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Why Existing Brand-Building Strategies Aren’t Working

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How do you build a lasting brand?

It’s an ever more prescient question in a world where the concept of the marketing funnel is breaking down, and as consumers, we’re relying more and more on our personal networks to make purchasing decisions.

If I want to buy a new camera, for example, my first port of call for tips is my WhatsApp group full of video gear-heads. And if I want to know where to get the best lobster roll in Boston, I’ll bypass Google and go straight to our #team-wistia Slack Channel.

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How do all of these recommendations come about? Some are a consequence of direct personal experience, but some are driven by word of mouth (Maureen) and others by an ineffable affinity for the state of Maine (Jay). As a business, chances are that you want to encourage more of this type of behavior.

Contemporary thinking would suggest you focus on improving your overall “brand experience” — which is the notion that every interaction customers have with your business (both inside and outside of their purchasing cycle) contributes to the overall perception of your brand, which drives preference and purchasing intent.

Because our brands have become the essential factor that dictates what we choose to buy, and most importantly, what products and services others recommend to us, this has lead businesses to invest more in it.

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Brand-building efforts centered around improving and optimizing the customer experience look like the following:

  • Designing our websites to be aesthetically pleasing and easy to use
  • Ensuring our products and services meaningfully solve customer problems
  • Offering best-in-class customer support
  • Hiring a talented and well-informed sales team
  • Creating marketing content that educates and informs potential customers

Our implicit goal here is to out-perform our competitors in each of the above areas, and thereby become the preferred vendor in our respective markets. In essence, businesses aim to create brand advocates through an amazing customer experience.

“In essence, businesses aim to create brand advocates through an amazing customer experience.”

By ensuring our existing customers love us, we hope (and assume) a good subset of them will become “net promoters,” recommending our products and services to others, increasing the positive market perception of our brand.

This way of thinking has a critical flaw.

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Image source: Reddit

If you rely on your existing customers as the potential pool of individuals who will become brand advocates, word of mouth becomes extremely hard to scale.

A situation where a positive NPS score leads to one new customer being acquired via a word-of-mouth recommendation for every ten new customers you get (a not unreasonable standard, especially in B2B), you still need to ensure a very low churn rate for your customer base to grow at all.

And to grow dramatically, you need to hit a viral coefficient of >1 (each customer brings in at least one other), which is a standard achieved by only 0.01% of new businesses.

Because, for most of us, organic word-of-mouth at a dramatic level is hard to achieve via customer experience, we end up supplementing our organic efforts with some sponsored advocacy. The staggering rise of influencer marketing over the last few years, paired with the astonishing amount of money top influencers are making today is a testament to this trend.

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But, this growth cannot continue infinitely. People are starting to slowly reduce the time they spend on social media, and there’s only so much room for sponsored posts (as well as members of the Kardashian family) before we hit oversaturation.

Therefore, we see the cost for influencer marketing growing quickly, to the point where a cost per (potential) thousand impressions is hitting >$10.

At these rates, influencer marketing looks incredibly expensive (and risky) when compared with an obvious, more measurable investment — digital advertising. And because this is expensive and untrackable, we aim to buy brand preference with ads.

This tactic, in various forms, has been the primary brand-building default for the last hundred years. The idea is based on the (now very outdated) notion that through repeated exposure to your brand, people will remember you better, and think more positively about you.

“The idea is based on the (now very outdated) notion that through repeated exposure to your brand, people will remember you better, and think more positively about you.”

In the pre-internet era, this meant buying ads in places where they were likely to be seen by potential customers — billboards, print media, TV — and then coming up with creative, compelling executions that spoke to the needs of your potential customers.

Today, most businesses create a few short, creative assets, and then pay Google and Facebook to provide as many small interactions with them as possible. This tactic, in order to be worth the investment, relies on the assumption that increasing awareness alone will increase affinity.

Because media agencies gain revenue by taking a percentage cut of ad spend, they have a vested interest in supporting this “impression-centric” model. And because big Silicon Valley giants now see the majority of revenue that was once spent on printed media and TV, they are more than happy to serve them.

This spend continues to rise, and the revenues of Google, Facebook, Havas, IPG, Omnicom, Publicis, Dentsu, and WPP continues to grow with it.

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But despite all this investment, digital advertising doesn’t work very well. Here are the factors that contribute to its downfall.

Ad blindness

Because the web is now so saturated with advertising, most users have become adept at ignoring things they don’t want to see. This means that for most people, ads just become part of the background noise of the internet rather than something they actively view and consider. Don’t believe me? Just take a moment to think about how many of the ads you’ve seen online recently that you can remember.

To mask this problem and ensure maximum revenue for themselves, media companies then sell ads primarily on a cost-per-impression or cost-per-view basis, which falsely equate trivial interactions with meaningful engagements.

Filter bubbles

Users are increasingly in control (both consciously or unconsciously) of their own digital worlds thanks to filter bubbles caused by AdBlockers, personalized search, and algorithms like Facebook EdgeRank. This means consumers often only see your ads if they have previously engaged with your content.

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Ever-increasing costs

Due to competition, channel saturation, and the increasing costs of distributing messaging on search and social, overall customer acquisition costs from advertising continue to rise.

Shortness of interactions

While most ads are ignored, even unskippable ads only last for a maximum of 30 seconds. It’s very hard to tell a compelling, emotionally resonant story in 30 seconds. Certainly, there is the exception that proves the rule — a giant consumer brand that hires the world’s best creatives and achieves viral success — but 99.9% of campaigns attempting to achieve these results fails dramatically.

In 2019, Our perceptions of companies are no longer based on how many times we’ve interacted with them in passing, but rather the depth of our personal experiences, and the experiences of those we trust, both of which are typically impacted very little by advertising. Because digital advertising doesn’t make people like you, we need to find a new way of increasing preference and world of mouth.

“Because digital advertising doesn’t make people like you, we need to find a new way of increasing preference and world of mouth.”

As marketers at businesses big and small, we need to recognize that we can’t make potential customers fall in love with us at first sight.

Constantly interrupting people with messages and short videos they didn’t ask to see is not behavior conducive to making them like us more. Sure, they may then have heard of us…but brand awareness does not inherently lead to the creation of brand advocates.

So, instead, we need to find a new marketing tactic that builds meaningful, positive connections between brands and consumers — in a scalable and cost-effective way.

We need a way to market to the circles of influence for our potential buyers and to positively dispose them to our offerings. And this is what we’re developing here at Wistia, with Brand Affinity Marketing.

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Video Marketing

Can I Turn off Ads on My YouTube Videos? What YouTube’s Right to Monetize Means for Businesses

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YouTube recently announced that it’s adding the Right to Monetize to its Terms of Service. What does that mean, exactly? Well, the update is just what it sounds like — YouTube can now show ads on all videos across all Channels, even if you’re not enrolled in the YouTube Partner Program. In other words, if you have videos on YouTube, there will be ads in front of them. Not only will they be able to profit off these ads, but notably, they’ll be retaining 100% of that profit.

“YouTube can now show ads on all videos across all Channels, even if you’re not enrolled in the YouTube Partner Program.”

Be sure to read the full release notes for all the details, but in the meantime, here are some quick answers to the questions we bet you’ve been mulling over these past few days. Here’s how YouTube’s update will affect videos hosted on the platform and what it means for your business.

To put it simply, it means that if you upload any video content to YouTube, Google — the platform’s parent company — can do with it as they see fit. Primarily, this means selling ads against it. What types of ads? And from what companies? This is left to YouTube’s discretion. So, your competitors (or really anyone willing to pay the price to access your audience) can run ads on your content.

“So, your competitors (or really anyone willing to pay the price to access your audience) can run ads on your content.”

Because users of the platform no longer have the ability to turn off ads on their content, those that use YouTube to embed videos on their site, for example, have no control over what the experience is like for viewers. A site visitor may navigate to your product page, click to watch your product overview video, and then get served an ad from your competitor instead.

Regardless of who advertises on your content, if you’re using YouTube embeds on your site, the experience is still less than ideal for the audience you worked so hard to drive there. Not only is the experience distracting, but the lack of control over who can advertise there means you can unknowingly create some pretty off-brand experiences on your site.

Ads can be displayed before, during, or after any content hosted on the platform. And with this update, YouTube can monetize any video, as long as it meets its ad-friendly guidelines. For those trying to build an audience on their YouTube Channel, this change to YouTube’s Terms of Service means you no longer own or control your content.

If your business is just getting started with building an audience on the platform, your videos will now be disrupted by ads that interrupt and often annoy your viewers. Showcasing ad-free content as you try to grow your audience can be a big plus for creators with small audiences — after all, what viewer doesn’t love free content that truly feels free? Without ads, you can spend more time focusing on making the content the best it can be, encouraging viewers to continue to watch more of your content.

Want to know the differences between using YouTube vs. Wistia to help build your audience? Head on over to this post where we break it all down!

YouTube is great for uploading clips, trailers, and other secondary content types where you can benefit from the platform’s reach without giving everything away. For businesses, in particular, uploading the valuable content you create to YouTube in full means seceding total control to the platform.

“For businesses, in particular, uploading the valuable content you create to YouTube in full means seceding total control to the platform.”

Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room — YouTube is free. There are costs that come with running the business, and YouTube is continuing to look for ways to monetize their platform.

If you’re unfamiliar with the YouTube Partner Program, this was a way for YouTube creators to receive revenue shares from the platform based on ads shown on their content. Google would keep 45 percent of all YouTube advertising, with the remaining 55 percent going to the creators themselves. To qualify, creators needed to have more than 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of video content consumed on the platform in the last 12 months.

Why does this matter? According to a recent report from Pex, almost 90% of content uploaded to YouTube never surpasses 1,000 views (see chart below). Clearly, YouTube is looking for a way to monetize all of this low hanging fruit. Right now, the profit from all of that content is left on the table.

Now, let’s take a look at how 1,000 views — where 90% of content tends to hover on the platform — relates to the 4,000 hours of video consumption needed to qualify for the YouTube Partner Program.

Zach Snyder breaks this down in his medium article from a few years ago.

“We know that 4,000 hours of Watch Time is equal to 240,000 minutes. Technically you could put out 1 video every 2 weeks and end up with 24 videos by the end of the year. If you can get each of these videos up to 1,000 views apiece, then you’ll be able to make the required amount of Watch Time.”

How many businesses that upload content to the platform would be able to sustain this level of content creation? How many companies could guarantee 1,000 views on each video every two weeks? Chances are, for small to medium-sized businesses, you probably won’t qualify for the YouTube Partner Program, where you could at least get a piece of that ad revenue. Now, YouTube is ensuring they make money off your content, regardless.

These changes are currently being rolled out for US channels, while the terms of service will apply in all other territories from mid-2021. It’s important to remember that YouTube is a social media platform as much (if not more so) as it is a video hosting platform.

As YouTube continues to look for ways to monetize, we have to take a closer look at how those efforts impact the content hosted on that platform, and subsequently, the content that’s embedded on business’ websites. Use the platform strategically as part of a broader marketing strategy, and remember — the answer to the question, “Who should own my content?” should be you.

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Video Marketing

6 Actionable Tips for Improving Emails with Video

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Email is still one of the most effective ways for marketers to reach their audiences. Adding video into the mix can improve open and click-through rates and encourage deeper engagement with your content.

We teamed up with the team at Keap — a software company that offers a CRM and marketing automation platform geared toward small businesses — to offer you six tactics that you can start using to better engage your audience with video and email.

Video is the best tool for showing your customers who you really are. Don’t be afraid to loosen up and let your personality shine. This doesn’t mean that you have to be silly or strange. It simply means that you just have to be you.

If you’re an in-house video producer trying to get your coworkers to deliver authentic takes, check out some of these tried-and-true tips for directing non-actors. If you’re just starting out with using video for your business, remember that a well-thought-out script, a smile, and some quality lights can go a long way.

Create a clickable thumbnail

When it comes to using video in email, video thumbnails serve as the gateway or invitation to your video content. Let’s be honest – we all know that people judge books by their covers all the time. Similarly, people judge videos by their thumbnails.

Make sure to customize your video thumbnails to boost your click-through rates. Even something as simple as a friendly human waving is more enticing than a blurry office scene or overlaid text on a graph.

Here at Wistia, we’re passionate about helping our customers use video to better market their business. With our Thumbnail Editor, you can add text or use a looping video to take that brand touch to the next level!

Using custom GIFs to tease video content is also a brilliant strategy for enticing your recipients to click.

Creating a GIF from a video is not as complicated as it may sound. If you haven’t created GIFs from your videos before, you can use apps like GIF Brewery to get up and running quickly.

Once you create your GIF, you can add it to any email, link it to a blog post or landing page, and watch that click-through rate skyrocket. We’d hypothesize that a dynamic preview of what’s to come will perform better than a static image in an email, but you’ll have to run some tests with your own audience to find out.

If you’ve got content that could work well as a video series, try integrating it into an email campaign. Email courses and campaigns can benefit from this approach, especially if each piece of video content points to the next one. It’s like a suspenseful Netflix drama, except with marketing emails.

Because you can track who clicks on what video and how much of each video they watch, you can quickly assess which of your leads are most interested in your content. Plus, if you’re using a marketing automation platform, you can use video-centric campaigns like this to efficiently qualify leads.

With Wistia, we’ve made it super easy to showcase your video content in a sleek and binge-worthy way with our product feature called Channels. Instead of creating an email marketing campaign with several emails, you can upload all of your videos to a Wistia Channel, and link directly to your Channel in one email. Your videos will appear in a Netflix-style format when you embed a Channel to your website.

Additionally, you can collect subscribers from your Channel, easily sync your subscribers to your marketing automation platform or CRM for better lead tracking, and schedule email notifications when you publish new videos.

Explore how Wistia Channels can better showcase your content and get more people to spend time with your brand.

This sounds simple because it is. Once you’ve created an email that includes a video thumbnail, try testing out two subject lines – one that includes “[VIDEO]” and one that doesn’t.

A. How to direct non-actors [VIDEO]
B. How to direct non-actors

Track their respective performances, and learn whether or not your audience is more apt to open an email that includes a video. Sometimes it pays to be explicit.

Subtle uses of emojis in subject lines or body copy of your email can also help draw attention to your content. Just be aware that emoji render differently in different environments.

If video is already baked into your content strategy, you’re probably rolling out videos on a consistent basis. If this is the case, you should consider creating videos catered toward different segments. While this approach requires more time and energy to execute, producing a video with a specific segment in mind will make the content more relevant and personalized to your viewers.

Want to learn more about using video and email together? We have a complete guide that’ll show you why and how you should be using video and email together to accomplish your marketing goals.

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Video Marketing

Get Found: Improve The Discoverability of Your Show with Podcast SEO

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Congratulations on starting your podcasting journey. The hardest part, just getting started, is over! Now, it’s time to focus on the fun parts — making great audio content and engaging your audience.

One of the biggest challenges podcasters often face is growing their audience. And, while we are big fans of focusing on the quality — not quantity — of fans and followers, there’s no questioning the importance of finding your niche and connecting with them in meaningful ways.

“While we are big fans of focusing on the quality — not quantity — of fans and followers, there’s no questioning the importance of finding your niche and connecting with them in meaningful ways.”

Podcast discoverability and promotion is a rapidly evolving field. In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of podcast search engine optimization (SEO) and explore how you can optimize your show and episodes for organic search performance to enhance discoverability. We’ll also share real examples from our very own podcast, Talking Too Loud. Let’s go!

For anyone unfamiliar with the term, “SEO” stands for “search engine optimization.” SEO is a well-known digital marketing tactic to improve content performance online without using advertising dollars to boost performance.

In the context of this article, we’ll discuss tactics to improve how your podcast or show performs specifically in search engines. Keep in mind, podcasts in general, are a relatively new marketing channel, so the concept of podcast SEO is also very new.

“Keep in mind, podcasts in general, are a relatively new marketing channel, so the concept of podcast SEO is also very new.”

Before you get started, it’s important to have a specific goal in mind. Are you trying to compete competitively in a non-branded space? Are you optimizing for general show or brand queries? What do the search engine result pages (SERPs) look like for your target? How competitive is the space you’re targeting? Does your target align with search intent?

For podcasts specifically, this last question — search intent — is critical. It’s unlikely that your show will appear for broad queries like “digital marketing tips.” However, a target like “top digital marketing podcasts” would be more in line with what someone is searching for — a podcast on a specific topic.

And that’s just for your show as a whole; you should follow this same thought process for episode-level research as well. For example, if you have an episode interviewing a well-known thought leader, include that name in your target. Of course, be mindful if this person has their own show that might muddy the waters.

It’s also important to keep expectations in-line with the reality that podcasts are relatively new! And many people aren’t yet relying heavily on search engines to find new shows; a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend or plug from a show someone already listens to is far more likely to produce a net-new listener than a Google search.

Your primary goal for podcast SEO should first be to make sure your show and episodes appear for searches that include your brand or the word “podcast” — like “talking too loud podcast” or “talking too loud wistia.” From there, you can branch out and expand your targets to things that don’t necessarily include your brand, like “top podcasts for entrepreneurs” or “best business interview shows.”

With expectations and goals in mind, let’s dive into some more tactical tips on how to get started.

Keyword research

Depending on your podcast goals and the level of effort you’re willing to put forth, keyword research might be a worthwhile investment for your show. This research could also be used to help inform some of the more broad positioning and messaging about your show.

Here are a few things to look for when deciding on a target keyword or phrase:

  • What type of podcast are people searching for? This might include some research around podcast topics, like “content marketing podcasts” or “podcasts for entrepreneurs.” This could also be a useful gauge for how saturated a particular topic is or isn’t.
  • How are people searching for podcasts? What types of questions or phrases do people use when looking for new shows?
  • Why are people searching for this? What is your audience hoping to get out of finding a new podcast? To learn something new? To feel inspired? Uncovering the real intent and end goal of your audience will help you align your positioning and messaging.
  • What’s the search volume? How competitive is the keyword? The more search volume, the more competitive the SERP. Keep in mind — queries related to your targets will likely be very low, and that’s ok! Quality over quantity, remember? Folks searching for these low-volume keywords are very qualified for the content you’re producing.
  • Can your content compete? While your podcast shouldn’t have trouble competing in a branded space, this consideration is important if and when you want to get more aggressive and target broader queries. Do some research on these SERPs and what shows are presented. Is your podcast realistically a good fit for this space?

This sounds like a lot, we know. But it really boils down to understanding your podcast, understanding your audience, and bridging that gap. How would you approach finding this content on Google? What words or phrases would you use?

For a deeper analysis, try these handy keyword research tools:

  • SEMrush
  • Ahrefs
  • Moz
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Google Trends

Your marketing team may or may not already use one or more of these tools. If you’re starting from scratch, check out Google’s array of free tools, like some of the ones mentioned above.

This step is essential on both a general show level and for individual episodes. Have you noticed the individual episode embeds directly within search results in some of the examples we’ve shown? Google now supports this functionality (with a few caveats), and you’ll definitely want to optimize your show and episodes to appear here. The good news is that Google has plenty of documentation to help you get started.

First and foremost, you need to get your hosted podcast on Google. Podcast hosts may or may not offer this functionality (good news — Wistia does!), so be sure to check whether or not your host will pass along your RSS feed appropriately.

By syncing your feed with Google, you’ll be able to present your podcast to a much larger audience. This integration feeds your show to Google search results, the Google Podcasts app, Google Home speaker system, and more (which is outside of the scope of what we’re discussing today but good to know in general).

How can you track if your episodes are being indexed? Well, Google just launched a new tool to help showrunners manage their podcasts in one convenient place. Meet, Google Podcast Manager. This new dashboard is your one-stop-shop to managing your podcast exposure and performance in Google.

At this level, we’re really looking to improve the performance of your show in general. Does your podcast website or Channel show up for branded queries? Are you listed in relevant carousels that might appear for more broad show terms that you’re targeting?

Podcast name and branding

Search engines are smart enough to sniff out keyword stuffing, like naming your show “Digital Marketing Tips Daily With Digital Marketing Expert Joe Schmoe.” And having an independent brand is a great overall strategy to being keyword-first. By adding in your keyword targets naturally throughout your show copy and branding, you’ll increase association with those targets and resonate more clearly with your target audience.

For example, For Talking Too Loud, we are targeting entrepreneurs and brand-builders. We reflect this in our show boilerplate copy with “On this podcast, Chris Savage, Wistia’s CEO and loudest talker, takes you inside the minds of entrepreneurs as they share the hilarious, informative, and most challenging aspects of building more human brands.”

We could have named the show something more keyword-forward, like “Brand-building and Entrepreneurship Tips with Chris Savage.” But, we wanted to tell more of a story with the name and really lean into the show’s core concept: What gets business leaders “talking too loud” inside and outside of work. We included Chris’s name in the show (it is his show, after all) to build on his authority and increase the show’s association with Wistia. And, Talking Too Loud is short, snappy, and easy to remember.

Have a dedicated podcast website or webpage

Having a dedicated podcast website or at least a portion of your website dedicated to the podcast is essential for having a strong search engine presence. Without this, podcast distribution sites, like Stitcher or Apple, will rank highly for your own branded show queries. This takes traffic away from your site and directly to third-parties.

And, having a podcast website or webpage gives listeners a stronger connection with your brand and introduces them to all of your other show content. This also enables you to capture engaged listeners’ info to serve them even more show news, like new episode alerts, exclusive behind-the-scenes content, and more.

You can see this with our show, Talking Too Loud. The Wistia Channel ranks first for the query, followed by third-party apps below.

At this level, we’re focused on improving the performance of individual show episodes. Is the episode indexed on Google? Does the episode show up for specific episode-related queries? Ideally, your keyword or target phrase should appear naturally in your show title, title tag, meta description, and organically throughout the show (and, therefore, the show transcript and/or show notes).

Transcripts/episode show notes

Say it louder for the people in the back: transcripts are essential for podcast SEO. As savvy as search engines have become, they aren’t yet smart enough to listen to and understand your podcast audio content. Therefore, they need something else to go by, and that something is written text. And, transcripts provide an accessible show experience for the humans that actually engage with your podcast.

There are plenty of affordable options (including Wistia!) that offer transcription services, and most major podcast hosts support transcript uploads. Transcripts should be a part of your ongoing podcast process, just like creating a show outline and editing your new episode.

But wait — what about show notes? What’s the difference between notes and a transcript? Should I have both, or one or the other? Well, like most things, this depends.

A transcript is a literal script of everything said during a podcast episode — the full rundown. Show notes, on the other hand, are often a stripped-down version of this. Show notes typically focus on the key takeaways from the episode and include helpful information like links to things referenced in the show, contact info for show guests, etc.

Our advice: If your podcast host offers both, use both! Bare minimum, have a complete transcript ready to go for each episode.

Blog/written content

Your website’s blog is another natural place to cross-promote your podcast. Blogs often carry more authority than a net new podcast page, so cross-linking is great for sharing that authority.

What content should you write to support your podcast? Are episode recaps a good idea? This is a tricky question as it really depends on your overall content strategy.

One thing we’ve struggled with is getting search engines to index our pages based on our priority. For example, the Wistia blog has hundreds and thousands of articles spanning the past 10+ years. That’s a lot of content! And that content carries a lot of weight.

We’ve done episode recaps for shows in the past where the blog post ends up outranking our show channel, which is where we really want to drive folks to watch and engage with our show content. Whoops!

For us, showcasing our Channels product and providing our audience with an exceptional listening/viewing experience is a top priority, so we always try to drive folks to the show Channel.

That’s why for Talking Too Loud, we are taking a different approach. Instead of writing and sharing episode recaps, we’re focusing on more theme-based and behind-the-scenes content. This content might not “perform” well if you just consider pure search volume, but the intent is fundamentally different. We want to showcase a different side of the show, connect listeners with our hosts and the team here at Wistia, and empower brands to embrace podcasting to build brand affinity — which is much different from a pure organic show awareness goal.

However, your goal might be different. If your goal is to attract as many listeners and gain as much exposure via natural search as possible, episode recaps might be a great fit. The key is to consider how you want your show presented and how you want people to listen or engage.

There you have it, our comprehensive guide to podcast SEO. Remember to ground your expectations and focus on driving value for show listeners. Your end goal should be to make it easy for folks to find and fall in love with your podcast.

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