7 Ways to Directly Engage With Your Podcast Audience and Increase Listener Loyalty
As podcasters, we tend to get really good at speaking out into the void, without anyone speaking back. By the nature of our medium, we end up doing a lot of talking, very little listening, and we grow accustomed to zero audience participation. In today’s world, having such a one-sided relationship is a very bad marketing habit.
These days, audiences have grown used to interacting directly with the people they follow. More and more, industry thought leaders, and even celebrities, are making themselves more directly accessible to their audience and fans through the plethora of platforms and apps.
If you’re a podcaster looking to grow your audience, one of the core strategies is through audience engagement. The more you engage your audience, the more you create community, listener loyalty, and word-of-mouth referrals. It’s much easier to expand your listener base using your current community of listeners, than by any cold outreach marketing tactic.
Audience engagement is something every podcaster should prioritize if they’re looking to grow their podcast. Below, we go over 8 simple tactics and channels you can use to increase your audience engagement.
8 Podcast Audience Engagement Channels
- Online Audio Inbox
- Text & Chat
- Group Forum & Online Community
- Social Media
- Podcast Reviews
- Episode Comments
Online Audio Inbox
Your audience hangs on every word you say, at least that’s what you’d like to believe. What if there’s a way for you to actually hear them? For this, we recommend setting up an online audio inbox.
Online audio inboxes enable podcasters to give their audience a place to leave audio messages. It works a lot like voicemail, but usually a lot more fun for listeners, convenient, feature-rich, doesn’t require a phone number, and eliminates telemarketers.
Audio inboxes are a great tool for podcasters to solicit audience questions, listener stories, general feedback, and comments. It typically allows podcasters to download the audio files, so they can include them right into their podcast episodes.
The best tool we’d recommend is PodInbox. PodInbox has tons of features, very affordable, easy-to-use for podcasters and fans, and is the most modern, user-friendly options of the several options out there.
The very least you can do as a podcaster if to use the oldest communication tool that exists on the internet, email.
Chances are, you already have email, and so do all your fans, so barrier to entry for this audience engagement tactic is non-existant.
At the end of every show, and on your podcast website, include an email address where fans can contact you with the listener questions and messages.
The biggest drawback to email is spam. Chances are, you’re already overwhelmed by your ever-growing email inbox, so letting in the floodgates of fan mail might not be such a great idea.
If you do plan on using email as your primary audience engagement tool, I recommend setting up a separate email account just for your podcast, like firstname.lastname@example.org. This can help keep things more separate and organized between your personal and podcast email inboxes.
Voicemail also provides a good way to audibly listen to your audience. Of course, this has its drawbacks. Like email, voicemail is a pretty outdated technology by today’s standards. It doesn’t have features for true audience engagement, so perhaps consider it a temporary solution at best.
One major drawback, obviously, is privacy. If you don’t care about your won privacy, feel free to blast out your personal phone number to the world. Just be prepared for the avalanche of telemarketing and spam calls that you’ll start to receive on your personal phone number. Likewise, fans are also wary of exposing their phone numbers to businesses they call, thinking they’ll start receiving telemarketing calls in return.
Like email, if you do setup a public voicemail, we recommend creating a separate business phone number for your podcast, to organize your personal versus podcast voicemails. You might think of it as a “burner” phone, cause those voicemails can fill up fast if your audience base is large, and your backlog of voicemails can get unwieldily.
Text & Chat
These days, people love the convenience of texting and chat apps. Giving fans the ability to reach you via text and chat is probably one of the most direct ways you can engage with your podcast fans.
The biggest drawback of this is the expectation of instant replies. If you’re in a place where you can instantly reply to all your fans, then this might be a good option for you. You can setup text/chat accounts for your podcast, like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn Chat, or Signal, and tell your fans to reach out to you there.
However, if you don’t plan on providing instant or timely replies, we really recommend you don’t provide text or chat at all. The only thing this will accomplish is you’ll create frustrated fans who will expect you to reply back in a timely manner. It’s just the nature of the medium, and we’ve all gotten used to text and chat as a form of instant communication. It’s better to not do it at all, than to do it inconsistently.
Group Forum & Online Community
This is perhaps one of the more advanced audience engagement tactics covered in this article. This tactic revolves around building a community around your audience, which requires a lot of work, but the payoff could be huge. With community, you can use it as a place to build your tribe, announce new episodes, get ideas on future episodes, promote your sponsors, and give more value to your loyal listeners.
First, to clarify what this tactic is. The idea here is to create a place where your audience come together, meet each other, engage with you directly, and have discussions around your podcast subject matter.
These days, there’s a lot of online platforms to host your community. Some well known ones include Slack, Facebook Groups, and Discord. These platforms all have some free options for community leaders, where you can invite your listeners to join, and they can become a member of your community instantly. There are also online event based community platforms, like Clubhouse, Circle, or Airmeet, that lets you host community events online.
And, if your audience is local geographically, you might consider a platform like Meetup, to host in-person events for your community of listeners. Finally, one of the oldest forms of online community is discussion forums. If that’s all you want, you might want to consider creating a subreddit around your podcast, and invite your listeners to follow your subreddit and participate in discussion there.
Whichever platform or format you choose, your community will require an ample amount of attention and work. If you just setup a community, drive your listeners there to join, and you never show up…your community will fail. Community members need a leader, and often that will be you. If you don’t plan on engaging, we recommend you don’t pursue this tactic at all, or you empower a community leader to be there everyday to foster your community. Just make sure your listeners know who the leader is that you granted the role as your community leader.
One of the best ways to engage with your podcast audience is through the various social platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. The biggest benefit to doing audience engagement on social is that they’re just a click away from social sharing your interaction. The more you can get your audience to share your podcast to their social circles, the more your podcast can benefit from viral growth.
More so, your engagement with your fans on social platforms typically have inherent social sharing mechanisms built-in. For example, replying to a fan via email is a one-to-one interaction…while replying to a fan via Twitter is a one-to-many action.
Leveraging the power of social audience engagement can definitely help promote social engagement for your podcast.
Reviews are another great way to engage with your podcast audience. When we say reviews, we mean encouraging your podcast audience to leave public reviews of your podcast on podcast directory platforms like Apple Podcast and Podchaser.
Reviews are a great way to listen to what your audience wants, what they enjoy, and what they don’t like. By being receptive to any kind of feedback, whether positive of negative, you are showing that you’re listening to your audience…not just talking at them. This can really help build listener loyalty and trust.
Once you build up your collection of public reviews on these directory platforms, it can even new listeners find your podcast. Humans tend to mimic what other people are doing, and follow the recommendations of others. With a healthy set of positive reviews, new potential listeners can learn a lot about your podcast through the public reviews of their peers. This audience engagement tactic through reviews can really help boost new listeners for your podcast.
Lastly, if you have a podcast website with individual episode pages, you can remind listeners to engage with you directly in the comments sections of the episode page. Like forums, this one of the oldest forms of audience engagement on the web. This isn’t a great tactic, as both podcasters and listeners are trending away from “leaving comments”, but it’s something you might want to consider if your goal is to drive listeners to your website for some reason. Otherwise, podcast listeners usually have very little reason to visit a podcast website.
If you don’t really have a website to drive listeners to, you can always encourage listeners to leave comments on your podcast episodes in Podchaser. This might even be better, as a lot of listeners are starting to use Podchaser for podcast discovery, and reading the comments to get to know the podcast better.
Founder and Editor of PodInbox.
Avid podcast and audiobook listener.
Lives in Portland Oregon.