How to Grow a Loyal Podcast Audience You need to think about your podcast like a brick-and-mortar business.
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Entrepreneurship and podcast hosting share some striking similarities. As an entrepreneur, your primary responsibility is to grow your business in a healthy way that creates value for your clients and customers. And as a podcast host, you have a similar gig in the sense that you aim to grow your audience base by producing content that adds value and engages in meaningful ways.
In either case, the overarching goal is to create growth by engaging your audience through the product or service you provide them. With podcasting, that service is your show's audio content. By creating content that more deeply engages with your audience, your podcast will start down a path towards growth through a greater number of recommendations and higher ratings, which can unlock additional opportunities to monetize your podcast and grow your brand.
To do this, you need to start thinking about ways to build engagement with your listeners. Here are a few ways you can begin improving engagement with your podcast audience.
Find out what your listeners truly care about
It's easy to use power words like "stunning" or "new" and catchy phrases to capture the attention of listeners and bring them to click on your podcast, but unless those listeners make a connection with you or your content and find it brings value to their life, they will quickly become disinterested and stop listening after a few short minutes.
In this regard, think of your podcast as a pitch to potential investors. Your pitch needs to quickly capture those investors' attention, but unless you clearly convey the value your venture can bring them throughout the time you have their attention, your pitch isn't going to do you (or them) any good.
Attention is arguably the most valuable resource brands can claim in today's hyper-digital world. It is virtually impossible for any brand or business to grow without capturing — and keeping — the attention of consumers, and podcasting is no different. Your listeners are going to need to know why they should listen to your episodes in full, as well as why they should continue listening to future episodes you produce.
Without clearly conveying the value that listening to your podcast can bring within the first few minutes of each episode (and subsequently restating that value throughout the episode), your audience won't feel engaged and your podcast will be unable to grow in the ways you wish it to.
Always leave a call-to-action (CTA) for your audience
Once you have found a strategy to create high-quality content for your podcast that captures your audience's attention and keeps them listening through the length of each episode, the next step you want to take is to always ensure each episode has a clearly defined CTA at its conclusion. Your CTA can also be placed midway through your episode, so long as it does not interrupt or impede upon your storytelling — or your audience's attention to it.
Thankfully, there are many ways you can engage your audience with a CTA. Maybe you want to allow your audience a chance to ask you questions directly, so your CTA can be a simple instruction for your audience to send them to your email or voice message system. Perhaps you're excited to announce new, exclusive content for your audience through a paid content system such as Patreon, so your CTA can be a quick message informing them of this and asking them to subscribe and share the news with other listeners.
Whatever you wish your CTA to be or focus on, remember that it, too, should be an additional way to provide value to your audience, as the more value they can take from your podcast, the more engaged they will feel with you and your brand, and the quicker your podcast will grow.
Related: How To Become A Better Podcast Host?
Build your audience like you're building a community
If you truly wish to build your podcast into a leading brand that is trusted by listeners, your audience needs to feel as if they aren't just simply downloading each episode you produce for the sake of listening to it — they need to feel as if they are a part of a bigger community. Though it may seem obvious, one of the easiest ways to build a strong community of listeners who feel more engaged with your podcast is simply to engage with them directly.
By including links to your website where listeners can engage with both you and other listeners directly within your podcast's hub (and restating those links at the start and end of each episode), your audience will feel more connected and loyal to your podcast and brand.
Similarly, responding to your audience's questions directly — through email or otherwise — and even answering some listener questions on-air can help connect them to you, your podcast and its community while also generating valuable content you can use in your episodes. This is because you're not simply creating content that you think your audience wants to hear, but the content you know they want to hear.
Imagine your podcast as if it were a brick-and-mortar business rather than a digital audio brand. If you had several hundred customers come in each day, how many would you let leave without even talking to them? Chances are the answer is along the lines of "none" or at least "not many." While you undoubtedly don't have the time to engage with each listener every day, it's crucial that you produce content that adds value to each of them, and engage with the ones you can.
If you can produce content for your podcast that adds value to your audience, engages with them and encourages them to continue engaging with your content and brand, growth will come naturally as a result. It will take time, but nothing worth doing ever comes too easily or quickly.