Are you frustrated with the lackluster response to your podcast calls to action? There might be a couple of things you’re doing wrong. Join Tracy Hazzard and Tom Hazzard in this episode of Feed Your Brand as they shed light on the widespread challenges podcasters face when it comes to CTAs and why so many miss the mark. Discover the art of crafting compelling CTAs that resonate with your audience and drive meaningful engagement. Tracy and Tom share actionable strategies to optimize your podcast CTAs, including the importance of relevance, creating a sense of urgency, and aligning language across platforms. Learn how to intelligently use URL forwarding to track responses and explore the innovative world of ad mixing systems. Whether you’re a seasoned podcaster or just starting, this episode provides valuable insights into transforming your CTAs into powerful tools for connection. Tune in to elevate your podcast engagement with actionable advice and real-world examples.
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How To Craft Compelling Calls-to-Action For Your Podcast
We’re going to talk about how to craft compelling calls to action in your podcasts. This is going to be a wild ride. We have a lot of things to say about this and a lot of tips and examples. This is going to be fun. I geek out on this topic. I enjoy it. I want to start opening up this episode with one good example of what not to do. What is a good example of a lousy call to action that is very cliche in podcasts?
I also want to start with the timing of these things matter as well. A lot of these things like the ones that you’re going to demo here, people put them right at the beginning,
Right at the beginning of their podcast. I agree. The timing of where and when in your episode you have a call to action is critical.
This one that you’re going to do upfront is worse when it’s at the beginning.
It’s all too often at the beginning. I hear this all the time. I meet with 6 to 8 existing podcasters just about every day. I’m evaluating their podcast, giving them what I call a podcast power appraisal, and letting them know where their opportunities lie, what they’re doing well, and what the gaps are so they can get more value out of their podcast. I hear this all the time. People say, “Thanks for joining me on the show today. Remember, if you like the show, please go subscribe and review.”
That’s the most common thing. It’s the most common cliche boring call to action. It happens upfront. First of all, asking people who are already listening to your podcast to subscribe is a throwaway ask because they’re already listening to a podcast most of the time on a podcast-listening app. If they like it, they’re going to subscribe anyway. It’s easy for them to do right there. Asking them for that without some compelling good reason why or reward for doing it is not going to help you. You’re making yourself seem desperate right up front at the beginning of the episode.
One big message I want to send to everybody is to not be desperate. You have a show. You have a compelling message. You are an expert in your field or you wouldn’t be doing it. Don’t make this plea. Don’t make it sound like, “Would you please subscribe to my podcast because I’d like you to.” I can’t stand to hear that.
Especially in the beginning is the wrong time for it. You haven’t delivered anything yet.
Provide value first. The subscriptions and the reviews are going to come. If people like your show, they’re going to go and do it. I’m not saying you can never make an ask or have a call to action for people to give you a rating or a review. There are ways to do that, especially if you need some and you have a brand-new show. There are ways to do it. There are better, more creative, more effective, and more important ways to do it. That’s a little example of an all too often used in a poor call to action. Tracy is right, timing is critical. One of our biggest tips is to choose the timing carefully.
This is no different than us mentioning this for advertisements. We did a whole episode on this recently where we were talking about the post-positioning of advertising. In the last third of your show is what we’re saying here. It’s even better if you finish the major content and you’re about to do your closing thoughts, that’s the perfect time to do a call to action.
It’s somewhere in the latter third of the episode, Certainly in the latter half, provide value first. I don’t understand what it is about podcasters. Some of it I’m sure is a lack of awareness. Honestly, my kids are notorious for choosing the worst time in the world to ask their mother or their father for something they want. Because it’s important to them, they want to ask you about it right now, even if it’s the absolute worst time of day. I’m going to say no to whatever they ask me right now because I’m not receptive to anything new. It’s like bugs that can’t stay away from the light and they’re drawn to the light. My kids are always doing that by asking. I think that especially rookie podcasters think, “This is important. I want to get more subscribers. I have to ask about it right in the beginning.”
There’s a term out here that people have been using. It’s called an askhole. I did not swear. It’s with the K. That’s what happens when you ask too soon. When you’re always asking, your listeners are not there for you to do that too. Your listeners are there so that they can build some trust with you. That’s not a way to build trust. They’re not receptive until they’ve received some information. They’ve decided if you’re worthy of them subscribing and coming back for more. Also, your first episode is not a place to ask. Keep that in mind. It’s not only the timing within the episode but which episode you’re asking for it. Your first episode is not a place to ask.
That’s a good tip. What I also want to make sure all of you hear me saying right now is that we’re not saying, “Don’t have calls to action.” Right now, we’re being negative. We’re giving examples of what not to do. We’re going to get to what to do that’s very effective. The biggest one of those is you’re a podcaster. You have a podcast. You have a platform. One hundred percent, you should be making a request or having a call to action for something in your episodes. I agree with Tracy that it’s not in the first episode. Maybe not in the first three, but pretty quickly, you absolutely should have a call to action.
Even if you don’t have anything major that you need right now, there is an aspect of having calls to action to engage with your audience, to communicate with them, or to get them to reach out and communicate with you. Even if you’re not selling anything necessarily. Maybe you don’t have a specific ask. Just create one that is meaningful to get that listener off of that listening app and to communicate with you to trade their name, phone number, and email for something free of value you’re going to give them. Guess what? We don’t know who our listeners are when they’re staying in that listening app.
We want to get them to take an action. That’s the whole point of a call to action. It’s to take an action. We want to test out the activity level and the action-taking level of our audience. We want to see how much action we’ve earned. We want to do this throughout our show and throughout the many episodes we do. We want to have to test different types of calls to action. In the beginning, you’re not going to get much. You’re going to get a little bit of like, “I’d love some feedback. Maybe a rate and review. Follow me on Instagram. Like my channel on YouTube, I’m trying to grow my channel. Could you help me out?”
Some of those things are okay asks, but they’re forcing an action and that’s important. They’re forcing a connection between you and that listener because if they follow you on Instagram, you now know who they are. It is helping you in terms of making those connections, but we want to keep it simple. We want to keep it action-oriented and simple. As we grow, we see more and more action.
Our podcast in 3D printing had 100,000 listeners a month. Here’s the key. We could get them to do what we asked them to do. We found out through testing calls to action that 37% of our audience would go download something. They would give us an email and address, even a phone number. They would go deep in. That’s high. When you have an action-oriented audience who’s listening and ready to do what you’re telling them to do, that’s awesome value. Now you’re an influencer. Now you’re not just passively giving them your content.
We’re getting to the point where we’re now getting into some specific tips for calls to action. First of all, any of you can do this, whether it’s episode 456 or episode 356. You all can do this and all should be. Start to condition that audience. What I want to say about calls to action is you should make a single call to action at one time. Ask for one thing, not 2 or 3 things, or ask people to do this or that. It’s just going to confuse them. Message sent will not be message received. It’s a single call to action that is either a request or an offer for something. It could even be you asking a question.
When you do this, you want to know what’s the specific action you’re asking them to take. If you’re going to ask them a question, how are they going to answer you? Where are you telling them to go and answer? It could be on a social media page. That could be shouting out to you on Instagram or LinkedIn. Connecting with you on LinkedIn is one thing or sending you a message through there. I have always been a bigger fan of all roads leading back to your podcast website. There are exceptions and reasons why you might send someone somewhere else, but you want to give them a specific place to go and make it easy for them to do it. I want you to think a little bit about how you might do that and we’ll make a few suggestions.
I want to clarify what Tom is saying here. Where you communicate with them, where they can get more information, where that is happening. The where is important. Make it one place. If you are going to say, “DM me on social. Direct message me on social,” that’s okay because then they can pick their social. They’re going to hear that and they’re going to go, “I’m on Twitter, so I’m doing it on Twitter. I’m on Instagram, so I’m doing it on Instagram.” That’s an okay thing to say, “DM me.” You’re getting them to take action by sending a direct message. That’s the actual where, so it doesn’t have to be the social platform.
If you want to test and use your CTAs or your calls to action as research, where’s my audience? In one episode, ask them to message you on Instagram or comment on Instagram. For the next one, try Facebook or LinkedIn. Do it differently in each one and start to see where your audience responds to it. You might find out you have tons of LinkedIn listeners who are happy to message you there. Because you invited them there, they heard a very specific where call to action that matched them. That’s why we want to test out some of the wheres as you’re doing this.
We do want to test them out. I’m going to do one right now that’s an example. “Those of you who are existing podcasters out there tuning in to us, I will be conducting a webinar tomorrow at 1:00 PM Eastern that is about the three podcast promotion tactics that are going to get you more listeners now and continue to get you more listeners on a regular basis. You can go to Podetize.co/Register to sign up for that webinar.” That’s one call to action. It’s complex because I read you a web URL and you have to remember that. You have to write it down and you’re going to spell it right. You might not have the best chance of success.
That one was harder because it doesn’t match where the podcast is located. It’s not a match to it. It was Podetize.co instead of Podetize.com or where we really are.
PodcastersUnited.org is where we are.
It’s not a match necessarily. When that happens, you have to reiterate. You’re going to have to repeat that multiple times to make it sink into someone’s head. You may have to mention it again at the end, “Don’t forget I mentioned my Q&A session tomorrow. You’re not going to want to miss it at Podetize.co/Register.” Do it again because it’s complex. It’s going to happen, especially if you’re making affiliate calls to action and things like that. The issue is if it’s not relevant, it’s not going to work for you.
This is relevant to our audience and all podcast people out there. People who are looking to promote their podcasts are the right audience for us. The listeners are a match to that call to action. You’re more likely to get a response to that. If it was something totally unrelated, it’s going to be a fraction of your audience and you’re going to have the entire audience listen to it. The relevance factor matters.
The interesting part about that call to action is that the reason I felt I needed to recite the web URL is for those people who are watching it live. For those of you tuning in to this on your favorite platform, all you have to do is go into the description of this episode and that link is right there. You can click it and register.
It’s better if you have a landing page or if you have something that you’re going to send people to. When we’re thinking about the instructions of what we’re going to have them do, it’s like, “If you want to book a call with Tom, go to the website Podetize.com. There’s an inquire button or book a call button right up at the top.” It’s super easy for someone to find that. All they have to do is know the website because it’s your normal website that you use with your podcast. If it’s not your normal website like if you’re doing something in an affiliate, you want to send them to the website and make a very clear section for it. If it’s the website/affiliates, go to the affiliates button or go to the affiliates tab on the menu item. Make it very clear that they can find it there as well if they can’t remember what you said.You have a show. You have a compelling message. You are an expert in your field or you wouldn't be doing it. Don't be desperate. Click To Tweet
I also want to point out that I’m a huge fan of putting the link in the description of the episode because that’s going to be there whenever anybody listens. If this were a podcast recording only and I wasn’t going live, I wouldn’t even bother with Podetize.co/Register. I would’ve said, “Go to the link as you’re tuning in to this episode.” That link will be in the description of the show. It’s super easy. Whenever anybody is listening to you and they scroll down in their app, they look at that description, and they see that link, “Click here to register for that live session” or whatever it may say, they can click it and it’ll open up a browser window. Guess what? They’re still listening to your podcast. It didn’t take them away from it. That’s important to understand. People can take action while they’re listening.
I want to be clear here. What we’re saying is that it also needs to match your language. When Tom says that this is Podetize.co/Register, the URL that you use should match that. It’s going to forward that forward to some complex Zoom registration link. If you have some complexity that it’s forwarding to and you don’t want to have that forwarding happen, you should be tracking it. You should know that it’s hitting there, that means it came from my call to action on my podcast episode. You should make it so that it matches so you can track it as it’s happening. When you do that, you want it to match everywhere or they’ll think they’re clicking the wrong thing, that you’re spamming them, or that it’s a risky link to click.
You want to hide it so that it’s matching to the language. Three podcast promotion tactics that work, Q&A session, and then it’s a hidden link. You just click the text and it goes out to it. If you can do that, you want to do it on the podcast description, the YouTube description, and in your blog post for it. We’d like to put the calls to action way down at the bottom on bullet points. While it’s in the language when we set it within the podcast, it’s also down at the bottom in a quick and easy link to find and you can do it that way. Everything should match in the way that it looks to the way that you said it so that they are clear that was what they were looking for.
Zoom registration links are these incredibly long complex links, but that’s not the reason why I create a forwarding URL of Podetize.co/Register. I even have some variations on that because I will run multiple webinars at different times and have different email campaigns for them or social media campaigns on LinkedIn for people to sign up for these things. I’ve told you that I’m running a session tomorrow. It’s true. I am from when I was recording this live. The podcast people are going to tune in to this a couple of weeks later like, “I’m out of luck.” Guess what? You’re not because I run these things pretty regularly every week to new groups of people.
I always update that forwarding URL or that /Register to the next one. As soon as I finish it, it’s going to the next one so that when anybody clicks it, whether it’s from tuning in to this show or looking at the description or they got an email, because I also do email outreach about this stuff and put it on LinkedIn and LinkedIn Messenger. Whenever anybody gets to it and clicks it, they’re not going to get to a dead webinar link. They are getting to the next one that’s going to happen. That is super critical.
Also, if you are not going to run it again and again like Tom does, you can run to a recording of it. That’s also something you can forward, “Sorry, you missed it. Here’s the recording though.” We don’t happen to record those webinars, so it doesn’t have that model. We don’t do it that way, but he does have a closing “What you missed” page that he could send people to. There’s always something that you can be forwarding them to.
This is where I think a lot of podcasters make huge mistakes because 60% of your listens may come from your back catalog, meaning well after you aired that episode. Its time relevance is outdated. This is how we invented Podetize. We didn’t want calls to action, we didn’t want advertisements, and we didn’t want messages that were out of date and unable to be accessed by someone who listened to the podcast a year later. When somebody finds your show, we want them to be able to make sure that they can access the tools.
Be clear. Use those forwarding URLs. Do that regularly. If you feel like, “I may not do this again,” then make it a call to action that tells them to go to the blog post where you can update it regularly. You can send them someplace new. If they don’t find it there, it’s so easy for them to contact you and message you and say, “Where’s this thing you referred to?” It’s going to be easier for them to access it that way. Be thinking about this being relevant far into the future.
We’re going to come back to another application of that in podcasting in a minute. I want to run down a lot of potential CTAs because I’m sure there are some podcasters out there thinking, “I don’t know what I have. I don’t have anything that I want to share with them. I don’t have anything that I feel like I need to ask them.” I’m telling you, you do and you want to figure it out. Just believe it. Start believing it. If you don’t believe it, it’s not going to come across well when you make the ask or you deliver it.
There’s always a reason. Maybe you want to find out, “How many of my listeners out there are men versus women? I don’t know. I’m curious to know. Would you be willing to go to this page and reach out to me?” Again, this could be DM-ing you on a social platform if you want or you can have a little page on your website where they can submit a contact form or something to say, “If you’re willing, I’m curious, how many are men and how many are women?”
I’ll give you an example. I did this recently and I do this in my live webinars, but I also do it sometimes in email in advance, trying to get people to respond. I haven’t even told them that there’s a live session coming up they’re going to be in. It’s like, “I’m curious, with all the podcasters out there, how many of you are also recording and publishing your full-length episodes as video?” I ask that question. I’ll do it in a live webinar and get people to comment and everybody comments. You ask them a question, they’re a part of it. They’re feeling a part of it and are contributing. You can make it a formal poll or you can ask a simple question and get them to answer it in the chat, respond to an email, or to DM you on social. Those are a couple of things.
Some of the social media platforms allow you to pin a poll. You can also do that there so it’s pinned to your profile. They’re going to find you and then you pin a poll. Those are things that you can take advantage of and test out. I do say this, but it may not be available to everyone if you don’t have creator mode turned on or something like that. It may not be available on every Instagram or every LinkedIn profile. Some of those tools aren’t there, but take advantage of them if they are. Use them and mention them. Those are great ways to get feedback coming through.
It doesn’t feel as salesy or funnelly. It doesn’t feel as much like, “I’m going to end up in a funnel if I go to LinkedIn to do something.” It feels like something that feels much more normal and much more connective engagement and invitation-oriented. The other feels like you’re taking my information. We also want to make things that are light and easy for them to take action on and don’t feel like a heavy lift yet, especially to somebody who’s new to you.
Your favorite audience members or the people who come back for more are going to reach out to you anyway. They’re going to do what you say. It’s going to happen. We’re not going to worry about those. We’re worried about the new people or the people who are new to you to take action to let us get to know them better.Provide value first; the subscriptions and the reviews are going to come if people like your show. Click To Tweet
Other examples of CTAs, I see people doing this all the time on social, not so much in podcasts. I think it would be better in podcasts. Some people are going to create something new in their business and they’re trying to name it. They’ll crowdsource naming it, “I have these three names. Which one do you think?” I’m not a fan of doing that personally because I know when I have all these people, I give three different answers.
I’m going to get so many different answers as to which one is the best. It’s not going to inform me of which one I should choose. I believe that. If you have something you want to poll your audience or crowdsource them, ask them, “I’m considering one of these three names for something. I’m curious what you all think as the audience of the show.” You’re going to need to have a place to send them where they’re going to answer but solicit that answer.
That one is not my favorite because it’s rooted in time and it’s going to get outdated fast.
Let’s talk about that.
Timeless opportunities are a better option. More evergreen calls to action are better, but also the ones with a sense of urgency.
I like that too.
You created a sense of urgency when you were telling them to register because it’s tomorrow. It’s going to occur tomorrow. That is useful as well. I can get them to take urgent action that’s good. If they take the action late and they missed it, I’ve sent them somewhere to tell them what they do now that they missed it. Now I’ve created something timeless and urgent at the same time.
I said that for a reason. It is grounded in time. That’s true, it would age out of relevance. If somebody tunes in to this show six months from now, that may not be relevant anymore. When you’re recording something live like we are, I’m stuck. I did that. That’s true. In a podcast, when we have an important call to action, that is going to be grounded in time. Tracy, you’re going to be giving a virtual keynote or a keynote at this virtual event, or maybe you’re going to be speaking in person in a live event and you want to let people know, “There’s a call to action. You all can get a discounted ticket for this event if you go to this landing page, sign up, and use this code.”
Those are great calls to action that you can take advantage of. The difference is we don’t want to have those permanently in our episodes forever. We record those as a separate little recording that is a promotion. Think of it as an ad or a call to action that is a mini little MP3 file that’s 30 seconds long. That does not have to be edited into your episode permanently. That can go into your episodes. Certainly, when you’re hosted on Podetize, we have a system that does that. We can put it in for a period of time and take it out when it’s over, and then anybody tuning in to that episode in the future won’t hear it. Better yet, they hear the next current, most important, and relevant call to action that has not happened yet.
This is how Tom and I invented the ad mixing system on our platform because, in our 3D Print Podcast, we were offering a mentorship contest. It was going to be a month-long contest. People had to send us information. They had to apply. It was a big deal.
That was a great CTA to get people to reach out to you and provide their info too. Even the application of that.
We had twenty episodes we did in a month, so we had lots of calls to action that were happening there. We were doing it throughout that month. When I went back to our audio editor at the time because there was no video back in those days when we first did that podcast, who’s now our son-in-law, I asked him if he would edit out those because once I realized the contest was over and we made the announcement about it, I was like, “They’re in everything.” I don’t know that I want to keep them in these episodes.
He said, “It’s going to cost you as much to edit them out as to put them in in the first place. I went, “There’s no way. I’m too cheap for that. Tom, let’s figure out a way to do this.” Tom and another partner we had at the time came up with this great method for ad-mixing. That’s what we still use today. It’s that concept because it was an irrelevant call to action that was set in a time that is no longer relevant to the audience and the listener base. We didn’t want to have Christmas ads in July when we’re not running a Christmas sale. That’s one of the reasons we did this. It works well to do that.
I’m a fan of doing this even if it’s not something anchored in time. If it’s something associated with an affiliation, a partner, or a joint venture, I’m going to encourage you to use an ad mixing system like ours to do that. Too often we have seen affiliate partners that you no longer want to be associated with because they do something that they shouldn’t have done and get themselves in some hot water.The whole point of a call to action is to take an action because we want to test out the action-taking level of our audience. We want to see how much action we've earned. Click To Tweet
Also, go out of business.
Now, you don’t want that association in your podcast anymore. Your only other choice is to delete your episode and have it manually edited and replaced. Most often when you do that. You break all your statistics. At Podetize, we have a way to do that that doesn’t. In other companies, when you upload a brand new audio file, you completely break and lose all your statistics. It’ll be the same case if you load up a YouTube video and you’ve now edited it out. That old YouTube video, all its statistics, and everything that went with it is gone. Putting these ads in a separate spot is our solution to this to make sure that that doesn’t happen. It’s critically important for you to do this with affiliations in timely or time-sensitive advertisements, promotions, and calls to action.
We need to start wrapping this up because we’ve gone a long on our calls to action. I have a couple of things I want to make people aware of and think about. I write a lot of copy. I write a lot of calls to action. I write a lot of scripts here. One thing that you want to remember is what it looks like in writing isn’t what it sounds like when you speak it. If you’re doing a call to action, test it out by speaking it. Record it, maybe listen back to it, and go, “That’s not a good idea.” Do not just read it without listening to it. That’s my first important point.
Definitely listen to yourself. Hear it. The way you deliver it. The level of energy. Does it sound compelling or does it sound like you were giving a little book report in elementary school?
Is it concise and clear too? Is it going to come across? Did it sound right? That is what we need to do. We want to close our eyes, listen to it, and go, “That sounded totally confusing.” Be clear about that. We want to use strong action verbs. We want them to take action, so we need to use strong action verbs like download, join, share, claim, and support. I love claim by the way because that’s a timely thing like it’s going to run out of them, “Claim your spot. It’s going to be gone,” support, connect, follow, access, subscribe, rate, and review. Those are things that are typical terms.
Only use it when you’re talking about that because it gets confusing to podcast listeners if you’re using “subscribe” to something else. Attend, upgrade, snag, seize, and act now. Those are some action words you can use. Don’t forget about the most important thing about a call to action which is, “What’s in it for me?” the audience member. Is there a benefit? If the benefit is “I get your email address,” that’s your benefit, not theirs.
What’s the reward? That’s where this comes in. What is the reward for the person for taking action? It doesn’t have to be something that costs you any money. It can be something that you do once and gets delivered to everybody who takes that action. There are different levels of rewards, but what’s the reward? That will motivate people to trade their name, phone number, and email to get that reward.
Sometimes it can be as simple in the beginning. In the early days, solicit a response from your audience, engage them, and make them feel like they’re a part of your community or they’re a part of the show because you’re speaking to them. Speak to them. Eventually, you want to think about the rewards, especially the ones that are more complex calls to action that we’re asking of them.
Always think of the word “relevant.” Is this the relevant time for this? Is this relevant to my audience? Is this relevant to the content that I already provide here? You’re not going to get a good response rate if it’s not in line with the content that you’re already giving them or the type of show you have. Is it the relevant time? Is it the right time to be giving this call to action? Always be thinking about that. It’s going to be the term that you want to use that is going to help you decide whether or not this is right for you. Is it a right fit? Is it relevant? I don’t know if we can go on much more on this, so let’s stop right here and wrap this up.
Thanks for tuning in, everyone. Remember, we’re going to have the links to everything we talked about here in the blog post of this episode at PodcastersUnited.org. That is a new URL. We have moved the podcast from where it always used to be to PodcastersUnited.org. Again, we’ve been doing this live. If you’re out there live, you’re seeing it on LinkedIn or somewhere, there is more information for you on PodcastersUnited.org, so check that out.
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