How to grow your podcast audience with Evo Terra

So, you’ve developed a podcast strategy, you’ve planned all of your episodes and produced the podcast. Now it’s time to distribute and market it. How are you going to do that and to whom? Only once those questions are answered can you begin to grow your audience. Who better to discuss this with than Evo Terra, the inimitable host of Podcast Pontifications! He joined Nick Schildberger and Nicole Goodman on Podcasting Essentials to explain the ins and outs. It’s the follow up to the pearls he gave us in the previous episode about podcast strategy and episode planning.

Three boxes to check before you plan your podcast

Sure, everyone would like to go full-tilt into promoting their podcast, but if you want to avoid throwing away good money after bad, there are three things that Evo stresses you need to ensure before you can start promoting:

1. Have the fundamentals right

Invest in a great podcast website

“The home of a podcast is not its listing on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon,” says Evo. The rock-solid foundation of a podcast is a strong web presence, a great website that informs listeners who you are and what the podcast is about.  This also means ensuring your owned media is up to scratch, like our newsletter databases, social media, etc.

Distribute your podcast widely

“Too many people say Apple makes up 60%-70% of the numbers, I’ll just put it there. Wrong,” Evo says. The landscape is being peppered with new directories all the time, the latest being Amazon Music. If reach and audience growth is the goal, you need to distribute your podcast to every publishing platform possible.

2. Make remarkable content

Advertising is a tax on the unremarkable,” says Terra. “If you’re not making content that people want to talk about and want to share, why would anybody want to listen?” This point very much speaks for itself.

3. Leverage your existing network

Particularly if you’re a business, think about your clients, customers, prospects, people on your newsletter database. Evo asks, “Are you reaching out to all of them? All of these people who are reaching out to you on a regular basis, are they engaged?”

You can’t grow what you don’t know

You’ve got to know who your audience is, not just before you start promoting the podcast, but before you start planning!  Who are you talking to? If you’ve answered, “everybody”, that ultimately means nobody.

As Terra advises, “Once you understand those people and what they’re looking for, that’s when you can create content specific to them.” Once this is solidified, you can begin to search for look-alike audiences, people that are just like who you’ve made the podcast for.

Where do they live? What are their preferred social media channels? What kind of content do they consume and when? etc.

What are the best ways to grow an audience?

Assuming all the fundamentals and suggestions above are in place, then:

1. Try to get exposure on podcasts in your niche

As Evo puts it, “that’s borrowing someone else’s audience, because you’re providing great content.” And it may entice new listeners to want to listen to your show.

2. Develop a network effect

Work directly with other podcasts or with businesses just starting a podcast. “And you can share information, share an audience, promote and communicate with other podcasters who are in your same area. A rising tide lifts all boats.”

3. Episode drop

Buy some ad space in a long-standing successful podcast that still gets thousands of listens.

SEO this!

Word of mouth is the number one way that podcasts are discovered, but everyday people are still typing search requests into Google and the like, which also indexes podcasts and podcast episodes.

While some discovery does happen within podcast apps, the vast majority takes place via search engines. So, optimising your content so that it appears as high on search results as possible, is important.

“But it’s really hard work and that’s typically because most people think about SEO as an afterthought,” says Evo. The best way to go about SEO is to plan it before you’ve produced any content at all and ask – What would my audience be searching for? What do I have to offer them?

And then create content that matches that search term. Not in an obvious, stacking-of-keywords-way, but make content with human behaviour in mind.

SEO is not just Google

Keep in mind the podcast apps, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, etc. Evo suggests, “it’s a little bit of a black box, we don’t know a lot about what goes in there, but we do know some things,” as Terra divulges, “A little known secret about Apple Podcasts is that the only fields that matter when returning search results, is the title and the author field. That’s it.”

There’s no practical limit on title length per se, but:

  • Don’t stuff the title with keywords, and
  • Make the title relevant only to the content, not just to keywords.

Google is wise to this game and you will get kicked out of Apple Podcasts in a New York minute if you’re caught.

It’s also imperative to put the most important keywords as close to the front as possible. Evo says that he spends a huge amount of time using headline and analytics tools to come up with effective titles. In particular, he prefers using Google Search Console.

So, while each app tracks discovery slightly differently, the best thing to do is search for your own podcast in the apps and check what is and isn’t working.

Attracting novice listeners

The biggest opportunity in podcasting is reaching the 75% people who haven’t listened to a podcast. Capturing this audience is in some ways the same as you’d use to capture your existing audience:

  • Create great content.
  • Make sure their first listening experience is amazing. Ensure the podcast has great sound quality, good information and includes detailed episode notes.
  • Try to give them what Evo calls the IHNI – ‘I Had No Idea’ experience.
  • Recommend amazing content to people. Aim to blow their minds and convert them into regular podcast listeners.

Now, if you follow these suggestions and take on board Evo’s insights, you can’t possibly go wrong!

Listen to the full interview with Evo, and to hear more podcasting news and info for brands, head to Podcasting Essentials.