your podcast is featured, the greater the likelihood that people will hear about it.
We’ve all heard of influencers and there is a good reason for it. If someone that you like, or trust, recommends a product or content to you, then you are more likely to act on that recommendation compared to just seeing an ad. Working with influencers who are relevant to your target audience can be very impactful.
Utilising the audience of another brand or podcast can be a good way to target your own audience (assuming that the audiences align!). Therefore, consider sponsoring another podcast or partnering with a brand to benefit from that endorsement.
Reaching out to and engaging with people on social media is a fantastic opportunity to build your audience. Regularly tap into the conversations which are already centred around your topic or guests and engage with the participants. Spending at least an hour each week doing this will be really beneficial. If you need more advice on community management, check out this blog post.
Stage 3: sustain
You’ve built up anticipation for your podcast, you’ve successfully launched it… that’s all the work done then, right?
The last thing you want is to bag a bunch of podcast fans only for them to all stop listening and forget about you a few episodes later. In order to build a truly successful, sustainable show, you need to keep people interested over a long period of time – while also continuously engaging new podcast listeners too.
There are a few ways to achieve this:
Ratings and reviews
These are imperative to deliver a successful podcast. If reviews are achieved quickly, hosting platforms will naturally favour this content on ‘trending’ lists. Ensure that you ask your listeners to rate and review your podcast to help fuel this.
Each time a podcast is released, your subscribers will automatically see it at the top of their feed, which will drive continued listening and engagement. Therefore, consider your publishing schedule to ensure that there isn’t a long gap between episodes or seasons.
Most podcasts are evergreen and can therefore be continually promoted through owned channels, or as part of a broader campaign moment if that’s appropriate.
Once an audience has been built, it is difficult to grow this further without further content being created. However, it may be possible to keep back some of your media spend to continue to reach new audiences about the podcast beyond the initial launch period.
Hopefully, you are now starting to see a growing audience coming back and back again to listen to your podcast. Continue to engage with them and announce your new shows across all of your platforms. Remember that podcast audiences grow over time, especially if the content is evergreen (not time-sensitive). Often, audiences will discover a podcast and if they like it, they start to listen to older episodes too, picking out particular guests or topics that they find interesting.