What’s the best call-to-action for your podcast?

When it comes to audio production, you’ve only got one shot. Listeners to a podcast are unlikely to “rewind” to catch your meaning or relisten to multiple or convoluted instructions. Life’s too short.

The content you produce for your audience must be clear and simple. So, when it comes to calls to action, just do one.

That’s the message* from Andrew Davies, Digital and Engagement Editor at ABC Audio Studios & Radio National.

Andrew is a disciple of the one-shot rule, a term coined by New York-based podcaster, Amanda McLoughlin. It refers to having just one call-to-action (CTA) per podcast episode because listeners are more likely to remember it and follow through.

Andrew encourages people to think about using “one simple, well-established, clear call-to-action that your listeners can take up, rather than applying four or five different calls-to-action and wasting yours or your audience’s time.”

What is a CTA?

In marketing, a CTA is an instruction to your audience, inviting them to do something as a result of having consumed your content, be it a podcast, newsletter, blog or similar.

But no matter where a CTA is being used, the request should be clear, concise, and easy to do.

“If you’re encouraging your audience to do something,” Andrew says, “don’t make them go through four steps to do that.”

If you’re prompting your audience to watch a video, for example, your instructions need to be clear.

Andrew says, put that link or video “prominently on your website so that then you can say, ‘Go to the website and watch the video,’ rather than going through four steps to get to the video.”

What are some CTA examples?

There are many examples of a podcast CTA. It’s up to you whether you include it in the beginning, middle or end of the episode; it’ll depend on the style of your show and how it might fit within its content.

Here are some ideas Andrew suggests:

  • Story ideas – Ask your audience to contribute ideas for future episodes. It could be guest recommendations or topic suggestions.
  • Cross-promotion – Encourage your listeners to check out other podcasts you produce, podcasts in which you feature as a guest, or podcasts that you’re recommending as part of a cross-promotion.
  • Previous episodes – Invite your audience to listen to a previous, relevant episode.
  • Merchandise – A call-to-action that instructs listeners on purchasing or receiving merchandise, like T-shirts, stickers, caps, etc.
  • Voice memos/messages – Invite your listeners to record a voice memo, or send a message via social media or email. As part of a future episode, you could use the audio or you can read out the Tweet or message.
  • Watch a video/read an article – Refer to a video or article on your website.

Your CTAs should fit in with your overall brand strategy, so when in doubt, consider the purpose of the podcast, the campaign objective and write out a list of potential CTAs you could use across the podcast – essentially a calls-to-action strategy.

Don’t just rely on audio

Calls to action shouldn’t sit in isolation. Andrew says it’s important to remember your own channels like social media, website and episode descriptions “as part of your whole call-to-action strategy, rather than just relying on the audio.”

“A good example might be the ABC’s Bang On Podcast, where they talk about particular popular culture examples, the videos they’ve watched or the links they’ve read from, be it the New Yorker or New York Magazine, or whatever it might be. So, there’s an active connection between the audio content and the links,” Andrew says.

Asking listeners to share the podcast link on social media might also be a worthwhile, regular CTA. If you do so, Andrew says, it’s worth tracking those links by creating them with shortening link tools (like Bitly).

“So, I would track it over a period of time to see how valuable it is when it comes to listeners taking up those links, so you’re not wasting your time,” Andrew insists.

It’s also a valuable way of understanding your audience. The more you understand your target market, the better you can adjust the podcast to serve them.

“My general view is that it’s really valuable in any form of media to understand as much as you can about your audience. Because that informs what you do, everything about your content, your distribution strategy, your marketing strategy, your audience, in terms of how they’re engaging by different apps, be it your website, your social channels. Because it helps inform the broader picture about where your audience is coming from and who they are.”

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* Nick Schildberger and Nicole Goodman spoke to Andrew Davies in episode 10 of Season 5, in Podcasting Essentials, click here.