Let’s make your podcast better for your audience. Specifically, the audience who might have never, ever listened to a podcast before. You’re their first. Are you a good steward?
Making sure to build content for the right audience is key to your podcast’s success and to the overall improvement of podcasting. I’ve talked to you previously about having an “avatar” for your show. That’s the perfect, ideal person who you craft your content for.
What happens if your avatar is part of the 75% who have not yet picked up the habit of listening to podcasts?
Maybe, like a lot of people, your avatar thought they’ve listened to a podcast. But maybe they watched a YouTube video thinking that was a podcast. Maybe they’ve hit play on one of those audiograms or some short clip from a podcast episode shared on social media. Whatever the case may be, consider your perfect avatar’s podcast experience level at or near zero.
That person is largely blind to the standard fare of podcasting. You probably have some things on your show’s website that are confusing this person. Appeals to actions like “subscribe” and “follow” have no meaning. This person looks at that Apple Podcast logo or all those other app buttons and isn’t compelled to click, because those graphics have no context to them. This person has never listened to a podcast. This person was directed to your content by someone else — word of mouth is still the most-reported way people find new shows. Someone recommended your content. This person is your perfect avatar and they should be listening to your content… they’ve just never listened to any podcast before.
You’ve got the right audience with zero podcasting experience, and they’ve made it to your show’s website. Are they going to get it? Are they going to be able to easily listen without jumping through a bunch of hoops, scrolling around, and generally stumbling around while they try to figure out why the heck that person recommended your website to them?
The FIRST thing you want is for this person to listen to your content. That means your home page needs to have — front and center, well above the fold, perhaps with flashing red arrows pointing to it — a nice big “LISTEN RIGHT HERE!” call to action.
Does your site’s home page serve that person? Or is your home page set up for other audiences with more podcasting experiences? (Hint: Your home page has to serve both. The rest of this week, I’ll talk about that for the other audiences too.)
But it’s not just your home page that needs to be designed for the perfect avatar that hasn’t yet started listening to podcasts on a regular basis. They might have been sent a link to an individual episode page. “Hey, this episode addresses that thing you were talking about in the office the other day, Sally. Check out this podcast!”
When Sally clicks that link, she wants that promised content. Right now. Can she listen to the content? Or have you buried the play button somewhere, perhaps hidden over in the navigation bar or other locations? If so, you’ve lefter her with no way to play your content. Which is what she needs to do. She doesn’t want to have to download an app. She just wants the information she was promised.
But let’s say you’ve done a good job with both of those, and the not-yet-initiated-into-podcast-listening avatar is able to quickly and easily play your content. (Nota bene: Most dedicated podcast media hosting companies have a player you can use. And if you don’t like it, RadioPublic makes a very nice embeddable player that works great, looks wonderful, and loads nicely.)
Now think about the audio experience that person of that person. When the audio comes out their speakers or headphones, what are they hearing? Have you made the mistake of shoving lots of “front matter” at the start of your episodes, which gets in the way of the content you’re trying to deliver and that they wanted to hear?
Or are you being smart about how you assemble content, letting listeners know what they’re in for at the very beginning of the episode? You must tell them what the episode is about before you do the giggle fast with your friends, before you do the news of the weird, before you do a recap of last week’s show, or whatever else you do early on in your episode.
Of all the audience I’m going to talk about this week, this person has the least amount of patience. This person clicked on a link or pulled out your business card with the intent of checking out your content. You have seconds to deliver. Because they don’t know that you eventually get to the point of the episode. Put simply, they’re not going to truck with your silliness.
Why am I stressing this person’s experience with your site and content? Because for every person that comes to your website with the intent of consuming your content, there is a 75% chance — three out of four — that this person has never listened to a podcast before.
For three out of four visitors, you’re providing them their very first experience with podcasting. Make it a good experience. Don’t hide your player. Don’t force someone to “subscribe” or “follow” to get the content. And please, get to the point of the episode quickly.
This season of Podcast Pontifications is all about making podcasting better. Better for listeners, better for podcasters, and better for the hosting companies, apps, and directories that connect creators and listeners together.
The next three episodes will continue on this path, and we’re going to really drill down on the audience to make sure you’re designing content for your avatar, no matter what their experience and podcasting has been.
As always, if you need a pro in your corner to help you achieve your podcasting goals, you can check out PodcastLaunch.pro for a list of some of the services I offer to clients all around the world, keeping them out of the technical weeds and helping them think through challenges and situations just like this. Got questions? Email me at email@example.com.
Since you got this far, how about mashing that 👏 button a few dozen times to let me know you dig the written-word version of my thoughts on these podcasting topics? I’d sure appreciate it!
This article started life as a podcast episode. The 191st episode of my four-times-a-week short-form podcast called, oddly enough, Podcast Pontifications. It’s a podcast for working podcasters that’s focused on trends in our growing industry and ideas on ways to make podcasting not just easier, but better. Yes, you should listen. Here’s an easy way: 👇
Evo Terra (hey, that’s me!) has been podcasting since 2004, is the author of Podcasting For Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies, and is the CEO and founder of Simpler Media Productions, a strategic podcast consultancy working with businesses, brands, and professional service providers all around the world.