Taking Your Podcasting Experience To The Next Level

I’ve gained an audience and have been consistently recording new podcasts… Now what?

Action Plan – Time for a checkup

Now that you’ve released your podcasts and are gaining a listenership, you can now take steps to measure and evaluate your success and take your podcast to the next level by expanding your audience.

Evaluation – Measure your growth

There are a number of key areas that you’ll want to evaluate. Here’s a list to help you get started.

  • Number of Subscribers Vs. Number of Listeners
  • Website Hits
  • Feedback
  • Promotional Efforts
  • Web Presence
  • Elements of your Podcast

Key Metrics: Number of Subscribers vs. Number of Listener

Is your podcast being subscribed to or is your audience downloading your podcast from other sites and directories? To find out how many subscribers you have, login to FeedBurner and click on stats. The number of subscribers will be listed for you to review.

Website – Opportunities at your site

Similarly, when a listener arrives at your website, you could guide them towards an online form with the option to say how they heard about your podcast, i.e. word of mouth, press release, podcast directory, search engine, and so on. This campaign segmenting tool is very effective and simple to use. Also, refer to your stats program to find out where unique visitors (your listeners) were referred from.

Website Hits – Making an RSS feed available or more obvious

Most web hosting services provide you with a basic statistics program. If you are making your podcast available for download as well as offering a link to subscribe to your feed, you will be able to track the number of hits or the number of downloads in your statistics or stats program. If you find that the number of direct downloads greatly outnumbers your subscribers, consider making the Subscribe option more visible on your site, perhaps include an RSS feed button beside the MP3 download icon.

Some stats tools let you know where a customer came from. This is called a Referral. Referrals may come from search engines, other websites that are linking to you, press releases, and articles that are written about your podcast.

Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing

If you are advertising on search engines, you should be able to calculate how much it costs to acquire a new subscriber. If you spent $25 on advertising over a week and acquired 5 new subscribers, each of those subscribers cost you $5 to acquire. That’s your cost per acquisition.

If you are already showing up in search engine results without having to pay for your listings, you can track these click-throughs in your stats program. These free listings are called “natural” or “organic” listings, meaning that your website pages were indexed by the search engine based upon relevancy.

Evaluate Your Presence on the Internet

Is your podcast listed and found in the catalogs of other websites and directories? Make it your primary goal to be included in all of the major aggregators such as Apple iTunes, Digg or Odeo. Other directories may pick up your feed, but you should aspire to find new directories on an on-going basis to aid you in this marketing effort. This could also mean listening to other popular podcasts to see what they are doing well. Check how many listeners they have and try to emulate their style of storytelling. View a few of the best podcasts to get you started here.

Use the Online World Effectively

Social media can be a great way to get your podcast in front of potential listeners. Since we live in a digital age, social media platforms play an important role in building and promoting your brand. However you have to be sure that you are using the correct platform depending on what demographic you are attempting to appeal too.

Complementary to the social media world, is the blogging world. You may want to consider creating your own blog or cross-promoting your blog on other sites by reaching out and offering to post a guest blog posting on their site.

Get Listener Feedback

Have you been asking for and receiving feedback about your podcast? Whether it be positive, negative, or constructive criticism, all feedback is of value and will help you to improve your podcast for your subscribers and listeners. A good idea is to have someone review your podcast for you. Joining a podcasting support group online is the easiest and most inexpensive way to receive feedback from your peers and the professional podcasters that moderate groups and forums.

Free voicemail-to-email (k7.net) is a free service that lets people call in to you and it will send to you. Website: http://www.k7.net/

Remember to Check Your Referrals

Know where your listeners are coming from. Is your podcast being mentioned in forums and chat groups? Are you networking with your colleagues? Are you trading website links with other podcasters? Receiving a favorable review of your podcast from a podcast directory or a podcasting site administrator will award you with more publicity, listeners, and subscribers.

Promotion and Feedback – People power for your podcast

Here are some great ideas that will help spread your podcast far and wide. Every activity helps, especially grassroots marketing in news groups, bulletin boards, and of course, the self-promotion of your podcast to your family and friends. You may need to explain what a podcast is, but just chock it up to your role as a pioneer, evangelizing your medium.

Another standard item is to Blog with RSS. Though it sounds like it runs itself, you must distribute it. This is the only way to spread the idea virus, which is basically what blog posts are – a collection of ideas meant to be spread easily.

The ultimate WOM (word of mouth) is truly a marketer’s dream. When your message is spread by word of mouth, other people are essentially promoting for you while you benefit from the results of their work. Get your podcast into the ears and media players of early adopters that can sneeze your podcast concept to their family, friends, and co-workers. Their enthusiasm for your show will help you to lay the foundation for podcast growth and introduce new subscribers to your podcast.

Your Podcast Voice – The voice of your podcast

Is your tone exciting, or does it sound like you are talking to a wall? The goal of your voice-over should be to engage listeners and to speak in a conversational style. They should feel like they are a part of your podcast. When a listener is comfortable with your style and the voice that they hear, they will subscribe and most likely spread the word to their friends and colleagues. You can find ways to make your brand come to life through the right type of storytelling.

Also reevaluate your posture when recording and the fluctuation levels in your voice. Sounding stale and monotone is boring not to mention a strain on your vocal cords. However, a clear, friendly, and inspirational voice is exactly what you need to make your listeners happy.

If this is a particular challenge for you, consider hiring a professional voice-over talent to record your podcast (www.Voices.com ), or invite co-hosts to partner with you to keep you energized and vocally elastic.

Music and Sound Effects- Give some flair to your podcast

Add music and sound effects that correlate with the theme of your podcast. As mentioned earlier on, a financial podcast about stocks might have upbeat music with complimentary sound effects including the ringing of the stock exchange bell signaling the beginning of the show, the sound of coins jingling, and other appropriate sounds to the stock market environment.

Find resources for Podsafe music and sound effects by referring back to the Music and Sound effects section of this tutorial.

Podcast Diagnosis – Know where your podcast stands

After reading the above section, you should be able to now diagnose the areas where your podcast is thriving and also areas where it can be improved.

Identify what’s working. If possible, step it up a notch to make your podcasts even better. Take progressive baby steps in the areas that need improvement to bring them up to the same level as areas of your podcast that are thriving and excelling.

Think of this as a work in progress. When you know the areas that you need to grow, look to resources such as this podcasting tutorial, online forums, and articles about the area(s) that you need to improve upon. Take what you have learned and apply it. Watch as your podcast grows before your very eyes!

Conduct an in-depth analysis of your podcast every 3 months, give or take, in order to grow your podcast and stay in top form.

Summary – Key points about growing your podcast

It’s always good to evaluate areas of growth and need when pursuing an ongoing activity such as podcasting. Take time to look over your branding efforts, the content of your podcast, marketing strategies, and use of customer feedback to help you improve your podcast and realize your potential as a podcaster and content provider. Assessing your podcast every so often will not only improve your show for your listeners, but will also measure how far your podcasting business has come over time.

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