When it comes to podcast marketing, creating the right mix within your budget can be tricky. If you’re working with a smaller budget and limited time to devote to marketing (as is often the case), it’s essential to know your options and see measurable results.

We recently caught up with a handful of podcast industry veterans for a Clubhouse panel, and one of the questions we asked was: “What would you do with a $500 podcast marketing budget?”

While we didn’t record this session (we promise we’ll record them in the future), I wanted to share their answers to this particular question with you. Keep in mind, the experts’ suggestions are at the top of each section, denoted with the turquoise line and indented. The rest of the commentary is my elaboration on the topic. We also asked them not to include Headliner/audiograms in their answer because that’s a no-brainer…

Podcast Marketing for $500 or less

Alban Brooke: Head of Marketing, Buzzsprout

I’d use $500 to make sure I had a strong brand so that I could capitalize on my hard work of creating a podcast. I’d create a website on my own domain and brand my podcast with a great image and original music.

Alban Brooke

Alban is describing the old saying, “Don’t put the cart before the horse.” If your podcast is new and your budget is on the smaller side, you must have a solid brand to get the most out of your marketing dollars.

Without a strong brand identity (logo, colors, fonts, website, music, voice), your marketing efforts will lack consistency. This will become especially apparent when marketing across multiple channels. Without consistency, your marketing efforts will lack cohesion and likely be less recognizable and memorable to the listener.

Spending time and money early on building a strong brand identity will save you money and time in the long run, as your marketing assets will work together to strengthen your brand. Formally establishing your brand also means it’s much easier to outsource asset creation to designers or developers as they’ll know exactly what fonts/colors/tone to use when creating for your brand. Less creative hours equals less money out the door in the long run.

Andréa Jones: Founder, OnlineDrea.com

I’m exploring YouTube ads to build my audience. So I’d probably put some budget there. The rest would go into Instagram ads.

Andréa Jones

Andréa’s not exaggerating—there’s a lot to explore in the world of YouTube advertising. As the second-largest search engine in the world (behind Google), it’s potentially a great option, assuming your podcast has a presence on the channel.

YouTube ads are bid-based, so you’ll set a daily budget and a maximum cost-per-view (CPV) that you’re willing to spend. Learn more about CPV and bidding.

According to Web FX, “on average, YouTube ad costs are $0.10 to $0.30 per view or action, with an average $10 daily budget. Per view or per action means when someone views your ad or engages with your ad — like by clicking on it — you pay $0.10 to $0.30.”

While there are options for non-video ads (see below), creating ads for YouTube can require more time and money up front if you don’t have video production experience in-house. That being said, once your ads are created, there are lots of resources for targeting and tracking your success.

The five basic types of YouTube ads:

  1. Skippable in-stream: These videos must be at least 12-seconds long, and it’s recommended they stay under 3 minutes. These ads are shown before or during a video, and viewers have the option to skip them after the first 5 seconds. With this option, you only pay if the user continues to watch the ad for at least 30 seconds (or finish the whole ad if it’s shorter) rather than skip it when they’re able.
  2. Bumper: A six-second, un-skippable video ad that plays before a YouTube video.
  3. Non-skippable in-stream: These 15-20 second (depending on your location) play before or during a video, and viewers do not have the option to skip them. These will be more expensive, but you know the viewer has watched your entire ad.
  4. Discovery: These ads appear alongside organic search results when a user submits a query (similar to Google search results). These ads consist of an image and up to three lines of text. Clicking the ad will take the user to your YouTube channel page or a specific video you designate.
  5. Non-video: As you might guess, this ad type isn’t a video at all and gives you two options to get in front of viewers:
    • Display ads: appear on the right-hand sidebar, and include an image and text and a CTA.
    • Overlay ads: appear floating on top of video content from monetized YouTube channels.

Espree Devora: Podcast Producer and Host of Women in Tech Podcast

If I were new to podcasting and just starting out, I would research the highest engaged influencers in my market and cultivate a campaign to incorporate them into the podcast to build-in listener growth to my marketing campaign. I’d probably use Mighty Scout to track the influencers. I’d also focus on SEO using Glimpse and keyword research tools to integrate my podcast into the conversation.

Espree Devora

Influencers have quite literally upended the traditional advertising model, and the global pandemic has only solidified their reign as we’ve spent more time on social media.

According to Statista, the influencer market more than doubled between 2019 and 2021, growing from 6.5 billion to 13.8 billion U.S. dollars in the three years alone.

At first, you may be thinking there’s no way you could afford a campaign with a prominent influencer. However, 2020 has taught us to recognize the power of the micro-influencer.

In speaking about the power of small creators, Forbes’ Danielle Wiley explains: “Their audiences are more engaged, more loyal, and more likely to pay attention to a review or recommendation. Simply put: people relate more to “everyday” influencers than they do Kim Kardashian or PewDiePie.”

You likely already know who the influencers are on your podcast topic. Heck, you probably follow them on social media. Start to build those relationships and feel out opportunities (paid and unpaid) that could benefit both of you and engage more listeners on the topic you’re both passionate about.

Fatima Zaidi: CEO and Founder, Quill

I’d split it between Spotify’s $250 minimum ad spend and Podcast Addict (Android version of apple podcasts) ads. 

Fatima Zaidi

Spotify Ads were by far the most-heard answer to this question when we were asking our podcasting pros. Here are a few of the reasons Spotify might be a good fit for your budget and your podcast:

  • Relatively affordable minimum spend of $250
  • Targeting galore! Find listeners by location (down to zip code), interests, and even their mood.
  • Spotify Ad Studio walks you through creating an ad and estimates cost per impression (CPM) as you make your targeting selections.
  • Free voice-over artists for your ads (at least currently)
  • Real-time analytics

Learn more: Marketing a Podcast with Spotify Ads: a great option for small budgets with tons of targeting and insights

Harry Duran: Founder, Fullcast and Host, Podcast Junkies

I definitely prefer the podcast-specific ad platforms. If timed right, it would be a combination of Podnews, Overcast, Castro, Spotify Ads, and I would also look at topic-specific newsletters.

Harry Duran

Harry brings lots of options to the table and aims to keep marketing dollars in the podcasting community. We like the idea of podcast-specific advertising as it removes a lot of the unknowns. Users on these platforms have taken action to download an app specifically to interact with podcast content. At that point, it’s just a matter of hooking them on your show.

CPM’s are slightly higher with these options, as they’re much more targeted. In general, the more targeted the audience, the higher CPM, but the higher the likelihood of a long-term listener and subscriber.

Great Podcast-Specific Marketing Options

  • Castro: Options starting at just $99 for an estimated 15,000 – 20,000 impressions.
  • Overcast: Advertising options are available for specific podcast categories like Art, History, and True Crime. Pricing depends on the popularity of the category and ads last for a 30-day period.
  • Podnews: Classified ads start at $29 a day and reach more than 18,000 users. Monthly title sponsorships and other custom ad opportunities are available.

As nerve-wracking as it can be, learning through trial and error what resonates with your audience is part of the process of finalizing your podcast marketing mix. Hopefully, these suggestions, which are all relatively inexpensive, provide direction on what to try for your podcast.

And, as always, we highly recommend incorporating audiograms into your social media marketing efforts. Give Headliner a try for free today!