I’ll be honest. I talk with a lot of podcasters who find themselves frustrated with the lack of listens or lack of growth on their show. They ask me, “how do you make your podcast irresistible,” so here’s the first thing I look at!
One of the first things I do when someone shares this with me is audit their episode titles. While there are certainly many factors that play into a show’s growth, the episode titles are such a critical component that far too many podcasters aren’t putting enough thought into.
If you podcast like I do, that means all your podcast episodes also become a blog post. If you want to grow, you’d want that blog title to be strong for SEO (aka searchable) and really appealing to the type of person you’d want finding your website, right?
So, your podcast episode titles really matter. You only have a few seconds to convince a listener – returning or new – if they should hit play, you don’t want to make a mistake. If they scroll through your episodes and your titles don’t really resonate or jump out to them, they’re probably going to move on to another show.
How can you write irresistible titles that they can’t help but hit “Play,” on?
3 elements to a strong podcast title:
- Compelling Curiosity
- Clear Promise
First, an episode (and blog post) title needs to evoke curiosity in a potential listener. If someone’s curiosity is piqued about what they will learn, they are much more likely to take action and listen thus making your podcast irresistible.
If the title is bland and not interesting, they’ll likely pass. This is especially true for new listeners, so if you’re trying to grow, keep this in mind.
What generally sparks curiosity? A clear promise to a felt need or concrete problem a potential listener is experiencing.
If you’re titling your episodes something like, “087: Will Smith (or name of other really cool guest),” you might look awesome for having Will Smith on your show buuuut here’s what you need to understand:
- A title like that doesn’t tell me what value this offers me or why I should care
- It may not pique my interest because it doesn’t tell me why THIS interview with Will Smith (or anybody for that matter) is different from the hundreds of other interviews I can find with him in a quick Google search.
With this in mind, people rarely will listen because of the guest you have on. It may be cool to get a bigger name and give you some authority, and in that case, maybe you do occasionally title an episode this way.
However, overall, you have to title in such a way that you think from the listener’s perspective. What are they looking for? What concrete problem and clear solution do they need and how can you make that promise in the title?
Here’s what I mean: Perhaps in your interview with Will Smith, he gave 3-4 really awesome tips on how to become an actor.
Even if you talked about several other topics, this part of the interview provided tangible takeaways and steps a listener who might be aspiring to be an actor can take, right?
So, focus on this promise! Instead of titling it something snooze-worthy and generic like “087: A Conversation with Will Smith,” title it something specific and interesting like, “4 Tips for Aspiring Actors (with Will Smith),” or “How to Get Started with Acting (with Will Smith),” or, “How to Rock Your First Movie Audition (with Will Smith).”
Now, you might not be interviewing someone like Will Smith (although that’d be pretty rad!) but my point is that regardless of who you interview or what you talk about, you want to structure your titles in such a way that promise a clear solution or takeaway, and therefore pique the curiosity of the listener and compel them to press the play button.
Lastly, you want the title to be as concise as possible in order to make your podcast irresistible. Say as much in as few words as possible. A good rule of thumb is to have 7-8 words of less, if possible.
Titles with the following formats tend to perform best for both blog posts and podcast episodes because they are concise, with a clear promise telling someone exactly what to expect, and compel them to press play:
- “A Guide To…”
- “# Ways to…” or “# Steps to…”
- “How to…”
- “Increase or Improve Your ___ with ___”
- “Question? Promise”
- “Everything You Need to Know About…”
- “Why You Need…”
Ready to make your podcast irresistible? Check out some of my titles here!
These title structures include a clear promise, are compelling in that they create curiosity, and they are concise.
Try these out on your next few podcast episodes (or blog posts) and see which work best for your brand!
Haven’t started your podcast yet but are looking to get into it? Check out this blog on How to Name Your Blog or Podcast.