How To Expand Your Podcast Audience By Thinking Like An Email Marketer

The more you know about your podcast audience,the more listeners you can get. But once you’ve established a core audience, how do you expand it? Identifying where and when to expand your marketing and content strategy is a constant challenge. Let’s grow your podcast audience by borrowing some tools and techniques from a different field.

Email marketers are familiar with audience segmentation and cohort analysis; they’re a part of almost every mature email marketing campaign. They let marketers identify subsections of their audiences and the other interests those audiences by combining social, demographic, and sales data into a complete picture. Once you identify the segments of your audience, you can send your emails to just the right people who will want to open them.

By applying these tools to podcasting, you can build a stronger relationship between your marketing plan and your overall content strategy. Identifying adjacent audiences will help you upgrade your media distribution, identify key points of collaboration with other podcasts, and diversify your SMM/SEM campaigns to bring in new listeners.

Here’s how:

Quantify Your Core Audience

Audience segmentation is data-driven, which means you need to build a strong baseline of quantitative data before trying to reach out to adjacent audiences. You have a fair idea of who you’re targeting with your content and marketing — but who’s actually listening?

If you aren’t regularly running polls or engaging with your audience to figure out their demographics and interests, start now. This is the stage where you can carry over most email marketing techniques wholesale, as email outreach and engagement is a time-tested way to collect this kind of information. Here are some good questions to include:

  • Which recent podcast did you like best?
  • Which recent topics were most appealing?
  • What part of the industry do you want to learn more about?
  • What topic do you have the most questions about?

The more you know about your core audience, the more overlaps you can look for when researching out to adjacent audiences. Are they professionals who are already swimming in the deep end or are they hobbyists who want to learn more? Where do they live? How old are they? How much do they earn? A diverse dataset gives you access to diverse audiences.

Identifying Ideal Adjacent Audiences

This is the stage where you get to mash data together in a spreadsheet until a plan comes out. Ready your pivot tables.

There are tons of tools available that help you identify the interests of social media cohorts. We have the most experience using Meltwater for this, however you can use services like Crimson Hexagon and Oktopost, or even bespoke tools to generate a usable dataset. Since most social platforms have an API, there’s a lot you can do with a bit of Python and some CSV’s.(By the way, if reading this article inspires you to learn more about how we use Meltwater to build podcast audiences, get in touch.)

What you’ll look for are recurring topics in social posts, engagement with brands, visual content (pictures, video), and follow/like patterns revolving around your primary topics, in addition to the usual demographic data. You’ll use this activity to identify potential listeners, and then further analyze their social patterns to identify what they’re connected to.

If the idea of running a two-way analysis of variance on a dataset you scraped from a list on Twitter sounds intimidating, don’t worry. Simple approaches, like looking for keyword frequencies in posts and followed accounts, can still produce useful data. Every overlap might not be as extreme as the overlap between cyclists and coffee lovers, but you don’t have to rely on complex statistical modeling to find the links.

Here’s a simple analysis you can do right now: take a cohort of social media users and identify two or more shared interests by looking at keywords in their social activity. Take the two activities that show the highest correlation and look at the marketing opportunities. Are there other companies taking advantage of the overlap? Is there an opportunity for you to do the same?

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out how Gamma Labs identified and leveraged the overlap between fitness enthusiasts and eSport fans. They used social media influencers who crossed the gap they wanted to cover (these influencers produced content for both fitness and videogame niches), and found enough traction to launch tailored products for physically active gamers.

Using Cohort Analysis In Your Long-Term Marketing Plan

As you progressively reach out to new audiences and bring new listeners into the fold, it’s important that you continue to research and reevaluate your core audience. You can plan outreach on both macro and micro levels, promoting individual episodes, quarter-long content runs, and the entire show to new groups, but doing so requires an accurate picture of who you’re reaching.

Use the business intelligence you develop with these techniques to create a mature marketing strategy. Don’t rely on SMM/SEM techniques alone; use this data to identify guest hosts, guest hosting opportunities on other shows, and ways to collaborate with brands active on other media channels (podcast + article, video, email-only, etc) that expose you to adjacent audiences.

The real value here to audience segmentation is that it allows you to turn a vague marketing direction (attracting more listeners) into a plan that encompasses both how you market your podcast and what topics you cover within the podcast. This makes it viable for podcasts operating on both large and small scales, as it reveals opportunities befitting a variety of budgets.

Steps You Can Take

Cohort analysis is a staple in email marketing. It’s a complex, mature technique that you can use to take advantage of overlapping interests to access adjacent audiences that are interested in, but not always directly exposed to, your content.

This is an approach that relies heavily on data collection and quantifying your topic selection to produce audience engagement. As always, you have to know who you’re already reaching before you can identify the groups that one step away.

You can use services like Meltwater or Crimson Hexagon to analyze the behaviors and connections of your audience, or you can collect the data directly by taking advantage of social API’s. You can’t always predict how audiences will overlap, so don’t be afraid of surprises. You might have to adjust your usual marketing methods to reach these audiences, but the overlap is real.

You can feed into this overlap in two main ways: marketing core content to adjacent audiences and building content for adjacent audiences. You’ll want to do a bit of both, but the exact balance depends on how the two groups connect and communicate. Don’t be afraid of collaborating with content producers who treat your adjacent audiences as their core audiences.

Ultimately, the way you use your audience data is up to you. But by taking advantage of tools that let you identify the differences and interests within your own audience, you’ll be able to make smarter and more effective decisions.