Podcasting can indeed help you in establishing your authority, promoting your offerings, and increasing your revenue.
And the one aspect that has a significant influence on these three outcomes is – podcast subscribers.
If you have a loyal base of podcast subscribers, you can achieve your goals, whether its achieving podcast downloads target or earning a particular amount of money through podcasting.
Some of the podcasters produce mind-blowing content, but they fail to promote it strategically. And the ones who promote it well, fail to create engaging content that resonates with listeners. Eventually, it hampers the growth of your podcast.
So if you are the one finding ways to increase podcast subscribers, you have arrived at the right place. I’ve compiled a list of actionable strategies that will definitely supplement your efforts in taking your podcast to the next level.
Let’s get started right away.
Strategy #1: Identify your Niche and Target Audience
People are looking for information all the time. They don’t have time to waste on unnecessary stuff like your daily routine (unless you are a celebrity or a social media influencer). That’s why it’s crucial to identify your niche – your area of expertise that’ll add value to people’s life.
Your podcasting niche can be something you love or something you are expert at or both. When you podcast about something you are good at, you produce informative content that adds value or enhances knowledge.
For example, consider The joe gardener Show, a gardening podcast that mostly talks about organic gardening. The host, Joe Lamp’l, is an award-winning gardener who has been into gardening since childhood. The content he creates is simply incomparable and worth every cent. This is what expertise and passion are all about.
Now, if you look at the top organic gardening podcasts on Apple iTunes under the Home & Garden section, you’ll find only a few podcasts doing really well. It depicts low competition in the organic gardening niche, and a green signal for you!
Once you know your niche, it’s time to create your buyer persona – a semi-fictional representation of your ideal buyer (here, listener).
It’s important to create a listener persona because it will help you in targeting a specific audience on relevant platforms. And once you hit the right spot, podcast subscribers will increase on an autopilot mode.
Strategy #2: Establish your Presence on Podcasting Apps
Identifying your niche and creating your buyer persona will tell you what your podcast will be about.
Now, if you want to tell people about your podcast, you’ve to explore options to extend your reach.
The most obvious and the foremost consideration: Listing your podcast on podcasting apps (also known as podcatchers and podcast directories).
As the name suggests, podcasting apps or directories are the places where listeners subscribe, download, manage, and listen to their favorite podcasts.
You may have heard of big players – and, most probably, would have listed your podcast there – such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Pandora. Here is a list of podcatchers that deserves your attention:
- SoundCloud Podcasting
- Pocket Casts
- TuneIn Radio
Now listing your podcast on these apps may result in an initial boost. But as time goes by, your podcast gets buried amongst thousands of podcasts that nobody listens to. Of course, you don’t want this.
You want the limelight, winning a slot in Apple iTunes New & Noteworthy and What’s Hot section, for example.
Therefore, you should have a solid promotion plan for the launch that’ll provide much-needed attention to your podcast, thereby, increasing subscribers and downloads.
Implement following to promote your podcast on podcasting apps:
- Publish 3-5 episodes at the launch to provide enough content for listeners
- Ask your connections to rate, review, subscribe, and listen to your podcast (connections include everyone you know, EVERYONE!)
- Promote it relentlessly on social media, blog, email, influencers’ network, forums, and at other avenues
- Produce and release podcasts more often and more consistently (you MUST attract new listeners)
Once you give the initial boost to subscriber count, you need to maintain the momentum by producing top-notch content. This brings us to the next strategy.
Strategy #3: Create & Experiment with Different Types of Content
You cannot survive on hamburgers and Coke all your life. You need something different now and again. The same holds true for podcast content.
You cannot expect your audience to survive only on monologues (also called solo-casts and solo commentary). Spice up your content by trying out different formats, such as:
- Interviews: This is one of the most engaging types of content on a podcast. You call a guest on your podcast, and your listeners get an insight into your conversations. WTF with Marc Maron is one of the podcasts that excels at one-on-one interviews.
- Conversational: When you have two hosts instead of one, it results in a conversational podcast. Marketing School by Neil Patel and Eric Sui is a classic example of conversational podcasting.
- Monologues: You should be really good at keeping listeners spell-bounded with your lengthy monologues. Hone up your storytelling skills to keep listeners engaged in your podcast. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series can be your inspiration.
- Non-fiction Storytelling: Producing non-fiction stories is not everyone’s cup of tea. But whoever can excel at this may generate a consistent stream of subscribers for a long time. This American Life is the perfect representation of non-fiction storytelling.
- Fiction Storytelling: And then you have an audience interested in listening to your fictional stories. If you are an expert in this podcasting form, you can share your stories with the world, just like Welcome to Night Vale podcast.
- Group Discussions: Here, things get more enjoyable when you have a panel of guests and hosts having an intense (or lighthearted) discussion on a topic. Since the reach of these types of podcasts is really high, the chances of new subscriptions are also high. Marc Maron does it quite often in his podcast.
- Hybrid Narratives: Maybe there’s scope for more forms of content, such as live storytelling, seminars, workshops, and plays. It’s all about how you attract your listeners to become subscribers. The Moth does it really well by podcasting live storytelling events.
To produce a variety of engaging content, you also need the best tools and resources. Invest in a reliable podcasting kit that’ll help you in creating high-quality content.
When you provide variety and value and quality in your content, subscribers count will increase consistently and rapidly.
Strategy #4: Invite Guests and Be a Guest
Inviting guests and interviewing them is an excellent strategy of increasing subscriber count manifold. When you call guests on your podcast, you get exposure to a whole new audience. Further, your podcast audience gets valuable insights related to your niche. You see, the odds are all in your favor.
Let us take an example of The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. Almost all episodes of this podcast are guest interviews. Joe, the host of the podcast, mostly invites comedians, actors, and journalists on The JRE Podcast.
Now Joe has more than 2 million Facebook followers and more than 9 million Instagram followers. Recently, he invited Tom Green, who has more than 150,000 Facebook followers and more than 380,000 Instagram followers.
Imagine the kind of exposure (and the number of subscribers) Joe and Tom must have received from each other’s audience. The episode lasted more than 3 hours and 30 minutes. Imagine the amount of valuable content delivered to the listeners.
The question arises: How to find guests for interviews?
Follow these steps to find guest interviewing opportunities:
- Analyze competitors’ podcasts, blog, and social media profiles to know about the guests that featured on their podcast/blog
- Use BuzzSumo to find influencers in your niche
- Ask your listeners who they want to know about
- Perform extensive outreach in your circle, whether its professional or personal
- Participate in groups, communities, and forums like Reddit, Quora, LinkedIn, and others to find experts and influencers
Now the same principles apply when you want to be a guest on podcasts. The key to getting invitations for interviews is – networking and building relations. Be active in your niche and connect with everyone on multiple platforms. You will get more podcasting opportunities.
Strategy #5: Invest in Networking
As discussed in the previous section, networking is the key to more exposure and better opportunities. The same principle applies to podcast promotions as well.
Networking helps you in extending your reach, increasing engagement, and, ultimately, increasing subscriber count.
Perfect the art of networking by implementing the following procedures:
a) Build a rapport with influencers/experts in your niche
Whether it’s social media, website, blog, email, networking events, meet-ups, or podcasting, there are numerous ways to establish a relationship with people from your industry.
For example, search “content marketing” on Twitter and sort results by “People” to find experts in your niche. Start interacting with these people to build connections.
b) Collaborate with influencers/experts/services
Networking helps you in putting out the word about your podcast. That’s like asking for a favor from your connections. However, you can also collaborate with them to tap into their audience network.
For example, you can co-host an episode with a fellow podcaster or arrange a group discussion. You can also mention products/services you use, and then ask developers/service providers to share your podcast since you have mentioned them in it.
Stu McLaren created an episode called “What makes a great membership?” for his podcast Marketing your Business. He mentioned certain influencers and brands in the episode and linked to the resources. Now he may have asked them to consider listening to it and share if they find it worth sharing.
Strategy #6: Make your Podcasts SEO-friendly
Do you know Google search results display podcasts? Out of curiosity, I searched “meditation podcasts” on Google. Look what I found.
There are more than fifty meditation podcasts listed in the search results. Not only this, but it also shows podcast episodes links in the results. On top of this, search results comprise of web links showcasing “Best XX Podcasts on Meditation.”
Can you imagine how much subscribers you can gain by ranking on search engines?
Follow these steps to optimize your podcast/website for search engines:
- Optimize your podcast episodes by including primary keywords, writing catchy titles, writing detailed descriptions, mentioning necessary resources, including show notes, etc.
- Transcribing episodes and adding the transcript either in the description or inserting a link to to the blog post
- Increase engagement on your podcast by urging listeners to rate, review, share, like, download, and subscribe
- Promote podcast via email, social media, blog, website, and other channels
- Optimize podcast website as per SEO guidelines and focus on building backlinks as well
When the engagement level is at peak on your podcast, search engines start noticing it. This leads to higher rankings on search engine result pages (SERPs).
Strategy #7: Run contests and giveaways
Do you know Instagram accounts that hold contests grow 70 percent faster than accounts that don’t?
Holding contests and giveaway is the best way to:
- Increase followers (subscribers and downloads for podcasts)
- Generate traffic
- Increase engagement (likes, shares, comments, tags, etc.)
- Grow email list
- Generate targeted leads
- Increase ROI
If you want to increase podcast subscribers, downloads, or listens, you can consider holding a contest. But the question is, how?
Various apps and tools that help you in running contests and giveaways are:
While running contests and giveaways, you must lure participants with offerings that they want eagerly or something that makes them feel special. Some of the options are:
- Giving gifts or supply of your products
- Free subscriptions of your services
- A shout out on your podcast
- An invite to a podcast episode
Pro Tip: Ask content participants to tag their friends, mention email addresses, or share the post in their network. It will maximize your reach and will ensure maximum participation. Moreover, running paid promotions will be beneficial for promoting your podcast.
Strategy #8: Leverage your Audience
You can apply all the strategies to increase subscription count but, in the process, don’t forget to mine your existing audience. You can utilize it to grow your podcast. Let me show you how.
Besides a podcast, what online assets do you have? Possibilities are – a blog, a website, an email list, social media accounts, a mobile app, an online forum, etc.
Whenever the episode is ready (or almost ready) but not launched, start promoting it to your audience. Apply the following innovative tips to promote your podcast:
- Create interactive graphics depicting your episode’s important details
- Create a short video and brief your audience about the episode (don’t forget to urge them to take action)
- Share sound bites of the episode (don’t reveal everything, just tease them)
This was about your existing audience. What about the potential audience that may look forward to subscribing to your podcast?
It’s simple. Be where your prospects hang out. And not just be present but make your presence feel.
For example, smartphones are the number one medium for podcast consumption. It means that you should be present on ALL podcasting apps. We have covered this topic in one of the sections above. Besides being listed, optimize your podcast for maximum reach and engagement.
Similarly, if you think you’ll gain prospects from online forums, start interacting with them on Quora, Reddit, and other online communities.
Also, consider investing in paid social media marketing. 91 percent of podcast listeners are active on at least one social media channel. As mentioned in contests and giveaways section, run contests to extend your reach exponentially and increase subscriber count.
Strategy #9: Repurpose Podcast Episodes for Content Marketing
Not everyone likes listening to podcasts; some like reading blog posts, some prefer watching videos, and some reading emails. You can repurpose podcast content into various content formats and promote them via multiple channels.
For example, you can mention key points of the episode in an infographic and promote it via multiple channels, such as a blog and Pinterest. People are 30X more likely to read infographics rather than an article.
Similarly, you can create blog posts, email content, videos, images, animations, presentations, and much more.
Whenever you repurpose podcast content into other formats, ensure you promote them extensively. Not only promote but use them to link to your podcast as well. Maybe someone consuming your content would like to subscribe to your podcast.
For example, The joe gardener Show (discussed in one of the sections) publishes a blog post for every podcast episode.
His 154th episode “Garden Savvy Shopping Tips for Healthy Plants” is also published as a blog post on his blog. It also has links to his podcast and other online channels.
Strategy #10: Analyze Metrics to Optimize Podcast Growth
Measuring podcast performance is not easy because it’s challenging to track key performance indicators such as downloads and subscribers.
However, with the introduction of IAB Podcast Measurement Technical Guidelines Version 2.0, analytics is getting more organized, measurable, and accessible.
Most of the podcast hosting platforms provide analytics services as well. You can view detailed analytics related to your podcast. It helps you to gauge your podcast’s popularity and relevance.
But I would suggest you rely on Blubrry Statistics because very few can provide such detailed insights.
And it makes sense to rely on Apple Podcast’s analytics because 60 to 80 percent of the podcast listening happens on Apple Podcasts.
To measure the performance of a particular episode, you can measure the following episode metrics on Apple Podcast:
- Average Consumption: Suppose an episode’s length is 10 minutes. The average consumption value is 80 percent. It means listeners stop listening to the episode after 8 minutes. The metric tells you about the episode’s popularity and engagement.
- Play-Duration: It’s a line chart that shows listeners listening at a particular point of time throughout the episode. If you witness a sudden drop at, let’s say, 7 minutes 10 seconds, it depicts listeners were not interested in what you had to say after that point.
- Devices Subscribed: Immediately below the line chart, you can see how many devices subscribed to the podcast after listening to a particular episode. If it shows 70 percent, it means 70 percent of the people who listened to the episode subscribed to your podcast.
If you don’t want to rely solely on Apple you can try other podcast analytics providers (which are mostly podcast hosting) platforms.
Strategy #11: Ask Listeners to take Action
It’s a blatant fact: Nobody (very few, actually) takes action unless you compel them to do so.
In the intro and outro of the episode, urge your listeners to rate, review, subscribe, and share. Do the same in the show notes.
Basically, it’s your content or any incentive that’ll make them take action. Concerning incentive, you can check out the contests and giveaway section above.
When it comes to content, you can focus on the following aspects:
- Analyze competitors: Check out what content your competitors are working upon – whether they are releasing guest interviews, solo-casts, or non-fiction narratives, how are they promoting their content, what’s their content format, how are they optimizing it for search engines, and so on. You got the drill, right?
- Explore current/trending topics: Creating content around current/trending topics means receiving an overload of listeners/traffic. Everybody wants to know more about these “hot” topics. For example, right now, you can create content around COVID-19. If you podcast about B2B sales, you can discuss how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect the supply and demand.
- Showcase your original work/case studies: People love original work that provides fresh insights to them. Instead of repurposing/rephrasing already available content on the web, showcase your own work. For example, you can survey to gauge the effect of COVID-19 on remote work and present your findings in your podcast. Your listeners will appreciate it and will not hesitate to subscribe.
- Ask your listeners: Finally, ask your listeners what they want to know about. Dig into their problems, concerns, needs, and expectations. When you create podcast content around your customers’ wants, you’ll get plenty of likes, subscribers, and shares.
Increase Podcast Subscribers Now
Getting more podcast subscribers is not easy at all. You have to work consistently and relentlessly to provide value to your listeners.
Analyze more, create more, promote more, and discover more to strike a chord with listeners. Once you know the success recipe, the subscriber count will increase for sure.
Implement the strategies outlined here and see what works best for you. Choose the strategies which are most suitable as per your niche or requirements.
If you have any questions related to any of these strategies or if you want to share your secret weapon to gain more subscribers, I’m all ears. You would also like to read my guide on how to get more podcast downloads and 9 best ways to make more money podcasting.
Comment to initiate a conversation.