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The Definitive Guide To Podcast Intros

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The Definitive Guide To Podcast Intros

Podcast intros are an important quality of a successful podcast.

The right intro sets the podcast on a path to success.

These seven tips will help your podcast build an audience and retain it:

  1. Hook the listeners fast.
  2. Make every second of the podcast intro count.
  3. A good podcast intro builds audience retention.
  4. Test podcast intros for audience retention.
  5. Three things a podcast intro must communicate.
  6. Podcast intro builds loyalty.
  7. Where to get music for a podcast.

Let’s dig into each one and see how you can put it work for your podcast.

1. Hook The Listeners Fast

Erin Sparks of Edge of the Web Radio podcast says that there is a subtle but important value in the podcast intro when it comes to what he calls, “click browsing.”

Erin suggests that the intro functions like a hook – to grab the listener’s attention and immediately intrigue them.

He shares this insight:

“The audio ‘hook’ is important to podcast click browsing. Walking through a podcast app, people will click and listen to 7-10 seconds to hear if they ‘feel’ the show.

Much different than any other medium.”

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Chris Brogan of Making the Brand podcast agrees that a podcast intro should be short.

He shares these insights on the qualities of a useful podcast intro:

“I’m a huge fan of brief. Once you hear it more than twice, it’s boring to everyone.

An intro should set the mental stage for what’s coming up.

Choose music and words that emulate the show.”

2. Make Every Second Of The Podcast Intro Count

Jorge Hermida, Program Director at WMR.FM and Cannabis Radio Podcasts, observes that it’s important to give listeners a reason to stick around for the podcast but to do it in the shortest amount of time possible.

He says there is absolutely no time to waste within your podcast intro so it’s super important to literally make every second count.

He shares:

“Podcast listeners, just like anybody else, have a short attention span.

You have to give listeners a reason to listen to your content within the first 30 seconds.

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Whether you create a cold opener or you run down what you’re going to be talking about on the program, you need to satisfy that listener immediately.

Create the intro as if every listener has a short attention span because in my professional experience, they will either stay and listen to your show, or they’ll drop off and find another show to listen to.”

3. Podcast Intro Builds Audience Retention

Azeem Ahmad of the Azeem Digital SEO podcast shares that a good podcast intro will help maintain audience retention, as well as encourage engagement and loyalty.

This is an element of conversion theory, where even seemingly trivial elements can encourage or discourage the action we are looking for.

A classic example is a PPC arbitrage marketer who maximizes the number of sales for every click.

Affiliate PPC marketers succeed or go out of business fast depending on how well they convert every visitor.

This person discovered that detecting the mobile device and adding an “iPhone friendly” or “Android friendly” badge increased their conversion rates by a measurable rate.

The follow-up insight Azeem suggests is similar.

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He said that a podcast intro has the same effect of encouraging a user to click and stay for the podcast or to leave.

And for that reason, it’s important to view the intro as a configurable asset that can be used to improve audience retention.

Azeem shares how a podcast intro is important for retention rates and engagement:

“People will get bored with repetition, and regardless of your podcast format – the idea is to engage the listener.

If you lose them within the first 30 seconds, you will very likely see a drop in retention rate and engaged listeners.”

4. Test Podcast Intros For Audience Retention

Azeem next shares that a way to improve retention and engagement is to experiment with new intros and outros.

He shares this tip:

“As a host you should change this up sometimes.

Customizing the intro every time is basically an option to test for what works the best.

For example, you could test asking people to subscribe in the intro vs. the outro for a few episodes and see which drives more growth.”

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5. Three Things A Podcast Intro Must Communicate

Sparks offers useful information about what should be communicated in a podcast introduction.

He shares how the introduction should communicate the “What’s in it for me?” proposition to the listener.

Figuring out the tried-and-true principle of answering the question of “What’s in it for me?” is a great way to think about how to create a podcast intro that is useful for the listener.

So, it makes sense to apply that approach to podcast intros so that a listener is reminded of why they are there, which could be to become better at what they do, to catch up on industry news, to be entertained, etc.

Here is what Sparks shares:

“A good intro provides:

  1. A promise to the listener in the first five to seven seconds (a transaction of knowledge communicating what they are going to get).
  2. Sonic branding.
  3. Credibility, contextual reference to subject matter expertise.”

6. Podcast Intro Builds Loyalty

Jim Hedger, the co-host of the popular Webcology SEO podcast, suggests that the podcast intro helps to build a sense of familiarity and ownership of a space.

I’ve noticed that people tend to feel a sense of ownership in a website they enjoy, perhaps because the site might be a part of their self-identity as a baker, sportsperson, or whatever the topic is.

Ever walk into a favorite restaurant and immediately receive a feeling of comfort or anticipation?

It’s a sense of ownership of an experience, that this experience is yours and it’s yours yet again.

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Hedger says that a podcast intro can have a similar effect, to bring a sense of comfort and anticipation that one feels in physical spaces that one feels loyal and connected to.

He observes:

“I once read that people aren’t loyal to restaurants as much as they are loyal to spaces they feel comfortable being in.

The same can be said for podcasts.

Like radio, podcasts are a theater of the mind. Your intro is the breath that first forms the space you, your guests, and the audience will create together.

Podcasts are incredibly intimate. I think you need to feel love for your audience and deeply respect the topic and your introduction is your first chance to establish that.

A host’s job is to help the audience develop a zone in which they and the host are virtually in the same place.”

7. Where To Get Music For A Podcast Intro

Something to keep in mind is that any music used should be licensed.

There is an idea that it’s okay to use just a little bit of someone else’s music, but that might not be the case.

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And if that’s the direction you are moving in, then it may be prudent to check with an attorney first.

The podcasting professionals consulted for this article all agree that it’s important to purchase a license for the right to any music used within a podcast.

Everyone agrees that it’s best to license royalty-free podcast intro music because this safeguards against copyright infringement claims.

Hermida shares:

“Our music is licensed, and most other podcasts most likely use some kind of licensed music from other licensed music providers for some original music that’s not prone to any copyright issues.

It doesn’t really matter where the music comes from, except that I would always recommend to make sure you use music that you are allowed to use and that license to use the music is documented and can be proven.”

Sparks also recommends paying for a license to use music:

“We have a number of music licenses that we have used over the years.

We highly recommend reviewing different sound repositories and utilizing them to create that sonic brand.

Places to license music are Envato Elements, Epidemic Sound, and the like.

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We also have a continual license with our deep voice announcer, our voice over talent.

That should also be something to consider when you’re developing a long-term show.”

Brogan recommends:

“Epidemic Sound works fine. Buy a license. “

Always read the license when choosing a digital music asset in order to be aware of what you can and can’t do with the music and for how long you are entitled to use it.

  • Epidemic Soundseveral of the podcasters mentioned Epidemic Sound as a good place to purchase a license for music.
  • Envato Elements is a source for high-quality licensed, royalty-free music suitable for a podcast intro.
  • Shutterstock Music – Shutterstock is known for its stock photography library, but they also offer royalty-free music specifically for podcasts. A license that’s appropriate for use in a podcast costs $49.
  • Music Bakery offers royalty-free music where you pay for it once and can use it anywhere, but be sure to read the license agreement to know exactly what you are paying for.
  • InstantMusicNow offers digital downloads starting at $4.95.
  • Adobe Stock Music Library – Adobe offers royalty-free music that can be used in multiple projects.

Podcast Intros Are Important

At this point, it should be clear that a seemingly trivial thing like a podcast intro is actually part of the foundation of a successful podcast.

Clearly, the content of the podcast is the most important quality of a podcast.

Yet, as important as the content is, it’s the podcast intro that sets the stage and makes listeners feel they have arrived at their happy place, while also communicating what is in it for the listener, which encourages them to stick around for the content.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Alex from the Rock/Shutterstock

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4 Clues From Google That Tell Us Everything

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4 Clues From Google That Tell Us Everything

When I was a kid, my favorite mysteries were the Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

They all had their great quotes, but one of my favorites was from The Hound of the Baskervilles when Holmes tells Watson:

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”

I want to think that if Sir Doyle were alive today as a digital marketer in paid search, he might rephrase this quote to say something more like: “Google always leaves a trail of breadcrumbs, straight to the future of PPC, if you just take the time to look.”

I recently decided to look, and the results I found were eye-opening.

I came across more breadcrumbs than I could count, and many of them led to different places.

However, a core group revealed a clear picture of what is to come for the PPC industry.

Clue 1: New Google Ads Scripts Experience

Scripts for Google Ads have been around almost as long as the platform itself.

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However, ask around, and you may be hard-pressed to find a person who has consistently used Scripts in their PPC campaigns or anyone who has ever used any of them.

Google wants that to change.

Version 2 of the Google Ads Scripts experience has officially launched, and it’s a huge step forward by Google to bring this feature to the forefront and support its use with a robust information and training portal.

What it tells us: With Google’s push toward automation, it is imperative to understand that going along for the ride is not an option.

It’s becoming a necessity.

When launching, optimizing, and maintaining campaign performance as you scale budgets, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to stay on top of everything without some help.

With this new offering, Google makes a clear statement for the future of PPC, both near and far.

There will be increased attention to automating your PPC campaign work, and Google Scripts is here for you.

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Clue 2: Acquisition Of Looker

Looker is a Business Intelligence (BI) tool used to chart, graph, and display data so you can recognize and act upon problems and opportunities alike.

This app falls in the same category as Tableau and Power BI by Microsoft.

Three years ago, Google acquired Looker for $2.6 billion.

This acquisition completed the marketing channel UI to data presentation pipeline that Google desperately needed.

Google had already built out Big Query years prior, which allowed them to own the data warehouse portion of the data pipeline, but they were still missing the BI portion.

The acquisition of Looker enabled Google to offer a full suite of data tools, from beginning to end, to their users.

Users no longer needed to venture outside the Google ecosystem to obtain platforms and applications necessary to run a marketing service with end-to-end management.

What it tells us: Dealing with structured data and larger datasets that live outside of the marketing channel UI will be the norm for digital marketers.

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As a PPC manager, you may not have to become a certified data and analytics expert, but you will have to be comfortable updating data sets, managing your campaign, and manipulating data inside your chosen BI application.

Clue 3: Broad Match & Responsive Ad Expansion

Is it just me, or does Google try to push the “Broad Match” bid strategy and the “Responsive” ad setup option every chance they get?

When adding keywords to a new campaign, you’ll get a stern disclaimer if you don’t designate your keywords as broad match.

Or how about the red text status warning when viewing campaign keywords?

You think something is wrong, but it’s just a “warning” that you could get more conversions if you choose “broad match” keywords for your ad set.

Then you have to deal with display campaigns!

When setting up a new display campaign, Google hides the standard display ad option and forces you to create a responsive display ad.

What it tells us: The ”suggestions” Google recommends (which always gives up more control to Google) have been going on for more than a decade.

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And all I have to do is point to Expanded Text Ads to show you how this all ends.

Google will take more control over our campaigns to the point where Google will do nearly everything from campaign setup to ad copywriting and bid strategy selection.

Clue 4:  Google Glasses Announcement at I/O 2022

The long-awaited return of “Google Glasses” (officially named Proto 29) was announced at the annual Google I/O event with a slick video presentation.

While the video was relatively light on specifics, it certainly got people talking about the potential use cases, namely the ability of the glasses to translate foreign languages.

What it tells us: Things are changing, and they always will be.

If you were hoping to become an expert in all the ad software and marketing tactics and then coast on those skills for the rest of your career, you would be very disappointed.

Once “Google Glasses” are released and become widely adopted, we will need to learn and create campaigns for an entirely new ad platform.

Not only that, but if you think Google just released this video to brag about a niche product that will never catch on at scale, you have another thing coming.

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This was the digital equivalent of Google planting a flag and saying, “This market share is ours, and it’s gonna be big!”

So, you have two options.

You can bury your head in the sand and hope on a shooting star that you will never have to use this groundbreaking technology for your PPC work.

Or, you can look at this as an opportunity, set a Google alert for any news related to Google Glasses, and then start learning whatever you can to become a leader in this new field.

Clue 5: “Automatically Created Assets” Beta Feature

Seamlessly nestled between the “Bidding” and “Start and End Dates” tabs in the campaign menu, you will see the biggest clue for the future of PPC.

Google states that the “Automatically Created Assets” feature:

“…will allow Google to help you generate headlines, descriptions, and other assets using your content from your landing page, domain, and ads. Google will provide you with automated tools to customize your assets based on relevance for your keywords. This may improve ad relevance and performance.”

What it tells us: If you read the statement closely, you will realize this one feature changes everything.

With just one feature, Google can, in theory, find relevant keywords to bid on for your business, create headlines and descriptions for search ads, and point the ads to a relevant landing page.

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If you didn’t notice, those actions make up the lion’s share of what a PPC Manager creates daily and will dramatically alter what they fundamentally do as a marketing professional.

The Future Of PPC

So, what does this all mean, and how will this affect the daily job duties of PPC marketers?

Data Tracking & Analysis

If you haven’t already noticed in your day-to-day work, making sure data is tagged, tracked, sorted, and graphed is a big part of the job.

This will become a more significant part of your day as these elements become more complicated and clean data becomes king.

You may not need to become a full-fledged data scientist, but you will definitely need to learn how to aggregate data and manipulate it in the future.

Managing The Systems That Manage Campaigns

The days of directly “pulling the levers” of a PPC campaign are numbered.

We might be setting up and managing the systems and machines that “pull” the levers for us.

From writing JavaScript code that runs based on thousands of input data points to designing a special app on Google Glasses, the indirect management of campaigns seems likely.

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Automating The Work Will Become The Work

There’s no doubt that automating more tasks we perform now will be vital to the future of PPC.

The new Google Script experience is all about automation, but you know it can be serious work to drive automation if you have ever written a script.

With the “Automatically Created Assets” feature, it seems strikingly clear that playing a larger role in setting up the main website to contain the optimal components for Google to use in an automated fashion will be essential.

It may not be the role you set out to play, but it may just be the role you need to play in the future of PPC.

The End (And The Beginning)

I may be right about all these predictions, some of them or absolutely none.

But if nothing else, and if history is any guide, the PPC manager’s role in 10 years will look different than the role we all play now.

Just keep your eyes open for all the clues that Google provides and you’ll remain ahead of the curve.

More resources:

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