You’ve made a great podcast and once people hear it, they’ll tell all their friends and you’ll start raking in the downloads… right? Well, maybe, but maybe not. You need a better plan than crossed fingers and faith to promote your podcast (though, those may help– read on!)
PLATFORM PROMOTION IS KEY
By launch time, creators have likely looked into how to find and grow the audience by signing up for at least one newsletter. These newsletters profess to explain how to increase downloads by doing things like setting up your own newsletter and/or promoting the show on social media. Following this plan, you are pitching your show to individuals and building your audience one set of ears at a time. Slow growth is definitely something that is important in podcasting. But it can be hard to be patient!
Like the rest of the online world, everything we see in a podcast player has been put there by a mix of our past preferences, the past preferences of a critical mass of other users, and a sprinkle of algorithm. But finding a podcast isn’t the same as most other search online: in-app search, while improving, has a bad reputation for making it difficult to find the kind of podcast you may be looking for through keywords. Through in-app placement, you are essentially preaching to the converted: your audience is podcast listeners in the platform, ready to listen to a podcast and looking for something new.
When we go into a podcast platform, the shows we see first were selected by human editors for being worthy of audience time and attention, which means you have to get your show in front of an actual person and convince them your podcast is worth featuring. Podcast platform promotion gets a show in front of people who are podcast listeners where and when they are ready to listen.
If you have the budget, an in-platform paid campaign can be incredibly effective at bringing new audiences to your show. Castbox and Castro, among others, allow you to buy placement in their carousels and playlists. This puts your show in front of real people so they can sample, and maybe tell a friend. We like to say, the job of the audience development team is to get as many people as possible to sample a show, but the editorial team makes something so good they are sure to come back. Paid platform promotion is a separate topic that we will dig into in the weeks ahead, but for now I’m going to tell you all about the ones that you can get for free.
PITCH THAT PODCAST
There is another platform promotion plan that money can’t buy- but you need a great pitch and a little bit of luck. At Pacific Content, platform promotional placement is a part of our audience growth strategy: when we have a new show or a new season, we carefully consider the ask for promotion, the timing, and the right platform. In days past, when a client launched a show or a season, we would ask for promotion only on Apple’s platform. The thinking was that Apple platform promotion was pivotal to the success of a podcast because most listening happened on the Apple Podcasts app. As with many things in the podcasting industry, times have changed, so we’ve adapted: we now routinely ask for promotion on Apple and Spotify (US), as well as Stitcher/Pandora/SXM, and Amazon Music. Each platform has different guidelines for how much time it needs to process a request, so when planning a strategy, budget for 2–6 weeks of lead time.
No matter which platform you choose, craft your pitch to convince the editors that they should promote your podcast.
THE BIG APPLE
Apple still has the highest platform sharer for most of our podcasts, so that’s where we start first. Making it onto one of the Apple curated lists like New and Noteworthy or Conversation Starters means a show can be sampled by people who never thought to look for it. Asking for Apple promotion is a big leap of faith, but if you follow the right steps you might just get lucky (remember the crossed fingers?)
Here’s what we do:
Part 1: The Artwork
First off, the artwork needs to be done right: you’ll need eye-catching, professional-looking artwork with two specific additional sizes, and you’ll need it all ready when you send in your request. Apple has a comprehensive guide on how to make podcast artwork work, so start there.
Part 2: The Pitch
Next, it’s time for the pitch. You need to convincingly answer the questions: Why should anyone listen to your show? Why should the Apple editor put your show at the top of any list? It’s important to remember that when promoting a podcast, Apple is vouching for it. They want their brand to be linked to good podcasts so people keep using their platform and recommendations, so you’ll want to convince them of the quality of the show.
Part 3: The Timing
Think about the timing of your request. For example, people like to make resolutions in January and they file their taxes in April. We know June is Pride month, March is Women’s History month and in the US and Canada, February is Black History month. Podcast platforms like Apple use this cultural calendar to feature and populate their curated lists. If a show, or a specific episode, fits into one of these themes (money, women, equity), asking for timely promotion is the best plan of action.
WHAT ABOUT OTHER PLACES?
Apple has dozens of podcast storefronts around the world, so while it may be difficult to get promotion on Apple US (that’s some prime real estate with some heavy hitting competition), consider if the show you are promoting might be a great fit in another country. For example, if you have a tech show, you might want to ask for promotion in the US and India, one of the tech capitals of the world. Or if you have a British host or subject matter, ask for promotion in the UK and the US. Requesting placement in multiple countries at once can be done through the Apple platform, and if that country has your target audience, it makes sense to try to get your show in front of them.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT BRANDED CONTENT?
Many people have said that there is just no way to get Apple Promotion placement for a branded show, but that’s not always true. We have had success with Tell Me What Happened on Apple Canada, EFF’s How to Fix the Internet on Apple USA, Teamistry on Apple UK, and AWS Insiders on Apple India. There are a few things that stand out about this list: the shows have wide appeal, great artwork, and they all have very high sound quality. Plus, they all follow the guiding principle of any audience promotions strategy: make something people want to listen to, including the editors of the platforms distributing your show.
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