Many of our prospective clients ask, “How do I grow my podcast audience?” The answer is almost too simple: your audience will grow if you have a solid strategy based on understanding who your audience is. It’s simple, but it requires some work on your part. Whether you have a brand new or a seasoned podcast, your audience won’t magically grow until you truly understand who you’re trying to connect to with your audio content.
We agree with Dan Misener’s approach to effective podcast audience development:
“Don’t start by asking how to build an audience for your podcast.
Instead, ask how to build a podcast for your audience.”
Let that sink in. A subtle shift in mindset, but it makes all the difference.
Start with the end in mind. If you focus, research, and empathize with your audience during the planning stages, you can design a podcast that fulfills your target audience’s needs, wants, and desires. We’ve put this mini blueprint together to help you know where to get started with a sustainable audience development plan.
1. Define Your Podcast Audience
There’s a lot of podcasts out there. How do you make your show stand out above the competition? You need to know who your audience is and what makes them tick. Getting granular with who you want to engage with will require you to define your podcast audience. You need to look beyond basic demographics. Yes, you need a good idea of who you’re aiming your content at (age, gender, level of education, socio-economics), but you need to dig deeper than that. You need to know your niche, and you need to know who lives within that niche.
It’s tempting to think your podcast is for everyone and think you can get away with casting a wide net. This brings to mind a Meredith Hill quote: “When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.” Seth Godin expressed a similar sentiment when he said, “Everyone is not your customer.”
Dial-in on the unique value your podcast offers the world and consider the audience who is most likely to listen to your show. The more specific, or niche, your content is, the easier it will be to identify and appeal to your target audience.
2. Research Your Audience
Now is the time to dig deep into insightful analytics. You want to learn where your audience lives online and where they are already engaged. What are their interests? What social media platforms do they hang out on? What subreddits do they follow? What other podcasts are they listening to? Who are the influencers they subscribe to? What hashtags do they follow? Where do they physically live in the world?
Discovering where your audience already engages will help you understand what they’re thinking, and most importantly, where and how to reach them online. Your podcast hosting platform should be able to give you an idea of how trends are playing out in your niche.
You’ve now spent enough time thinking about your niche and researching the individual pieces of your audience that it’s time to put the puzzle together. Creating an audience persona will make the big picture complete. You may come up with one, two, three, or more audience personas, but this will complete the ‘who’ you are trying to target. Now, let’s discuss how to ‘understand’ the ‘who.’
3. Listen To Your Audience
Are you giving your audience what they want? How do you know? You listen! Getting inside their heads, asking the right questions, and listening to the feedback builds a relationship. People will only come back for more if they feel like you understand what they need, and in return, you fulfill that need. Otherwise, they’re going to look for it (and find it) on someone else’s podcast.
You need to bridge the gap from the occasional downloader to the dedicated listener by building a relationship with your audience. The people that love your podcast are your most valuable asset. They come back again and again, feel a real connection with you, and act as ambassadors for your show to their friends and online communities. So get to know them! Ask for feedback during a show, in your newsletters, or on your social platforms. You should know the answers to these questions:
- What problems or challenges do they face?
- What gets them excited?
- What do they want from my show?
- How can I engage with them better?
- What’s missing for them in the current podcast market?
- What does my show offer that they can’t get elsewhere?
- Why do they listen to me?
Connect With Your Audience
The pieces are starting to fall into place: you’ve defined your audience, you know who they are, and you understand what they need and want from your podcast. You’re well on your way to having them come back time and time again for more. But you need a place for them to go back to!
That place is a community where they feel a connection to your show and authentically feel like a valued member of your audience. Give them a space where they feel heard and can connect with other like-minded listeners. Your base of loyal listeners will explode if you allow them to connect.
Ways to create connection include:
- Your podcast website
- Regular newsletters sent to your email list
- An exclusive Facebook or LinkedIn group
- Stay active on your social media – reply to comments and use relevant hashtags
- Have hashtags for your listeners
- Cross-promote with other shows that overlap with your niche
- Shout-out to listeners during your show
- A way to leave voicemails to give feedback or leave questions that you can answer during a show
- Plan a Meet-up
- Create additional content on a blog, YouTube, or Instagram
- Welcome guests to your show
Track Your Stats
Yes, you still need to review the data and analytics to gauge the overall impact of your podcasts. Keep an eye out for trends – if you see a significant shift in numbers, ask yourself what you did differently on that show to cause that shift. Did you break the connection with your audience, or did you grow one? A shift in the wrong direction, and you’ll want to course correct. A shift in the right direction, you’ll want to expand upon in the future. Stay on top of these metrics for every episode:
- Total downloads and listens during the first seven days
- Listen time (how long are they listening, do they listen to the end?)
- Click-through rates
- Website traffic generated from each podcast episode
- Engagement through comments, likes, and shares
- Subscribes and unsubscribes.
When you start with the end in mind, your audience can’t help but grow. Build your podcast for your audience, and you’ll have listeners lining up and eager for more. It’s a much harder road to travel when you try to do it the other way around – having a podcast few people connect to and scraping by to build an audience around a show that doesn’t serve a purpose.
It’s easy to see that building a solid podcast that attracts an audience can take a lot of time and energy. If you would like to concentrate on creating a podcast that rocks, we’re happy to help strategize and build your audience for you. The experienced podcast producers at Podcast Taxi handle research, guest booking, and post-production, so you can focus on telling your story. Contact our onboarding team today to learn more about how we’re helping podcast professionals stay focused on what matters most.