For a host to start an email list brings many advantages. People are more likely to engage with an email. Using an email list, a host will get more downloads of the podcast compared to social media. Podcasting shares some elements with email. Making email a familiar step in the podcasting experience.
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A host can grow a pre-audience before the first episode. The type of content a host could send to a pre-audience is updates on the podcast. Send surveys asking what the audience wants to hear. An update can be anything from a preview of the cover art to a snippet of the first episode. To get the first downloads, a host should send the episodes to the email list.
The purpose of the email list is to give subscribers a preview of the week's episode. The email acts as a reminder for a new episode that the subscriber might miss in their podcast player.
An advantage of an email list is that it is the most inclusive form of online communication. Everyone has an email address. Anyone can sign up for an email list without the need to sign up for another service. A host can have more email subscribers than the number of followers on a social media platform. An email subscriber can interact with a host if they choose. To interact with a host, a subscriber needs to only reply to the email. This is different from social media. For social media they need to be a member of the platform, follow the host and other steps. Email is simple. If the popular social media platforms fade away, a host needs to grow a following again. For email, a host can export the data and move to a new email platform. A subscriber would not notice the difference.
The welcome email should include links to popular podcast players. A host can never be sure how a subscriber found the email list. Subscribers can forward emails to their friends. The welcome email helps new subscribers find the podcast.
A host should focus on getting the most loyal listeners to join the email list. The new or casual listener may unsubscribe in a short time. A loyal listener will be less likely to leave the list.
Having the title of the episode in the subject line lets subscribers know the topic. If an email subscriber has an interest in the episode, they can read the show notes. In the email, click on their favorite player from the email to listen.
The show notes in the email will let a subscriber see the episode's main points right away.
People might not see the anchor text, they may not know that it is a link. The button is a clear call to action for subscribers to listen to the episode.
Merge tags allow an email provider to send details from an RSS feed to a subscriber. Merge tags will enable the email provider to automate the email.
Pictures in an email send the email to the promotions folder in an email client. Being in the promotions folder means that a subscriber does not see the email. Avoid this problem by not having pictures in the emails.
I send my emails at 3 am because I want people to view my email first in the morning. By sending it out at 3 am PST, the EST people will see it as they are getting ready to commute. For PST, the email is sitting first in the inbox in the morning. Same as for any time zone near PST.
If people forward the emails to their friends, their friends cannot sign up. To avoid the problem, add a link to the subscription form at the bottom. Subscribers' friends can sign up without having to search for the form.
A lead magnet or a landing page gets used to inform people of the podcast's content. A lead magnet is offering something of value in exchange for an email address. A lead magnet can be a PDF file, a video series, anything that would provide value to subscribers. A landing page is a web page that tells a potential subscriber what value the podcast can give them. Landing pages are usually one page.
The lead magnet for my podcast is a private series of videos that show viewers how to set up a podcast. The series complements my podcast. In my podcast, I discuss how someone can improve their podcast. I make it clear that the video series is private to let subscribers know the series is exclusive.
In some cases, people may only have an interest in the lead magnet. They may sign up for the list and then immediately unsubscribe once they get the lead magnet.
Another issue that might come up is that people may have an interest in joining the mailing list. But decide not to join because they do not want the lead magnet.
In either issue, there is not much a host can do.
The landing page I created shows the different types of episodes on the podcast. The 3 different types of episodes: podcasting, community building, and web development. Embedded above the descriptions is a player for one episode related to each category. To meet my next goal of getting email subscribers, I added a button to the email signup form.
The purpose of the landing page was to get people to subscribe to the podcast. For a reason at the top linked to the most podcast players. If a visitor did not use one of the most popular players, they could use the RSS Feed. Add the podcast to their player with the link. These links were at the top in case people were only looking for a link to the podcast.
The final element I added is an about page. This about page describes me and why I started the podcast.
It is difficult to know how to best design a landing page to get the most out of it. Depending on the service used for a landing page, a host may not get much say in the landing page format. Some services have specific items they will allow on a page, and other items are not.
Subscribers can share emails of the episodes. Everyone in the world has an email address. Subscribers can forward the emails to their friends. Non-subscribers can see an HTML version of the email.
A host can automate most of the email sending process. A host only needs to set up the email once and does not need to worry about emails again.
Unlike social media platforms, an email subscriber can see emails right away. There is no algorithmic feed preventing subscribers from seeing an email.
For an email, a host can add some style to the email, making it more eye-catching. As opposed to social media platforms where a host has to fit their posts to their standards. Some social media platforms want posts in a specific amount of characters. For every post to look the same.
On other promotional platforms, when a host creates content, the data is the platform's. The platform uses the data to sell or to optimize their algorithms. When a host creates an email list, the host owns the data.
Statistics for an email list can help a host improve the quality of the email list. Standard statistics are click percentage, open percentage, links clicked, and open times.
For a listener to get in touch with a host on social media, there are many steps involved. A listener needs to have an account, find the host. Then, decide to contact them in the open or in private, and then send the message. With email, the listener only needs to hit the reply button.
Putting a link to the email list allows any listener to sign up. Everyone who listens to the podcast is a potential subscriber.
Email services give customers the option of creating an HTML version of the email. A host can take the HTML version and use it to promote the episode. Sign-ups for the email list will increase if a link to the form is at the bottom.
Anyone listening to the podcast is a potential subscriber. Some listeners may not look at the show notes. Mentioning the email list on the podcast makes sure that listeners know about it. A host can mention the email list in the beginning after greeting listeners. By saying, "before we get started, I'd like everyone to know there is now a BAIB email list. The emails will send new episodes to subscribers' inbox. If any listener wants to sign up, the link is in the show notes."
Adding people without their permission is unethical. People would mark an email as spam if they did not sign up for it. That will not help the email list for those that did sign up for the email list. The people that signed up for the email list will receive the email in their spam folder.
The less information someone needs to give to sign up, the better. The more information provided, the more likely a potential subscriber is to back out.
Similar to the signup form, Subscribers will avoid longer emails. If people are not reading, they are more likely to unsubscribe. The purpose of the emails is to get subscribers to click and listen. If they are not reading, then the email list is a waste of time.
Subscribers will not read emails from email addresses they do not recognize. Which will lead to subscribers marking the email as spam and unsubscribing. A host should make the email obvious for subscribers for that reason.
For BAIB's email list, I use Supremerumham@gmail.com. All my online usernames are "supremerumham," and it is in the title of the podcast. Those that signed up for the email list will not mistake the email address.
Promoting and getting listeners to subscribe to the email list might be difficult. If a host is starting their podcast, it will take a while to build an audience. Meaning that a host may struggle to find people willing to join the email list in the beginning.
If a host does not know much about design, then creating an email can be difficult. Some email services have templates that can help to design the email. Those templates might not always be impactful.
The average person receives lots of emails from catalogs to email notifications. A podcast email could get buried under the other emails, and a subscriber will miss it. In that case, a host can resend the email to non-openers or change the send time of the email.
Some comedians use email lists to notify fans about their tour dates. Having an email list and sending fans content keeps a comedian top of mind. On other platforms, a comedian's content might not be favorable. For email, there is no algorithm to lower the chances of a video getting views. Every subscriber email that gets sent a video has an equal opportunity to see the video. There is no censorship.
Every comedian is on social media platforms, along with other entertainers. A comedian has to compete with everyone on the platforms for attention. A comedy fan can not subscribe to everyone's email list. In that case, having a fan as an email subscriber is more focused because there is less content in the inbox. An email subscriber will give a comedian's email more attention than a social media post.
Email is not as popular as social media. Making it more challenging to grow an email list, but email is much more valuable. The amount of social media posts the average person sees per day is higher than the number of emails. Making the odds of seeing an email higher. The hosts that rely on social media give up too much control to the platforms, which can hurt them in the long run.
This post is an excerpt from the Open Podcast Community book. The book is available for purchase here.