Podcast promotion is something that's on the minds of many podcasters, even before they've launched their first episode.
It's true that the best way to grow an audience is to create great content. But it's rarely as simple as that. If you never do any podcast promotion, then it's unlikely your show will fulfil its true potential.
Building a bit of marketing into your workflow from day 1 is advisable. There are loads of different ways to promote a podcast – some may appeal to you, others might not.
Before we start running through them, though, it's a good idea to have a read at a couple of important articles on the site.
Understanding these topics will go a long way towards setting your goals, managing your expectations, and directing your focus.
So, onward with our ultimate guide to podcast promotion, then. Here's a list of the various routes and options, gathered together in one place. You can pick a few, and try them over time. See what works for you, and what doesn't.
Podcast Promotion Starts With Your Existing Audience
The first point – and the most important one at that – is knowing exactly who you want to reach.
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You also need to know what you want, beyond simple download and traffic spikes.
You could spend a lot of time or money promoting your show in the wrong place, or wrong way, and end up with a large (but temporary) increase in listens.
Podcasters want their target audience to hit subscribe, and stay with the show beyond one episode. If you don't know your audience though, how will you get your content in front of the right people?
Don't mistake one-off clicks for growth. You'll only be disappointed when your stats return to normal the next week.
So ask yourself, “where are my target listeners?” For example, if very few of them are on Instagram, why spend time trying to promote your show on there? Maybe they tend to hang out on places like Twitter and Facebook. Or maybe your potential audience don't use social media at all.
With the following podcast promotion methods, you need to think about which ones are likely to get you in front of your target audience, and which ones could be a waste of time.
Calls to Action
Two of the most common podcast promotion mistakes are;
- to overlook those who are already listening
- to waste calls to action
Even if you've ‘only' got 20 regular listeners, that's 20 people who can help you reach a much bigger audience.
Your call to action is something you can ask your listener for at the end of each episode. You've served them up with great content, they've really enjoyed and benefited from it, and now, you can ask them for a small favour.
Many podcasters ask for reviews, because they think this'll help the podcast to grow. Reviews are nice, but they're not overly important when it comes to increasing listenership.
Instead of urging your audience to review your podcast every episode, try some other calls to action that could make more of an impact. A great place to start is asking your audience to recommend the show to one friend they think would enjoy it.
You could even make an engagement-forward game out of it: tell your fans to recommend your podcast to a friend directly on Twitter and to @ mention your show in the tweet. Then, thank that listener in your next episode.
This isn't a strategy for brand new podcasters who don't yet have an audience. But if you've been running a show for 6 months or more, then you can get some invaluable growth insights from an audience survey.
Your existing fans can tell you a lot about your show. For example, how or where did they discover it? If lots of listeners find you in the same place or way, then you can do more do more of it.
Likewise, if you've just spent $100 on an ad campaign and literally not one person discovered you that way, you can save yourself the money in future.
You can ask your listeners what things they like about the show. What topics do they like you covering? Give them a place to tell you all their likes and dislikes, and then tailor your content around that data going forward. It's a lot better than trying to guess what your listeners want!
For a deeper dive on this, check out Growing Your Podcast With an Audience Survey.
Optimise Your Website
A great podcast will suffer from having a poor website associated with it.
Many podcasters limit their show's growth by overlooking some low-hanging website-based fruit. You want to enable your audience and traffic to help you grow.
If you don't have a website yet, then check out our free podcast website course that'll walk you through setting one up.
Here are some important things to consider;
- Do you have an About page, where you sell the benefits of why people should listen? What's in it for them?
- Do you have a Subscribe page where you link to places like Apple, Google Podcasts, & Spotify? You could even explain here why and how to subscribe to the show.
- Do you have a Contact page listing the various ways folks can get in touch? Stick you email address and social media links in here.
- Do you have a media kit page?
- Do you have social sharing buttons on your posts? You want to make it easy for your listeners to promote your episodes.
- Are you using the Yoast SEO plugin to optimise your shownotes for search? Here's how to make your podcast SEO friendly.
- Also, is your domain name descriptive or memorable, and easy to spell?
- And does your site display properly on mobile and tablet?
Be sure to create a short promo trailer for your podcast and embed it on your homepage too. That way, potential listeners who arrive on your site can get a taster of the show right away!
The way you title your episodes has a big impact on your overall download numbers.
The worst thing you can do is to use a naming system like “Episode 6”, or “The Whatever Podcast – Episode 6”. You don't need your show title in there at all. And simply labelling content with numbers does nothing to tempt anyone to listen. It gives no hint of what's contained within, and so there's no incentive to hit play.
Be as descriptive about the ‘hook' of each episode as you can. It all depends on content, but statistically the most successful titles are things like “how to…”, “5 ways to…”, “7 tips for…”, etc. Those Buzzfeed articles do well for a reason…
Of course, that doesn't mean you should try to shoehorn these episodes in, if they're not a good fit for your show. Just be as descriptive as possible. Let your target audience know at a glance this is the show they've been looking for.
Podcast Promotion Through Advertising
If you're a traditionalist, you might see podcast promotion as simply paying to get it in front of some new eyeballs.
And advertising your podcast can be a great way to kickstart your growth, if you have a little bit of a budget behind you.
There are loads of different places you can pay to promote your show. It'll always depend on your topic and audience, but these range from Google and social media ads, to newsletters and print magazines.
Here's our full guide on where to advertise your podcast.
One of the most effective ways we've found so far is on the podcast listening app Overcast. Here's the lowdown (and our data) on Overcast advertising.
For those with little or no budget however, a creative “Guerrilla Marketing” campaign might be the best option on this front!
If there are other podcasters out there covering similar topics to you, you don't need to see these shows as your competition.
It's not like old style TV where folks had to either watch one or the other. Podcast listeners subscribe to lots of different shows, and they'll usually be based around similar subjects.
So what active podcasts are putting out content for the same target audience as you? Why not draw up a list of them, and reach out to the people behind them.
Doing some work together can help share out your collective audiences, which will benefit everyone.
You might initially look at doing a ‘promo swap', where you each play the other show's promo trailer on an episode or two.
You could look at collaborating on some content. A common way of doing this is to co-host an episode together, which is then published to both of your feeds.
If there are a handful of podcasters in your niche that you're in touch with, you could also create a montage episode. This is where you reach out to them with a question, and have them answer it in an audio form. Then you piece these together into a single episode.
For example, a writing podcast might ask, “what's your best tip for overcoming writers' block?”. Or a health podcast might ask, “what does your morning routine look like?”.
Montage episodes are well shared amongst everyone involved. In turn, everyone's audience gets a boost as a result!
Create Content for (Or About) Others
This follows on from the collaboration angle, and is also based around creating shareable content.
A popular way to promote your podcast is to do a guest post on a site with a similar target audience. With a guest post, you're creating insightful and helpful content for their readers, and in turn, are able to link back to your own content.
You can also create content that'll be well shared by reviewing a product or service you like. For example, if you do a cooking podcast and use a certain type of whisk, you could review it on an episode, then get in touch with the company who makes it and let them know. The chances are, they'll share it with their own audience, many of whom will be interested in your show.
Another way of creating content for others is to be an interview guest on their show. However, it's not just as easy as approaching someone and saying, “hey, interview me please!”.
If you'd like to be interviewed on a specific podcast, reach out to them with a thorough proposal on what you can offer their listeners. What unique insights can you bring to the table? Personalise this to the show's format and previous episodes. Only reach out to podcasts you've actually listened to.
You might even want to do your proposal in video form, rather than written form. This will be much more likely to resonate with the podcaster, and sets you apart from the many other requests they might get in.
Visibility Through Financial Support
Just like the traditional advertising route of podcast promotion, you might be in a position to dedicate a small budget towards gaining extra visibility.
You could literally sponsor another podcast in your niche or wider topic. This could be a very effective way of gaining new listeners if done well. Check out Should I Sponsor a Podcast? for more on this.
Some shows run Patreon accounts, and rewards often include being mentioned on their episodes or website. If you find a popular show in your niche with such a reward tier, you could chuck some money their way.
This route doesn't only apply to other podcasts either. Perhaps there's a charity in your niche you could support? An example of this could be a tabletop wargaming podcast supporting a veterans charity. Or a writers' show supporting an organisation that helps fund books for kids in socially deprived neighbourhoods.
Obviously with charities, it'll be more of a reciprocity thing than a direct transaction of money for promotion. You'll need to be respectful here, and be aware that this is an ongoing relationship rather than a service.
Create Shareable Videos
Audio is notoriously hard to “go viral” because it's longer form and non visual content. A good way to make your audio more shareable on platforms that cultivate short attention spans, is to turn it into short video clips. The most popular way of doing this is with Audiograms. You can also use video recordings of interviews to create ‘micro-content‘. Perhaps the most innovative and fun approach here, though, is to have a clip from your show turned into a cartoon!
In-Person Podcast Promotion
Believe it or not, it's possible to do your podcast promotion away from the screen!
For starters, are there in-person events in your area, based around your topic? If you join a local club or society, you'll naturally meet folks who'll be interested in what you do.
Are there any conferences or conventions happening in the next year? Why not reach out to enquire about running a booth, or organising a session, panel, or workshop?
Finally, you can also use the montage episode idea to promote your show in-person with vox pops. Vox pops are basically just clips of numerous folk answering the same question. You can record vox pops anywhere, from a dedicated event, to out in the street.
If you go down this route, give each person you speak to a business card with your podcast on there. Let them know that this is where they'll hear the finished piece. Most of them will be keen to check it out!
The Podcast Promotion Guide
Hopefully, that's given you plenty ideas and tips for drawing up your own audience growth plan.
Remember, if you haven't done so already, check out our article on what's a good number of downloads for a podcast? It's important to set realistic goals and expectations to avoid getting disillusioned with your show. Plus, we have a list of free tools you can use to grow your podcast audience.
We also have a dedicated podcast promotion manual called Podcast Growth: How to Grow Your Podcast Audience. In there, you'll find over 80 actionable strategies, along with timeframes and checklists. The tactics range from 5min quick wins, to 3 month strategies. From low and no-cost, to money is no object. No matter what kind of podcast you run, you'll find plenty in there that'll help you grow your listening audience.
And if you'd like more tailored help with podcast promotion, or any other aspect of podcasting, check out The Podcast Host Academy. There, you'll find all our courses and resources (including our Growing Your Podcast Audience course) and get access to our weekly live Q&A sessions!