From 0 to 1M Downloads in 3 months with Stephanie Arakelian

Show notes:

Key ideas:

The first step of any marketing campaign is to build a listener profile

Think about who your show is for. It could be several personae, like in the case of SOLAR.
When doing audience research, Stephanie likes to gather the following information:

– demographics: age, gender
– family status
– income
– how do they like to spend their free time?
– media consumption habits. Ask yourself, ‘how can I leverage the media my audience is already consuming to promote my show?’ Do they watch cable news, and what streaming service do they use? What social media platforms are they on? What books do they read (fiction, non-fiction, audiobooks, comics, etc.)? What are companies they respect?

What KPIs should you use to measure success?

– KPIs highly depend on the target audience, goal and monetization strategy of the show. It could be driving downloads, bringing in clients, or generating top-of-funnel awareness.
– Podcast marketing is still so new as a discipline that even the top podcast promoters are still figuring it out. There are no clear benchmarks yet.

Are there genres that are easier to promote than others?

On fiction vs. non-fiction: Fiction only represents 1% of all podcasts. You’re fighting for a smaller audience. On the other hand, non-fiction is extremely competitive. You win by niching down and carving out your own subset of a general category.

How to promote a show with 0 marketing budget

– Even if you only have a trailer, you should submit your show to Overcast, Tunein, and Stitcher. You might get featured in the up & coming category.
– Your trailer needs to be top-quality and attention grabbing to convince people to invest their precious time.
– Leverage owned assets like your social media accounts
– Research the communities where your audience spends their time: Facebook groups, Reddit, etc. Start bringing value and engaging.
– Reach out and make friends. This is a very collaborative industry.
– Promo swaps. Go after shows that have a similar audience size. The average podcast listener listens to 5-7 shows a week. Asking them to listen to a new show is not that big of an ask.
– How to find shows with a similar audience size: look at the number of reviews.
– How to convince another podcaster to do a pod swap if you have a smaller audience: offer to match their reach by promoting their show in several episodes. Leverage other owned assets. If you have a bigger social media following than downloads on your podcast, you can throw in social media posts.
– Is there a limit to the number of times you can promote another show in a pod swap before boring out your audience? No, but be sure to switch it up: do host-read vs. recorded ad, and record several versions.

How to choose Social Media channel for your show

– The right choice very much depends on the topic of your show. A political show will gain traction more easily on Twitter. Cars are a very visual and audio product, so a car show will thrive on YT, IG and Pinterest.
– For SOLAR, they looked at what networks sci-fi fans spend time on.

How to distribute your budget across the lifetime of a show

– Spend about 75% during the 1st month after launch.
– Spending your budget in a burst (rather than spreading it out over time) helps with organic reach because the high download volume increases the odds that you reach the top of your category and get featured.
– Don’t do your paid launch before you have at least 2-3 episodes in your feed.
– If you’re promoting a limited series and you released episodes one by one, it’s a good idea to do a binge campaign when all episodes are out.

Which paid channel is the most effective?

– Stephanie has found the most success with buying ad placements on other podcasts. It’s much more cost-effective to get podcast listeners to listen to a new show than it is to convince non-podcast listeners to even consider a podcast.
– Their campaign on the fiction network had a 5% conversion rate (meaning that 5% of people who heard the ad started listening to SOLAR). For comparison, the benchmark is 1%. On the other hand, the campaign on the non-fiction network only had a 0.5% conversion rate.
– Paid social usually has a lower conversion rate because you’re moving people between platforms. This creates additional friction.
– The benefit of paid social vs. purchasing inventory on podcast networks is that there’s no required minimum budget.
– If you want to test paid social, start with a small budget, and monitor the conversion rate. If it’s above 1%, increase the budget in small increments and keep an eye on the conversion rate as you go.


Podcasts mentioned:

SOLAR (award-winning, sci-fi fiction podcast)

Resources mentioned:

– Lauren Passel’s Newsletter: Podcast Marketing Magic

People worth a follow:

Stephanie Arakelian’s LinkedIn profile
Arielle Nissenblatt’s Twitter account
Evo Terra’s LinkedIn profile