Experts from companies including Fresh Air Production, Google and NatWest, joined PodPod’s recent roundtable to share their tips and tricks, marketing “icks” and the most underutilised tools of the trade.
1. Know the ‘why’
Those around the table agreed that the cornerstone of a successful podcast marketing strategy is knowing why you’ve started your podcast in the first place. Danielle Rice from Dave underlines that your offering must benefit the consumer’s life in some way and warns against “doing a podcast for podcast’s sake” like so many did over the pandemic, and subsequently vanished into obscurity.
Going in with a clear set of goals and understanding how to measure your podcast’s performance against them is a good place to start, according to Richard Blake from Fresh Air, and will improve your chances of longevity.
2. Choose the right distribution channel
Choosing the right platform to publish your podcast on can make or break your marketing strategy. Claudia Collins from Tortoise Media thinks that the distribution channel should dictate the terms: “As much as you can be strategic about how you work with platforms, you should actually work with their strategy.” She points out that Apple is “much happier” to promote podcasts which have a subscription element and Spotify’s audience has a relatively young demographic of 18-24 years old. Podcasters should adjust their content with this in mind, she advised.
NatWest’s James Wallis suggests a different approach: “For me, it’s all about discoverability.” He recommends that since it doesn’t cost you any extra, podcasters should be visible on all the channels.
3. Get to know your audience
Several of the experts agree that gaining audience insight will solve a lot of the conundrums posed by your marketing strategy. Rice advises podcasters to ask themselves: “What is it your audience wants from a podcast? How do they act in their day-to-day? Where’s the best place to reach them? What time is best? What else are they listening to? What are their other interests?”
Knowing the answers to these questions will pay back “in dividends”, says Joel Midgley from The Guardian. “The better you understand your audience, the better you can connect with them from a creative point of view [...] in a non-traditional approach.”
4. Optimise social media
The topic of social media divided the panellists. Blake, Midgley and Wallis agree that while social media is great for spreading awareness, as Fresh Air's Blake puts it: “It doesn’t convert very well, you’re not going to drive listens.”
Rice disagrees, highlighting that “if it’s done properly”, using video assets in your social media posts can drive trials. Lucy Ferguson from Google flagged YouTube Shorts as an “underthought about” and innovative tool to this end.
Whatever you’re aiming for, make sure your social media content is optimised for the platform you’re posting it on. “There’s nothing worse than seeing vertical content on LinkedIn and vice versa on TikTok.” says Wallis. “That’s an ick for marketers.”
5. Track your performance
Success comes in many forms – it’s not just about listenership – and it takes perseverance.
“It’s not as simple as ‘I want this many listens’” says Blake from Fresh Air. The metrics he prefers to look at are: consideration, depth of engagement (average listen time) and number of downloads.
“No one needs to know how many listens you’ve got,” Wallis ventures, “and no one actually cares either.” Instead, the NatWest marketer thinks it’s more valuable to become a thought leader in your field and to share culturally relevant conversations.
Collins adds that if a podcast tells a story worth telling but only reaches the people in the studio, that’s still “proof of success”.
Podcasters must be prepared to wait for their marketing strategies to “bed in'' before seeing results, Rice stresses. “Don’t judge success overnight.”
Blake agrees that while there are “no magic wands” when it comes to podcast marketing, there are strategies you can take to build momentum up quite quickly. He says he sees “instant increases” when podcasters advertise on other people’s podcasts, whether that’s a host read or a feed drop. Collins adds that feed drop swaps also work well because you can cross-promote your audience.
A bug bear that unites our panellists is when figures from the same metrics don’t match up when checking different sources. Wallis says “Just go with the higher number… obviously!”
6. Remember, we’re in it together
While podcast marketing can sometimes feel like navigating “the Wild West” – to use Collin’s words – the panellists agree that the space remains exciting and accessible. Midgley notes that the media industry has never been more willing to work together and share audiences. And Rice reassures: “It doesn’t matter if you’re a massive business or a small creator… We all have the same challenges.”
- Adam Shepherd, editor, PodPod
- Richard Blake, director of marketing and growth, Fresh Air Production
- Claudia Collins, head of marketing and membership, Tortoise Media
- Joel Midgley, head of global brand marketing, The Guardian
- Lucy Ferguson, head of content, Google
- James Wallis, marketing lead, NatWest
- Danielle Rice, marketing manager, Dave