Tips to make your podcast successful: An interview with Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina

Posted by James VanOsdol | Feb 01, 2016

What steps can you take to elevate your podcast?

To help answer that question, we turn to Andy Crestodina, co-founder of Orbit Media in Chicago. Andy’s a web strategist, author and marketer whose insights are must-reads for anyone in the digital space.

Over email, we talked about ways to market a podcast, common things podcasters do wrong, and the role of social media in expanding one’s audience.

Can podcasting serve as effective content marketing for businesses?

Like any format for content, podcasts have the power to build awareness and trust. But, unlike your typical formats for content, they have a slight disadvantage in building awareness (or at least traffic) and a huge advantage in building trust. I’ll explain:

Unlike text web content, podcasts don’t rank right there with everything else in Google. They aren’t as easily shared with a click in social media. And listeners don’t have a link right there to the website, as they would in a newsletter. Search, social and email marketing are the classic traffic driving channels for promotion. …so podcasts don’t enjoy the same traffic-driving benefits of traditional digital media.

Unlike text web content, podcasts are delivered in a far more intimate context. Audio as a format is more personal, more direct. The speaker is almost in your head. And once you’re tuned in, it’s less crowded. There’s no back button, no links. Voice carries subtleties text can’t. You can hear the breath of the speaker. Listening is easier than reading. …so podcasts are much more powerful at building trust, and eventually, conversions.

So the trick is to get the subscriber and have them press play. Once they do, you’re in.

Is there a trick or secret to marketing one’s podcast online? Put another way: How on earth can a podcast grow its audience beyond family and friends?

Ideally, the podcast isn’t the first place you’ve built an audience. Most podcasters have a blog, a newsletter and some traction on social media. So you can start by promoting the podcast through every channel you already use.

Make each podcast episode its own post on the blog.

Put each episode into heavy social rotation.

Include the podcast in each newsletter.

Other places you can add it? Your email signature, your home page or in a guest post.

Also, podcasts are surprisingly visual. So the image for it should be optimized to look good in social streams. Don’t go cheap on design.

iTunes is, of course, an important place to promote your podcast. Optimize for the iTunes search engine by adding your main keyphrases into your description, or better yet, your title. And make sure the thumbnail image looks good inside of iTunes, even in the tiny version.

Finally, getting into “New & Noteworthy” is probably based on getting a quick influx of subscribers, downloads and reviews. So if you can get a little PR splash when you launch, you’ve got a better chance of getting visibility in iTunes.

Is it important to have a separate social media identity for a podcast? What if the show’s newly launched?

I don’t think so. In fact, there’s a disadvantage. Launching a new social account for your podcast means starting at zero. You’ve got a better chance of getting traction if you leverage your strongest tools quickly, including your most powerful and credible social accounts.

Do you see/hear any common podcasting “don’ts” worth addressing?

Don’t introduce your podcast. Or at least, don’t make the introduction more than just a few words. Just as in writing, the key is to get right to the point. Here’s some advice from a broadcast pro: “Spare your listeners the waste of time that is ‘Thank you for joining us’ or ‘Thanks for being here,’ either at the opening or close.” — Charlie Meyerson, Four Keys to Creating a Great Audio Interview.

You would never write an article that started with two of three opening paragraphs that explained nothing and added no value. You would cut those out during the editing process. Podcasting is no different. Cut to the chase.

Do you think there’s a “sweet spot” for episode length?

Yes, according to research by Stitcher, the average podcast listener stays connected for 22 minutes. That’s about the same length as the average commute to work in the US (25 minutes). So I’d recommend keeping it in that range, although there are plenty of examples of successful podcasts that are 2+ hours long.

Length, topics, formats — it’s all worth experimenting and testing. Once you get your style down, dig in your heels and stick with it. Like anything else, it’s the people who persist who win in the long run.


Rivet360 thanks Andy Crestodina for his time, opinions and insight.