Should you tell people to ‘subscribe’ to your podcast?


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Should you tell people to ‘subscribe’ to your podcast?

How to get more podcast listeners with the words you use

Getting more podcast listeners is important if you want your show to last but you also want those listeners to subscribe. This is because the more subscribers you have the more chance you’ve got of ranking in podcast charts.  It also makes it much easier for people to listen because they’ll get a new episode delivered straight to their podcast app.

So how do you get more podcast listeners and in turn subscribers?  The best way is often to avoid using the word ‘subscribe.’

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A lot of people still don’t listen to podcasts

Research shows there’s a huge gap between the number of people who’ve heard of a podcast and the number who’ve actually put one in their ears. And when these non-podcasters were asked why they don’t listen, a lot of them said: “Because I don’t have a podcast app.”

That’s a little concerning considering podcast apps come standard on most phones.

This is important to know when you’re promoting your podcast and trying to get more podcast listeners because you need to think about who you’re talking to.  A lot of people clearly still don’t know how to listen so a blanket message isn’t going to work for everyone.

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‘Subscribe’ means different things to different people

To a podcaster ‘subscribe’ means free episodes of their favourite show delivered straight to their phone but for non-podcasters, it often means something else.  Money.

Think about it.  Every single subscription service we’ve ever come into contact with requires us to hand over our hard-earned cash EXCEPT podcasts.  So it stands to reason if you don’t know how to listen and you see the word ‘subscribe’ you might assume it’s going to cost you money.

If that’s the case you could be turning listeners off by telling them to subscribe because they don’t understand your content is free.

How do you grow your podcast audience?


How do you get non-podcasters to listen to your show?

Tell people to ‘listen’ rather than ‘subscribe’

When you promote your podcast you’ll be talking to a mixture of people – podcast fans, people who’ve heard of podcasts but haven’t listened, people new to podcasting and people who have no idea what one is.

In a lot of your communications, like social media or your show notes page (if they’re found via search) your words will be seen by people in all these groups.

So, when you’re coming up with copy to encourage people to listen to your show remember not everyone you’re talking to is a podcast aficionado.  That’s why it might be better to tell people to ‘listen’ in these places rather than ‘subscribe.’

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Point people to your website instead of a podcast app

We’re constantly telling people to find us in their favourite podcast app but the research says a lot of people don’t even know they’ve got one.

So, instead of telling them to go somewhere they’re not familiar with why not point them to your website?  If they haven’t used a podcast app before they’ll definitely be familiar with a website (one would hope).

I should point out this is only effective if it’s REALLY easy to listen to your show on your site.  If you send people down an internet rabbit hole they’ll probably give up and walk away.

If you’re trying to get more listeners to your podcast it stands to reason the way to do that isn’t to send them on a wild goose chase.

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Make sure you make it really easy to subscribe

Your website is a great place to educate potential listeners about how they can listen. 

You could have a separate page that takes them through it step by step.  Or you can have clear links to all the podcast apps so they can open up your podcast on their phone with one click.

You can do this using the Google or Apple Podcasts badges.  Or just by making some simple buttons…

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Is there an exception?

Isn’t there always?

The place to use the word ‘subscribe’ is anywhere you’re speaking to podcast listeners.  It’s hard to tell who you’re speaking to when you’re blasting out on social media so in that case, it’s probably best to stick with ‘listen.’

But if you’re talking to people inside a podcast, you can assume they know how to find one (unless they’re listening on your website but then you’ll have the links clearly labelled…right?).

Whatever you do, think about who you could be talking to and try to be as inclusive with your language as possible.

Because, if you want to grow your podcast audience you can’t leave anyone out.

Got a burning question you’d like answered on the podcast? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

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Discover all the tools and tech you need to get your podcast started. Plus get access to my weekly podcasting tips delivered straight to your inbox!