Podcasting is growing significantly. Large podcast networks claim they’re seeing listening double in just one year. Podcast revenue is almost doubling year-on-year, too. Podcasting is doing astonishingly well.
Yet, podcasting only accounts for 4% of all audio listening. It has so much potential to grow further. Yet there appear to be two things that are holding podcast consumption back.
People don’t know WHY they should listen
64% of North American radio listeners don’t know why they should bother with podcasts. That’s almost two-thirds.
The right place to convince them, of course, is by using your own website and your own marketing. The Apple Podcasts app is not the right place to convince people to listen to podcasts.
Tell people: “Listen to the Example Podcast at example.com”. Don’t talk about podcast apps or anything else. Just give the call to action as your website. Because…
People don’t know HOW they can listen
Never listened. Ever.
We can help with this.
I’m going to suggest two things you can add to your podcast’s website: and lots of things you should remove.
And here’s the first thing to add.
Just add a play button
In order for more people to listen to podcasts, our starting position ought to be to stop talking about apps.
Ira Glass’s “how to listen to a podcast” video essentially does just that: the video that, in part, launched Serial. 80-year-old Mary explains it in the simplest way possible:
Go to the website, and press play.
Put a bloody big play button on your website. Make it really obvious that you can just press play. That’s the first hurdle, done.
Tip: Your website is the key to being listed on Google Podcasts, including Google Home, Google Assistant, and Google Pants.¹
Stop with the app buttons already
Chances are, you’ve tried really hard to get into as many podcast apps as possible. There are a lot of places to get into. It’s really important to be where your audience is.
But. By linking to all of these options, we’re making it much more complicated than it needs to be.
The Apple iPhone already has a podcast app pre-installed. It’s called Apple Podcasts, and it’s on every single iPhone and iPod.
Android phones already have a podcast app pre-installed. It’s called Google Podcasts, and it’s on every Android phone.²
So, under the play button, we just need a simple and straightforward way to link to something that works on Android and iPhone. Buttons that, when you click on them, will play the podcasts on your listener’s phone.
Tip: Google Podcasts is different from Google Play Music Podcasts (don’t use that); and there’s a full FAQ here that hopefully answers any questions you have about it — including a video demonstration.
Just link to these
- Get a direct link to Google Podcasts for your podcast here (and get the badge here).
- Get a direct link to Apple Podcasts for your podcast by finding it in iTunes, right-clicking the artwork, and choosing “copy link” (and get the badge here).
When listeners click, they’ll go to your podcast in the app, and they’ll see a big ‘subscribe’ button; as well as be able to listen to your latest episode.
Yes, I’ve put Google Podcasts at the top. Android is three times more popular than Apple’s iOS. In fact… more people use Android than Windows. It’s the most popular operating system, and has the most potential to increase your listening. It is the most important part of your podcast’s future.
Tip: If the above is too complicated: search for your podcast at Podnews and click on the “link badge generator” link. It’ll then work out the code you need, including the badges. Here’s an example for my own podcast.
In case you missed it: stop linking to other apps
Oooh, controversial. Here’s why I think this:
- You’re making it more difficult. A big long list of apps adds confusion to most people. I don’t know why I should install Breaker over RadioPublic, and chances are, nor do you. A link to Castro on an Android phone is pointless, because Castro don’t make an app for Android. And so on.
- People who use alternate apps are comparative power users. They’ve understood how to install an app; and chosen their favourite. They have a good reason to install something “better” than the built-in podcast app. They probably understand how it works. They’ll certainly understand how to search for a podcast in it.
- If the majority of the users are in Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts, it helps your appearance in these apps if you funnel your traffic towards them. If you dilute your listings by pointing to Overcast, or Pocket Casts, or Stitcher, then you’re harming your own podcast’s chances of appearing in the trending charts that the big two use.
Stop using the word ‘subscribe’
Leave the concept of “subscribing” to the podcast app to explain. Your job is to get a frictionless listen to your podcast. “Subscribe” is a confusing word, sounds like it’ll cost money, and scares people away. Stop it.
Stop asking for ratings and reviews
First, you can’t rate, nor review, in Google Podcasts (yet). If that’s where the bulk of your listeners are going to be in the future (after all, it’s where the bulk of users are right now) then you should stop using Apple-centric words.
Second, there is no evidence that ratings or reviews have any effect on the main Apple Podcasts ‘chart’; that’s based on subscriptions and easily gamed. In any case, you stand to get the most amount of new listeners from outside the Apple Podcasts ecosystem, not inside it.
Third, a high rating for your podcast in Apple Podcasts will only benefit your podcast’s appearance in Apple Podcasts in that country: nowhere else.
- Promote your website as the only way to listen (it’s yours, you control it)
- Put a bloody big play button on it
- Direct-link to your podcast at Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts and nowhere else
- Remove other apps, talk of subscribing, rating and reviewing, and all that nonsense. Delete it all! Just leave the above.
PS: “But James, I want to link to Spotify too. They’re big, right?” — here’s why I wouldn’t do that.
_1. There are no such things as Google Pants. At least, not yet. And I don’t want the beta version, thank you very much._2. The Google Podcasts app is pre-installed in every Android phone that has Google Play installed (ie every Android phone outside of China). The icon to get into the Google Podcasts app from the home screen isn’t pre-installed, but the actual app is.The button will work for everyone._ Watch the video here and you’ll see how it works. Remember: the plan here is to let your listeners… listen.