This post is part of Made @ HubSpot, an in-house series of thought leaders, where we draw lessons from experiments conducted by our own HubSpotters.
There are 72,000 new podcast episodes every day – which means five new podcasts are created every six seconds.
As of March 2020, a total of 1.9 million podcasts and 47 million episodes were reported. Depending on when you read this article, these numbers can differ drastically.
That means: The podcast industry is growing rapidly.
In a world of rapidly growing competition, how do we compete for listener attention as podcast marketers while increasing reach and growing our audience?
I wish I could tell you that I figured it all out. However, if you didn’t find out, it ultimately resulted in downloads for season six of HubSpot’s podcast Skill Up increasing by 271%.
Here I am going to share my lessons on how I achieved that growth.
Lesson 1: There are many podcast listening platforms out there.
When you think of podcast platforms, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts are probably the most important thing, right?
Well, there are a lot more audio platforms out there than these three.
I’ve downloaded every podcast platform available on the App Store onto my iPhone. These included Podcast Addict, Overcast, Castro, PlayerFM, Pandora, Pocket Casts, and about ten others.
I then compared the players I downloaded to Megaphone’s audience use report. If there was a small or nonexistent audience on a platform, I highlighted it.
The first recommendation I can make is to use the reports provided by your podcast host to check where people are listening to your podcasts. Are most of your downloads coming from Apple or Spotify? If your answer is yes, that’s good news. You have untapped audiences on other platforms including PlayerFM and Podcast Addict.
Which brings me to my next recommendation …
Lesson 2: Paid ad placements on podcast platforms pay off.
After I had a list of podcast platforms that I could use to expand the reach of my podcast, I opened up each platform and noted their ad placements. I was looking for something that said “Sponsored” or something like that. If I liked the ad placement, I added it to my list.
Next, I focused on collecting data on ad costs, estimated CPM, and estimated downloads for the placements I was interested in. This is relatively easy as many platforms share both the available ad placements and the estimated campaign results on their websites.
If the information is not available on their website, you can email the advertising team at the podcast platforms and they will provide this information to you.
After collecting this data, I rated the best ads for Skill Up. Fortunately, my manager had already served ads on podcast listening platforms before I joined HubSpot – which meant I had data to reference to make more informed decisions.
If you’ve never run ads on a listening platform before, I have good news for you: ad placements range from $ 165 to $ 3,000. Even if you don’t have a big budget, you can probably still experiment with these types of ads.
Lesson 3: Episode Specific Actions Are Incredibly Effective.
In my marketing plan for the start of the sixth season, I focused on promotions that announced the upcoming season.
The season consisted of five episodes that were released over a period of three weeks. It therefore made sense to raise awareness of the new consequences. The podcast ad copy read: “A new season of Skill Up is here!”
However, towards the end of the season it no longer made sense to announce the season. Instead, I created episode-specific promotions.
Compared to the show campaigns, the episode highlights had a better response from the audience and increased our conversions via sales channels such as email.
Here is an example:
HubSpot’s Skill Up Podcast Showcases… “How a LinkedIn Sales Executive Develops an First-Time Sales Strategy for Buyers”
What’s the best selling strategy in 2021? Kwesi Graves, Sales Manager at LinkedIn, advocates the “Buyer-First-Selling” approach, which puts quality over quantity, emphasizes the importance of the buyer context, and encourages his team of representatives to spend more time researching to spend than contacting. If you’re a manager, sales manager, or representative and want to change your sales numbers in 2021, this is a good place to start! Listen now:
Episode-specific advertising also performed much better than seasonal advertising. Unfortunately, most podcast listening platforms do not allow episode-specific advertising.
There’s one that does this: PlayerFM. Our episode specific ads on PlayerFM outperformed all other ad campaigns. Hopefully, at some point, more podcast platforms will offer the same.
While I wouldn’t say these initiatives are revolutionary, they have been incredibly effective for us. Our team is on an exciting journey where experimentation and innovation are the key to success.
For all podcast marketers in the industry – this is just the beginning.