20 Keys to Podcast Success in 2020

20 Keys to Podcast Success on 2020.

To celebrate a new decade, this year, the team at nodalab has special surprises lined up every month which will be released on the 20th of every month. This month, we have put together a countdown of the 20 keys to achieve podcast success in 2020, to help you stay up to date with the latest #trends in the industry and stand out among the competition. As another decade goes by, we are taking a moment to reflect on what the years have left us and what we look out this new year.

2019 was podcasting’s breakout year, with big companies and VC firms investing heavily in an industry that has still a lot of room to grow. Over the last 5 years, podcasting had a meteoric rise and became a legitimate industry, propelled by a wave of celebrities and media companies starting out their own podcast ventures. The podcast industry is young and has a bright future ahead, exponentially being propelled by Millenials and GenZ.

Today, we’ll unveil the first 10 keys that will definitely blow your mind and make you rethink what you now know about podcasts. Look out for the complete list and get yourself prepared: we guarantee you won’t be disappointed. 

A changing landscape

In 2019, we saw the beginning of the podcast wars and it has started to change the landscape of the podcast industry for the first time in years. Companies like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Luminary have all placed a bet on original and exclusive content as a means of attracting and retaining listeners. 

The first round of the podcast wars went to Spotify, who by purchasing Gimlet Media and Parcast, have managed to become relevant instantly as a producer of original content. They have also announced plans to acquire sports and pop-culture outlet, The Ringer. As a result, Spotify saw an increase in overall engagement and a significant increase in the conversion of free to paid users. In Q3 of 2019, they managed to turn in a profit and saw a 39% increase in podcast hours streamed. Still, the commercial impact from podcasting is still small for Spotify. Apple, in turn, is reportedly launching its first original shows later this year.

2020, the year of opportunity

How many podcasts are out there? The number of current shows available is over 800,000 and over 30 million episodes as of December 2019. To highlight the growth, Apple confirmed there were over 550,000 podcasts at WWDC 2018 in early June. Starting a podcast can help you reach your career goals and bring many benefits to you (apart from revenue) including business and networking opportunities, as well as becoming a thought leader and expert in your field.

This continuous growth mixed with an ever-changing landscape means that now, more than ever, you need to be on top of what’s going on in order to stay ahead of the pack. This is why we have created this list. We want you, our readers, to be successful and escape from the podcast mortality rate, or ‘podfade’. So, we have gathered the latest insights from a vast number of resources and compressed into a single piece of blogging. We want to encourage you to share this with everyone that can benefit from reading this and comment if you agree or disagree with this info. Any new insight that may impact this blog post is welcome, as we want to turn this into a collaborative piece.

So without further ado, here are the 20 Keys to Podcast Success in 2020:

Key #20: Question everything you know about podcasting

If you are looking to start a podcast this year, launch a new season, or grow your audience, it’s important to look at the big picture of an industry facing a myriad of changes and a fast evolution. The ecosystem is changing rapidly and the constant growth since 2014 has caught the eye of big companies and venture capital firms, who have started to invest heavily in the medium with hopes of becoming key players in the industry.

But what does this mean for the little guy? It means that although the interest in podcasts is bigger than ever, it will get harder for independent producers to stand out from the crowd. There is now more competition out there, more aggressive marketing tactics and bigger budgets, meaning that you need to stay on top of what’s happening in the industry and find new ways to reach audiences.

Key #19: Think quality over quantity

Content delivery and audio quality are two of the key aspects of engaging an audience. Podcasting is a medium where audio quality can be sometimes less than optimal, and this can sometimes throw off listeners from focusing on the content and it can even damage your credibility. Having the rigor to cut out what isn’t up to standards and discerning what works and what doesn’t is what separates a good podcast form a great one.

Focus on delivering a great piece of content that is shareable, exciting, and thoroughly researched. Focus on maximizing your impact by publishing your show in a format that benefits every one of your platforms. Take the time to make sure that people are enjoying it everywhere and that they aren’t struggling with any technical difficulties in consuming your content. Check out this amazing video to make your podcast sound like NPR!

Key #18: Plan ahead to prevent Podfading

A remarkable 50% of podcasts that are still available on aggregators such as Apple Podcasts are no longer active, many of them never making past the 7th episode. This phenomenon, known as ‘podfade’, is predominantly due to poor planning, setting unrealistic expectations, and difficulties to attract an audience and/or monetize the content. If you are an early stage hobbyist considering launching a new podcast, be aware that starting a podcast may be incredibly easy, but keeping up may be extremely difficult as a whopping 75% of former podcasters may confirm.

To prevent podfading, ask yourself the question, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Is your podcast a side project or a promotional initiative: Think about your business and creative ways in which a podcast can be beneficial. You should also know why you want to do this and who are you doing it for. Are you trying to benefit yourself or your audience? It’s all about telling a character-driven story that creates empathy and serves a greater cause. Find an audience that wants very specific content and try to reach them individually.

Key #17: Stay committed to the process and focus on the long-term picture

If you are just launching your podcast, a brand new season, or just continuing from last year it’s important that you have the right mindset and milestones in place. Make sure your goals are aligned with your values and that you have the right plan in place. A great way to set a strategy for your podcast launch is to use the appropriate road-mapping tools that will lead you to ultimate success. We are talking about 2020 podcasting success, but bear in mind that to reap a harvest you may have to go on at it for years. Think of it as a long-term investment and believe in yourself. 

Key #16: Use a publishing calendar and keep a tight schedule

Podcasts go well when there is a continuity that your listeners can become used to. As Todd Cochrane, the CEO at Rawvoice/Blubrry point out, “90% of all active podcasts achieve 90% of lifetime downloads within 96 hours of posting.” So posting consistently and during a specific time of the day will have a huge impact on your brand loyalty, because your audience will know what to expect from you. The day you miss on your schedule will be the day that your listeners have to listen to something different and they might not come back the next time.

What time should you publish your podcast? Knowing your listener’s habits goes a long way and Megaphone recently released an article where it analyses the best days and hours to publish a podcast, weekdays between 2-6 AM providing the highest yield of downloads. Keeping an editorial calendar will help you stay ahead of schedule and stay aware of important dates.

Key #15: Stop asking your listeners to subscribe, rate and review your podcast

Spotify has quickly established itself as the leading platform for podcast listening, according to a recent report, and this change in market share means that getting your listeners to subscribe, rate and review your podcast may not be as effective as it has been for the last few years. Just because this strategy has paid dividends in the past, it doesn’t mean that it will work in the future and since Spotify only allows you to follow a podcast, it’s unlikely that it will. Long gone are the days when getting in the new and noteworthy section of iTunes guaranteed success and there isn’t even a surefire way to get featured.

So, what would be a better call-to-action for your podcast? An effective call-to-action strikes the balance between what’s in it for you and what your listeners get to return. Give your audience a good reason to follow on any call-to-action and determine the single most important action that you want them to follow. Less is more.

Key #14: Forget about advertising, premium is where it’s at

Digital advertising revenue in the podcast industry is about to reach over 1$ billion globally in 2020, which is small compared to the 17.9$ billion of advertising spend on radio in 2019. The market still has huge headroom for growth, but the inaccuracy in analytics for podcasts makes it hard for advertisers to track their numbers correctly.

So, if you want to take your podcasting career into the future, I’d suggest you look into China where the podcast industry was worth a whopping 7 billion in 2018. Luminary’s premium model which initially was hugely controversial is something that TechCrunch saw as the direction the industry was taking back in 2018. Direct listener revenue will continue to grow over the next few years and companies like PatreonMemberful, and Glow.FM allows you to offer rewards, private feeds and bonus content to your listeners. 

Key #13: Look out for new ways to monetize your podcast

Think outside of the box when it comes to turning in a profit from your podcast venture and find new sources of income to benefit. Get listeners to become paying customers for products and services specially designed for them and use your creativity to increase demand and haul in sponsorships opportunities. Your podcast is a tool in your business model that can act as a piece of content marketing or as a source of income and knowing how to use its strengths will yield better results in the long run.

A few ideas on how to get the ball rolling are merchandising, online courses, workshops, speaking gigs, and multi-level marketing. To entice brands and organizations to partner with you, express your support for the organizations whose values are aligned with yours and showcase the products and services that you love and use in your daily lifestyle.

Key #12: Make sure your content is out there and spread the word

Submitting your podcast to all the major podcasting platforms is very important and it can help you get more listeners. Once your podcast has been released, it’s important to check that your podcast actually makes it to every outlet and that the formatting is correct. Every platform presents a delay between the time you post and the time it is actually visible, so give the apps some time before you post on social media, your website, your newsletter, or YouTube. 

Secondly, just because you released a podcast, it doesn’t mean that people will listen to it. Even if they are already subscribed to your show, you have to remind people that your new podcast is out there and why they should listen to this particular episode. Your approach should be as personal and widespread as possible, so everybody knows about your show, knows that you care and gets the chance to listen to it. Send a direct message to people who absolutely need to hear it, and send out a newsletter so that your subscriber base gets notified. Even if you release once per week, make sure you are promoting your podcast every single day.

Key #11 Level up your show notes and show titles

Show notes are a great way to drive traffic back to your website, and to share the key insights from an episode in written form. However, depending on your podcast host and where people are listening to it, your show description will display differently and even if your podcast looks good on Apple, it doesn’t mean that it will look as great in Spotify, or elsewhere. Some platforms may not display hyperlinks at all, a portion of your title will be cut off or the description will be bulked into one ugly paragraph.

How can you prevent this from happening? Perform a few tests, know how to write show notes in HTML, the main differences between each platform and learn the anatomy of a great podcast title

How can you prevent this from happening? Perform a few tests, know how to write show notes in HTML, the main differences between each platform and learn the anatomy of a great podcast title

Key #10: Create bite-sized pieces of content

Let’s face it: Podcast audiences are loyal and engaged, but not everybody is willing to listen to a full show. You have to feed your audience with bite-sized pieces of content, or micro-content they can enjoy on the spot, without having to actually listen to your podcast. An effective digital marketing strategy that involves a podcast works best when it is used and complemented with other forms of media such as a blog, a YouTube channel, and social media. Look at the way Neil Patel and Gary Vee do this and figure out the best way to integrate those techniques into your content.

Key #9: Leverage social media to promote your podcast

Social media will help you propel your podcast forward and how you use each platform will depend on your content and your listener base. Our favorite platforms for 2020 are Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and TikTok.

Instagram is a great way to share your content in a more visual way, do live streams, share sneak peeks of your episodes and drive up the engagement from your audience. With IG, your followers can get to know you better and connect on a deeper level. It also makes it easier for people to share your content and listen to your podcast without even leaving the platform.

“For Twitter, don’t just spam with your episodes or your podcast. You want to contribute to the conversation, be engaging, offer value, and then when you do post that you have an episode releasing soon, you will have already established a place in that community and then its all good!” Pedro Peña, My Stuttering Life.

LinkedIn is currently living its moment and it’s a great place to connect with people who have similar interests and share content. Out of the 9 billion impressions generated every week, only 1% of users are generating content in the platform, which makes it a great place for content marketing. LinkedIn is especially useful for people doing B2B marketing and lead generation and it’s most effective when a visual element is present.

TikTok is experiencing massive growth and engagement, and it’s still uncharted territory by most people. In fact, you probably heard about TikTok from somebody who is younger than you as 41% of its users are between 16 and 24 years old. Marketers are still experimenting with ways to get involved in the platform, but the opportunity to reach a high number of people organically and to go viral on TikTok is unprecedented. 

Key #8: Look out for the trend in Microcasts

Spotify has introduced a playlist titled Your Daily Drive, which blends short-form news podcasts with music, designed to provide the perfect commute experience. They have also launched a feature allowing you to create your own podcast playlists and even blend your favorite music and podcasts under the same playlist. These microcasts, typically around 1-10 minutes long, could become especially popular for Alexa and Google Home users looking for a quick update on news and politics. 

Key #7: Go Live

Social media streaming is taking off and it can potentially expand your reach by placing you at the forefront of your listener’s attention. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube allow you to stream live video and hosting companies like Spreaker allow you to stream your podcast live as well. The benefits of streaming your podcast live are that you get a chance to interact with your audience and improve your engagement.

Key #6: Your network is your net worth

Get active on social media, in the podcasting community and with people you know. Growing a network is a time-consuming and demanding process that offers great benefits in the long run. Be aware of what other people in your segment are doing and share some love in the things you admire. Get outside of the digital realm and into the real world as well and get some face-to-face time with like-minded people. A great way to start is by going to one of the Podcast Movement’s events in 2020.

Collaborate with other podcasters, get other podcasters to come into your show and go to other podcasts. Start growing your online network and make direct connections with the people you want to reach. Aim first for the people at your own level and gradually work your way into higher-level people. Why would people want to come and talk in your show? The same reason why you want to go and talk in other people’s podcasts, to continue building your network and dive into new audiences.

Key #5: Save the best ones for special occasions

Whenever you have a special guest or a special episode coming up, make sure that you go the extra mile in promoting your episode, and that your release date is carefully selected. Give this episode a special treatment when it comes to promoting it and make it stand out from the rest by making it the featured episode in your feed. Having a calendar with the important dates related to your topic is a great way to plan your content ahead and talk about things when it matters.

Key #4: Make your podcast discovery-friendly

Let’s face it. Podcast discovery is broken, but it won’t be for long. Google Podcasts is now automatically transcribing podcasts and categorising them based on its content and podcasts are now being shown in Google search results. It’s all part of a strategy for Google to double the size of podcast listeners worldwide and it’s an amazing opportunity for podcast discovery in the future.

Spotify is also encouraging listeners to find new shows through the Your Daily Podcasts playlist, which they claim makes it “easier than ever” to find new podcasts  For years, we have depended on the Top Charts or mouth-to-mouth recommendations in order to find out about new shows. These changes suggest that podcast discovery is something that we can expect to become better and more sophisticated as more data on listening habits is available.

“As podcasts continue to grow in popularity, it makes sense that Google would allow you to search for them, in the same way you would blog topics — not just by title, but by what keywords are in the content.” – Iris Hearn

Key #3: Follow the new data trends

As podcasting as a medium continues to grow and mature, we are starting to see new technologies for data measurement that provide better insights, such as NPR’s RAD which was unveiled a few years ago and Spotify’s brand new Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) technology, which will give advertisers key metrics such as ad impressions, reach, frequency, age, gender, device, and listener behavior. The technology will be only accessible in original content from Spotify, but the trend suggests that data for advertisers and podcasters will become better and so, podcasts will become more reliable sources of content.

Key #2: Watch out for the market in Smart Speakers

 Being able to seamlessly ask for what you want is a gamechanger, and your smart speakers like Google Home or Alexa device may be the go-to device for podcast consumption in the future. Luminary has made starting a free trial or subscription possible with an Alexa device, and Spreaker has created skills such as fast forward, rewind and podcast recommendations

Although only 8% of the whole podcast listening ecosystem is done on smart speakers, 36% of Smart Speaker users reported to play a podcast with the device during the previous month and 15% were in the fields of news and politics. If this trend continues to grow in future years, making your content friendly for smart speaker users may have a big payoff in the future.

“smart speakers increase the consumption of spoken-word audio of all types, and certainly, audio consumption is the number one use for these devices. Our 2020 estimate is that 24% of Americans 18+ now own at least one smart speaker — and, in fact, the average owner has more than one.” Tom Webster. SVP, Edison Research.

Key #1: Don’t be afraid to create

Whether you are a craft or business person, a chef or a celebrity, there is always room for you on the internet to get your ideas out there, materialize them, and become a podcast and content creator. We said earlier that, even though the podcasting industry is increasing and the market has become more competitive, podcasting can bring true value to the people that consume your content. That is why, for example, wellness and health-related projects are so successful both on social media and podcasting.

Just as social media has become a strong tool to promote any business (from a coffee shop to a professional recording studio) it’s time for you to choose podcasting as the new canvas where you can paint anything that comes to your head, and give it to anyone around the world. 

Don’t be afraid of what people might say about your project, we can guarantee you that as long as you follow the keys mentioned above and speak from your heart, you will have fun, create something that is yours, and reap massive rewards.

Do not waste any time thinking about, ‘what would’ve happened if…?’ Act now before it is too late. 

At nodalab, we are committed to bringing you value and helping you succeed as a podcaster. We craft epic podcast launch strategies and give you all the reasons why this is the perfect moment to start a podcast. Visit nodalab.com today and find out how.