You may put out awesome podcasts, but how are you spreading the word?
Growing an audience is one of the primary things podcasters struggle with. As a marketer, I’ve talked with dozens of podcasters and their primary question is always, “What’s the right way to get more people listening to my podcast?”
Although there are hundreds of marketing tactics — email is one that absolutely every podcaster should be utilizing.
Here’s why — email marketing speaks directly to the people who are already big fans. But it can also help you find new listeners and turn them into referrers and customers.
So let’s dive in and talk about the best ways to grow with email marketing (without doing a ton of extra work). Here are 5 tips to help you grow your podcast with email marketing.
Tip 1: Send a warm welcome (and a gift) when people sign up
Let’s face it — email marketing won’t do anything for you if you don’t get people signed up. So you need an incentive to start.
Need an idea? Try offering a bonus episode or doing a monthly raffle, but only for people signed up for your email list. Don’t forget to talk about it on your podcast!
Then, make sure you set up a welcome email to go out automatically when the person signs up— with the freebie included. The best part about a welcome email (or even a series of emails) is that you can “set it and forget it.” It’s quick and easy to get everything set up. And once it’s set up you can rest easy knowing every person who signs up for your emails will automatically get welcomed — every time!
Why are welcome emails so valuable?
Welcome emails have the highest open rate of any email you send. Data has shown these emails can have an open rate as high as 82%. With that type of response, you have an opportunity to set the groundwork to convert that subscriber into a lifetime, loyal listener of your podcast.
The welcome email is your chance to set a foundation for a long-term and engaged podcast subscriber base. A dialed-in contacts list directly translates to more loyal podcast listeners.
Bonus Tip: With a more loyal podcast listener base, you can look for ways to monetize your podcast.
This first email sets the tone for the rest of your content going forward. A boring email will be a sure sign of boring content down the road. You have a chance to make a kind of “first impression” again (even with your most loyal listeners) on a new platform.
What to include in your welcome emails
Here are a few “tried and true” elements you can add to this first email.
- Literally, a “Thanks for signing up.” Appreciation is always popular with someone who’s trusted you with their precious inbox.
- What content to expect. Tell your new email subscriber what they’ll get in future emails and podcast episodes.
- What frequency to expect. Are you going to send a monthly newsletter? Weekly reminders? An email with every podcast released?
- Your most popular podcast episodes. Make sure to capitalize on the amazing podcasts you’ve already created. Embed your episode that had the most downloads.
- Your Patreon or other membership options. No need to make a hard sale — but since this email will be opened so much, you might as well show how listeners can further support you.
- A link to rate and review. Always be pushing that 5-star rating! Does it feel like your welcome email is getting a little long? Send a welcome series instead—one that goes out over several days.
No matter what’s in your welcome email, make sure you show your personality in your writing. Your listeners already like you — don’t lose the strong connection by pretending to be someone else.
Tip 2: Get to know your listeners
The best way to provide compelling content in your podcast and your emails is to request feedback — honest, specific, frequent feedback.
Surveys are a great way to get opinions on things related to your podcasts and email content. Ask specific questions. Give people a place where they can give more detailed feedback if they want.
Your audience wants to know that you care. Show them by asking questions and taking their opinions into consideration when providing content.
You will find detailed answers sometimes give insight that is invaluable. After an interaction, like a downloaded episode or receiving a value offer, ask your audience to give you a rating of what they thought about the quality.
The only thing worse than negative feedback is to put out content and not realize your audience isn’t thrilled. You might not like the feeling of criticism, but it can help you hone your show — and your emails.
Tip 3: Focus on building relationships
In order to start cultivating that long-term relationship, each email should feel like you’re having a 1-on-1 conversation.
Here are 3 ways you can personalize your emails (without having to write a separate one for each subscriber):
Send more emails to people who open more emails
With the right email marketing tool, you can actually set custom rules for how many emails are sent to each person. If there’s someone who opens and clicks on everything you send — chances are you can send them every one of your emails.
But, for those medium-engaged subscribers, who only click on every other email — maybe just send a monthly newsletter and a reminder of new episodes.
And if you have multiple podcasts, only send emails to subscribers who listen to that specific show.
This level of customization shows your audience that their time is worth something to you. Don’t waste anyone’s time with information they don’t care about, and you will earn their trust. Tag subscribers with specific information.
You can use tagging to segment your subscriber list. This will make personalizing easier. Tagging is a way to group subscribers based on similar characteristics, behaviors, or shared attributes.
Here are a few examples of how you can tag your subscribers:
- By the Podcast shows they listen to
- By the specific email they opened
- From survey answers (more on this below)
- How a visitor interacts with your landing page
- The source for signing up to your list
- Share extra content
A great way to create a connection with your audience is by sending them valuable content in addition to your podcast episodes.
Almost everyone loves a behind-the-scenes story: Try creating exclusive content or videos on how you create the shows.
No matter what kind of content you produce, you need to know your audience. It’s impossible to be truly creating for your audience if you don’t know them on a personal level.
Don’t assume things about your audience. Spend time researching to see what listeners are posting, sharing, and interested in. Choose some of your most engaged and consistent listeners to scope out, establishing an understanding of your ideal audience.
Tip 4: Ask listeners to share your podcast with friends and family
Getting show reviews and social mentions will really help you increase your audience. People tend to listen to the recommendations of their friends and family.
I don’t have to tell you how important word-of-mouth marketing is to podcasts. Friends are often the people we trust the most.
So leverage your email list to make specific and easy requests. Here’s how:
- Include Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify links at the bottom of every email so your listeners have an easy link to share.
- Make a specific request to share on social, with links to your Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and even TikTok accounts
- Send an email once a year (maybe close to the winter holidays?) all about the importance of social sharing and word-of-mouth referrals for your show.
Asking for help is tough for most podcasters. But if you want your show to grow, you have to play the game. Luckily, emails make it easier for people to share — they can simply forward your email along to their friends and family!
Tip 5: Promote your podcast
Your main reason for creating an email list is likely to help grow your show. So, use your email to promote your podcast! Email offers a platform where you can directly promote your podcast and keep subscribers informed.
However, it’s important to keep emails centered on their interests and not yours. Helpful content surrounding your podcast might include:
- Reminders of new episodes with teasers to pique interest
- Reminders of where they can listen to your podcast
- Show notes and links
- Teasers that tell them what to look forward to on the next episode
- A link to a dedicated landing page for the episode
On your landing page, you can include more detailed show notes, quotes, images, and links related to the content.
You don’t want your landing page to be a dead-end, so connect this landing page to other landing pages for past episodes or parts of your site. This will help keep your audience engaged on your website. If you need more information, check out this post on how to create a website for your podcast.
Use your emails to turn subscribers into loyal fans
Email offers a much more personal connection to your audience. Why? Because they have a chance to engage back with your content.
With a podcast, they get an intimate opportunity to listen to your voice. That connection is something most listeners are after.
Email is sent to their personal space (inbox) and enables them to instantly react to your content. People choose to listen to you because they care about what you are saying. Email just offers another way to provide them with value and give them more content to mull over.
Remember, many people have inboxes full of ads and newsletters. The best way to stand out is to know your audience and give them the kind of interaction they actually want.