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The 4 am Report

Dec 26, 2019

Here’s part 2 of ‘Level Up Your Podcast’. A brand new episode of The 4 am Report, for your Boxing Day listening pleasure.

So grab a mug of eggnog, and get some very actionable advice on:

  • Upping podcast engagement
  • The guest relationship
  • Establishing ROI

So, if you’re looking to make some improvements on a podcast you’re already doing, OR looking to start one in 2020, you’ll want to listen up.

Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:



Will: Hello 4-AM'rs. It's Susan and Will here with part two of our two part series on how to level up your podcast as we get ready for 2020 and we're doing all that planning stuff you do in December. We're sharing our podcasting process with all of you. This is part of our month long deep dive into 2020 planning. We're sharing what has worked for us would have been some of our biggest successes this past year and we're hoping to inspire you a little bit for us to come in 2020 so we're not only just producing our podcasts, but we've started producing podcasts for clients as well and that's been really fun and it's now part of our business offering to small businesses. This week we're going to talk about getting the engagement and growing your listener-ship when it comes to your podcast. We'll also talk about guest relations and of course how to measure ROI for your podcast. If you missed last week's episode where we talked to the creation and production side, go back and listen. But this week it's all about engagement, the guest relations and ROI. So if you're already doing a podcast or you want to start doing a podcast, this is all great information. So listen up and level up.


Susan: So let's get right into this and talk engagement. Here's what we do once we have an episode that's been edited and it's ready to go out for distribution, we're pretty true to our theme and we lean all the way into it and our episode goes out at 4:00 AM on Thursdays. And along the way this has really become one of those like hard deadlines almost journalistic. So in order to be able to release the episodes at that time, meaning in order to put it out on social and distributed, we uploaded a few hours earlier. So it goes onto the actual platform where the episode lives, which in our cases, Libsyn. I think we mentioned that on the last episode. It goes there, it's uploaded there, and from there we put it on our website and then it also obviously reflects in other places like Apple podcasts and Spotify and many others.


Susan: So that's kind of what we do. And then we take that page from our actual website. We have a podcast page on our website, which I think is important because you want to bring people back to your turf, whenever possible. Of course people listen to episodes elsewhere, but there's no harm posting it on your website. So we do that. We post that on all channels and then we use email to promote some of it as well. Yes, email obviously still works. We definitely believe that. So we use email to launch seasons and sometimes we send out recaps and some analytics to people who are on our lists. Now we don't bombard people with every single episode because many of these people are on our list because they are signed up for other properties and a podcast is not, they signed up to receive it. I mean it's CASTLE rules.


Susan: You want to make sure that you're staying on the right side of who you are legally allowed to email. And for what when each episode goes out, we do offer people the option to sign up for the list if they do want to receive episodes. And lastly, how do we put the post together to post on social? We don't just post episodes once and done, we use our unplug and play calendar, which is essentially trying to post things in different formats and we'll get to that in a minute and giving each piece of content like full exposure. So that's coming up in a second. But if you do want that calendar for free, you can go and get it in the resources section of our website, So the other thing that we find is also very important in getting people to notice each episode is the actual creative or the artwork that accompanies each episode.


Susan: So we switch this up for each episode. We have a guest on every episode except for the few episodes where we're talking through some learnings or specific comments. But usually there's a guest and we put the picture of the guests into the actual artwork that goes out. And we also use images that we change up. We have a batch of images that we shoot for each season and we reflect the theme. So right now, for example, we're going slightly deeper into the whole doc thing and talking about how surreal the online space has become in some ways and leaning into a black middle like theming. And so some of that is reflected in our images. We also tend to use a whole lot of humour because humour is a big brand value for us. And some of the images that we put out with the podcast, which essentially stops the scroll, is images of us being funny.


Will: I totally believe our content and what we talk about on our podcast is great. The images, the artwork, the playfulness of it all, that's what kind of gets the attention. That's what get people to open the email or click through. So don't underestimate the value of artwork reflecting your theme being interesting, disrupting kind of the same old boring stuff people see on LinkedIn. Throwing a few fun pictures and that's really worked for us. Susan had alluded to this earlier when we were talking about the unplug and play calendar and putting content out in different formats. So maybe I'll let you, Susan explain how we use something called the anchor theory to really distribute in a very, almost our own scientific way our content.


Susan: So we call it the anchor theory, but obviously most content practitioners will tell you that they have some variation on it. It's been called atomization has been called spinning, but essentially it's the idea that you have one core or anchor piece of content, which to keep with the theme here. Let's assume that is an episode of your podcast. So once you've got a podcast episode recorded, you've put a certain amount of research time, effort into the creation of it, and just putting it out once and being done is not nearly enough for that. So this is where you want to have support assets. We talked about the images obviously, but how are you using those images? You want to use them on social, you want to write up a batch of posts that you're putting out with it. Obviously that's one way to do it.


Susan:  You also want to be thinking about the fact that there's a transcript that you can get out of the actual episodes, use the transcript to write up a blog post, maybe a series of blog posts if it's a longer episode. We've had several cases of in depth episodes which have been used as lead magnets for clients and then they use that to subsequently collect emails from those who are interested in going into their list. So there's a whole lot that you can be doing. This is just scratching the surface, but don't dismiss the value of your key pieces of content. Think about it as if you have it in one format, like the audio format, like a podcast, and maybe think about a small video, a snippet of it, some visual assets as well as written assets, or put it into all of the other formats. And you should have a nice round set of assets to promote with.


Will: And something else to remember. Don't just put the podcast episode out, promoted that week and then forget about it. We love to kind of bring things back. So at the end of each season, at the end of each 10 episode season, we do an email recap and we do social media recaps of some of our favorites and we'll, we'll bring them back. Sometimes we group some of the podcasts together and create little hubs. So when we created a little toolkit on content creation, we pulled three podcast episodes related to content creation and they went into this little toolkit as the podcasting part of this toolkit, which also had a blog and tips and an info graphic and that sort of thing. So think of how you can re-purpose and bring back these wonderful pieces of content that you've created


Susan: and SEO loves that. When you create these little hubs of content on specific topics, it does tend to help towards helping you rank higher in those areas. So think about grouping it and reusing.


Will: Okay, so now let's move on to the guests. We do have guests almost every week on our podcast. Last week we talked about the automation we use to invite the guest and bring them in and do the precall. So we talked all the way up to the recording. So after you've recorded with your guest, it's don't just, okay, bye. Thanks. Don't just do that. There's a lot of opportunity here. We send our guests and other automated email following the recording when the podcast goes live, thanking them. We give them a little digital coffee card to go enjoy a coffee on us and we also give them a link to the post and some copy to write so they can share it in their networks. Also this guest could lead to future collaborations, potentially even business collaboration, considered this guest and having them on your podcast at the beginning of a new, a new connection, a new relationship that you want to continue to foster and for sure for us, we've had guests post the podcast on their network and then we've heard from one of their connections that they wanted to get in touch with us to talk about business.


Will: So it really does pay off and we'll talk more about that in the ROI section. Do you have anything to add on that guest part, Susan?


Susan: I think often we get more guests out of the guests that come, like they'll introduce us onto someone else who's like, Ooh, I can think of someone else who's in this field who might want to talk about it. And I think the fact that we have that hook with the 4:00 AM report and "what keeps you up at night", it offers a lot of, I guess amusement value to people as well. So we do get a lot of conversations started this way. And that's kind of, that'll lead us into the ROI section of this in a minute. We should also mention that if you've got someone new in your world, make sure to ask them if they would like to go on your list and don't be afraid to sort of ask them if they know anyone else. And if they can suggest other people, you'd be surprised how much of connection you would open up by doing that.


Will: Now. So we've talked about engagement, we've talked about utilizing that guest relationship. So now this brings us to talking about measuring the ROI on your podcast. And we've actually put a lot of thought into this. There's a case study on our podcast on our website that you can check out at But Susan's written some really good pieces on podcasts, ROI and not just looking at the numbers, they're important, but there's so much more that she's seen we've gotten from our podcast than merely the ratings and the numbers and the shares and that sort of thing. So Susan, why don't you tell us about it


Susan: For our podcast, here's the four step framework by which we measure. Obviously the base of it is the, what do you want to call the vanity metrics or who's consuming, who's sharing, who's commenting. Um, and in many cases that tends to be low, especially at the start. Then you might not see a whole lot. People might be listening to you on the actual channels and you can obviously look that up by going to the back end of it. So if you've got something like Libsyn. Libsyn, will give you some basic analytics for the specific channels like iTunes and Spotify. You might have to go down to each channel and get the information that you need. So that's a bit more technical than we have time to cover on this. But essentially you want to have the numbers for how many downloads, listeners, subscribers, reviews, that kind of thing.


Susan: You want to have a handle on that. So that's the first level of measurement to figure out what your ROI is. Then comes the second level, which we've been talking about quite a lot, which is the value of the relationships. And once again, if you think about the guests, not as like someone to sleazy sales pitch too, but rather a new set of doors that opened for you and you know, obviously ask for those referrals. Sometimes you don't even have to, like I said, people introduce you to people. So really evaluate the value of that relationship. Follow through on those extra conversations and remember that when you've built something like a podcast, which you can invite people, you've always got a solid piece of marketing that you can bring people back to. So even if you're not actually having a conversation with somebody who's a, who's a client avatar of your type, inviting Lambda on your podcast and helping them to promote themselves as often a great way to get those conversations started.


Susan: So think about it as a variation on the sales call. In some ways, not always, but in some ways the third level of what we measure out of it is quite simply the actual amount of business that we get out of it. Like when people reference the podcast and be like, Ooh, you produce this, we'd like to talk to you about whether it's you know, in the podcasting medium or whether it's in a different medium of content. We've gotten a fair bit of business that's come straight out of the fact that we have this podcast. And lastly, the thing that we measure number four is industry impact. So in our case, one of the examples is because we started this whole story with the 4:00 AM and what keeps you up at night, we tend to have a lot of emotionally intelligent conversations with people and around marketing and the state of it.


Susan: It's kind of taken us to a place where we have a lot of interesting discussions around the things that we want to impact as well. The fact that we have a micro podcast and it's about 15 minutes and you know, many people have leaned into that and said to us that they think it's a great idea. Firstly because it doesn't clutter up download space by being really long. And secondly, because people really, not necessarily everyone is commuting those long commutes where they have time for the more in depth learning episodes. So that's kind of our fourth step, who's consuming and sharing and that kind of thing. What is the value of the relationships you're building out of it? What is the actual amount of business that is coming thanks to your podcast. And the last is how are you impacting your industry?


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