Focusing on Listener Experience is one of the simplest ways to grow your podcast. Podcasters that skip this get fewer recommendations and have a show that never gets anywhere. Don’t make those mistakes!
You’re trying to get your podcast to grow. You’ve built a content strategy, you’re publishing episodes regularly, you’re engaging with your listeners. But there’s one more thing that matters. Actually, that’s probably one of the most important things: listener experience of your loyal fans.
80% of consumers claim they’d be more likely to give a brand their business if the brand used their customer data to provide them with personalized customer experience.
Nobody wants to listen to a podcast where you all the background noise and barely understand what the speaker is saying. Or one with a speaker who talks too fast or too slow. Here are a few things you need to do to improve listener experience for your podcast.
1. Decrease noise level
The first thing you need to do is make sure there’s no background noise interfering with your show. If you’re recording at home, but don’t live alone, figure out a way to have silence while you record.
That includes dogs barking, children playing, people walking in and out of the room, doors shutting. How to do that? A few ideas could be:
- record very early in the morning or very late in the evening, while everyone is sleeping;
- closed-back headphones to prevent noise leaking;
- record in a soundproofed home studio or location;
- improve your editing skills and edit the noise out.
When it comes to editing, you can let editing software with more capabilities than others. A podcast recommended digital audio workstation (DAW), like Hindenburg or Adobe Audition, can make the recording sound much better.
They won’t miraculously solve all the problems. But, it is easier and better for audio quality to prevent noise recording than editing.
2. Don’t talk too fast – control speed by monitoring words per minute
A common mistake people make when recording podcasts or even videos, is talking too fast. Make sure you don’t fall into this trap! It won’t make it look like you know a lot about the topic.
It will make you look stressed. In fact, most people start talking faster when they are stressed. And it will decrease comprehension, which won’t benefit your users at all!
In short, you want to focus on the number of words you speak per minute. The ideal number of words per minute (wpm) in podcasting is considered around 150-160.
This is also considered the average for proper comprehension in conversations. Also, this should be an average for your show, meaning that it’s ok if some passages are a bit slower, and others are just a bit faster.
For instance, if you are explaining a key term, the one idea around which the entire episode is centered, it’s ok if you speak slower to ensure maximum comprehension. The moment will also be perceived as important by your audience, improving the overall listener experience.
Remember: your focus should be to make people understand and retain the message. It’s not a competition about who speaks faster.
3. Technical sound quality
Since we talked about background noise and spoken words per minute, we can’t miss technical sound quality.
It should go without saying, but don’t ever record using just a smartphone, regardless of the fact that some companies are pushing mobile apps for podcast creation.
Upgrade any poor equipment without any further delay.
For instance, move from a simple USB microphone to a dynamic mic like the Shure SM7B. Sure there are under $50 mic you can buy, but they don’t have a quality that will allow you to make a good sounding show. When you buy a top model, like Shure, you can forget about any mic problems and sound quality issues related to the mic.
Consider getting a signal booster such as Cloudlifter or Fethead. This depends on the mic you have. But some mics will require you to get a signal boost. The mentioned above Shure absolutely requires you to have a booster, or it will appear to be quiet.
And finally, you need XLR premium cables for podcasting, such as the ones from Mogami. Mogami Gold or Mogami Reference Cables are the solutions you should have in your recording setup.
4. Control your episode with a script
Podcast listener experience is not just about sound and the number of words spoken per minute. The structure of each episode is equally important. To obtain clarity and a structure that’s easy to follow, consider creating a script.
Start by using a good, SEO optimized title – one that is short, concise, but that explains the benefits of the episode.
Make sure you have a clear thesis and the main question of the episode. What’s the focal point? What’s the problem you’re solving? Why did you decide to solve this problem in this particular episode? Being able to explain this to your listeners will pique their interest right away.
Next, focus on the clarity of each segment. Don’t lose yourself in details or anecdotes that aren’t bringing you closer to the point. Some anecdotes are ok, and they lighten the topic as long as they relate to it. Make sure your ideas flow naturally from one to the other, avoid jumping from one topic to the next, and then back to the first one and so on. It creates confusion, and it makes it difficult to follow.
Finally, end the episode with a valuable summary. Again, this will contribute to comprehension. And comprehension means a good listener experience, which is exactly what we want.
I have a full guide prepared to help you to: create a podcasting script. Read more detailed instructions on how to prepare an engaging script in that post.
5. Engagement techniques and listener contribution
Whether you want to grow your podcast, gain more customers, or improve listener experience, engagement is key!
Engaged people listen to more content, are more likely to share your episodes and more valuable future clients! The value of engagement in podcasting should not be underappreciated.
An engaged audience will stay with you longer because it will value what you do. Why? Because they’ll feel valued by you! Here are some of the best ways to do it:
Focus on storytelling while educating
Each episode should be focused on educating your listeners. No, you don’t have to be a teacher, and they are not your students! But it doesn’t mean you can’t help them learn something new with each episode. And to make it more engaging and easy to understand, don’t forget about storytelling!
The ability to make you feel smarter is one of the key reasons people are listening to podcasts!
People like sharing their opinions, so give them this opportunity! Ideally, create a website, or an online community on a social media channel, where you can interact with them directly. If you don’t want to do that (or are still working on it), invite people to send you emails with the questions. Another simple, quick way to get people’s feedback and questions is an online form or survey.
Run live Q&A sessions
This is based on the same principle as before, only this time you’d be interacting with your listeners in real-time. It is the perfect way to build a relationship with them, a community, to show them you care.
If you want to plan your listener engagement in detail, I recommend this guide to you.
6. Get to know your audience
Here’s the truth: you can’t deliver proper content unless you know to whom you’re delivering it! So get to know your podcasting audience!
And I don’t mean this in the marketing way. Your listener’s avatar is one thing. And your audience should be very close to that avatar, to your ideal customer. But at the same time, going beyond the persona you’ve created will help improve listener experience.
Start by reviewing analytics from your podcast media host, your podcasting website, or your social media. See where the people who listen are located, what their ages are, and when they usually listen. Check what the most popular episodes are and then analyze them and see what sets them apart from the rest.
Ask for feedback and run surveys. But don’t make the surveys all about you! It’s a mistake many people make. You think you need to ask them about their opinion on the show, on the topics, and to know what else they want to hear. And that is the end goal.
But if you ask the questions in the right way, you can make the surveys about them. What do they like? What are their problems? Which solutions have they tried? All of these things will tell you a lot about how and if your podcast is helping them and where you can improve!
7. Get a professional media host
In short, don’t ever run out of download space!
Find a stable provider so that you’ll have little to no outages. Everything breaks, including servers that host and serve your content. While most media hosts don’t report on their service availability, some use premium data center services to host your podcast.
Check if your hosting plan has all the capacity and the bandwidth adequate to your needs. Some providers will allow for overconsumption of resources, while others may stop serving your audience.
And even better – use trial versions to verify if they provide what they claim. Make sure to try and use all the features doing your trial so you know what and how it all works.
Don’t forget about the security of yours and your listeners’ data! Always check the security features your host provides. And if it feels they don’t care about security – run! You don’t want to deal with the consequences of data breaches or data loss.
Finally, see what type of support they offer. Sure, we all flawless services, and we would like to avoid the need to talk to support. And hopefully, you won’t most of the time. But if you need them even once, trust me, you’ll want one that’s helpful and available 24/7.
8. Offer supplementary and premium content
When you have high-quality content, you can be sure people will want more.
Podcast listener experience doesn’t stop with an episode. It goes well beyond that. So the best thing you can do to improve listener experience at this point is to offer supplementary and premium content.
Start by offering freebies – worksheets, checklists, and even an episode transcript with some additional resources. You can also use these to grow an email list, so it’s a double win!
Some content will work better than others, so test different offers to get maximum benefits.
Next, upgrade to premium content. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You’re aiming to improve listener experience and grow your audience.
Earning an income should not be the focus at this point, just a nice added benefit. So what do you offer? It could be something like a short ebook or an extensive workbook.
You can even create videos or exclusive podcast episodes that are available for those who pay a small fee. Whatever it is, make sure it adds value to the content you’re already providing for free through your podcast.
Call to action
But how do you get people to buy your premium content or give you their email address for it? You’ll need to create a compelling call to action. One through which you show them why they need your content and what problem it will be solving for them.
It should also create a sense of urgency – think in terms of “limited offer”, “don’t miss out on this opportunity”, “make a change now”. I know some of these sound cliches, but believe me, they work! Test different calls to action and see which ones seem to get better results and adjust the others from there.
And since we’re talking about calls to action and premium content – if you redirect people to a landing page, make sure it is optimized for both mobile and desktop.
9. Deliver as you promise and publishing new episodes regularly
The final thing to keep in mind when you want to improve listener experience is, in short, to keep your word! Be trustworthy! If you say you’ll deliver episodes every Thursday, for instance, make sure you do just as you promise.
People are creatures of habit. And those who listen to you might get used to knowing your new episodes will come on a certain day of a week at a certain time. Maybe they even have a memo set up.
You don’t want to disappoint by not publishing at your regular time. They might forgive you once, especially if they’ve been listening for a very long time, but if it happens too often, they might just unsubscribe!
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can never change your podcasting schedule. But
- you don’t want to change your schedule too often and
- you want to let them your audience know a few in advance – preferably repeat it for a few weeks to make sure everyone hears the news.
Think of your schedule as an agreement between you and your listeners. You publish an episode, and they show up and listen to it. If you don’t break the agreement, they are less likely to do it as well. Also, a regular schedule that you stick to builds Trust. And I’m sure you know how important Trust is when you want to get new subscribers or customers.
Finally, to build momentum, you can tease future episodes. You can do it and the end of the current episode, giving a little sneak peek into the next one. Or during an episode, when you reach a topic, you’ll expand on in a future episode – tell your audience exactly in which episode. They’re very likely to mark their calendars and return to listen!
Developing trust and publishing regularly is key for organic podcast growth.
If you want to improve listener experience, there are a few easy things you need to do.
Start by focusing on the quality of the sound – remove background noise, speak clearly to make sure people can understand what you’re saying, and use only premium equipment.
Then, make sure you provide quality through your episodes, and engage with the audience – get to know them, create surveys and have them ask questions.
If possible, do a live Q&A session. Don’t overlook the importance of your media host! Choose one that offers premium services.
Finally, offer supplementary and premium content to add more value for your audience and stick to your publishing schedule. Build Trust and ensure your listeners will give you great feedback and will stay with you for longer.
In short, putting your focus and effort into improving listener experience will result in the faster-growing show.