Tim Paige has a podcast called ConversionCast, which he does for Leadpages. During the show, he interviews respected marketers who each share a tactic that they have used to increase their revenue, grow their lists, and scale up their businesses. Thank you for your time, Tim.
Tim: Absolutely. Thanks for having me here.
Mandy: Tell me a little bit about how you got started running a podcast for Leadpages.
Tim: Well way, way back in the day, I was a professional touring musician. I learned a lot about in-the-trenches marketing, but when my music career came to an end, I got back into my old mainstay of sales. I started to question if there was a way to scale that marketing on a bigger level, as opposed to a one-to-one kind of marketing going to a bigger group of people and reaching out further. I stumbled upon a podcast called Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn. I listened to it, and fell in love.
I realized that this is an amazing way to reach people—more than just on a local level—and just got obsessed with it. From there, I learned how to podcast. I started my first podcast, which was horrible. I started my second podcast, which was horrible. I’ve had several podcasts since then, but when I was connected with Clay, who is the CEO of Leadpages, he had a general vision for a podcast. I had some ideas to add to that. It turned into what is now ConversionCast and has over 150 episodes and this crazy cool thing that we’ve done.
Mandy: Why do you say podcasting is an amazing way to reach people? What makes podcasting special?
Tim: Well, there are definitely disadvantages, but what’s really special about podcasting is that it connects you to people on a personal level. Many people say that about blogging and about all these other mediums, but because podcasting is an audio medium, you can hear the tone of somebody’s voice. You can hear when there’s a moment that they say, “Wow, that’s really big.” You feel that.
Any time I’m at an event where somebody might have heard my podcast, they always feel like I am like a distant family member. They always feel like I’m somebody that they know on a personal level. They come up to me and reference something I talked about on a podcast no matter how long ago and say, “Oh, remember when you talked about this one thing? Oh my gosh, I totally related with that.” You get that with other mediums, but I think you get that so much more with podcasting. It’s that personal connection that makes it special. Of course you can transition people to other things, like webinars. You can sell your stuff. You can grow your list. All those things are great, but I feel like the personal connection that comes from a podcast is what makes it so much more special than a lot of other things.
Mandy: That’s great. As a writer, I always struggle when someone says something really neat or when they have a lot of emotion behind it, how do I capture that? It’s the hardest thing when their personality is really coming through, and then all of a sudden, it’s on paper.
Tim: Right. Exactly. It’s like the people that you can never tell their intention when they’re sending you a text message. You have to call them, otherwise you think that they want to stab you.
Mandy: Exactly. How did you come up with the name ConversionCast?
Tim: It was pretty easy for us. The biggest thing that we focus on is converting folks. I think a lot of people get conversion mixed up. They only associate it with growing a list or only associate it with getting somebody to buy, but conversion is really each step of the campaign. Each step of your customer’s buying process is a conversion. Getting them to click on your listing in Google, that’s a conversion. You converted them because they could have clicked on any link, but they clicked yours.
We really believe in the idea of everything being a conversion. Since our podcast focuses on a data-driven tactic to convert your potential customer into whatever the next step of your campaign is, we thought we had to have conversion in there. It’s a podcast, so ConversionCast. It’s semi-clever, and that’s really where it came from.
Mandy: There are really many ways to convert people.
Tim: Right. I think there are a lot of terms and buzzwords that people get really fixated on. Right now, it’s “funnel.” People are obsessed with the term funnel, but very few people who use it really understand what it means. They say, “Oh, I’m trying to build my funnel. I just finished it. It’s an opt-in page and a thank you page.” Well, that’s not really a funnel. That’s just an opt-in page and a thank you page. It’s the same thing with conversion. They say, “Oh, I just need to work on getting more conversions,” but more conversions of what? What are you trying to do? Are you trying to grow your list? Because that’s one focus. Are you trying to get them to buy? That’s another focus. Are you trying to get them to go to your website? That’s another focus.
Mandy: You really have an interesting way of thinking of conversions.
Tim: Right. It just means …
Mandy: Getting someone to move a little bit closer.
Tim: Right. You promote whatever the thing is that you want them to do at that moment. There are so many different things we could want people to do, right? If somebody shares your stuff, that’s a conversion, if you ask them to do it.
Mandy: Yeah, exactly. Do you have any tips for other podcasters who are thinking of good names? I’ve noticed that it’s for Leadpages, but you don’t say Leadpages in your name. Is there anything that people could think about when they’re coming up with a name for their own podcast?
Tim: Yeah. It’s really funny because I used to say, “Have your podcast name be clear about what it is that you talk about.” If you talk about how to lose weight then have your podcast be called The How to Lose Weight Show or something similar. I’ve always felt like it’s hard to tell what a podcast is about just by looking at the name or the picture sometimes. It’s really funny if you look at some of the really successful podcasts, it’s very unclear what the show is about. There are some, like Nerdist, where you get the sense it’s a show for people that like pop culture things, right? Nerdist. Okay. Then there are other ones, like The Moth. What the heck is The Moth about? Yet it’s consistently in the Top 5 of iTunes.
I think it really depends on your goals. If you have a show that’s focused on helping people accomplish an outcome—ours is to help them be more successful in their marketing—I think you should have something that’s very clear. If it’s an entertainment brand (for example, if you are marketing a business that sells pop culture memorabilia) then your podcast can be a little bit more fun and focused on some off-beat brand. That’s what I would tell people.
Mandy: Where do you find your guests?
Tim: Well now they come to us because we have an established brand, and we have the Leadpages name behind us. Initially, we just reached out to people that we felt would have a lot of value to offer. There is plenty of advice out there saying, “Find guests that have a big following, so that when you publish the episode, they can share your stuff.” The problem is a lot of the times, and this is a dirty little secret, a lot of the times the guests that have a big following are sharing the same stories on every single podcast they go on. It makes your stuff not unique.
We’ve got some of those high-profile people, but what we wanted to do is have people on our show that maybe you wouldn’t get access to otherwise or maybe you wouldn’t even know that you wanted to hear from. The people that were doing marketing for a $6 million a year mattress company. That person maybe is not the CEO. Maybe he’s not the founder. Maybe he’s just the head of marketing for that 40-person company. What is he or she doing to grow that business? Because that person is not out there promoting themselves, saying, “Hey, I teach you how to market your business.” They’re just doing marketing. That’s what they’re doing.
We thought that for us, that was really unique. We reached out to a bunch of companies that we thought were doing great things, that we knew were growing based on a lot of different factors. We said, “Hey, we’d love to have somebody on your marketing team come out and talk about one cool thing that they’re doing to grow your business.” That’s what makes our show special and cool is that we did get those guests that otherwise you wouldn’t really be able to get.
Whatever your podcast is about, I would encourage you to engage some people that have established audiences because it is nice to have them help you grow your podcast. More importantly, have people that are going to provide some unique value. Get those who can share some stories or insights that are tough to get or that maybe they’ve never shared before. If you can do that, it makes your show special. If you can find a way to have guests that are unique and special and bring something different and tell a great story, that can really differentiate your show.
Mandy: What can a podcast do for my business?
Tim: Oh, so much. When we started this podcast, we had two big focuses. We wanted to grow our list and have a different channel with which we could grow our list. At the time, we already had a big emailing list, but you can only engage that list so many times before you start to burn out the list and people unsubscribe. We wanted to grow a separate list that we could use a little bit differently than the main list. Then the other thing we wanted was “thought leadership.”
If you’re looking to have thought leadership in your space, a podcast is a great way to do it because then we can have some really amazing guests. For instance, we could have somebody from Kissmetrics come on our show. Well, that associates us with Kissmetrics. We’re having a conversation with the folks from Kissmetrics, talking shop, and we become associated with them. If you respect Kissmetrics, then our respect level is elevated. Plus we get to share insights and knowledge about what works.
We recently did a series where we had a whole bunch of folks from our team sharing what they’re doing at Leadpages to grow our business. That’s been a lot of fun. It creates that thought leadership in your space because you’re sharing that knowledge and that wisdom. They’re getting to know you a little bit more.
From the list-building side, we found that it was tougher to grow a list from a podcast than we thought. Many folks who have a podcast have learned that this is the case. It’s actually relatively tough to grow your list from a podcast, partially because of the experience of listening to a podcast. People are driving or walking down the street. So, as opposed to just saying, “Hey, join our list,” and giving them a lead magnet, we found that it was better to invite them to a webinar.
That works for us because we do webinars every single week. I’ve done 500 webinars in the last 2 years. We do a lot of webinars. We said, “Hey, in this episode, you learned all about a great tactic to help you convert your new email subscribers into paying customers. Obviously in order to do that, you have to have some email subscribers. Well this Thursday, I’m teaching a free webinar on 3 ways to quickly grow your email list without spending all your time in marketing. If you want to join me on that webinar, you can do this thing.”
Us doing that, the beauty of it is that somebody is already listening to the podcast. They already have a sense of me, who I am, my style, my personality, how I teach. Going to the webinar is just a nice next step up, where they say, “Awesome. Well now I can actually interact while you’re teaching. I can ask you questions. You can answer me. You can solve my specific problems.” Then from there I have the opportunity to sell them LeadPages and say, “Hey, this is something that you should try.” It’s a really nice bridge between somebody who just listens to your show over and over and over to bringing them onto your list to then asking them to buy.
Mandy: That makes a lot of sense, because if someone is listening to a podcast, they don’t necessarily want to get an email.
Tim: True, it depends. I wouldn’t say that they don’t want to get an email. It’s just that it’s a weird connection to make. If they’re accustomed to listening to you, then bringing them onto a webinar where they can continue to listen to you and maybe dive a little deeper into a topic that you talk about, feels so much smoother than getting them to join your email list and giving them a freebie. Sure, maybe they’re happy to join your email list, but then you’re requiring them to do something a little bit different and start reading as opposed to listening. It’s not that we weren’t growing our list. We grew a healthy email list from the podcast, but it’s when we started focusing on getting people from the podcast to the webinar. That’s when the podcast started really getting us huge results.
Mandy: What other results did ConversionCast get for Leadpages?
Tim: I think it connected us with other thought leaders that maybe we had connected with in some other way. For example, we had somebody on our show who maybe had a large brand where their audience are marketers or business owners or entrepreneurs. Those people would be a great affiliate partner for us as hosts of that show. If they promoted our stuff and they got a little affiliate cut, that would be a good thing for us because they have a big audience.
Build that partnership slowly. Say, “Hey, your audience listened to the podcast episode. Our audience loved your interaction. Why not become an affiliate partner and work on some other partnerships?”
We’ve developed some really amazing partnerships with heavy-hitters partially because we had that personal connection of having them on the podcast and then giving them some free promotion to our audience. That led to bigger things.
Mandy: During the first couple of weeks, ConversionCast shot up to the top of the charts on iTunes. How did that happen?
Tim: On day 1, we were the number 5 podcast on all of iTunes. A lot of people brag. They say, “Look, we were the number 1 genre or podcast. We were the number 1 marketing podcast, the number 1 health podcast.” We were really excited because we knew we would be number 1 in marketing, not out of cockiness but just because of the built-in audience of Leadpages. We were really aiming for those top charts. We were ahead of Dave Ramsey. We were ahead of NPR. We were ahead of CNN. We were ahead of these huge, huge companies in the rankings. Although that’s not a metric I’d normally care about, but in that launch state, we did care. We wanted to see how high we could go.
The reason why that happened . . . Well, there are a few reasons. One is that we really strategized the marketing campaign leading up to the podcast. We had a series of emails that were scheduled to go out to our already relatively large email list, the Leadpages list. We had blog posts that we had scheduled to publish on the Leadpages blog for that audience. We did some Facebook ads to promote the launch of the podcast. Then of course there was already that built-in brand loyalty of people who loved Leadpages. On top of that, we launched with a large number of episodes on the very first day. Then we did one new episode every single day.
We’re a weekly podcast now, but we did one every day at that point so that we could quickly ramp up our results and shoot up the rankings in iTunes. You get a big boost from being so high in the rankings. That was 2 1/2 years ago. Now those being up in “New and Noteworthy,” being high in the rankings, unless you’re the very, very top of the overall rankings, it doesn’t have the effect on your listeners that it once did. I don’t think it’s that important to rank as high, unless you can really leverage it and get way up to the top. I don’t think it’s that important to focus on your rankings.
Mandy: People could really benefit from having a strategy of rolling their podcast out.
Tim: Yeah. The thing is, many times marketers and entrepreneurs focus big time on the launch of their product. They put all this time and effort and energy into launching their product, whereas when you have a great marketing channel, like a podcast, you can treat that almost as a product, just because it’s free. You can treat that like a product and create an entire marketing campaign around the launch of your podcast. Getting people excited, promoting it, using the guests that you’ve already got scheduled for your show or what the content is or treating it like a TV show.
Here’s an example. I’m a huge comic book nerd. I love comic books, and I love all the properties associated with them. I love all the shows, all the movies. In all the shows, they will promote the next season of the show before the current season has even ended. People get fired up about this stuff a year before it ever comes out.
A great example, not a comic book property, but a book property, Game of Thrones. We’ve already seen a teaser for Game of Thrones next year, which is in July. Why did they do that? Well, because they know that if people get excited about something and anticipation builds they’re going to have a great big first episode. A podcast is a form of entertainment, and we need to treat it like an entertainment property and promote it as such.
Mandy: Why is it better to promote the event of your podcast rather than just put all that energy into promoting Leadpages?
Tim: Because it’s a different channel. Marketers have to be particularly smart about the way that they grow their business and grow their brand. It’s easy enough to just say, “Well why don’t you just send a bunch of Facebook ads to your sales page?” Well anybody who has ever done that knows that’s easier said than done. It takes a great deal of effort. It takes a lot of connection with our audience to get them to buy whatever it is that we’re selling. Sure, we can still send out a direct response piece and get results. Absolutely. We can do that, but there’s a whole segment of our audience that isn’t just going to buy. There’s a whole segment of our audience that isn’t just going to read a blog post. Maybe they need a different level of connection.
Maybe somebody hates reading blog posts, and they only really like audio. They listen to podcasts. You spend resources promoting your podcast as opposed to promoting your thing, which they’re not going to buy, or promoting your blog, which they probably aren’t going to read. This way you can get them to a medium that connects with them, and connects with them maybe on a different level than something else would. Maybe they won’t sit down and watch a YouTube video, but while they’re at the gym they’ll listen to a podcast. Then they’re connecting with your brand over and over and over again. You get the people that you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten because you promoted something that was free, something that added value to them without them having to spend any money. You built that connection first, then you can take them to the next step.
Mandy: Is there a way to target the podcast audience?
Tim: There is, yeah. However, you can’t just say, “I want to target everybody who listens to Nerdist” . . . or whatever. What you can do is things like using Facebook ads, you can target people who have liked the Facebook page of those podcasts or the businesses that they’re associated with or other similar things. Doing that, you can then build an audience using Facebook ads.
Mandy: Oh, interesting. How can you find out what your audience wants to hear about?
Tim: It’s just like anything in marketing. My favorite way is two-fold. One is to ask, right? Yes, many times people will tell you if you ask.
Mandy: It sounds so simple.
Tim: Right, right. That’s the problem. It actually is a little bit overly simple because a lot of times people will tell you what they think they want to know, but not really what they need to know. Just like anything in marketing, there’s a mix. When you’re creating content, you need to promote to them what they think that they want to know, but then actually give them what they need. But asking is part of it.
Another thing is just seeing how they respond to other either podcasts or blogs that are similar to what you’re considering. How do they respond to those things? Are there a ton of comments on posts around a topic that you were thinking about, or when you look at those other podcasts, are those the ones that fall flat? When you’re looking at other blogs, are those the ones that fall flat? Combining what people are telling you they want to hear with what you’re actually seeing them respond to in the market is the best way.
I guess the third way is try it, right? See what they respond to. If you put out a piece of content and people aren’t responding, then that’s all right. You know that that’s not something that they are particularly interested in.
Mandy: Can you give an example of what they say they want to know versus what they actually need to know?
Tim: Yeah, sure. I’ll relate this more specifically to a webinar, but it applies the same because we spend similar amounts of energy creating our webinars as we do for our podcasts. We recently had a situation where our audience kept telling us that it’s great that we teach them about list building on the webinar, but they also want to know what to do from there. Once you get them on the list, what’s next? I spent all this time creating this really valuable content piece that followed up on the webinar. We spent the first two thirds talking about list building and then the last third, we gave them our favorite follow-up sequence and walked them through how it worked and how we used it to get people to buy.
The minute we started doing that, our sales conversion rate on the webinar plummeted. We kept testing it, and we kept going. I said, “No, maybe it’s just because it’s a certain week or a certain time of year.” I think three months went by, where finally we switched that piece of content out and put back in a list building piece. Almost instantly, the results shot back up to what they were before. It’s really funny. People will tell you something that they think they want. At the end of the day, it’s either too overwhelming for them or it’s their idea of what they want, but when you tell it to them, it seems too much. They just go, “Forget it.” It scares them away.
Mandy: Can you recommend any equipment that people should get for a podcast?
Tim: Sure. The fun thing about podcasting is it doesn’t require a whole lot. For software, I use something called Adobe Audition. It’s not much. You can get the Creative Cloud, and I think it’s $19 a month. It’s not much. Or if you’re looking for something free, you don’t want to pay the $19 a month for the recording software, Audacity is completely free. It’s a nice recording software. It’s not my favorite, but it’s free and it’s pretty easy to use. Then for a microphone, I podcast from this insane setup, but it’s only because I’m also a voice actor. I need to have a crazy setup. People will hear about my setup and go, “Oh my gosh. Your mic is $1,000, and you have a custom-built vocal booth, and you have a $2,600 pre-amp, and all this stuff.” You do not need that for podcasting.
There’s one microphone that I recommend to everybody when they first start their podcast. It’s an Audio-Technica ATR2100. It’s like $50 on Amazon. It’s USB, plug and play. You literally plug it into your computer. It’s got a little desk stand. It’s got a little foam cover, so that the p’s don’t pop as much. It sounds great. In fact, I’ve compared it to a lot of the mics out there that people are using for podcasts, and I think the Audio-Technica sounds better. It’s the ATR2100.
Mandy: Okay. Thanks for that. In terms of promoting a podcast, what has worked for you? You’ve mentioned really leading up to the launch, but what else has worked for you to promote this?
Tim: Yeah. At that point, it all comes down to creating great content, being able to promote your stuff, and having your guests promote the show. Those are some of the biggest ways you can grow your podcast. The fun thing is that we found ours really grows organically because the content is great, because it’s valuable, because people talk about it. It gets shared. Our guests share it because they want to be associated with it. They want that additional leverage. Those are things that can be really effective—specifically, word of mouth and being visible.
ConversionCast is our podcast, but Leadpages is its own big brand. We’ve got all these things, but we do have links to the podcast. You can tell that we have a podcast. You can find it easily in our resources.
Mandy: Okay. You’ve mentioned a couple of ways to get more leads, but you also said that it’s not always the best. How do you use a podcast to get more leads?
Tim: The only way, beyond webinars obviously, that’s even remotely successful has been for every episode that’s actually publish you need to do what’s called “content upgrade.” Content upgrade is a specific lead magnet, the thing you give away to get people to opt in. It’s specific to the topic of the episode. Many people will create the 80-page guide on how to be healthy or whatever. They’ll put that on every episode, but you know what? Some episodes, that’s not going to make sense. Let’s say you do the 80-page guide to getting healthy, but your guest is an elite performance trainer for elite athletes. The people listening to that show are already healthy and are looking to take it to the next level. They’re not going to download your 80-page guide to getting healthy.
The way to be really effective with it is to offer a lead magnet that makes sense to the topic of the episode. In that case, if you have some elite performance trainer on, it could be like the elite performance checklist, the daily regimen of the so-and-so guest. Now that will be something that if somebody listens to that episode, there’s no reason they wouldn’t want to opt in for that.
Mandy: It sounds like a ton of work to have something connected to every single episode. Are there ways to do this without it being completely exhausting? Like you mentioned a guest that has a little something extra.
Tim: Sure. Well the problem is, asking a guest to create something tends to be a little bit of a faux pas. We’ve found there are two things can be really effective. Spend an extra three minutes after the interview and ask them one extra really special question. The only way for consumers to get that is to opt-in for it. That’s one way. Another way is a transcript. Have the episode transcribed and offer the transcription as an opt-in to people.
Mandy: That’s a good idea. You have another podcast, Getting Into Comics. Do you approach the two podcasts differently?
Tim: Very differently. Getting Into Comics is completely a hobby, just for fun. I’m not trying to grow lists. I’m not trying to get market authority. I’m not trying to generate revenue. I’m just passionate about comics. I’ve found that many people who would be interested in comic books don’t check them out because it’s so overwhelming the very first time, walking into a comic shop and saying, “What do I read?” I just wanted to help people who are thinking about checking out comics, give them a little resource to walk them through. “Hey, here’s where you should maybe check out. Here’s maybe the first book you should read,” or whatever. That’s why I did that. I approach it very differently in the sense that I record an episode, publish it, and walk away.
Mandy: Nice. Can you tell me about a big mistake you’ve made?
Tim: I could tell you about many. I think the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in podcasting was being too vague in my first, second, third, fourth, and fifth podcasts. Every time I thought I had been specific enough, it wasn’t. My first podcast was called The Awesome Podcast. It was about how to live an awesome life. That is vague as it gets. What the heck does that mean, and to who is it marketed to? What does it mean to live an awesome life? It was really vague. At that point, I was thinking about being a life coach, which I clearly decided against. I called the second podcast called Awesome Clarity, about how to get clear about what you want out of life. Also very vague, right?
I kept going like this. I felt like I was getting more specific, but I just kept finding new vague things that had a qualifier on them, like The Men’s Guide to Getting Clear. I didn’t create that, but that’s what I mean. Just saying that this is the marketing podcast for men, well, that’s still not specific. You need to be as specific as possible. What problem are you looking to help people solve, and who is going to get value out of that? That was the biggest mistake I think I made for a long time.
Mandy: In what ways have you re-purposed the material from your podcast?
Tim: Well, I think one thing that we’ve done recently that’s a lot of fun is we took our five most popular episodes and turned them into a lead magnet. We said, “Opt in here to download our five most popular episodes of ConversionCast.” It was a nice little way to grow our list, especially for people who hadn’t listened to the podcast or maybe only started listening recently. They could check out these old episodes without having to dig through iTunes and all that stuff. That was really cool. We also were in the midst of creating a series of podcast episodes that include the guests of our upcoming conference. We’ve got a conference that we’re doing in Minneapolis in October called Converted. We’ve had most of them on, but we’re going to have many of the speakers on the podcast and release it as a series. Then people can opt in to download that.
Of course then not only do they get these great episodes with great content, but it also gets them more excited for our upcoming event. Maybe it sells tickets, or if it doesn’t sell tickets and people are already planning on going, then it just gets them more excited and prepares them for what we’re doing.
Mandy: If someone wanted to get a job podcasting for a company, like you do, where should they start?
Tim: I wish I had a good answer to that. I was referred to this from somebody, whom I had a podcast with at the time, who had a lot of influence. I’ve had a few people ask me about this. What I would say is that if you already know how to podcast, you’ve already got some chops, and you can tell a great story, and you also have a marketing mind, then reach out to a company that clearly isn’t using the medium but is doing some marketing. Reach out to a company that maybe has some Facebook ad campaigns. Maybe you can tell that they’re doing some list building. Reach out to them and just let them know what you’re all about.
Talk to them about some of the benefits or about what podcasting can do for them. Let them know that you would love to start a podcast for them and maybe even offer to create a couple of test run episodes to show them what you could do. They wouldn’t get published or anything, but you could just create a couple of episodes to show them what you can do and then draft up a campaign to actually promote that podcast. Doing that can show them that it’s more than just, “I make episodes and talk into a microphone.” You can show them that it’s a valuable asset to their business and pitch it as something that you could provide for them.
Mandy: You’ve almost just answered my last question, and that is if someone wanted to convince their current employer or their client to use a podcast, what should they say?
Tim: That’s it. That’s exactly what I would do.
Mandy: Great. Well is there anything else that you want to let me know about podcasting?
Tim: That if it’s something that you believe you would love doing, you should do it. If you believe you would hate doing it, do not do it just because you’ve heard that you should podcast and there are benefits to it. It really is a medium that you have to love. It can be incredibly frustrating, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. If you feel like it’s something you would love doing, you should do it.
Mandy: Thanks a lot. Just let us know before we go, where do people go to see ConversionCast?
Tim: ConversionCast.com or right on iTunes or Stitcher. We are available on all of them.
Mandy: All right. Thanks, Tim.
Tim: Thank you.
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