How Podcast Launching Strategies Really Help You To Start One Faster
Are you looking to start a podcast of your own? In this episode, learn strategies to launching your own podcast and how to get your potential followers ready and eager for your show. Tom and Tracy Hazzard get into priming the pump by getting your teasers out there to get as much anticipation as you can get. Learn the importance of having your website set up first and foremost and what your driver should be. Launching your own podcast can be daunting, let Tom and Tracy get you over the hump with these tested and proven strategies from their years of experience.
This is our Brandcasters weekly client coaching call. It is our strategy and quality focus. We have a lot of podcasters who are in the setup process with us. We’re going to talk about launch strategies.
Some of you are in those stages of launching it, but some of you don’t know how to launch a strategy. Maybe you want a promotion strategy and some of these things will work for that as well. Not to leave your existing podcasters behind, but this is something to think about. How are you going to make sure that you’re getting readers to your show and how are you going to do that so that it’s on an ongoing basis? It’s going to happen consistently and constantly. You don’t just leave your launch strategy for the first eight weeks and then do nothing from that point forward. That’s the topic I thought we’d talk about. What do you think, Tom?
You can also consider it a relaunch. Sometimes people reset or relaunch your shows or they pivot in their style and format of the show or maybe in their focus. Certainly, these techniques and trends that we’re seeing may be helpful to those of you who are already having a podcast.
I’ve been doing a lot of interviews with top podcasters and things and we talked about their strategies for how they’re doing it. There is a strategy of making sure that you are hitting your email list. You might want to be previewing to the email lists and amping up the excitement about it. It’s like “I’m getting ready to launch my podcast and I’ve interviewed someone amazing. Look who’s coming.” You’re getting them ready for it. The launch is going to happen sometime because you can’t be an exact date. I’m getting excited about it and you are going to be excited because here’s a little tidbit of something. You could do a little sneak preview video. You could do a quote and an image.
You could take a photo from a snapshot of you over Zoom if that’s how you’re doing it or in-person live. Getting some teasers going is a better way to do it than doing that one email and being done with it. That’s not enough because we know open rates are low. Priming the pump and that way they’re going to open your emails more often because they’re going to be looking for that. That’s also the same strategy for social. You want to be priming and getting people excited about it at least a month ahead of time. Give them enough anticipation.
I like that strategy of teasing your audience or your future audience, your followers, whether they’re on Facebook or LinkedIn or your email list. When we launch a show, you’re on Spotify in 30 minutes. It doesn’t take much time and there are other platforms are quick as well. There’s iTunes, which is the main one, the crème de la crème and the one that everybody needs to be on. Even though you’ll be on ten or twelve different platforms, 40% of your audience by volume will come from iTunes. iTunes is the only platform that goes through quite a bureaucratic approval process of each show. I’ve never seen a show get denied unless it was breaking one of the rules that you should know about. The people that are launching your show for you should know about it. Obviously, we do. We have had a show take a long time to launch on iTunes. Almost two full weeks, which is unheard of in our history. We’ve never seen that.
All we can chalk it up to is a lot of iTunes people are on vacation because there’s no reason.
It’s an unfortunate time of the year over the month of July. It probably did have to do with that because usually at the worst time of year, during the holidays we see it take maybe seven full days, but usually around 3, 4 or maybe 5 days.
You have to have a fluid launch plan is the point we’re making here. You can’t have it set to like, “It has to launch on this date.” I’d do that or you need to soft launch ahead of time. Knowing full well that you’ve given yourself 2 to 3 full weeks where it’s been sitting on iTunes and then you go ahead and do a more formalized launch. That’s another reason why we don’t recommend that. We recommend having this more teasing promo, previous strategy so that way when you do drop it, everybody’s excited for you. Our team and us sends out a little graphic. It has your show art in the middle and it shows all the places you’re syndicated to. You can send that out. The one thing, and that’s what I hear back from a lot of people, there’s like, “No, I have to plan this whole launch and my social strategy. I have to wait because I need my iTunes link.” I’m going to say, “Stop right there. They’re in it is your strategic problem right there.”
I agree. I don’t think that’s necessary either.
You shouldn’t have it because you should never be utilizing that iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher link or even that Google Play link. None of those you should be using out to push out to. You should always be pushing back to your podcast page on your website or your podcast site as a whole if you have a whole podcast site. It should always be driving them back there and there’s the full ability for anyone to subscribe anywhere they want from there. You can say, “I’m on iTunes,” but why give them Apple the link straight out of Facebook? You should get this link straight out of Facebook, Instagram or wherever you are in that. That should be your driver. You should have that linkway ahead of time. You can buffer and plan. You can have the schedule go out. You can have your emails prepped ahead of time because that link’s already there. All you have to do is then trigger everything to run.
The other thing that is a common question we get that we should address is, “How many episodes should I launch with?” There is no absolute right or wrong answer to this, but depending on your goals. Whether they’re business goals or personal goals, there are some recommendations that we can make. It also depends a little bit on your budget, not only of maybe your money but your time in recording episodes with any launch. We launched shows every week. We see a lot of different launches with a lot of different numbers of episodes. Anywhere from three episodes would be the minimum we would ever recommend and urge people to do, all the way up to launching with 25 episodes at once on day one.
You can achieve success every different way from 3 to 5, 10, 12, 20, and 25, no matter how many episodes you launch on day one. However, the more episodes you launch with, the faster you will build an audience, the more exposure you will get and the more engagement you can foster with your new readers. The more content you have, the more information you’re putting out, the more material they will have to ask questions about. There’s a simple math equation here, which getting on Apple’s New and Noteworthy is real again. A year ago, I would’ve said, “Don’t waste your time because they weren’t even updating it.” It hadn’t been updated in a year a half or two years.
It changed and it is algorithmic again when you’re launching a new show. Within the first eight weeks of the launch of a show, your show was on their radar. While there are many different factors, there are many downloads, how many ratings you have? How many reviews you have of your podcast? How many subscribers you have your podcast? I agree that all of those things play into it in some way. However, I can tell you from experience observing this with many podcasts launches that when you launch with more episodes, your chances of being featured in New and Noteworthy are higher. It is simply a numbers game. The more episodes you have, every person that subscribes, downloads all those episodes if you have three, every subscriber going to get three immediately. If you have ten everyone’s going to get ten. You’ve multiplied the number of total plays or downloads of your episodes you get. If you have 25, you can see how these numbers start to stack up. We do see better results and more likelihood of getting on New and Noteworthy if you launch with more episodes.
I want to be cautious about this because there’s a temptation to do five-minute episodes to have 25. The reality is that there are diminishing returns on the flip side if they don’t stick with you. If those subscribers don’t read and don’t stick with you because it felt like you’re gaming the system with what you did, then that’s not for you. If you truly have a podcast that’s going to be a ten-minute episode all the time, that’s the style of it. I did this interview. I might’ve mentioned this with one of the cohosts of the Buffer Podcast: The Science of Social Media. They discovered that while they had been doing longer episodes, in the beginning, no one was listening all the way through.
When they shorten the episodes, it did better. That’s why they’ve gone to the shorter episode format and they have 15 to 20 minutes maximum every episode. It works for them because marketers have no attention span. If that’s not you, then that’s not going to work. If that’s what some people do, there are gurus out there telling everybody to do that for 25 episodes, but it doesn’t have traction long-term. It’s great to get on the bestseller page, but you can’t stay there. It’s not going to serve your business and serve your brand in the long run. You’re going to lose those subscribers quickly because they’re going to think you don’t understand this industry or you don’t understand me.
It reminds me that there’s another factor. It’s the more modern changes in iTunes as of October of 2018, where iTunes has some statistics available to you for your show and how it’s performances on iTunes. One of the things that iTunes is measuring is the length of time spent listening to your show per device. Meaning per smartphone or computer or whatever it is. They know because you signed in through your Apple ID to either your Apple Podcast app on your phone or iTunes on your desktop. Not only the length of time listened to per device, but the percentage of the entire episode that gets listened to. These are the factors that iTunes is looking at. Certainly, if you have short episodes, the chances of everybody listening all the way through are pretty good. Everybody might listen to 100% of your episode, but the number of minutes listened per device. If you publish ten episodes that are five minutes each, then that’s 50 minutes. That’s less than an hour.
If you’ve got six episodes that are 45 minutes each, that’s going to be a whole lot more time people are listening. I agree with you. Shorter episodes, unless there’s a particular reason like you NPR and you’re giving the five major headlines of the day over your cup of coffee, that’s fine. Shorter episodes generally leave listeners who want to hear your subject matter wanting more. That’s not a good thing because they listen to a bunch of episodes and they’re going to hear your intro over and over again. They get tired of that.
It is okay if you have a mix of episodes. If you have a mix on Monday mornings and that’s what you do because people need to get in and get out and get the news and then you’re moving on for the rest of the week. You have other styles of episodes that you might do at different times in the week. Those are perfectly fine. I want to make sure anyone’s like, “I should never do a ten-minute episode.”
There are times and places for that. Generally, twenty minutes minimum is what I would recommend if you’re serious about providing value and content to your listeners.
Let’s talk some more about launch strategies because I want to hit on some of those launch ideas that we have. A couple of our podcasters, Whitney and Jason, who have This Might Get Uncomfortable podcast. They’ve done something interesting and I’m impressed by how they approach everything. Whitney and Jason come out of the influencer world from being both on YouTube and then on Instagram. They have a sense of how to launch something like that because of their core competence. They’ve started a Patreon account and they’ve been giving previous of their unedited episodes to their Patreon audience as a prelaunch. They’re paying for the opportunity. They did it from their fan base already, sent them over to that to help them. It helps subsidize some of the early costs for them, but it’s also creating a buzz, which is good. They’ve also got the audience involved and got their feedback, what do you like? What don’t you like? What should we do more of? What do you think of these guest’s ideas? It’s almost they’re kick-starting their podcasts through that. I thought this is a brilliant buzz launch strategy. Keeping that buzz going is a great way to do that as well.
That necessitates that you have a following first that you can push it too. Others might be looking at their podcast as a way to generate a following to build a following and an audience, which is what we did when we started our first show. We did not have a following when we started, but we built one quickly over the first several months to get in 30,000 audiences.
That’s the second top thing that I’ve learned from the Center of Influence interviews that I’ve done with the top podcasters is professional organizations are some of the best viral spreaders, which sounds awful, but in a good way.Professional organizations are some of the best viral spreaders. Click To Tweet
Along with the virus thing, we would call them sneezers. They sneeze and it goes everywhere.
Some of the best sneezers, either professional organizations, the one that I think of is The Not Old – Better Show, which is a great show. He got hooked up with AARP because this show is focused on those over 50. It was the perfect match for them. When he got picked up in their traditional magazine, not someone in their online, their traditional magazine published a little blurb about his show. His show went through the roof and he sometimes gets 250,000 downloads in a month. Thinking about the organizations that make the most sense. If you’re in a health and wellness field or if you’re any of those starting to touch base and reach out to them sooner, they’re looking for a new podcast to share with their members. Especially, if you haven’t launched it, you could give them a sneak peek. You could send them and say, “Here you’re getting a sneak peek at the episodes. You’re going to hear what this is like.” You feel comfortable sharing it. It’s like sharing a chapter of your book early. Getting some early reviews or getting some people in to do that. That might be smart and a great way for you to do it. Those professional organizations were one of the top mentioned things that I heard that had a powerful result.
I like that getting people a sneak peek, peek behind the curtain, a little advanced notice and then they feel invested in your show and are probably a lot more likely to share. It blasted out once you launched for real.
Scott Carson’s on Facebook and he knows that participating in Facebook groups and other groups, you can do the same thing in LinkedIn and other places. Being careful that you’re not salesy about your podcasts or anything but say, “I’m launching one. What things would you like?” You’re in the right area. Starting to delve questions and it’s creating a buzz but in a friendly way. That’s a great way to do that. The other top one I wanted to mention that I heard from the Center of Influence is doing paid ads in the beginning. This isn’t for everybody. Where I’ve seen it done well is the actor Russell Brand started a podcast. The ads were putting push through. He would do live interviews with other celebrities and he’d go, “What did we talk about?” He does a teaser promo at the end of the show so people should listen up and that’s a great idea. Whitney and Jason, I know are going to do live interviews. Some of you are still doing them. You could still do it via Zoom. In this case, if you’re doing it, set it in the gallery view in Zoom so that you are side by side for the teaser purposes.
A little tech tip, if you’re using Zoom, make sure that your recording settings are set properly for how you want that video to record because you can change how you’re viewing it, but you’ve got to make sure you record it the right way.
You can record both views. You’ll end up with multiple recordings. You could set that ahead of time. If you check the box in your settings, it’ll record both of you and you know which one to use. You drop out the other one for when you want your full video episode and you use the gallery view for that teaser. It’s a great promo. I thought that’s a great idea because you’re not just learning it from me, but you’re learning it from this guest who sounds compelling. I want to know they had fun. It’s also saying that your show is fun. Those are some of the biggest tips I have.
I should mention a little bit about ads. If you want to go to that level, I want to give everybody an idea of what we have learned or some of the costs of doing that because that could be helpful. It doesn’t have to break the bank. I was speaking with another client on one of their strategy calls, which we have with people that are setting up their podcasts. They were asking about those opportunities. There is a company called Digital Audio Exchange. They claim to have over 100 million pairs of ears of audiences on various genres of podcasts that they can place advertisements on and you can advertise for your show.
The advantage of advertising in other podcasts is that podcasts audience, people who are already conditioned and interested in listening to podcasts are going to be hearing your ad for your show. You can specify the criteria, genre, and demographics of the audience that you want to advertise to for your show. It depends on your genre or your niche and what the supply and demand are for that. Still, the range they quote is $2 to $7 per thousand impressions or downloads plays of your ad for your show.
If you wanted to get exposure to 100,000 podcasts audiences over a month, that is in the marketing business and marketing space. Maybe that would cost you somewhere $200 to $700 to reach 100,000 potential audiences. To me, that’s not a huge expense to at least do a test. You can do some things in the ad where you send them to a particular landing page to find out about your show. You can track how their conversion is so you can see how it is. We don’t see too many people using this technique when they launch.
The big networks are using it.
Most people are doing organic launches and everything that we recommend is to put you in the best condition for an organic audience growth, which is usually going to be the most relevant to you and your business.
The reason most people don’t do it is that it is risky from a dollar perspective. You don’t know if it doesn’t work. You only launch once.
The company name is Digital Audio Exchange. They go by DAX. I have a contact and I will be happy to get you that contact. This is not something we need to get in the middle of. We would connect you with the right person and you can negotiate on your own. We have no special relationship there, but we have had conversations with this company and what they offer is worthy of consideration.
Scott’s asking, “Should we change our iTunes category to see if we should rank higher?”
There’s another piece of news related to that we should share with all of you in case you haven’t heard. Certainly, you get to be able to be listed in three different categories on iTunes. Meaning your show will rank in the charts and on iTunes, they only show you the top 200 shows in each category. We have lots of customers who started podcasts just like some of you are going to that do get into those charts. It is achievable. You don’t have to be one of the big media outlets to do this. Remember what I was talking about the number of episodes you publish over a period, that has an impact. How much content you have impacts on how quickly you can rise in the charts. If you pick a category to list your show in that has less competition, your chances of rising in the charts and that category are higher if it’s relevant. If they go to iTunes, they’re perusing podcasts, they’re looking through the charts and they’re trying to see what’s there and what’s ranking, that’s when people are going to find you. If you put yourself in a category that is not relevant, you don’t belong in. People probably aren’t going to be looking for your type of podcast so it may not help you.
When we launched our WTFFF, we had a choice between tech news and design in the arts category. We chose because we knew we were going to talk more about the design side of things. We chose to put ourselves there rather than the tech news. The tech news was full of dry and boring stuff. Maybe we could have outranked there, but we chose to put ourselves in a place where there wasn’t anything about technology in 3D Printing. It served us well. It made people more likely to want to choose our show because they felt it wasn’t going to be news. That matters as much to people.
You need to have your podcast in the most relevant category even if that primary category has a lot of competition because that’s where people will look for that type of show most likely. The other two that you can list in, you could play with. You can change it at any time if you’re hosted on Podetize. You have to let us know and we can change that for you. That brings me to the other little piece of news that broke about iTunes. The reality is iTunes invented podcasting. They tend to be the trailblazers on new things and everybody else follows. I suspect we may see some of the other platforms follow this lead. They are revamping all of the categories for podcasts and they have added a ton of new categories and subcategories.
I’m talking two dozen when they used to be about twelve, to begin with. The reality is there’s a lot of categories to consider and we are planning a newsletter emailed out to all of our clients and customers so you’re aware of this and can go and choose perhaps more relevant categories. They’ve also added a lot more subcategories so that they can further define and give more niches for people, which is great. We’ve had to recode our whole backend systems to be able to deploy those things and that’s done. We’re going to be providing everybody what the categories are. They’re phasing out the old list of categories. The other thing is that talking back to launch strategies again. You want to think carefully about your guests.
Tracy and I were at CEO Space International in Dallas, Texas. I had a great week. It was the best forum we’ve been to in years. We’ve been members of CEO Space for several years. One of the keynote speakers was Michael Gerber. He gave a great keynote and he said that among other things, he cared nothing at all about social media. He’s not on social media. He doesn’t want anything to do with it. He’s 83 years old. I can understand why he doesn’t care anything about it. That also means if you were to get Michael Gerber as a guest on your show, you might think, “He’s big. He wrote The E-Myth, The E-Myth Revisited and all these great books.” It’s true and a lot of people know of him, but is Michael Gerber going to help spread the word about your podcast episode if he’s not on Facebook and not on LinkedIn? He’s probably not going to give you too much help there, thinking strategically about your guests. The reason he’s on my mind with this is, I was having a follow-up strategy call with a client who launched their show. Their show’s doing well.
They’ve got quite a few good downloads, solid numbers. Michael Gerber was one of their first four-episode interviews. The good news is that episode has gotten twice downloads of any of their other episodes. The bad news is when you look at the social exposure, it’s gotten the least social exposure. Pros and cons, these are things to think about. Strategically when I’m launching a new show, if it’s my show and Tracy and I launch at least one new one every year, I would be thinking a lot about my guests. Making sure I knew that either they or their PR teams or whoever their support teams are, would be solidly behind promoting their interview in my episode. I want to think a little bit about myself. Although I’m serving in my show, I’m giving content. I’m providing value to others in the show. The guests that I interview, I would probably choose them based on who has the largest followings or email lists and who is most likely to share it. As another launch strategy that’s something that I would recommend, certainly something I would do.
“I love Tracy’s idea of the soft launch. There’s a lot of wisdom there, especially if you have any following already.” You want to be prepared on your website like Tracy was saying. From a launch strategy perspective, there are many things to consider and a rookie error I see a lot of people are making is when they have a podcast, they’ve got 20 to 100 episodes already published. They haven’t made any blog posts on their website, that was a huge mess. They haven’t taken advantage of their show. They’re sending people directly from their audio program to other websites. That’s a big rookie error. You want to think from the beginning, always sending people to your website. Send them to the blog posts for the most recent episode on your website to get any information. Don’t give away and send people out. I got a couple of questions here, “From a launch strategy perspective, do you have a recommended set of potential strategies?” Yes, we certainly do. It has to do with the recommended number of shows that you launch with. A decent length of those shows. A minimum of twenty minutes long recommended between 30 to 45 minutes.
Launching with ideally, I would say 10 or 12 episodes is a good number. If you can justify the time and the expense to bank up and produce 25 for the launch, that’s the ultimate. You will kill it from day one organically. We see this happen a lot. We have several shows that have done that. In the first month, they get between 40,000 to 50,000 downloads from a month to six weeks, maybe eight weeks at the most. It’s a good solid number. I don’t have an infographic I could give you with the launch strategy, but certainly, everything we already are planning to do is built around getting you the most organic boost from your podcast launch possible.
Paul Hoyt has a question, “Interview guests provide one, credibility and two, brand awareness, especially if they promote the interview too?” Yes, they do. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that your premiere guests and here’s another launch not a strategy, but a launch misconception. Also, the insecurity that a lot of new podcasters have is that if they go invite somebody as big as Michael Gerber, bad example for social media, but he’s a big name regardless and he’s a prolific author. If you invite him to one of your first shows, he won’t have any interest because your show is brand new and you don’t have a following yet and an audience yet. That is a big misconception. Do not underestimate the power of offering to your early potential guests.
The fact that they’re going to be featured on one of your premiere episodes, your first 5, 6, 10 or whatever that is. Think about what you’re offering them. You’re offering them the opportunity to be one of the first episodes. For those of you that are new, when somebody listens to your show, maybe there are 25, 50, 100 episodes by then, people find your show. They listen to the most recent 1 or 2 episodes. If they like it, they’re going to back to the beginning and start listening all the way through. Especially if they are Evergreen content that’s still relevant, which I’m sure most of you are recording shows like that. That’s what we tend to see. They’re always going to be listening to those early episodes first. Even if they somehow get wary of your episodes, hopefully, they won’t or they run out of time, the episodes they’re going to listen to most are the early ones.
Being a guest on those early episodes doesn’t mean you’re missing out on the big audience that you will as a show end up building. You will get exposure to all of them. It’s a good position for a guest. Don’t be apprehensive or afraid or squeamish like, “Would you mind being on my podcast? I don’t have an audience yet.” No, that’s not it. Be bold, say, “I’m offering you a unique opportunity. You get to be on one of my premiere episodes and we’re going to be blasting out this show to the world, getting as many audiences as we can, as fast as we can, using all of our organic techniques.” Maybe some paid push as well as I was suggesting before. They’re going to be beneficiaries of that because they’ll get exposure to. That’s another common question we get.Organic audience growth is usually going to be the most relevant to you and your business. Click To Tweet
You as a podcast host, get credibility being elevated to the level of your guest’s authority and influence and credibility. You get on a par with them because they were willing to be associated with you. That’s all true too and that benefits you, but there are plenty of benefits for them. Just make sure you’re aware of that. Since you’re new, we do a group coaching call every week. We come to it with some news, information, and insights that we think will be relevant to you. There are different subjects the first, second and third weeks of the month. We have different themes for what we do. We try not to talk about the same subject matter at all, twice within the same month. We’re going to open it up to whatever questions you may have, whatever your biggest concerns are, challenges, opportunities or wins. We want to share your wins too.
Scott Carson’s podcast got 35,000 plays, which is a record for his show. He’s been steadily increasing. It’s a big win and congratulations to Scott. He puts out a lot of content. I did an episode for Feed Your Brand with Scott. Scott is a great example, a model for marketing his business using podcasting and he uses video also as his main tool for creating content and serving his community. He directly monetizes it in many different ways and we go and talk through all of those things in that episode. Thank you, everyone. We’ll see you for another great episode.