• Chris Plumridge

Why is my podcast not retaining listeners?

How do you keep listeners coming back to your podcast? Retaining listeners is important for any podcaster. After all, you've already done all of the hard work in getting your audience to take a listen in the first place, so let's find out a way to keep 'em!

Growing your audience is the goal for so many podcasters, and it's true of us who podcast for business, too. Bigger audiences (and hopefully, bigger numbers of the RIGHT audience...) lead to more qualified sales lead and hopefully that leads to a bit more cash in your back pocket. But it's all too easy to get caught up in the hamster wheel that is chasing new audiences, that we end up completely ignoring the ones we have. And it shouldn't be that way, should it?

Working to retain your current listeners is not only good podcast strategy, it's good business strategy, too: We all know the cost difference it takes to recruit a new customer than it does to retain a current one, and the same applies to your listeners. We're aiming to make lifelong customers, here, so in order to do that they should be engaged with your brand and your business over time. If you're planning to engage with them through podcasting (and I hope you are!) then you need to keep them coming back for another episode. Or heck, even get them to listen to the end of the episode they DID listen to!

So let's give ourselves a bit of a tune-up and make sure we're helping to retain our podcast audience. Are you making any of these mistakes?

You're focussing on the wrong thing.

One of the things that I find about many of the podcast folks online (especially the ones that have you thinking you'll earn $200K a month from ad placement, instantly...) is that they seem to spend more time on the Instagram page, the branding, the cover art... more than they spend on how their show actually sounds!

This is fine if your aim is to attract listeners- after all, what good is your show if nobody actually listens to it? But when the time comes, you also want to make sure you live up to those lofty expectations that those listeners will now have once they've seen your swanky cover art and your flashy Insta story. Make sure that the actual content of your show is good enough, and your listeners will come back time and time again.

You're not connecting with your audience.

My friends all know that I am the worst for taking my own advice, and it's something I struggle with, so if this is a 'thing' for you then rest assured it's a 'thing' for me, too! It was one of the biggest "Air Check" points that the boss told me back when I was working in radio: give people a reason to believe you're not just a robot behind the microphone, and that you're, well, you!

It can be awfully confronting to put your real self out there, especially when your self-esteem is already at a low ebb by talking on a microphone to other people in the first place! But not connecting with your audience is a huge missed opportunity- as it creates that safe space for you and your listeners to bond together. And it also creates a Fear of Missing Out for your listeners when they miss your next episodem because they don't want to miss hanging out with you! So how do you connect with your listeners? Try and incorporate a bit of yourself into the podcast. Tell a joke, tell a story, use an example from your own life to illustrate a point, and pop in a bit of your own personality. And that doesn't always mean you should be funny. Instead, bring your authentic self to each and every show. If you're talking about a topic that resonates with you, that should come easy.

Your show is hard to listen to.

In the Australian Podcast Survey done by the ABC, the vast majority of respondents said that they were doing something else while they were listening to a podcast. And almost 40% of respondents said they listened to podcasts to unwind or relax. So if you're making your audience work for it, chances are they'll switch off.

What makes a show easy to listen to? Good audio and recording quality that makes the host easy to understand. Good pacing- not too fast that it it gets frenetic, not too slow that it gets boring. A sense of staying on topic. You can find out what your listeners think by reading reviews and doing surveys, but you'll find that you can spot most problems by doing a debrief with your co-hosts and even listening to your own shows a couple of weeks after they've gone 'live'. What sounded like a great idea in the fog of putting the show together often rears its ugly head as a "What the hell were we doing?" moment a couple of weeks down the road!

It's these things that can convince people to stick around, even when they're not actually interested in the topic itself! I've read of a number of podcasters (and had audience members tell me about my own podcast!) that they've had messages from avid listeners who didn't at all fall into their target audience, including a listener of an equestrian podcast that had never ridden a horse in their life! But what kept them coming back was they were curious about the topic, and the hosts were engaging and fun to listen to. That's a good sign!