I’ve written before about the importance of promoting your podcast’s back catalog, especially if your episodes are evergreen or have a long shelf life.
Here at Pacific Content, we’ve seen many examples where high-quality episodes continue to pay download dividends long after their initial release:
This week, one of our clients got an amazing opportunity to showcase several of their show’s “best of” episodes in some prime inventory.
The obvious question was: which episodes should we choose to feature?
Given the show’s deep back catalog, we wanted to identify the episodes most deserving of the spotlight… the episodes that were likely to give us the best bang for our promo buck.
Start with data-informed insights
The great thing about back catalog episodes is that you already have real-world audience data about episode effectiveness.
Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher all offer data about average time spent listening (though they all present this data in different ways). Here at Pacific Content, we pay special attention to average time spent listening within an episode’s first 60 days in market. By standardizing this measurement window, we avoid apples-to-bananas comparisons between newly released episodes and older episodes.
So we started with a list of every episode in the show’s back catalog, then sorted them by average consumption rate.
Voilà: a list of episodes with a proven track record of holding listeners’ attention.
Identify amazing first-time listener experiences
After we generated our ranked list, we started to whittle it down.
We eliminated episodes that felt stale or out-of-date.
Then we removed any episodes that felt like outliers because of their tone, subject matter, or format.
Why? Because we wanted every featured back catalog episode to be a great gateway episode. That means setting expectations for listeners who choose to subscribe and listen to additional episodes.
For example, featuring a special live recording might not be a great idea if your show isn’t regularly recorded live in front of an audience. Featuring a one-on-one bonus interview might not set expectations properly for a highly produced documentary series.
More data is coming soon
Average consumption isn’t the only way to sort a list of podcast episodes. For instance, the team at Simplecast have built some very interesting reporting on top of their unique listeners metic.
They’re working on a stickiness metric that can identify how many listeners have downloaded multiple episodes of a show, and they’ve also helped Pacific Content understand which of our clients’ episodes are most popular among first-time listeners.
It’s not difficult to imagine a ranked list of episodes, sorted by which ones have historically been the most effective entry points — that is, episodes where first-time listeners are most likely to go on and download additional episodes.
A list of back catalog episodes, ranked by which ones are proven to generate engaged, repeat listeners? Yes, please.
A few questions to ask yourself
Before you spend time or money promoting your podcast’s back catalog, ask yourself:
- Which of my episodes are still fresh and relevant? Which ones are stale or out-of-date?
- Which episodes have a strong topical hook?
- Which episodes make strong gateway episodes for first-time listeners? Which episodes require setup, back-story, or prerequisite listening?
- Which episodes are a good representation of my show’s tone and format? Which ones are outliers?
- Which episodes did the best job of holding listeners’ attention? What are their average consumption figures (percentages or duration)?
Don’t forget about your back catalog episodes. There’s gold in them hills.
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