Seeing a dip in streams? Looking for an increase in download numbers? Finding podcast listener engagement strategies that work is an important part of maintaining a strong audience.
Aside from high quality content and consistent posting, listener engagement is key for not only maintaining your audience, but growing it as well. Creating value for your listeners beyond your standard content will skyrocket your support.
Podcast listener engagement can be tricky because everyone’s audience is different. At the end of the day, you know your audience best, so try out these five strategies below and see what sticks!
1) Get Clear On Your Ask (and then ask for it!)
Setting clear goals is step one for success. What exactly are you looking to do with your show? Grow your reach? Increase your downloads? Get clear on what you’re looking for (and remember that this can always change over time).
Asking your audience for support is a common hesitation for podcasters. You may feel awkward or grabby asking your listeners for extra support during the episode, but just know that your listeners are choosing to stream your show. They’re ALREADY supporting you! And if they truly value your content, they’ll be happy to support you however they can. If not, they won’t mind a 10 second ask in the context of a larger, awesome episode!
If you need some inspo to get you started, here are a few talking points. If you’re looking for…
- More streams/a bigger audience → “Share this episode with a friend or on social media!”
- Higher download numbers → “Make sure to subscribe to the show to get new episodes automatically downloaded to your device as soon as they’re available.”
- More rates/reviews → “If you’re enjoying the show, please leave me a review on Apple Podcasts!”
- Larger social following → “Connect with me on [insert social channel + handle here]”
2) Offer Freebies Or A Giveaway
Create value for your listeners beyond your podcast episodes by offering them a freebie or a special giveaway. This is also a great way to achieve the goal you set above in step 1.
Make sure your giveaway item(s) are on brand with your podcast, since you know that’s what your listeners are interested in. For example, are you a personal coach with a podcast about self-confidence? Your freebie could be a worksheet or quick 10 minute mini-session with you. Are you a 5 star interviewer with amazing guests? Offer an extra 5 minute clip of your most popular interview. If you’re still having trouble coming up with a relevant giveaway item, Amazon gift cards work for just about any audience.
The rules of your giveaway can be super simple. The most common types of podcast giveaway rules go something like this:
- Share this episode on your [social media feed of choice] and tag me at [handle]
- Leave a rate & review on Apple Podcasts
- Send a screenshot of the review to [your email address]
You can also use a third party site like Rafflecopter to track entries and choose a winner to make things easier on yourself!
3) Celebrate Your Milestones
Don’t keep your milestones yourself (or just your friends or podcast network!). Share them with your listeners as well to show them the power they have and the value that their listenership has created for you. They’ll feel like they are part of a larger community of like-minded people with lots of momentum.
Hyping up your milestones will also encourage your listeners to keep listening, keep sharing, and continue to support you in new and exciting ways. That’s why hitting a milestone is also a great time to offer a new giveaway or special offer for listeners. Capitalize on that growth and keep it going!
Note: Milestones come in all shapes and sizes! Did you just hit 10,000 total downloads? Is your one-year podcast anniversary coming up? Did your social media following recently grow like crazy? Everyone’s milestones are unique to their show and their audience!
4) Use Platforms To Reward Listeners For Subscribing
Patreon or Supercast are a great ways to create a steady income stream directly from your listeners.
One of the most common types of membership pricing that podcasters use is a tiered model, offering more content/access/exclusives as you go up in monthly subscription amount. For example:
- $5/month bronze package for access to your private Facebook groun/discussion board
- $10/month silver package for a bonus, exclusive 5 minutes of your interviews
- $20/month gold package for an extra episode every month
Keep in mind that there are plenty of other ways to encourage listener engagement with subscriptions! Set up a “pay what you can” model to do more traditional crowdfunding. Offer a Cameo type of customized message for a set price. Create podcast merch (it’s easier than you think!) and sell it with product pricing. Get creative and see what resonates best with your audience.
5) User Submission Episodes
One of the most fun and rewarding ways to engage with your audience is by encouraging them to send in voice memos that you can feature on your show. Some hosts like to do dedicated user submission episodes once a season, every 6 months, etc. Others like to feature one clip per episode either at the end of the show or in a special segment.
It’s usually super easy to set up a voice memo submission button on your website (check with your domain provider for how to do this), or you can even ask listeners to email you voice memos from their phone. Try a few different prompts to see what gets the most traction from your audience. You can try a Q&A, ask them to share a personal story in line with your last episode, ask them what they’d like to hear from you in the future, etc. Chances are, most of your listeners would completely fangirl if they heard you answer their question directly on your next episode AND they would share it with all of their friends and family. Win-win!
Before You Do Anything…
Take a step back and think about the podcasts inspired you to start your own, you probably felt some kind of special connection to the host, right? Think back to that time when you were a listener. What stood out to you? What kept you coming back? How can you mirror that in your own show?
Integrating these podcast listener engagement strategies into your show can definitely help you maintain and grow a strong listener base, but also make sure that you’re taking the time to think about what makes your relationship with your listeners unique. Cultivate that connection with your listeners in an authentic way!