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Podcast marketing advice tends to be overly simplistic and unhelpful. For example: “Once they’ve followed you on Twitter, send them to Apple Podcasts and get them to subscribe to your show.” Such flippant recommendations get tossed around a lot. However, the complexities of the podcast conversion funnel are far greater than they initially appear.
What follows serves as a guide to understanding the podcast conversion funnel, how it differs from a standard content marketing funnel, and how it ultimately converts listeners into qualified leads. Understanding it is one of the most fundamental pieces to understand if you want your podcast to succeed.
The Podcast Conversion Funnel
For most B2B marketers, optimizing a conversion funnel requires:
- Data analysis, which enables marketers to make decisions based on quantitative data.
- Customer research, which enables marketers to make decisions based on qualitative feedback.
Unfortunately for most companies, the world of podcasting doesn’t fully offer either of these. Data is available, but it’s almost entirely anonymized. Qualitative feedback is available, but it relies on listeners reaching out to you. That makes the podcast conversion funnel difficult to optimize, since you can’t entirely rely on great data or knowing who is listening at any particular stage.
How Does The Funnel Work?
It starts when people become aware of your podcast. That can be the result of seeing a post of yours on LinkedIn, by one customer sharing it with another potential customer, or in any one of a hundred other ways. The podcast conversion funnel is further obscured by not knowing who is listening to your podcast, since most podcast players don’t provide data on subscribers or on listening behaviors.
Then there is the big leap from initial discovery to deciding to open a podcast app. It involves going from Desktop to Mobile, browsing to engaging, and passive to active participation. If that big leap happens, they’ll ideally subscribe to your show.
Finally, as a business, you want to translate those engagements into known contacts.To do that, listeners will have to leave the podcast application and get in touch with you. Optimizing for their preferred method of contact is also a challenge. Do they prefer email? A phone call? A form fill?
It’s the complexity of this funnel that makes most podcasting advice seem out of touch. Saying something like, “once they discover your show, get them to subscribe to your show” is as useful as saying, “when you get to Europe, say ‘hi’ to my friend Jacques” with no additional guidance on who Jacques is.
Good luck with that.
Understanding the Funnel Is Half the Battle
With podcasting, luck isn’t enough. Instead, our advice is to prioritize the parts that you can measure and have the greatest value.
Here’s a handy breakdown of each stage of the funnel:
|Awareness||No||Low||You can’t measure who becomes aware of your podcast in the same way you know how many people viewed a blog post. Podcast awareness happens in thousands of locations, most of which aren’t instrumented for tracking on a per-listener level. In addition, the value of this stage isn’t particularly high, since awareness doesn’t necessarily lead to becoming a client.|
|First Listen||No||Medium||The first time someone listens to your podcast might be on social media, YouTube, your website, or a podcast player. Each provides different levels of analytics. For example, you could see the number of viewers who saw your tweet, while a podcast app will tell you how many downloads you receive but not how many people viewed your podcast.While you may not know who is listening, there is some value in improving conversion at this stage of the funnel. After all, the adage of “first impressions matter” is especially true in podcasting.|
|In the App||Yes||High||You can measure if people are visiting a podcast app for your podcast in two ways. First, you can track clicks from links you have on your website. Second, you can look at the weekly download numbers per user agent, which is provided by most podcast hosts. Similarly, the expected value here is quite high, since they’re clearly interested enough to open a third-party app to listen to your show.|
|Subscription||Partially||High||There are ways to measure the number of subscribers you have in Apple Podcasts, Overcast, and a handful of other podcasting apps. However, you’ll never get a complete number of subscribers or any information on who those subscribers are. While the subscriber data is mostly incomplete, the value of a subscriber is incredibly high. That’s because they’re not only interested in your show, but they’re also automatically downloading future episodes onto their personal devices.|
|First Contact||Yes||High||Being contacted by someone listening to your show is both very measurable (you have a new lead) and has a very high expected value (they’re talking to you). However, to fully take advantage of this value, you need to make sure your marketing and sales teams are aligned on tracking these touch points.|
The big takeaway is that the two highest priority stages of the podcast conversion funnel are App Open and First Contact. From the perspective of getting the best bang for your buck, these two stages typically have the most to offer. (That’s not to say that the other stages aren’t important.)
A caveat: this will change as more podcast apps share information about who is subscribing to your show. But we’re not quite there yet. In the past month, we had more than 60 apps play our podcast, with only a handful of apps reporting subscriber data.
As with all conversion optimization and lead generation, some of the most valuable work you can undertake is to reduce friction from one stage of the funnel to another.
In the App Stage
By the time someone has listened to your podcast, much of your work is done. But, you still need to get them to open a podcast app and subscribe to your show. Logistically speaking, that means that wherever they’re listening to your show (social media, your website, etc.), you need to have a link pointing them to the relevant podcast apps.
For something as mundane as linking to a podcast, there are two opposing schools of thought: glass half-full and glass half-empty.
The Half-Full school optimistically believes that most people will have a preferred podcast app on their phones and that they’ll want to view your show on that app. So, they provide a grid of links pointing to all of the major podcasting apps. Which is no small number, as there are dozens of active podcast apps.
The Half-Empty school looks at the data saying most people have never listened to a podcast and believes that they should only rely on pre-installed podcast apps. So, they provide a link to Google Podcasts for Android users and Apple Podcasts for iOS users.
Personally speaking, they both have some merit. Deciding on one avenue vs. another relies on understanding the target audience for your podcast. Are they technologically savvy? They likely have a preferred app. Are they less tech savvy? The default apps will likely work fine.
Either way, one tool we use for our show, the B2B Revealed Podcast, is Branch. It has many applications, but the relevant one here is that you can create a link that will redirect based on the type of device the user is using. As an example, if you click this link to our interview with Dr. Bhaskar Chakravorti it will open Apple Podcasts on an iOS device, Google Podcasts on an Android device, and our website on any desktop device. Simple tweaks like that can create a great experience for your listeners.
The First Contact Stage
Seeing your monthly download numbers go up and to the right can be a wonderful feeling. Yet, if none of those people are converting to customers, what’s the point? That’s why it’s so crucial to pay attention to the First Contact stage.
There are three common ways that brands grease this stage of the funnel: gating, advertising, and participation.
Closing the Gate
Some brands use their podcast as a teaser for content that’s locked behind a content gate. For example, if you have a podcast where you’re interviewing experts in your industry, you could post the first 10 minutes of the interview in your public feed and then explain that the full hour-long interview is available on your website in exchange for an email address.
The upside here is that you’ll gather contact information from those who want to listen to the entire podcast. The downside is that you’re effectively producing two different podcast feeds. That may not be worth the effort, as many of the leads will be unqualified and unready for any serious discussion about using your products or services. They are leads, yes, but the value is a bit lower.
Another way that companies increase the conversion is by advertising their company as the sponsor and creator of the podcast. Since it’s rare for people to want to listen to a company talk about themselves all day long, most successful branded podcasts focus on larger themes than a self-centered pitch.
Still, many listeners will be unaware what your company is or what you provide. By inserting a 30-second advertisement for your own company in the middle or end of every episode, you’ll increase awareness and conversion. For example, on our podcast, we put in an audio clip that sounds like this:
Finally, getting your audience to participate in the creation of an episode is a great way to transform podcasting from a one-way broadcast channel into a two-way conversation.
For example, we’ve recently begun soliciting questions for our guest experts on B2B Revealed. This gives clients and listeners the benefit of asking experts questions about marketing and marketing research. It also allows us to engage with clients in a more meaningful way and gives listeners new perspectives on topics we cover.
Funnel Tunnel Vision
Without understanding your conversion funnel, your podcast will meander along without clear direction.
But, if you spend some time understanding and optimizing your conversion funnel, you’ll end up with a clear idea of what needs to be done to get your podcast in the ears of the right people.
Need help launching or optimizing a business podcast? Check out our B2B podcast production services.
With custom market research and marketing services, Cascade Insights helps companies seize opportunities in the B2B technology sector. We work with everyone from enterprise tech stalwarts to up-and-comers in fields such as FinTech, MarTech, Health Tech, and more.
Surprise! — employees aren’t productive in their first day on the job. Guest Maia Josebachvili, VP of Marketing and Strategy at Greenhouse, has gone beyond that conventional wisdom and helped to create the Employee Lifetime Value Framework. This Framework helps companies understand how employee effectiveness changes over time. In this episode, we’ll help you understand the Framework.
As we mentioned in the show, if you’re enjoying the B2B Revealed show we’d love it if you would leave a nice review on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to the show.
It’s not just newly-promoted, doe-eyed marketing managers who make serious management mistakes. Seasoned enterprise executives aren’t immune to expensive screw ups either. On the latest episode of the B2B Revealed Podcast, Herding Tigers author Todd Henry explained that mismanagement of creative teams leads to talent loss and companies that underperform compared to their peers. Henry shared some tips for conscientious creative leadership.
Creative Goals Need Business Results
Managers need to make sure their teams understand how their work affects the larger business goals of the company. This helps avoid an ego-driven company culture. Creative success should be measured in terms of business results.
“The reality is, for most of us, we engage in work that we don’t always love, we don’t always agree with necessarily, but it’s our job to get it done,” Henry said.
In a business setting, creatives need to be able to produce great work even when they don’t control the larger vision for the project.
Your Job Description Now Includes “Threading Needles”
Leaders need to understand how to build an environment where creativity thrives. According to Henry, that requires providing stability without getting near the border of Boredom Land. Without stability, the team will find itself working on the same problem over-and-over again, without every finishing the project. With too much stability, the team won’t feel creatively challenged. It’s the leader’s job to walk that fine line between stability and boredom.
To key elements of a great creative environment are:
- Clear expectations.
- An even playing field.
- Protected time for creative cycles.
- Stakeholders throughout the company who are invested in the creative team’s work.
- A steady flow of exciting projects.
Is This Meeting Over?
Like it or not, meetings are a fact of life — especially on creative teams that depend on collaboration. Yet, even though we all wish we’d only have to sit in on useful meetings, the opposite is often true. That’s why at some point in all of our careers, we’ve all walked away from meetings scratching our heads and wondering, “Wait, what did we decide again?” Great creative leadership is about making this as uncommon as an enterprise company with no marketing vendors.
According to Henry, good leadership means being able to say, “Okay, this is the decision and now this meeting is over.” That’s true even if there are still 20 minutes left on the scheduled event. That kind of clear action is uncomfortable for people who don’t want to put their neck on the line for controversial or risky decisions, but is critical if your creatives are going to do effective work. Decisiveness eliminates confusion. Don’t less unnecessary meeting time detract from needed periods of creative focus.
Chekhov vs. Chesterton
Focus on building a culture that fosters creativity, but in a way that doesn’t just seek to flip over tables and start from scratch every time. To illustrate this, Henry referenced two quotes.
“There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road” Henry quoted G. K. Chesterton, the notable English writer. “The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.’”
Then, in contrast, Henry pointed to a quote from Anton Chekhov, the famed Russian poet, who advises, “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”
A great creative leader knows how to balance these two extremes. They know that they shouldn’t just throw everything out because it doesn’t make sense, but they also know that they need to remove unnecessary distractions for their team. Finding that balance creates an environment that allows creatives to reach new heights.
Push Play to Expand Your View of Great Management
This interview with Henry was packed so full of valuable insights we couldn’t fit them all in one article. Listen to the episode for more on constructing a creative environment, best practices for managing a creative team, how to (smartly) give up control over decisions, the secret benefits of having a pet project, and some great book recommendations.
Mistaking a fancy title for thought leadership is a common mistake in the book publishing business. After all, a fancy title does not a good author make.
Do you have the wrong people in the wrong roles? You have two options: resign yourself to mediocrity or rethink how you manage your team.
In the latest episode of the B2B Revealed Podcast, host Sean Campbell interviewed Dan Cox, CEO of EXOS Advisors. A long-time executive coach and expert in talent management, Cox shared his experiences using the Core Values Index (CVI) to help companies optimize their workforces.
Does The Predisposition Suit The Position?
Cox has spent years working with leadership teams to help them find solutions to what’s hurting their productivity. To do this, he relies on the CVI: an assessment of peoples’ core values.
According to Cox, research has shown that peoples’ core values rarely change over time. As a result, the test goes beyond mere personality or behavioral tests like Myers-Briggs.
Practically speaking, this test helps companies figure out if they have people in roles where they can make their most significant contribution.
It can also show if there’s a misalignment between someone’s core values and motivators with their current role. According to Cox, this is a common problem. He believes a majority of the workforce is ill-suited to their positions.
For example, companies may misguidedly hire problem solvers in roles that have no problem-solving needs. Or, they may put people who thrive with fixed processes in creative positions that require a high degree of flexibility.
What are your Core Values?
The CVI defines four core value personas: the Innovator, the Banker, the Builder, and the Merchant. Each of these pairs with a
“core energy.” Innovators are guided by wisdom, bankers by knowledge. Builders are motivated by power, and merchants are driven by love. You can find out more about these values here.
The CVI reveals the types of roles employees are predisposed to excel at. For example, Cox shared the findings of a CVI assessment implemented at a wastewater plant in California. The plant discovered that the 10-person maintenance team was made up of innovators who prized creative problem-solving. “The Achilles’ heel of the problem solver is that they will continue to solve problems, even when there are no problems to be solved,” Cox said.
Since the preventative maintenance central to the job required very little problem-solving, this was a clear misalignment. Further, the maintenance workers were unhappy in their positions since they weren’t able to meaningfully contribute their core strengths.
Meanwhile, the company had twice as many people as it needed to get the job done. All the company required was a few people who thrived with checklists. Instead, they had an unwieldy team spending the bulk of their time seeking out problems to solve.
Firing Isn’t the Only Option
Once a misalignment is evident, companies have to make some tough choices. Should companies leave employees in roles they aren’t wired to do or lay them off? Neither, according to Cox.
Instead, a more holistic approach is needed. Companies need to rethink their hiring processes to make sure they’re getting the right people in the right roles from the start. They should also look for ways to allow current employees to draw on their core values in their work. This may require some reshuffling of roles and responsibilities. Most companies find ways to give misaligned employees better-suited jobs in the same organization.
To Fire or Not to Fire: Tis Not the Question
Getting the right people in the right roles doesn’t just serve efficiency and profits. Cox ultimately sees it as a “humanitarian effort.” If the CVI can help people find roles that make them happy while furthering the companies’ goals, it’s a win for everyone.
Myopic marketing executives focus solely on messaging to external audiences. Lack of attention to internal communications costs marketers influence on business decisions … and allies.
Savvy marketing leaders have an internal messaging strategy at the ready. This helps them achieve their creative goals while balancing business benefits.
In our latest episode of the B2B Revealed Podcast, Sean Campbell interviewed Darcy Kurtz, drawing on her experience leading global product marketing at Sage.
Partnership vs. Solo Artist
According to Kurtz, marketing teams often communicate poorly with other departments in their own companies. This inevitably leads to problems. Kurtz pointed out that sales and marketing executives at many companies fail to be “100 percent aligned”, and many fail, “to have the same goals.”
The tension begins when marketing teams act alone. They come up with great plans, messaging strategies, and value propositions without input from the sales team. Then, marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are thrown over the fence, with the sales team is left holding the bag.
Aligning the funnel requires better cross-department communication. Sales needs to be involved in the goal-setting process so that marketing can bring in higher-quality leads.
“[Ideally,] marketing is being held accountable for more than just, ‘Did you bring in a certain quantity of leads or certain quantities of MQLs?’” said Kurtz. “I really look at quality as much as quantity, so how many of those are converting into true sales qualified leads and closed deals?”
Stunted collaboration between marketing and sales is only the beginning. Kurtz also urged marketers to rethink their approach to boardroom meetings.
“I’m a big believer that marketing needs a seat at the table when it comes to business discussions,” Kurtz said. “When I’m mentoring marketing folks about this, I tell them, ‘You need to learn as much about business management as you do about marketing management,’ to be successful long-term.”
Kurtz explained that marketers often expect to sell ideas to the boardroom based on creativity alone. Marketers should take more care in explaining how their creative work furthers the company’s business goals.
For Kurtz, marketing leaders can only expect success when they change their behavior. That means collaborating with sales, learning how to speak at the leadership table, and reevaluating how to present work internally. As a result, when those changes start to happen, everything runs more smoothly.
Messaging For The Masses
Finally, listen to the full episode for more insight into effective marketing, with topics such as:
- 02:31 – Non-traditional techniques that work with small and medium businesses (SMB)
- 04:50 – Overcoming resistance to closer collaboration between sales and marketing
- 09:36 – Launching a SaaS product and developing a Go-to-Market strategy
- 16:46 – Linking integrated marketing with business strategy and goals
- 21:20 – Customer-led marketing vs. product benefits marketing
Growth problems? Try treating your sales development reps (SDRs) like vital resources rather than cogs in a machine.
That’s the message from Trish Bertuzzi, the President of the Bridge Group, which she shared with Cascade Insights CEO Sean Campbell on the latest episode of the B2B Revealed Podcast.
Upend Your Expectations for How SDRs Should Work
Sharing insights from her book, The Sales Development Playbook, Bertuzzi demonstrates the connection between SDR job satisfaction and sales growth.
First off, it’s important to acknowledge that SDRs are put in a very difficult position.
As Bertuzzi says, “It’s a hard job, we make it harder by not giving them what they need to stay longer.” SDRs are provided with little training, the wrong tools, and are managed by people who expect the average tenure to last only about a year. It’s little surprise then that when SDRs outgrow their roles they also tend to outgrow the company.
Bertuzzi believes there’s a way to fix some of these key issues, to the benefit of both the SDRs and the organization as a whole.
Give SDRs the Freedom to Grow Into the Perfect Role
In order to improve the SDR work environment, Bertuzzi urges companies to give SDRs the freedom to grow, without expecting too much, too soon.
To do this, Bertuzzi is a big proponent of micro-promotions.
“What we talk about in the book, and what we talk about with our clients is creating a learning culture and creating micro-promotions,” says Bertuzzi. That means getting rid of the system of of promoting SDRs to account executives after they’ve outgrown the introductory SDR role.
“If you’re an SDR1 you just do the SDR role, you’re an SDR2 maybe you get to start participating in discovery calls and even maybe running some of those discovery calls. You’re an SDR3 maybe you get to run with a couple small deals.”
By following this system, SDR’s responsibilities increase with their experience. Incremental changes in job title and compensation provide more of an incentive for SDRs to stick around.
Sharing from personal experience, Bertuzzi says that ultimately it’s “all about advancing them through a learning process that gives them the full set of skills they need to be successful.”
Equip Your Team with the Right Tools and Tactics
SDR success also depends on mastery of a few key communication skills.
Bertuzzi emphasizes that SDRs should have a solid grasp of how to use a phone and send effective emails.
While these skills can improve with training, it’s best to hire people with a natural inclination for the role from the start.
Bertuzzi describes how one company had SDR applicants spend a day shadowing the current team. After seeing what the job would really be like, only 50 percent of them continued to express interest in the role.
In all honesty, it did make recruiting more difficult. At the same time, it also meant that the people who were hired came in with a clear expectation of what the job would be like, making them more effective.
More SDR Wisdom
Listen to the full episode for more SDR answers, such as:
- Where does the idea of “all bound” fit in a world of outbound vs. inbound?
- Which is more effective: PACT (Pain, Authority, Consequence, Target-Profile) or BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Time-Frame)?
- What qualities should you be looking for when hiring for your SDR team?
- What are some effective outreach tactics for phone, voicemail, and email?
B2B marketing has a vanity problem.
The lure of LinkedIn’s vast amount of business data makes it an attractive advertising asset… if you know what you’re doing. Ill-informed LinkedIn marketing campaigns can cost you big-time.
On this episode of the B2B Revealed Podcast, Cascade Insights CEO Sean Campbell interviewed B2Linked Founder AJ Wilcox on how best to leverage LinkedIn to reach B2B audiences. B2Linked is an advertising agency that specializes in LinkedIn ads.
The key benefit of advertising on LinkedIn is its business targeting capabilities. “Here’s the dirty secret of LinkedIn: they absolutely have a monopoly on business data,” Wilcox said. “You can target people by their job title, by what department they sit in, their level of seniority in the organization, individual skills they have listed in their profile, groups they are members of, their education level, what degree they got, what school they went to, their company size, their company name, company industry. It just goes on and on.”
When Should You Spend On LinkedIn?
LinkedIn advertising is rather pricey though. For this reason, it’s not always a great fit for companies’ advertising goals. LinkedIn advertising is worth it, Wilcox said, if the target audience is shaped by some professional criteria and the transaction or relationship the ad is designed to prompt is worth thousands.
“You’ve got to make a lot of money off of the deal to make LinkedIn worth it. The reason why is because clicks on LinkedIn usually cost somewhere between about $6-9 on average whereas similar clicks on Facebook might cost $.80-1.50,” said Wilcox. “The line in the sand that I draw is if you’re going to make $15,000 or more from either the lifetime of the deal or that initial deal size, then LinkedIn’s an absolute no-brainer.”
Which Type of Ad Is Right For My Campaign?
LinkedIn offers a variety of advertising options. Wilcox favors sponsored content, the ads that run in the LinkedIn newsfeed. “These work really well because they are the highest interaction ad that LinkedIn has,” he said. “By “highest interaction” I mean on average, about a third of a percent of every time it’s shown it’s going to get clicked on.”
Text ads, Wilcox explained, show up far less frequently and are only visible from desktop. The latter may be an asset if the landing page your ad directs to doesn’t look great on mobile. But, think carefully before investing in text ads when sponsored content boasts much higher engagement.
“[Text ads] have a much lower, like 12 times lower, engagement rate,” Wilcox warned. “In order to drive enough traffic and leads from that ad unit to even make it worth running, you have to have a really big audience you’re going after.
Whereas sponsored content and text ads charge a cost-per-click, sponsored InMail has a fee-per-send. “There’s no guarantee that someone’s going to open it, let alone click on it, let alone convert. You’re going to pay just for having it in their box,” Wilcox cautioned.
But sponsored InMail does have its benefits. “A really cool factor here to keep in mind is that once you send someone an InMail, that LinkedIn member is ineligible to receive another one for 60 days, a 2-month period,” Wilcox said. “You know that none of your competitors can steal that inventory from you for a whole two months.”
The key to a successful InMail campaign, Wilcox explained, is an enticing offer. Beware, whitepapers and e-books won’t cut it.
Tailor the offer specifically, and keep it interesting. You don’t want to be mistaken for spam.
“The offers that we’ve found work really well are things like employment. “We want to reach out to you and ask you to apply for this position because you look like a good fit,” Wilcox said. “Or, “There’s an in-person event that we want to personally invite you to,” or, “Because of your standing in the industry, we’re really curious about your thoughts around this new platform. We want to give you free access to it.” Those types of offers are really, really attractive, and are probably going to get someone to engage.”
Become A LinkedIn Legend
- Listen to the full-episode for how to get the audience, message, & offer right, gauging the success of the ad, and best practices for images and links.
- Download the free 8-point checklist that B2Linked uses for LinkedIn advertising campaigns.
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