The Hidden ROI of Podcasting [Podcast Episode]

Podcast analytics…leave a lot to be desired.


But there are still ways to get a ton of value out of podcasting and track that value.

Nicholas Scalice, founder of and Earnworthy and the host of the Growth Marketing Toolbox podcast, talks about his experience with podcasting and how he’s measured his success.


, The Hidden ROI of Podcasting [Podcast Episode]


In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why now may be a great time to start podcasting
  • Why downloads shouldn’t be the only metric to focus on
  • How to increase the ROI of your show
  • How to get buy-in to create a podcast

Related resources/links:

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Amanda: This week on the show, I am pleased to welcome Nicholas Scalice, the founder of and Earnworthy and the host of the Growth Marketing Toolbox podcast. Welcome to the show, Nicholas. 

Nicholas: Hey, what’s up Amanda? Great to be here. 

Amanda: I’m really personally excited about this because we’re going to talk podcasts which obviously, I am of interest.

Nicholas: It’s a very meta episode; a podcast talking about podcasts.

Amanda: Right. Well, hopefully because, you know, a lot of podcast listeners might have their own, I think. I feel like once you’re in the podcast world, you’re just kind of obsessed with it across the board. So, if you’re in content and you either already have a podcast for your company or your brand, or maybe your own personal brand, or you’re thinking about starting one, this is going to be a really good episode for you. So, Nicholas, like I mentioned, you have your own podcast, and you’ve hit– you’ve had a lot of episodes. How many episodes total have you had?

Nicholas: Yeah, we just recorded Episode 209 for Growth Marketing Toolbox.

Amanda: Well done. And I think a good way to kick the show off is, just to ask, why did you decide to start the podcast in the first place?

Nicholas: I started it all the way back in 2015. So, it was a different world back then. Because you know, marketing moves so quickly and then, even the podcast industry, it’s evolving so quickly. So, back in 2015, as I’m sure many of your listeners, and you can remember, it was a period where everybody was sort of jumping on the podcasting bandwagon and it was this new channel that you know, of course, it’s been around for much longer than that, but this is when, at least in my eyes, podcasting started to become much more mainstream. And so, the barrier to entry was low and I said, “Hey, let’s give it a shot.”. And really, to be really honest, I think it was at the time, I was writing a lot of blog posts, and I got tired of writing. And I said, “Hey, how can I distribute this content in a different channel?”, and you know, my blog was doing pretty well at the time. So, I had all these ideas for posts to do on the topic of marketing and I really liked talking about marketing tools, and I just wanted to try this new up and coming channel called podcasting, and I sort of just did it as a whim and got into a consistent pattern with turning out these episodes and it started to grow quite surprisingly.

Amanda: So, and you touch on an interesting point, because there’s always that wave of people who are kind of early adopters, right? They see that there’s a new channel or a new strategy or something and they jump on at an advantageous time and it works out. And now, we’re years into those trends, podcasts included, and you hear this conversation about blogs all the time too. Obviously people wouldn’t say like, “Don’t start a blog just because they’re really popular and everyone does them.”, but with that happening with podcasts now where there are so many, when do you think it makes sense, especially for people who maybe are early on in the show or are thinking about starting one, when do you think it makes sense to say, “Yeah, it’s worth giving podcasts a try.”?

Nicholas: I think you know, now is probably better, it’s a better opportunity to start a podcast now, surprisingly, because I think there’s more support for podcasts. First of all, people understand what a podcast is a lot better than they did back in 2015, you have a lot more people listening to podcasts now. So, sure, yeah, there’s more shows but if you really get down to it, what’s most important is the audience or the potential audience. And I remember reading a stat that said, you know, 51% of people in the US have listened to a podcast at least once and that number is up from 44% in 2018. So, it’s growing, people are very familiar with podcasts. So, you have this opportunity to reach a very wide audience but even more importantly, when it comes to support, there’s this support architecture now for podcasters with, you know, Spotify making huge investments, buying up Gimlet and buying up Anchor, a very popular podcasting tool. And so, I think it’s a lot easier to get started now and you have access to a broader audience that is more familiar with podcasting. So, I would say if you’re going to do it, this is really the year to do it.

Amanda: Just because you mentioned support and tools, what do you think is a good kind of package to get started with? What sites or tool should people investigate?

Nicholas: Yeah, this is a really good question. It’s probably the question I get asked the most when people are asking me about, like getting started with podcasting, and really, I think you shouldn’t overcomplicate it. Because I started my podcast in November of 2015 but I originally started thinking about doing a podcast all the way back in July of 2015, and I procrastinated because I wanted everything perfect; I had to have the perfect microphone, the perfect mixer, the perfect software and all this stuff and it never got done. So, eventually November rolls around, I said, you know, “I’m just going to do it.”. And so, I got a cheap microphone, it was an ATR 2100 Audio Technica, which is actually a very, very popular microphone, I think I went to a Facebook group and I just asked, you know, what’s the best microphone to start with, and it was like 50 bucks at the time, there was like this package deal on Amazon, where it came with a, what’s called a pop filter, which helps your sound quality. But I would say, don’t obsess over the technology because it’s going to– it’s never going to be perfect. So, even to this day, I don’t use a mixer. You know, I don’t have any complicated technology, I use a software program called Audio Hijack to record the audio, I mean, that’s specifically for Mac. So, if you’re on PC, you might want to look at something like Audacity, which is free or you can use a service like Zencaster, which is very popular, it’s like a web based recording tool, where you can get really high quality recordings, or you could use Zoom, like we’re doing right now. So, I would say most importantly though, don’t obsess over the technology, just start with something because nobody’s going to unsubscribe, or very few people are going to unsubscribe, just based on the quality of your show. Really, what you should focus on, is the content and the consistency of your show.

Amanda: I think that’s a great point, I think it goes doubling now, after quarantining, there seems to be more of a tolerance for kind of not super polished content, people are a little more forgiving about that sort of thing now. But also, just adds to the authenticity too, if you’re just kind of, you just want to get the content out there. So, when you started the show you did earlier on what? I know, you said that you were kind of tired of writing and you wanted to try a different channel but what were your goals with the podcast? Like, yes, you wanted to get some of the content out there, the ideas you had to run marketing out there, but what did you kind of establish as like, this is what I want to achieve with this podcast?

Nicholas: Yeah, so, I really didn’t know what to measure back then, because I was so new to it. I think what we all default to, when we’re thinking about podcasts, is the number of downloads, right? Or the number of listeners we would get either per episode or per month. And what I started to realize, though, is there’s all these other small benefits of starting a podcast that are more difficult to measure, but in my opinion, are more important. So, these days, like, I’m not really following the total number of downloads as closely as some other folks. Although, you know, we’ve been pretty consistent, right now we’re getting about 10,000 downloads a month, which is great for a small, very focused marketing audience. You know, these are highly engaged listeners, and so, I like having this small, dedicated audience. But things that are more important to me are, the ability to grow our email list, you know? On certain episodes, almost every episode I’ll mention some type of lead magnet, whether it be a free download or an opportunity to connect one on one, and this has helped grow our email list for my agency. I’ve also tried to grow a Facebook group and this has been a really good way to sort of support that podcast listener base, because podcast listeners want to connect with each other, they want to connect with the host. So, growing a Facebook group has been a huge goal of mine and then also, just getting clients. I know we have a lot of listeners out there that are either freelancers or in-house marketers, or they work in an agency, and they’re trying to get more clients. And so, I would say that’s probably the biggest hidden benefit that I didn’t realize, when I started the podcast is that, you will get or you have the potential to get a lot of clients from it because they hear your episodes, they see you as a thought leader, and they want to connect and so, that’s probably been the number one benefit if I had to pick just one over the years.

Amanda: And it’s funny because I think that just hearing somebody talk does a lot for that authority building that you’re talking about and like building trust in a way, that’s a little different from reading something, they kind of feel like they know you a little bit more.

Nicholas: Yeah, and it’s very authentic. Yeah, I’ve had people, you know, connect after listening to the show, and then we’ll get on like a sales call, and it’s like, you know, I don’t even have to explain anything to them; they know everything about how our process works and all the techniques and all the tactics, because they’ve listened to so many episodes.

Amanda: So, I know you said some of this is a little more difficult to measure, do you have a system? You know, how are you measuring the ROI of this channel? Do you have a system where you check in on certain things like tracking leads, you’re getting from it? Are there certain analytics you’re pulling? I know that podcasts, especially podcast analytics, like you’ve mentioned, have not been as straightforward as a lot of other channels. Like, for a while you could only see, like I use Libsyn, and they’ve upgraded certainly over the years, but still, like it’s not as granular as you would really like. So, what does kind of your package look like in terms of analytics?

Nicholas: Yeah, so, I’m not too in the weeds with the numbers but I would say that Chartable is a really good tool where you could sign up for free, and it sort of tells you where you rank in certain countries, in certain categories. So, it’s really interesting, you know, sometimes to see, “Hey, you’re in the top 50 in France for the marketing category.”, or, “Oh, you got pushed out of the top 200 in this country.”. So, Chartable is really good. I do keep a close eye on reviews and so, there’s a tool called Podrover, I don’t know if it’s, but if you search for Podrover, you should be able to find it, where it sort of aggregates all of the reviews you get on all of the different platforms. Because remember, when someone leaves a review on Apple podcasts in Australia, that’s going to be, you’re not going to see that if you’re in the US, right? Because every store is sort of treated as a separate silo with Apple podcasts. So, you want to be able to see what is the collective reviews that you’re getting for your show, because reviews are the fuel that are going to help you rise through the charts on Apple podcast, which is still where over 50% of people are consuming podcast content. So, you need to put a big focus on Apple podcast, whether you like apple or not. So, I’m looking at that, and then all the other stuff, I try to track it as best I can in terms of like using a custom link for a lead magnet so that I can track it back to the show or when someone joins my Facebook Group, trying to ask them, “Hey, how’d you hear about this group?”, or if I get a new lead for client services, you know, “Hey, how’d you hear about us?. But a lot of that stuff is not as easily tracked as some of these other things.

Amanda: Yeah, I can completely relate to that. I think we have in our contact form, we just added, you know, the “How did you hear about us?”, we added the podcast there because it’s not as easy and straightforward to know, as all marketers know, even that sometimes you’re only getting the last touch but so often, when people listen to your show, maybe they listen to your show and then they look at your case studies or blog posts or find you elsewhere. So, have you, when you’ve collected that information, have you ever seen an opportunity to optimize the show or like get any feedback that was helpful to you that you made changes? Or was it all kind of positive and just reinforced what you were doing?

Nicholas: Oh, yeah, over the years, I’ve changed the show so much. In fact, this is something very few people know, the show was originally called Inbound Unboxed, which is just a terrible name. But the idea was, you know, I loved inbound marketing. Remember, this is 2015 we’re talking about so, inbound marketing was a very big thing back then and I wanted to unbox certain tools and tactics. But I realized after looking at the feedback from guests or from, from guests and from listeners, that the name didn’t really make a lot of sense. So, I changed it to Growth Marketing Toolbox. So, you have to change things, you have to listen to your audience, you have to listen to your guests, this is another reason why I like having a Facebook group, because it allows me to have those interactions at scale, and just invite people to email you and try to follow up with them as best you can. So, I would say some other things that I’ve optimized for the show is, I learned that people like shorter episodes, so some of my early episodes, were over an hour, and I shortened that down to between 20 and 40 minutes and that seems to do a lot better, I try to have a call to action in every show where it’s either at the start or the end or both where I’m trying to get someone to just do something whether it be to leave a review, hit that subscribe button, download my free e-book, whatever it is, join my Facebook group, that has been something I’ve added, and then trying to get people to go to the show notes page. Because I think if you can grow an audience in multiple places, you’re going to benefit from that. So, having a very good show notes page with links is helpful, not only for SEO, right? But it also is helpful because you can then retarget that audience with Facebook ads if you wanted to. So, trying to get people to go check out the show notes page is very beneficial. And then lastly, just outsourcing whatever you don’t like doing so, something that was really slowing me down in the early days was the editing process and thankfully, you know, I got a process in place now where that is completely outsourced. I don’t have to worry about it. So, you know, it’s very rare to find a podcaster who likes every part of the process. So, find the part that you don’t like, whether it be booking or research or editing or distribution, and try to outsource that. 

Amanda: Wow, that’s a wonderful breakdown and it’s nice to see actual examples of what somebody has changed about their show, based on feedback and how many different things you can tweak in order to improve it. Sometimes I don’t think all this stuff would occur to you.

Nicholas: Exactly. Yeah, it’s a learning process. You just got to hit that record button and learn from every episode.

Amanda: Absolutely. So, we talked a bit at the top of the show about why somebody should kind of set out or go to bat for something like this. But on the show, we focus on helping people get buy-in for their content initiatives and I’ve actually seen personally in previous companies, it’s tough sometimes. You either run in one of two problems. One is, somebody doesn’t want to do a podcast because they’re like, “This is going to take way too much work and we don’t know that it’s like, what are we actually going to get out of it that’s measurable?”, or you run into a situation where they want to do a podcast, like that’s all they know that they want to do, and there’s no strategy behind it. You’ve covered a lot of really interesting points already. So, I kinda like to distill it down into kind of a plan for people. So, the different benefits, it sounds like, right? So, we have, A, just building authority, right? Then starting to build an audience but then these other ways, like you said to track leads, and to set up a function for that, and then I really want to dive into also this Facebook group strategy you have, where you’re also building community and getting benefits from that aspect of it. What made you decide to go that route? I know you said that people wanted to connect with each other, how did you– did you, kind of just like intuit that? You figured, you know, these are topics where people would want to discuss further; what made you decide to set up the Facebook group aspect?

Nicholas: Yeah, so, I’m always looking at like, what is the next big trend and I think it was a few years ago, everybody started talking about Facebook groups because, you know, you have to build your audience in multiple spots. You don’t want to just have an email list or you know, an SMS list, or a Facebook Messenger list, you want to try to have everything, even a Facebook pixel audience like, we could think of that as an audience of its own. So, Facebook groups were becoming a big thing a few years ago, they’re still a really big thing. In fact, I think this is probably the number one opportunity right now for content marketers is to try to build a Facebook group. And so, I wanted to connect everything together. So, I already had some lead magnets that people were opting into, I have a free guide called 50 Growth Marketing Tools, and I realized when people opt in, they’re taken to a thank you page, and it usually just says, “Thanks…”, you know, “…check your inbox.”, something boring. So, I said, what if I leveraged that thank you page to try to have this secondary opportunity to connect. And so, I put, you know, “Join our Facebook group on that thank you page. And so, that was a huge catalyst for getting people into the group initially, and then I said, “Well, why don’t I tie this into the podcast?”, and I’ll mention the lead magnet on the podcast and I got people to opt in that way and then they would go to the thank you page and join the group. So, it’s sort of creating this growth flywheel has been really effective and then I started trying to get people to go directly to the group. And so, it’s worked both ways. But I think, you know, at a minimum Facebook groups or something, every content marketer should at least look into to see if it’s right for your business or your brand. And if it is, it just makes a lot of sense, because it’s something that’s very popular right now, Facebook is investing a lot of money into supporting groups, and it’s very easy to build up a sense of engagement in the groups.

Amanda: You’ve been really good at spotting these trends early on, and, you know, getting, leveraging the benefit of that. Do you see anything upcoming that you think people should keep an eye on?

Nicholas: Yeah, so I still think Facebook groups are probably the number one thing right now that are underutilized. Another thing I’m hearing a lot about are short casts, which are sort of like, you know, you have a podcast but then you can have a short-cast, which is more for these voice services like the one from Amazon or the one from Google. I’m not going to say their names because I have some in the house here, and they’ll get activated if I say the word, but it starts with an A from Amazon. But anyways, so these, if you create a very short five minute or less daily, almost like a podcast, but it’s very short, I think that’s also going to be a huge opportunity for folks. So, if you’re sitting there thinking, “You know, I don’t have enough content to do a long format show for 30 minutes or 60 minutes, but I have all these little tactics and tips that I want to share and I want to do it very quickly, on a new platform.”, I would look into short-cast or how to create one of these skills basically, for these in home devices.

Amanda: I love that, that’s very unique, and I think it is a good idea to think about what has not been completely saturated yet that you can get started in. So, getting back to kind of like making that case like we said, lead generation, building authority, building community, getting your content out there on different channels. But how can you, or what advice do you have for people on differentiating their show from the hundreds that are probably out there in their same industry? So, when they’re going to pitch this, it’s not like “‘This is going to be one of those shows, you know, the hundreds that have no reviews, and nobody ever listens to.”, how can they differentiate?

Nicholas: Yeah, that’s the key. So, there’s a lot of different ways to stand out, you don’t have to create something completely new. So, what I would do is look at what’s out there and see how can you put a new spin on it. So, remember, there’s different formats of podcasts, you have shows that are interview format, like what we’re doing now and that’s basically what Growth Marketing Toolbox is, but you can also do a solo show where you’re just sharing your own insights. And I’m mostly speaking for the business type shows, because I know it’s a whole different world when you get into like the purely entertainment type podcast, but for the business shows, you have interview format, you have the solo host, and I’ve done those types of shows too. I have a podcast that is, it’s been sort of an experiment of mine called the Landing Page School podcast, where it’s just me for 20 minutes or less, and it’s not as consistent as Growth Marketing Toolbox but I just share a tip on how to improve your landing pages and how to convert more of your website visitors into leads and customers, and you would think something as small and niche as landing pages wouldn’t have a good following, but it’s done pretty well. So, you can do that. And then, you know, there’s all these different ways that you can distribute your show. So, you can do daily, you could do weekly, monthly. So, I would look at what’s working right now in your space, and try to put a new spin on it, either with a different format, or going more niche than whatever it is, or trying a different distribution strategy where you’re publishing maybe more frequently, and those things combined can help you stand out.

Amanda: That’s a great point, not just thinking about the content itself but the way it’s being delivered. Because you think as a podcast listener, it’s not always that you’re not interested, it just might be that you don’t have an hour and a half. 

Nicholas: Right. Yeah, you can take the same topic that other podcasters are covering in 30 minutes and try to do it in 5 or 10 minutes, and you might have better results.

Amanda: I love that. So, I ask the same question at the end of every show, which is, what do you think is the biggest mistake people make when they go to pitch content initiatives like this one? What do you think is something that people kind of slip up? 

Nicholas: Oh, man, that’s a good question. You know, I think it comes down to a lot of things, but probably above all else is, trying to plan every aspect of it, which is sort of counter-intuitive because in the B2B space or in the agency world, usually you want to have this very detailed plan but as I’ve experienced first-hand with podcasting, it’s such a dynamic medium, and the industry is changing so much, it’s very hard to plan every aspect of it. So, you know, don’t go in with a 12-month road map of, “This is our episode for day one, and this is our episode for month five.”. Like, you just got to go with an idea and have the basics down of how are you going to stand out, what is the show about, what’s the format, how often are you going to produce it, how are you going to distribute the show, and then sort of let the feedback guide you. So, I would say just, you know, try to be as flexible as you can, and I think that would actually help in presenting the opportunity to the higher ups or to the stakeholders.

Amanda: I’m glad you said that, because that’s basically how I’ve been doing things for this podcast. Like, I think we’ve been thinking of it conceptually by quarter, just making sure that I have content for this quarter. But yeah, planning, I feel like in marketing in general, like planning too far ahead, sometimes without any flexibility is disadvantage. 

Nicholas: Absolutely. Especially look at what happens with COVID and with everything going on in the world, you know, if you had a rigid plan that you were stuck to following, all that went out the window, so you have to be flexible.

Amanda: Definitely. So, knowing the objective of this show is to help content marketers either calculate the ROI of what they’re doing or make the case for what they’re doing, who do you recommend to be future guests on the show?

Nicholas: Oh, man. There’s so many amazing content marketers that are just doing really incredible things. I don’t know if you’ve ever interviewed Sujan Patel with Mailshake?

Amanda: No, I haven’t.

Nicholas: Yeah, he’s probably out of all the guests I’ve had on Growth Marketing Toolbox, he’s one of my favorite content marketers, really understands what it means to create, not just content that gets a good reaction, but content that actually gets shared and gets good distribution. I mean, that’s a whole nother tangent we could go into, but you know, it’s one thing to produce content, it’s another to get it out there into the world and get people talking about it. He’s done a really good job of sort of blending those two. So, I think he would be a great guest.

Amanda: Yeah, that’s an excellent suggestion, and we talk about that at Fractl all the time, that it’s not just creating it, the promotion is at least half the work. So, that would be a great episode. Well, thank you so much, Nicholas, for being on the show. I really appreciate you sharing your insights and your experience building a podcast. 

Nicholas: It’s been a lot of fun. 

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