The Importance of Listener Engagement

It’s true, size doesn’t matter — engagement does.

Most podcasters should spend more time cultivating engagement with their current audience than trying to increase their audience size. We’re not suggesting downloads don’t matter, but we are encouraging podcasters to prioritize their efforts.

If a new podcaster obsesses over downloads to the exclusion of listener engagement, they’ll soon find this is a very short-term strategy. We learned in our Marketing 101 class that it’s easier to keep a customer than to gain a new one. Soon this new podcaster may run out of new listeners and wish they had done more to keep the ones they had.

By focusing on engaging your audience, marketing takes care of itself as your engaged listeners tell their friends. You focus on engagement, your listeners spread the word, and your downloads naturally grow.

Here are three benefits and several easy-to-use tools to boost listener engagement.

Benefits of Listener Engagement

  1. Engaged listeners respond to your calls to action. If you ask an engaged listener to rate and review, check out your merch store, or submit a comment, they will. This increases your opportunities for monetization (if you are into that).
  2. Engaged listeners readily contribute to the show. This supports your future content creation and ensures it is of interest to your listeners.
  3. Engaged listeners consume your content regularly and reliably and talk about it with others. Paradoxically, focusing on listener engagement may be the most effective, predictable way to grow your audience.

With those benefits clearly presented, now we can turn to how to boost listener engagement.

10 Tips To Boost Listener Engagement

  1. Increase opportunities for audience engagement. Create simple polls and quizzes on your website and on social media related to specific episodes so your listeners can further engage with your show’s topics or ideas.
  2. Allow your listeners to engage individually with you. Every so often create an ‘Ask Me Anything’ episode and have listeners submit questions. Also, consider live-streaming bonus content such as you discussing an in-depth topic or attending an event that would interest your listeners.
  3. Consistently ask for feedback. Consider pre recording a ‘spot’ requesting feedback and play it in every episode, the repetition will drive results.
  4. Offer unique opportunities or swag for those that provide feedback. Offer to leave birthday greetings, or other messages for listeners or offer to send stickers or coasters to those that reach out to you as extra incentive.
  5. Make it easy for listeners to comment or provide feedback. Ensure your podcast at least has an easy-to-remember email address, social media handle and website URL where they can provide feedback. Also consider options that allow your audience to leave audio feedback for your show.
  6. Feature listeners that reach out to you. Spend time on your podcast to recount email conversations, or share their remarks word for word. Even just thanking someone by name on your show will endear those listeners to you in immeasurable ways.
  7. Always reply to emails and messages from your listeners. In addition to hearing their name mentioned on your show, your listener will greatly appreciate a personal response. Also, always end your response with a question back to them to continue the conversation.
  8. Include listeners on your podcast. Interview members of your audience as a recurring segment of your show.
  9. Offer to promote the work of your listeners. Plug a listener’s podcast, their Etsy shop, or site and thus create a culture of reciprocity with listeners.
  10. Let listeners engage with each other. Your listeners probably have more in common with each other than just your show. Let them become more engaged with each other. There are many stories of listeners connecting through a podcast and starting businesses together and even getting married (talk about an ‘engaged’ audience).

You may learn best from reading articles such as this one or you may learn best from other podcasters’ examples. In addition to reading this article, feel free to explore Blubrry’s podcast directory to find successful podcasters for real-life examples of these listener engagement skills and learn from them.