How To Grow Your Podcast Audience Through an Audience Engagement Strategy

Mar 8, 2022

Grow Your Podcast Audience Through an Audience Engagement Strategy

Pat Cheung is the CEO and Founder of PodInbox, a platform that focuses on solving how podcasters can engage, grow, and monetize their fans. Listen to learn about what prolific podcasters succeed at doing when it comes to their audience, the “Pirate Metrics to Podcast Growth”, and how you can have your audience spread the word and support your show.

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What Prolific Podcasters Do

One of the things Pat has been focusing on is looking at what prolific podcasters do.

He has noticed that they manage to not only engage their audience on social media but to actually bring listeners on the show as well. This can lead to more engagement and to the creation of superfans, as well as podcast growth.

Smaller podcasters, on the other hand, don’t seem to be involving their listeners into the content itself that much. When present, listener engagement typically limits itself to replying to posts, tweets, and comments on social media.


Copy of Pat Cheung 3 1

The “Pirate Metrics to Podcast Growth”

According to Edison Research, the #1 way for podcasters to grow their show is still word-of-mouth.

However, a misconception and advice that isn’t always accurate, lead podcasters to misunderstand how to have listeners tell their friends about the show.

Advice that goes along the lines of “if you have 10 listeners and each of them has 10 friends, and tell them about your show, you’ll have 100 listeners” is an example of this. The underlying problem is the belief that every single listener would engage in spreading the word but this just isn’t the case.

As Pat shared:

“The percentage of your audience that would do that is less than 10%. Despite this, I believe that focusing on that sub-group of listeners is key.”

This is where the so-called “Pirate Metrics to Podcast Growth” can help:

  • Activate: activating your listeners mean focusing on direct engagement
  • Recognize: “point listeners out” by acknowledging them, their questions and their support to your show
  • Reply: get back to them with answers to their questions or any other form of engagement the may have carried out
  • Reward: offer them a reward, something that will be a memorable experience for them (and that, if things go well, will lead to them telling everyone about your show)
  • Request: if it makes sense, ask your listeners to help and support the show

Popular Podcasters Succeeding at This

Pat mentioned a couple of popular podcasters and shows who have been successful with this.

Jordan Harbinger, for instance, makes his audience part of The Jordan Harbinger Show in his Feedback Friday episodes – that see him answering listeners’ questions.

Dave Ramsey, on the other hand, has been able to make listeners the hero of his show. Stories of crazy spending and transformations that have led some listeners to be able to save well beyond their dreams are a couple of examples of how he has succeeded at it.

Then, there’s the physics podcast Mindscape, which features 3-hour long Q&A episodes that include questions asked by listeners who have financially been supporting the show.

How to Activate Listeners and Trigger Word-of-Mouth

For Pat, building a community is hard when you don’t have a team to help you out so it’s important to focus on things you can sustain. Direct listener engagement, for instance, can be good enough.

When it comes to having listeners spread the word about a show, podcasters often forget the biggest asset they have: their podcast.

Replying to a comment on social media is something but replying to a listener’s question or comment with a voice message is completely different. It’s a medium-level reward.

If you’re striving for the highest level of reward for your audience, then have listeners make a cameo on your show. You could have them send you voice messages with questions in advance, play them on the show and give your answer then.

Getting your question featured on a show you’re a fan of is much different than getting a reply on Twitter.

And by creating an audiogram and sharing that with the listeners who contributed to a specific episode with their questions and comments, you’ll be able to facilitate and really leverage word-of-mouth podcast marketing.

To some degree, this is similar of live call-ins you have probably seen on tv and heard on the radio.

Without a team, call-ins can be a logistical challenge… but this is where PodInbox comes into play – you can use it to have listeners record and send you their questions without breaking a sweat.


What PodInbox is All About

Pat wanted to create a platform where you touch your superfans, those who will engage. That’s how PodInbox came to be.

You can use it to create a PodInbox page for your show, get listeners questions, key details (they need to sign up for the platform in order to send you a voice message – and their data goes to you, similarly to what you would get with an email list), share your replies, and receive donations.

All voice messages are public by default, a good way to let others hear what some of your listeners have said and asked before they send you their own question or comment.

As Pat puts it, some listeners just want an easy way to support your show… and PodInbox can help with that.

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Just Ask

For Pat, podcasters shouldn’t be afraid to ask their listeners for their support. This is something he believes will change. With the growth of the Creator Economy, podcast hosts will probably feel more confident to ask their audience to financially support their craft and show.

 

The 3 Phases of Podcasting

Pat has identified different phases the podcasting industry has lived.

The first phase was tied to the discovery of the RSS Feed and what could be done for it (the idea of having people subscribe to your show and receive new pieces of content to their devices as soon as they’re published).

Then, there has been what he calls “Podcasting 2.0”. This is the phase where podcasters have focused on figuring out the nuts and bolts of putting the pieces of the podcasting puzzle together – questions related to the best gear to pick go in this direction.

The third phase, which is slowly starting to take shape, is a phase in which we’ll see companies that think about the next level and that will focus on questions such as “How do we stand out?” and “How do we grow?”.

About Pat:

Pat Cheung is the CEO and Founder of PodInbox. He’s been building consumer and business web apps, as both a product designer and entrepreneur since 2005.

As a professional product designer, Pat loves simple and intuitive products. He believes the most beloved tools, are the ones that solves a deep need and super easy to use. 

Being a long-time avid consumer of podcasts, he created PodInbox to solve how podcasters can engage, grow, and monetize their fans. He continues to geek out on podcasting to design ideal solutions for both podcasters and their fans. 

Pat was born in Hong Kong, grew up in SoCal, went to college at Berkeley, and today lives in Portland Oregon with his dog, Indy.

 

Resources mentioned: 

PodInbox

Evo Terra

Jordan Harbinger

Dave Ramsey

Chris Krimitsos on How Community Can Grow a Podcast

Mindscape

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