Using ‘Movie Trailer’ style videos to market your podcast

One of the toughest challenges every podcast faces is growing its audience. Free discovery on podcast players is pretty poor until you gain meaningful traction and positive reviews. On the paid side, reviews of promoting a podcast on sites such as Facebook have shown that it’s not worth the cost.

On the bright side, once a new listener does appear, podcast players make it to subscribe if they like your content. But, getting them in the first takes a lot of work.

Can podcasts have movie trailer audio previews?

For an industry built on audio, it's surprising how little audio is used for podcast promotion. It would make sense that podcast players include the ability to listen to short audio clips when they are served recommendations by the app. If this exists with movies and videos, than why not podcasts?

One of the problems for this solution is that it requires individual podcast players to automatically create audio samples or allow podcasters to upload their own audio podcast trailers.

Until then, there is YouTube

While the industry isn’t there yet with standards to support audio clips, one existing alternative that excels at discovery is YouTube.

Google has slowly morphed YouTube from a video hosting service to also become a massive search company of its own. Many people by default search new information via videos before looking for website alternatives. Also, including YouTube as part of a content strategy has been found to boost organic SEO results to ones website.

Converting audio clips to video

One way to leverage YouTube is to create short videos about a podcast episode. For those already recording video of their podcast, you can splice small segments from an interesting topic discussed or provocative points from a guest.

One example is This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis. Interviews are video recorded and uploaded to YouTube with audio distributed to iTunes, Stitcher and other podcast players. In various formats they have used the long and short form versions of an episode to widen audience reach. While the smaller segments don’t always catch on, they often do include buzzwords to become popular short videos.

Two examples show the poles of the video strategy. Episode 849 (link), Jason interviewed Ernst-Jan Pfauth CEO The Correspondent with the video reaching as of today 14,000 views. However, a smaller 7 minute segment titled “Is Advertising Evil when Combined with Journalism” has only captured 286 views.

On the other hand, a 4 minute video called “How to Target Venture Capitalists” has 26,000 views . The video (above) is a small segment from a longer presentation from Episode 846 from Adam Nelson, Partner at Social Capital. The longer episode was popular recent one as it has 42,000 views on its own.

tl;dr format

If you don’t have video, you can create it. One popular option is to overlay sound bites with a background image of the podcast logo and names of speakers. The Ringer (link to channel) does this with most of their long form and smaller videos. The downside is that viewers aren’t really getting anything out of the video and just using YouTube for audio like many do for background music.

A potential alternative is what I call the tl;dr format. Rather than use an audio segment, you can create a seperate two minute or so summary about what the podcast episode is about and some of the major points discussed. Using a screenshare recorder such as the free Soapbox solution from Wistia you can also show images and text related to the podcast to provide a better taste of the larger episode.

Putting it all together

The common thread of how the videos are formed is that they should include messaging to go to the larger episode for the whole discussion. The YouTube page should also include links for iOS and Android users to listen directly to the episode and subscribe on their apps as well as any related web pages.


One last thing, YouTube includes its own version of SEO. Therefore, once you start in the path of marketing and distributing podcast content via videos, it’s worth devoting time to incorporating YouTube based SEO strategies. A great place to start for this is a recent episode from Neil Patel and Eric Siu on their Marketing School podcast. Episode #882 (link) focuses on YouTube SEO points to help videos perform better.