Rebooting (Or Upgrading) Your Podcast — A Case Study

Onward, Bravely, Together

Paul Johnson knew it was time to upgrade his Podcast, The Optimistic American and we were thrilled to help. If you’ve ever wanted more from your show, consider some of the steps he’s taking.

We’ve launched Season 2 with the release of this piece, so it’s a great time to watch from the beginning.

Paul’s mission is to “promote what is going right in our country.” A well-executed show can bring him closer to his mission — not just take up his time.

Do you need to upgrade your execution to bring you closer to your mission?

Narrowing The YouTube Focus

The show was always available on YouTube. In many cases, the YouTube version of any particular episode got more views from YouTube than downloads of the Podcast.

YouTube is not just a place to “throw your video,” hoping that YouTube will do all the heavy lifting. It’s a full platform with its own rules and culture. Play YouTube’s game and they will help you play yours.

We’ll start by optimizing videos for YouTube Search — episode titles will utilize research on underserved keywords. There might be instances where the same episode has a different title and description on YouTube than it does on Apple. That’s on purpose.

Thumbnails (they can’t watch until they click) will be tested. We’ll A/B test everything and see what The Optimistic American’s audience will most likely click on.

As YouTube does more and more with its Podcast play, we’ll monitor and adjust the show as needed.

It’s A Video Podcast Too

Almost all of our clients are testing some form of Video Podcast right now. In one case, we’ve got a show with three to four times as many downloads of the video version versus the audio version (and yes, it’s available on YouTube as well).

Podcasts Can Be Video Too …

Season 2 of The Optimistic American will introduce the Video Podcast version. It will be fascinating to track how it does.

Don’t rule out video Podcasting just because you are publishing to YouTube. Deliver your content in the format your audience wants it — or where they might find it.

The Seasonal Narrative Arc

Season 1, like many shows, was a series of interviews and conversations about his theme. It met the needs of that time. The problem with the “series of interviews” model for so many Podcasts is that each episode stands alone. Without a reason to listen to the episode before or after, the audience often makes no move past the show that piques their initial interest.

Don’t Just Interview, Tell A Story With The Interviews

For Season 2, each episode will be a chapter in an unfolding narrative. The entire season is mapped out in advance, with General Wesley Clark as the penultimate episode. Not only does the audience know where things are going, but Paul and his team are forced to keep production on track and building toward the end.

Podcasting is competitive, and a well-executed podcast with a purpose and a plan is far more effective at getting listeners to subscribe or follow.

The Giveaway(s)

Paul wants more from his Podcast than producing a simple edutainment machine. To test the impact of his message on his audience, he has a few simple (digital) giveaways that we can use to gauge his audience’s interest and engagement.

Everybody Loves A Bonus Giveaway

If you can’t get your audience to give you something as simple as their email address, they’re not as interested in your show as you think they are.

How you track the giveaway will be key. We won’t just track how many people took him up on the offer relative to the number of downloads. We’ll also track how far his listeners went into the episode to verify if they heard the offer at all.

Last year, we had a client with a quarter of a million downloads of an episode where only a few took him up on the offer. Turns out the problem wasn’t the offer — it was the fact that he made the offer after most people had stopped listening! When you look at all the elements of your Podcast, you learn some amazing things.

The Premium Version

Also available in Season 2 will be a premium version of the show (on both Apple and Spotify). We’ll start at $9.99 a month, but like everything else, this will be tested.

The goal here is not to generate a significant revenue stream from the show, but to test if the audience is willing to value the show past simple listening.

Yes, Virginia, People Will Pay For A Podcast (If It’s Worth Paying For)

If the show’s audience will only consume (for free), Paul won’t be able to accomplish his goals. We’ll be tracking this data and more, in the Command Center.

Dynamic Ad Insertion

As we test different messaging options for the show, we’ll play variations of the giveaway and promotion of the Premium Version with dynamic ads.

The Right Add At The Right Time

We won’t know what works until we test.

Ads can be inserted in past episodes as well. The back inventory, created to be evergreen, can contribute as much to the show’s mission as will any future episode.

That’s all part of the plan.

The Command Center

Season 2 is so much more than new content — it’s a strategic expansion of the message using every channel possible to bring more people into The American Optimist’s fold.

Track Everything You Do From Your Command Center

Everything we do will be tracked, tested, and refined. We’ll drop what doesn’t work and double down on what does. The plan is really as simple as that.

Recording, editing, and distributing the show is only a tiny part of the process. Tracking what works and doing more of it is the key to getting the results you want. With the new plan and strategy in place, Paul can offer his audience an upgraded experience while meeting his goals.

Head over to The Optimistic American and follow along as Season 2 unfolds in real time.



Paul Colligan is the founder of The Podcast Partnership —

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