Listener Engagement is an art of capturing attention, delivering value, and making sure your audience sticks until the end of the episode. Highly engaged listeners will be exposed to all the key messages from your podcast. This is a solid strategy to get more recommendations, grow your show, and improve monetization.
Podcasts are a fantastic tool to help you grow your business. The problem is that it takes more than just recording and publishing new episodes regularly to grow your audience and turn them into regular paying customers.
Customers who feel an emotional connection with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend that brand 26% more than the average.
You need to implement a well-designed listener engagement strategy to get more reviews, recommendations if you want to grow your podcast faster.
So how do you build real podcast listener engagement? Here are a few easy tips you can start implementing right now.
1. Start with a catchy episode title that promises benefits for you listeners
The title is where all the magic happens.
A good title will pique the interest of potential listeners, helping you grow your audience quickly. There are many ways to make your title stand out:
- Use power words such as “amazing”, “new”, “secret”, “stunning”, “six-figure” and more. Tailor them according to your topic and your audience. It’s a known fact that power words increase conversion rates, so don’t be afraid to use them!
- Use numbers. For example, if you see the following two titles, which one are you most likely to click on: “How to have a productive morning” or “5 easy ways to have a productive morning”? The second is much more likely to get clicks because people are looking for clear, actionable things to do. The first one might have the same content as the second, but it could also be a long text that doesn’t give any real tips.
- Questions are another way to get more clicks. They also create a form of immediate podcast listener engagement, giving people the impression you’re talking directly to them.
A good title will improve the clickability of the episode and raise the interest of listeners. Rules are similar as with blogging and videos. Have a good episode title to ensure more people will listen to it.
2. Build interest quickly and restate the value
You convinced your audience to click on that episode with a catchy title.
But real podcast growth won’t happen unless you retain your audience. Little does it matter if they click on your episode if they leave after 5 minutes or less.
You have to convince them to stay and listen to the entire episode! That is why, after the title, the first sentence is the most important.
This is valid in writing, videos, and podcasts alike. Podcasts do get a better chance than blogs, where people will read the first sentence then scroll through the rest of the article, looking at headings and images. Only 16% of readers actually read blog posts until the end.
Also, if you don’t open your episode in the right manner, you might lose your audience instead of growing it.
Be sure to start piquing their interest right away. You don’t want to make them think that the excellent catchy title was just clickbait. And since you want to build better podcast listener engagement, make sure you convince them they want to hear more.
Here are a few tips for maintaining interest and engagement during this crucial opening statement:
- if you didn’t already do it in the title, start by asking a question to create an impression of real engagement;
- share a statistic or mention an opinion from an authority figure;
- begin with a quote related to the topic you will discuss, or simply one to inspire your audience;
- tell a short anecdote that helps open the discussion lightly;
- talk about a personal experience – you will get closer to your audience, as they will be able to relate to you easily.
3. Respect your audience and get quickly to the point
You grabbed their attention. Great! Now you need to keep them curious until the last minute of the episode.
Because of the limited attention span and desire for instant gratification, you should quickly get straight to the point and avoid lengthy introductions.
The intro should be interesting enough to engage your audience and make them curious, but it shouldn’t take too long.
Your listeners are there to listen to a particular topic. Recognize this, and don’t waste their time with stories that don’t make sense. Be sure to get to the point quickly.
Here’s the thing: people multitask, and they probably do other things while listening to you. They are always on the run, busy, and usually get this feeling they never have enough time. Ever felt that way? I know I did.
The last thing you want to do is make them feel like you’re not getting to the point. They will quickly feel disrespected and move on to the next podcast. After all, there are plenty out there to choose from! You had an excellent catchy title and a good introduction that kept them engaged. Now it’s time to start digging into the topic of the day.
4. Educate with your podcast
59% of listeners enjoy listening to podcasts because they make them feel smarter.
So a very easy way to grow your audience is to educate them. Even if your podcast is not really educational in the real sense of the word, you can still find ways to make people feel like they learn something new with each episode.
Unsure what they would want to learn? Ask them! You can create a short form or questionnaire and tell your audience to check it out at the end of the episode. You don’t even need a website for that!
There are a lot of tools out there that allow you to create short surveys for free. Want to know an added bonus to this? Engagement! What better way to engage with your audience than asking for their opinion and then creating episodes based on their answers?
5. Focus on coherent storytelling
You’ve got your catchy title, your engaging, short intro, and now your diving into the topic of your episode.
There are a few more things to keep in mind at this point. Your message should now be clear. No more focus clickbait or power words, you have their attention, now it’s time to deliver your message.
Focus on information and education on real tips. Don’t get sidetracked in anecdotes! I’m not saying these things are bad, but they introduce pauses in the flow of information and make the story less coherent.
And in the era of speed and multitasking, nobody has time to listen to a podcast filled with breaks and pointless chatter!
Your ideas should flow naturally from one to the other. Start by making the reason behind this show clear – why is this topic important, how is it viewed, what did you find in your research? Then dive into the topic, the interview, your opinion, whatever the structure of your podcast is.
End with the conclusions, a small recap. Don’t forget to add a call to action, an invitation to your website, or to join your mailing list.
6. Have a clear call to action (CTA)
If you want to build authentic podcast listener engagement, you’ll need a clear call to action!
Be mindful not to interrupt your storyline. Remember – coherent storytelling is vital at this point!
Whether you have your call to action in the middle or at the end doesn’t matter, as long as it blends in with the rest of the episode.
You don’t want to stop in the middle of an informative story to tell your listeners to buy your newest product. If, on the other hand, the topic you were discussing relates directly to that product, then it’s ok to have the call to action in the middle.
Make the call to action hard to miss, but natural at the same time. It should be the perfect thing to say at that moment in your episode.
7. Don’t overlook the power of websites
Even as a podcaster, you can and should take advantage of all the benefits that having a podcasting website brings. Ads and sponsorships are available to you through your podcast.
But a website will allow you to bring additional value to your customers. You can use it to sell things or to create a community so that your audience can interact with one another and with you.
It can also become the place where you experiment with different topics than what you normally provide your podcast listeners. Whatever you choose to do with it, your website will help you grow your audience.
Outside of ads, sponsorship, and Patreon, your website is the center of monetization strategy. It will offer additional value to users.
8. Use landing pages to grow your podcast
Now that I’ve convinced you of the power of websites let’s talk about landing pages.
They are usually used to help you increase conversions and sales. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “But I’m already using my podcast for that. What do I need a landing page for? Won’t it be repetitive?”
These are all valid thoughts. You don’t want to repeat things on your landing page. Not really anyway.
You can use it to describe things that would be difficult to talk about during a podcast. You can use it to showcase products where visuals play a crucial role, beyond what words can describe.
But you can also use landing pages to help your audience understand the day’s topic or give them something they can save and take away as a reminder.
Mention specific resources during your show that are available on your website.
Things like additional graphics, lists of tools, or products are all things you can quickly mention on your podcast and then send people to your website for a more detailed version.
9. Build a mailing list
Mailing lists are a key tool in any marketing plan. A mistake many podcasters make is believing that if people subscribe to their podcast, that’s enough, and they don’t need a mailing list.
Why is that wrong? Because the two things are not even remotely the same!
A mailing list allows you to communicate with your customers outside of the podcast. You can promote your brand, ask for feedback on episodes or new products. You can keep them engaged and build hype around a new episode, by sending an email talking about your research, or about who you’ll be interviewing next. But how do you get people to subscribe to yet another mailing list?
Offer free content upgrades!
People want to get something in exchange for their email address.
Sure, telling them all the extra information they’ll be getting once subscribed is great, but most people need something instant in return. So create a little freebie, something useful that you know most people listening to you would want.
It can be a checklist, a workbook, a guidebook. You don’t have to build something huge. It is free, after all! But make it something useful that makes people feel the exchange of data is worth it.
10. Offer paid content upgrade
The final step in this list is offering paid content. I know you’d love to see this higher on the list. After all, you want to earn some money, you’re a business owner! Hear me out: there’s a reason why this is the last item on the list.
Growing your podcast and your business, in general, requires customers’ trust. And offering paid content requires having an audience in the first place. If you take it slow and build engagement through your podcast, grow your audience, offer some useful freebies, you will get to the point where you can easily upgrade to offering paid content.
Is this upgrade even necessary when all you want is podcast listener engagement? Yes, it is. Most people know that quality products cost a bit more. And while they love getting all the freebies, there will come the point when they might expect you to offer some paid content.
The price is not essential. It doesn’t have to be expensive to build good engagement.
But what should you offer? I’d suggest going back and looking at your freebie.
- If you had more than one, pick the one that generated the most conversions.
- Now think: how can you upgrade it to make it more valuable?
- A good example is turning it into an ebook. If you had a workbook that contained a short 5-days plan, you could create one for 30-days, for instance.
Remember, your revenue is not really the focus at this point. It’s listener engagement!
11. Offer a High-Quality Seamless Experience
The final point of engagement is not something that you want your listeners to notice but rather things that should not stand out. I’m talking about audio quality.
Make sure you record beautiful and clear audio without disturbing background noises. People don’t enjoy home content creators that record in noisy environments, with noises of dogs barking and children playing in the background.
- Take time to develop a recording schedule and record your show when no one is making any noise
- Put some effort in soundproofing your home studio and start recording in a quiet location
- Get a better podcast recording and editing software. Not all DAWs are created equal, and some have better capabilities at noise editing
- Invest in the right dynamic mic for podcasting that is less sensitive than a condenser mic and won’t pick up too many disturbances.
Remember that great audio is seamless. It doesn’t draw attention but instead removes itself from the picture and allows your listeners to enjoy the content entirely.
Building podcast listener engagement is a process that needs to be implemented step by step.
Quality is critical, but many other things can help you boost engagement quickly. It can be as simple as a power word or rephrasing the title to spark curiosity.
Be sure to never under-deliver. Don’t create a clickbait title just for the sake of it. Yes, it will make people click on the episode, but will it make them listen till the end? And don’t forget to create an additional channel to communicate with your audience.
A website with a creative landing page, a mailing list full of useful things are a must if you want to grow your audience long-term.
Finally, offering content upgrades, both free and paid (though inexpensive), are additional steps deepening the relationship between you and your audience and improving the engagement.
I remember when I first started working on engagement components in my podcasts. It has dramatically increased the number of shares and recommendations. People also were more willing to leave a mail or go to my website. Great article with good tips!
Thanks for the help! I used the engagement tips and it works great for the last couple of months.
Very clear and actionable! It was useful for me and easy to implement. I already see some results! Thanks!
Paid content upgrades are doing wonders for me! Thanks for this super useful tip!
I started using your advice a few months ago. Then after several weeks, I’ve noticed the first results, and my engagement metrics are steadily rising. Thanks!
Getting engaged listeners is extremely valuable. I prefer to have 5,000 engaged listeners than a random crowd of 20,000 subscribers who don’t respond to any CTAs. Good stuff.
Great article! Before I started implementing engaging elements I struggled to grow my show. Thanks for many useful tips, I found a few new ones to add immediately!
Listener engagement is the key! I have a successful show thanks to a highly engaged listener base, and not by focusing on a large number of listenres.
Planning a good, engaging experience for your listeners is super important. Thanks for that perspective and details.