Fun, Immersive Marketing of an Audio Fiction Show

The new Choose What Happens Next adventure from Civilized

Fans of the dark comedy sci-fi show Civilized can now become a part of the story as the crew makes “first contact” during their fateful voyage.

So what is it? It’s a series of mini-episodes that are delivered via email. How the story unfolds is entirely dependant on the choices that the listener makes.

To play the game, listeners need to be a member of our newsletter. And so it is an incentive for subscribing. For existing fans, it’s also a super fun way to spend more time with the characters and story that they love.

Screenshot of one of the initial storylines

We had the good fortune to be able to work with Chris Vasquez from Aweber. They led the development and helped us to combine audio, graphic design and written media to bring our storytelling to a whole new level. The result is an immersive and fun prequel for the show with almost 90 minutes of finished audio and eight unique endings.

Marketing is a nine letter word

This project was an attempt to create a fun, immersive experience for our existing fans that would also act as a “lead magnet” for growing our audience and driving signups for our newsletter.

And yes, we are marketing our shows. Here at Fable and Folly we don’t believe marketing is evil. Nor do we entertain the ridiculous idea that “good shows don’t have to market themselves.”

We market our shows because we see so much potential for podcasters to reach new audiences. We don’t subscribe to the rampant belief that audio fiction is tiny or that it’s near impossible to convert people from talking head shows.

The need to market our shows is also growing. There are so many amazing shows out there and standing out and getting found is growing more difficult, not easier.

That said, it can be disempowering and insanely frustrating to do “all the right things” and still not see any significant growth in listeners. A lot of this has to do with resources. Our industry is struggling to understand how to grow our audience while new firms with VC money and capital move into the audio fiction space, some with very powerful properties from TV and film. And all of whom are putting big budgets and marketing dollars behind their shows.

It is our hope that we can motivate some other creators by our successes and reduce the pain by sharing our failures. It’s also helpful for us to be able to find and engage in conversation with creators who, like us, are experimenting with marketing their shows. We are stronger together.

Contextual onramps

One of the requirements for the project was that we be able to create at least two onramps into the experience. Aweber made this a snap. New fans can sign up by visiting the landing page at civilizedpod.com/choose or by engaging with any of the website or in-stream offers we are now deploying. Existing newsletter fans can simply click a link or button and have the automation deliver them the first episode experience via email.

In-stream turnstile

One of the cooler features we are just rolling out now is from RadioPublic and it is super sexy. It is a turnstile offer that appears when people play an episode of the podcast for 15 seconds or more on our RadioPublic podsite.

Note: we were provided alpha access to a new feature that is coming very soon to the rest of the world.

The turnstile can be seen at: play.civilizedpod.com.

The Marketer in me is doing the happy dance as this is one of the coolest things, ever. And we are told that soon this functionality will be available for all RadioPublic PRO accounts via an embeddable audio player.

Try it out by visiting our RadioPublic podsite. Hit play on any episode and wait for 15 seconds.

We’re also excited that there are plans for this functionality to be included inside the RadioPublic app one day. But as this feature is still under development, we’re unsure what the exact roadmap for this product looks like.

Migrating to a new email provider and now what?

Building this experience required us to move to a new email list provider. And we were a little concerned as we didn’t want to lose people or generate unsubscribes in the process. I’m happy to report that the move to Aweber was seamless and the level of trigger-based automation we now have access to was just what we needed to make this all come together.

And now the hard work really begins. We have to get the word out while also maintaining engagement with the people who are signing up. What happens once they are done playing the game? How can we keep our relationship with them while managing the intense production requirements across all of our many shows?

We don’t have the answers, but we are open to continuing the conversation and sharing what we learn along the way.

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