The 5Ps of Podcast Audience Growth with Marion Abrams

Show notes:

Key ideas:

3 good reasons to run a podcast as a business

– Customer acquisition.
– User retention. Our email boxes are overflowing. A podcast represents an additional way for brands to re-engage their customers.
– Content repurposing and creation: pulling clips of your episodes will provide you with plenty of content for social media platforms. The material of 2 of Joe de Sena’s books is inspired by the hundreds of conversations he’s had on the podcast over the years.

What are good ways to promote a podcast that don’t require a budget?

– Prioritize promoting to people who are already listening to podcasts.
– Appear as a guest on other podcasts, making sure to reference the content of your show (e.g., things you or your guests have said in a given episode).
– Promo-swaps. Best way: host-read ads because the recommendation feels more genuine and personal. Marion doesn’t think there isn’t a particular download threshold from which other podcasters start taking you seriously.
– TikTok is another high-potential channel right now because of its current organic reach.
– Be a first mover on new platforms. Some podcasts greatly benefited from leveraging Clubhouse while it was still trendy.

When should you start promoting your show?

First, focus on making an excellent show. Promoting content that hasn’t yet achieved stickiness wastes time and money.

How to improve and assess stickiness:

– Use the episode title and description to make the value clear for the listener while also eliciting curiosity
– Make the first 60 seconds as engaging as possible. They serve as a trailer for the rest of the episode.
– Look at average consumption to see how well you deliver against the expectations you set in the first 60 seconds.
– Look at 7-day downloads to see what episodes and guests resonate most with your audience.
– If you have several hosts, it also helps to understand which hosts do a better job holding listeners’ attention.

What are the 5 Ps of podcast audience growth?

#1 Purpose/goal: It’s essential to be clear about the outcome you expect out of the podcast. Do you want ad revenue? Leads? Are you using it as a networking tool? This will help you make the right strategic decisions.
#2 (Unique) Point of view: There is a lot of content about performance, but Andrew Huberman could carve out an audience as a credentialed neuroscientist.
#3 Process
#4 Practice: while consistency is essential, seeking to improve continually is equally as important. Ask yourself regularly, ‘how can I make this show better’?
#5 Promote.

You have to pay attention to all 5 Ps of this framework, or your audience will not grow.

What has made the Spartan Up Podcast so successful?

– They launched with 10 episodes which got them off to a great start. They soon hit #1 in their category, got a banner on Apple Podcasts, and were featured.

– They were relentless

– They were willing to experiment and switch things up a lot

– Marion and the team stuck to the 5 Ps

#2 (Unique) Point of view

Joe and his co-hosts had very distinct points of view. Their message of resilience struck a chord at a time when the idea of practicing doing hard things was gaining popularity.

#3 Process

Spartan Up has released 860 episodes in eight years. This requires a robust process.
Marion relies on:
– Batch recording
– Standard Operating procedures
– Streamlining guest scheduling with a Google form and a Kanban board built with Notion (see resources)

#5 Promote.

There is a whole section about podcast promotion further down, but my personal highlight of our chat is the Spartan World Media Fest, a real marketing gem.

– The Spartan World Championships were taking place in Tahoe with athletes from all over the world.
– Marion saw a golden opportunity to piggyback on and executed relentlessly.
– She invited 100 podcasters in leadership, resilience, or fitness.
– During the event, they were mixed with Spartan athletes, sponsors, thought leaders, and Spartan podcast hosts.
– Panels with up to 10 members: shared the files with all panel members so they can publish and re-share with their audience.
– They set up booths so podcasters can record episodes during the event. The only condition was that when they recorded, they mentioned the episode was recorded at SWMF. 300 episodes came out of this.
– They hired a photographer to take flattering photos of participants and dropped them every night in a Dropbox so they could share them on social media.

How do podcasts typically grow?

There’s no unique pattern because it depends on a lot of factors:
– could the publisher leverage an existing audience?
– stickiness
– marketing strategy and budget. For instance, publishers who join the HubSpot network usually see their audience grow because of cross-promotion on the network.

For podcasters starting from scratch and without a marketing budget, it can take months or years until the audience of their show starts to grow meaningfully.

An important podcast analytics caveat:
– It’s important to differentiate between downloads and audience growth. They’re not the same.
– Podcasts naturally tend to grow in cumulated total downloads as they publish more content, but it doesn’t mean their audience is growing.
– To assess audience growth, you need to look at downloads per new episode.
– One of Marion’s clients was generating 10,000 downloads/month but only 200 per new episodes. Listeners kept consuming her evergreen back catalog. Marion recommended changing to a hosting platform that lets you do dynamic ad insertions to extract revenue from her whole catalog, not just new episodes.

Podcast promotion

– You can unlock significant audience growth by keeping algorithms in mind when writing the metadata of your show (provided your show has enough podcast authority).
– The click and listening start rate for ads on podcast apps such as Overcast and Castbox is usually above average because their users are podcast listeners.
– Paid social (Meta ads, etc.): Marion thinks a reason why many people report a low success rate with paid social is that they haven’t leveraged the platform right and have not tested enough. Solal agrees. Cracking paid social is challenging in any vertical, not just podcasting. Companies that leverage paid social successfully now have dedicated creative strategists. If you haven’t done this before, hire a paid social specialist or an agency.

How to get great guests on your show

– It definitely helps to have an established brand when pitching
– Go for guests with a genuine overlap of interests
– Your pitch should be short and to the point: 2 paragraphs max; let the guest know why you want to talk with them specifically and what the value is for them (e.g., audience size)
– Good to reach to out to them when you know they have something to promote (like during a book tour)

What types of guests are best if you want to leverage their audience?

– Very high profile/famous guests are not ideal for this because they can’t possibly share all their media appearances with their audience. However, they are great for building credibility.
– People with a small audience might share a lot, but they have a modest reach
– Guests in the middle tier that are willing to share with a decently sized audience are where she’s seen the most growth

How to spot unethical podcast marketing agencies?

– they use words like “guaranteed” or “formula.” Nothing is guaranteed, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach or formula
– they act as if you’re asking dumb questions.



Tools mentioned:

Marion’s Kanban board to automate your guest pipeline
Voxalyze (sign up for a free trial)

Podcasts mentioned:

Marion’s podcast Grounded Content
Spartan Up podcast
Podcast Advertising Playbook