Warning, a truism: podcasts are usually made for an audience that is intended to listen to the podcast. That's why the very majority of podcasters have a purpose behind their show.
Even if it is only the pure desire for feedback. This makes it clear that the vast majority of podcasts contain a call-to-action (CTA). Or at least it should be included.
The purpose of a CTA is to recommend action and, ideally, to trigger the action. This brings us the right to the heart of the topic.
Lower interaction without a call-to-action included in the podcast
While in the early days of podcasting it was still possible to get a lot of reactions simply by being heard, things are much different now.
As the world is flooded with content, the noise of bits and bytes of data is getting increasingly louder. As podcasters, we have the advantage that our medium is a slowed-down one. Listeners consciously take the time to listen to our episodes, but the selection of suitable podcasts is getting wider constantly and therefore we are allowed to do something to move our listeners to action.
For this reason, you should consider including a call-to-action in your podcast. Even if you have common doubts about whether this is appropriate or whether you will annoy your listeners.
Sounds familiar? We'll get to that later ;)
When it comes to podcast episodes, there's no such thing as THE call-to-action that always fits. Also, it doesn't always involve advertising partners or other monetization actions.
A call-to-action can also be an invitation to comment on Instagram, sign up for a newsletter, or join a Facebook group. You've probably heard on the podcast something like: "Hey. Thank you so much for listening to me. If you'd like, write a review and give me five stars on iTunes. It'll help me spread awareness of my podcast and find new listeners." It can be as simple as that.
We will discuss whether a CTA of this kind makes sense in one of the next points. (SPOILER: It doesn’t...). But before that, there's one more thing I'd like to discuss with you: The number of call-to-actions in a podcast.
Think of it this way. You're listening to a podcast and at the end, the host says the following call-to-action:
"That's it for this episode and I hope you had a good time. Be sure to write to me about how you liked this episode. Also, I'd like to invite you to follow me in my free Facebook group. There's even more information there about the topic. Also, I'm holding a webinar next week on this topic. Have a look at the show notes and follow the link to register. And if you like, feel free to give me five stars on Apple Podcasts...."
What do you think most listeners will do? Exactly. Nothing.
Too many options will collapse us and tend not to follow as many recommendations for action. You may be familiar with the Jam Experiment, which was implemented in the U.S. a few years ago.
Visitors attending a delicatessen were offered toasts with different types of jam to try. In the first run, there were six types of jam. 40 percent of respondents picked up a loaf of bread, and out of those, 12 percent of people put a jam in their shopping cart.
In the second round, the selection of jam increased from 6 to 24 types. Attracted by this great offer, 60 percent of people took a toast with jam to have a taste. However, only 2 percent bought in this second round compared to 12 percent in the first round with a smaller selection of jam.
The research team concluded that offering too many choices does not seem an enrichment to us, instead, it seems to block us. So we may also take these conclusions into our call-to-action choice.
What about the next logical step for your listeners?
Instead of overloading your listeners with a cascade of recommended actions, you may consider what the NEXT logical step within your listener's journey should be.
Depending on the podcast type and its purpose, consider a different kind of CTA, away from the write-a-review one-size-fits-all. But if asking for reviews is your next logical step, then so be it.
...and be proud of what you offer. Many podcasters have an inhibition when it comes to promotion or offering the next step. They fear that they will be perceived as too promotional and that listeners will then turn away.
There is something good about this thought because it ensures that we don't come across as a teleshopping show or look like we're trying to sell electric blankets on a coffee run. However, I encourage you to take pride in all that you have to offer.
Your fans listen to your episodes because they like you and your content. Therefore, if you now keep the next step from them...wouldn't that be roughly negligent?
Okay, I admit that "negligent" is a bit of an overstatement. But I assume you get the point I'm trying to make. Be proud of what you have to offer. Take your time to make a good CTA and highlight what the benefits are for your audience.
Don't do it in a side clause. Take a minute to think about it.
1 minute is a good estimate for a 20-30 minutes podcast episode. Feel free to offer your people a jam toast, too. ;)
Similar to the advertising positions when promoting advertising partners, there are three common positions in your episode.
At the beginning of your podcast episodes, there will be the most interest in the call to action and the majority of listeners before they leave (which is completely normal).
Although the name might suggest it, the mid-roll does not have to be exactly in the middle in terms of timing. When the CTA breaks up a sentence after 15 minutes in a 30-minute episode, it's not nice. The mid-roll refers to a part in the episode, starting from the first second to the pre-last.
At this point, listeners are already immersed in the episode and won't switch off. But if the CTA is placed far in front, there is always room for some consequences that can pull attention away from the CTA.
The CTA comes at the very end - attached to the episode. Not so many listeners are paying attention here anymore, but those who are are very interested.
Each of the positions has an advantage and disadvantage and in case of doubt, you have to try it out for yourself, to decide what feels right. If you need a suggestion...we've got one for you.
Want to know more about pre, mid, and post-roll? Check out this blog post.
Under this concept, we take the best of the above CTA items and use them for our own goals. We take a pre-roll or a very early mid-roll to prepare the audience for the CTA at the end.
For example: "Good to have you back on this episode. Before we jump in, I want to let you know that there's a webinar coming up in two weeks on XY. This webinar is going to be different from the ones you've seen so far. I'll tell you exactly what it is and how your life will be different afterward at the end of the episode. So be sure to stay tuned until the end!"
And then the episode resumes. At the end of the episode, we close the loop and go into more detail about the webinar or its benefits.
Zip! That’s all it takes!
Do you already have some episodes that are CTA-free or would like to save a lot of time in the future? Then you can completely automate the CTA loop.
With The Podigee Ad Server, this is a piece of cake. All you need are the two audios for the beginning and the end of the episode and then Podigee does the rest. You could add music to the speech in the end roll to make it sound like a normal Outro.
If you want to have a look at how The Podigee Ad Server works, feel free to watch this video.
It takes one CTA to take it to the next step with your listeners when it comes to the content hustle and bustle. That's why it also needs a logical next step that aligns with the listener's journey.
Take your time with the CTA and don't swallow it out of fear that you'll come across as too promotional. If you're bothered by doing a minute of promo in an episode, you're probably not your ideal listener either, right?
To build up the CTA in time and add some suspense accordingly, feel free to use the CTA loop, which you can apply directly to all your episodes with The Podigee Ad Server.
While we're on the CTA topic, I feel like I should let you know that there's also an option for a call to action on the Podigee blog.
As you may know, all Podigee podcasts have their blog (website) available. If you are using it, you can add a CTA section with a link of your choice and a fancy button in the blog settings.
If you haven't tried Podigee yet, start now with our 14-day free trial!