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Scheduling Process for Podcast Guests

We did some restructuring to the Jumpstart Podcast format recently. Previously, we interviewed industry leaders and publish their origin stories every fortnight. Now, we’ve added episodes of Jeff’s business musings in between guest interview episodes, and we publish every week. So it goes interview, musings, interview, musings,…

With this restructuring, we’ve also added new processes and tools to improve the logistics of scheduling recording sessions.

We hope it’ll give us more runway and be able to batch the tasks. We need to work around Jeff’s travel/conference/teaching schedule, and this gives us more predictability and certainty that we’ll have material to publish every week.

The process uses a patchwork of Acuity Scheduling, Pipedrive, Zencastr and the Jeffalytics website. The process below describes what happens from choosing a potential guest up to a confirmed appointment on our recording calendar.

Here are the steps.

1. Set up Jeff’s availability in Acuity Scheduling.

availability

Go to Business Settings > Availability to indicate available date/time, but also to block off days/hours Jeff would be traveling/ speaking/ attending conferences/ teaching.

2. Set up appointment type in Acuity Scheduling.

appointment type

Go to Business Settings > Appointment Types, select New Type of Service.

Create the new type by filling in the form. Jeff liked that it can do padding before and after the appointment. With the padding, he’ll be able to get prepared and make sure that the technology is working well, and also to budget extra time in case the interview runs overtime (or didn’t start on time).

3. Create outreach form in Acuity Scheduling.

form

Go to Business Settings > Intake Form Questions, select New Form.

Create a new form to gather more information on the guest. While the interview has a rather flexible format, which allows conversation to develop organically, we would still want some background on the guest.

In the form, we ask them how they first broke into the Digital Marketing industry and their latest topics of interest. As well as other practicalities such as how they like to be introduced, any mentions/ plugs, etc.

4. Set up email notifications in Acuity Scheduling.

email notifications

Go to Business Settings > E-mail Settings, select Initial Confirmation tab, select which appointment type to customize.

Acuity Scheduling has a built-in email notification function, which automatically sends out notifications to the person who booked the appointment. There are different types of email template used for different situation: initial confirmation, reminders, cancelation, rescheduling, follow-up and package/ gift certification order.

5. Create a page on our website to host the appointment booking process.

In this appointment booking process, the guest will go through a 3-steps process.

date

First, choose a time zone. Choose a time slot from the available slots.

Second, fill up the outreach form (created in Step 3).

Third, confirm the details.

6. Create a pipeline in Pipedrive.

We created a pipeline with 6 stages: idea, ready for outreach, outreach started, recording scheduled, recording completed and on hold. This gives us an overview of what’s in our pipeline, and track the status of (potential) guests in the process.

pipedrive

7. Generate a list of potential guests.

Jeff will provide a list of names. They are usually people he met at conferences in the past few months. Some of these guests might have already gotten a verbal invite to be on the show when Jeff met them in person. So while Jeff has these conversations fresh in his mind, he does the brain dump of names.

All these names will be added to the Idea stage in Pipedrive.

8. Schedule potential guests onto Zencastr and create redirection.

Before the guest actually gets to the booking process (setup in Step 5), we’ll need to make sure they have an episode page set up in Zencastr. This episode page is where the recording happens. On the day of recording, guest will visit this page, and technology will connect Jeff and the guest, and record their conversation.

zencastr

The link to this page is the reason why we set this page up beforehand. This link should be ready to go because it will be available to guests in the initial confirmation email (from Step 4).

The link looks something like this: https://zencastr.com/jeffalytics/jane-doe

Using the personalization function in email templates, we could have written this https://zencastr.com/jeffalytics/%first%-%last% to capture the first and last names from the form.

Unfortunately, URLs are case sensitive. That means:

https://zencastr.com/jeffalytics/jane-doe ≠ https://zencastr.com/jeffalytics/Jane-Doe

We assume that Jane Doe (and all the other guests) will write her name with proper capitalization, so her %first%-%last% will give Jane-Doe. So capturing the first and last names from the form into the personalized email notification will not work, because the capitalized URL (https://zencastr.com/jeffalytics/Jane-Doe) will give a 401.

The solution is a redirection.

We use Jeffalyics.com to set up redirections. In the WordPress backend, go to Tools > Redirection, scroll down and create a redirection.

redirect

The purpose of this redirection is to correct the capitalization, turning the URL into all lowercase.

This means that we need to use a new URL structure in our email template. We would be using this: https://www.jeffalytics.com/%first%-%last%/

So in Jane Doe’s case, once she clicks on https://www.jeffalytics.com/Jane-Doe/, she will be redirected to https://zencastr.com/jeffalytics/jane-doe.

Once this step is completed, we’ll move the guest to the Ready for Outreach stage in Pipedrive.

9. Reach out to potential guests.

We start the initial outreach to potential guests with a personal email from Jeff, introducing the podcast and extending a formal invitation. And I’ll follow up with the technicalities of booking and scheduling.

Email #1: Introduce the podcast (what is it about, who had been on the show, etc.), and ask if they would like to be a guest. If yes, we’ll proceed with scheduling in Email #2.

Email #2: Provide the link to the booking process (in Step 5).

Once the initial outreach email is sent, we’ll move the guest to the Outreach Started stage in Pipedrive.

And once the guest booked an appointment slot (in Step 5), they’ll be moved to the Recording Scheduled stage in Pipedrive.

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