In the previous two chapters, we looked at methods for driving action from both blogs and video. One of those actions, referring to our content stack, is to encourage people to listen to our podcast.
Say we’ve achieved that. They’re a listener. But, now that they’ve listened, what next?
Let’s look at how to drive action from podcast, and what that action should be.
What is the Aim for Every Podcast Listener?
To figure out what we want the listener to do, we first need to think back. What’s the aim while they’re listening to the podcast?
First, it’s engagement, of course, audio being the top of the engagement stack. This is where true connection is built, remember. That’s because of the personality and transparency in audio, and the attention it commands. So, if someone simply listens and subscribes, then that’s a win. It means they’re growing trust in you, and they’ll be back for more when the next episode airs.
As a result, it might be that you’re not looking to make any ask from the Podcast. It’s sole purpose is in reaching that peak of engagement.
Since they’re here though, it’s a waste not to encourage a next step of some kind. Therefore, once that trust is built, once that connection is forged, what now?
Well, funnily enough, it’s back to the other media! While podcasting is a trust-building machine, it’s not the medium to convert that connection into your ultimate aim. That aim can vary, but here are some examples:
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- Communication – asking them to get in touch by social, email or otherwise.
- Subscription – increase visits by encouraging subscription to your mailing list.
- Sales – Encourage the listener to go straight to the sales page and buy a product.
- Testimonial – Ask for a rating, a review or feedback on the show.
- Support – Ask for a donation, Patreon support or another type of contribution.
Your ultimate aim will be entirely personal to you or your business, but you’ll notice here that, almost every time, it involves a visit to your website. Even if the ultimate result isn’t delivered on your website (eg. Patreon), it’s normally a good idea to start the journey there.
Why? Well, it’s because one of big advantages of audio is also it’s weakness.
The Difficulty of Action from Audio
Think about the attention we’ve talked about numerous times now. Podcasting commands a huge amount of attention because people can listen while they’re doing something else. Driving the car is always the best example. What else is there to do during a 30 minute commute? Nothing! Not unless you’re into cheesy, repetitive DJs asking you, “What’s your favourite tea-bag?” of course.
Other contexts are similar, though, whether you’re mowing the lawn, walking the dog, lifting weights, or cooking dinner. They all have one thing in common: you have little or no ability to pick up the phone and take an action, right there and then. This is why, of course, Podcasting is so great in that situation! You’re entertained, for hours on end, but you can continue to drive, or mow, or lift!
The end result of this is that it’s difficult to get a listener to take a one-off action directly from a podcast. If you give them a unique link, mention it on just one show, it’s likely they’re in a situation where they can’t take action right then and there.
It’s even more likely that, if that’s the case, they’ll forget to follow up on it later.
So, the key with action in audio is to make it simple. Make it regular. Make it easy. That’s why linking to one simple place, every time, is a great first step.
That place? It’s your mothership for each episode, of course, and something we’ve already covered: the Shownotes.
Listeners get to know where they can find your shownotes over time. Especially when you mention it twice on every episode. Then, if you do mention something unique, something one-off, they’re more likely to be able to do something about it later, when they’re at their computer. That because they know they can track it down in the same way they always do, via the shownotes.
Keeping action easy, and always the same, is the key in an on-the-go medium like audio. That’s how you’ll generate those ‘clicks’.
Linking to Shownotes
To be clear: your one main task, in every episode, is to direct people towards the show-notes. You can ask to them to do something else once they get there, but that’s where you’re sending them, every time. From there, at that easily found place, they can take their next step.
You’ll remember that the Theory blog post normally acts as your show notes. It includes the main article, your videos, a guide to the episode and links to every resources you discussed on the show.
To get the listener there, here’s an example of what you might say:
Remember, if you want to review what we’ve talked about, check out the full shownotes at mydomain.com/xyz. There, you can find a full article on the topic, videos that summarise the different elements and links to any tools or resources we’ve pointed out. You can also drop us a comment there and get involved in the conversation. Again, that’s mydomain.com/xyz.
You can include a statement like this at the start and end of the show recording. It’s valuable information, helping the listener, so it’s worth repeating. And, of course, it encourages that ‘next step’.
How to Link from a Podcast
The most important thing about linking to your shownotes is to pick a format and stick to it. Let’s cover format first, and then I’ll show you how to create these links.
Here’s how we do it on Podcraft:
Hey, and welcome to Podcraft. This is season 3 where we’re looking at how to build a great website for your podcast. On this episode, number 14 in the series, we’re looking at how to monetise your show using Amazon’s affiliate programme. You’ll find the shownotes for this podcast at podcraft.net/314.
Notice the link is short, snappy and follows a particular format. We always have three numbers after the forward-slash. The first is the series number (I suppose we’ll have to increase to 4 numbers when we hit double figures!), and the next two are the episode number.
So, season 5 episode 4, is linked as:
Some use a longer format, but a similar idea. And of course this works without seasons too. You might just include the episode number on it’s own. For example, Pat Flynn doesn’t use seasons, and he tends to include the word session within his link:
It’s up to you what format you choose, but make sure your listeners can work it out, without having to remember.
One other thing to note here is that with Podcraft, we use a shortened link. Podcraft actually lives at this address:
But, that’s quite a large address to read out every time, especially when we add the episode number to it. It also means people need to remember a whole new name when finding the shownotes – they need to remember that Podcraft is a show from The Podcast Host.
The solution is to buy a domain name just for your podcast, and to make sure it’s short and snappy. The huge range of new extensions are useful for this. You can often get something super-short and exactly copying your brand name if you’re willing to use an extension like mypodcast.xyz or mypodcast.club.
When you buy a domain like this, easily done on a site like GoDaddy, you can set it up to re-direct straight another URL. So, we simply have podcraft.net redirect to thepodcasthost.com/podcraft/. Works perfectly!
How Do I Create These Links?
Once you’ve decided on your format, you need to know how to create each individual link. In most cases you don’t want to have a shownotes page with a web address that just includes a few numbers. It’s beneficial from an SEO and an organisation point of view to be able to categorise those posts.
For best results, you should give each shownotes page an address that includes keywords and makes sense to a casual viewer.
In practice, that means you’ll give the shownotes a good, useful web address, but then you’ll create a ‘short-link’ that points towards it.
For example, take the Podcraft episode I mentioned above:
The main page link categorises the post as a podcraft episode, using the /podcraft/ category, and then it includes a little bit of info on the post itself, putting some keywords into the URL.
The shortlink then allows us to point towards this main URL, and do it in a way that people can remember and use very quickly.
We create these shortlinks using one of my favourite and most-used WordPress tools: PrettyLink.
PrettyLink lets you set up short and memorable links for any page on your website, and it even tracks how often they’re being used.
PrettyLink has a free version that does the job perfectly, but I pay for the Pro version because it adds a short-link box to the post edit page itself. That means you can add the shortlink while you’re creating the shownotes, rather than have to create them, then go off and create the PrettyLink separately.
The Next Next Step
Now, while I recommend keeping calls to action few and specific on a podcast episode, there are going to be special events or special actions you’d like people to take. Perhaps you’re launching a new product, or running a competition. Perhaps you’ve taken on a sponsor and want to link to them. In all of these cases, it’s perfectly OK to create a second short-link and mention that during the show.
I’ll say from experience, though, that if you do this on only one show, then it’s unlikely to get a huge amount of traction. Audio builds momentum with repeated action, so multiple shows will start to build much more awareness.
And, of course, these actions should be repeated on the shownotes. Expect your listeners to forget the ‘special’ link that you’ve created for the event, no matter how short and memorable it is. A large proportion will simply use the shownotes they know and love to find the ‘special’ event or resource that you mentioned.
Tying Things Up
Part 3 of this series has explored the real mechanics of publishing your content, including text, audio and video. I’ve delved into a few tools, but the real take-away should be the manner in which your content links to each other. That’s the important part.
It’s not so much about HOW you link from one place to the next. It’s more in WHAT you’re linking to. I believe that if you create this mesh of links between every element of your stack of content, and you do it in a way that benefits your audience, then great things will happen.
For example, casual first time viewers will flit from your blog to YouTube to get a quick summary of the actions related to a topic. Loyal fans will spend time with you on the podcast, before jumping to the show-notes to consolidate everything they’ve learned.
However your audience navigate the stack and whatever stage they’re at, they’re constantly building that connection with you, strengthening it with every click.
Create the stack, link it together, and engagement will blossom.