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Why you should stop telling your audience to subscribe

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How changing one word could grow your podcast audience 

Thanks to Adam Jaffrey from Wavelength Creative for his presentation at OzPod which inspired this episode and article

Getting more ears on your show is a hurdle all podcasters face no matter how successful they are.  But some interesting research from Australia suggests we might have been going about this the wrong way.

The survey revealed that while 91 per cent of Australians had heard of a podcast, only 33 per cent had listened to one in the last month.

That’s a huge gap and the reason for it is a lack of education.

Listen on iPhone Listen on Android Listen on Spotify

Don’t assume everyone knows as much as you do

When you’re a fan of podcasts or a podcaster yourself it’s easy to assume everyone knows how to find and subscribe to your show.

In the research, however, people who hadn’t listened to a podcast said it was because they didn’t have access to a podcast app.

That’s a problem since podcast apps come standard on most phones, which suggests we’re not doing a good enough job of telling people how to find them.

So how do we encourage non-podcasters to listen to our shows?

Stop using the word “subscribe”

Think about it.  Every time you’ve subscribed to anything (except for a podcast) it’s cost you money.  Usually on an ongoing basis e.g Netflix, Spotify, your favourite newspaper or magazine.

So it stands to reason if someone new to podcasting hears the word “subscribe” they’ll probably think “this is going to cost me money.”

Subscribe isn’t a word immediately associated with free listening, except for people who know how podcasting works.

So what do you say instead?

Encourage people to “listen”

It’s as simple as that.  Instead of asking people to “subscribe” ask them to “listen.”

Eventually, this will get your audience to the same place but it will give you a chance to include people who think if they do subscribe they’ll be walking away with their wallets considerably lighter.

Point people to your website instead of a podcast app

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

Instead of telling people to go somewhere they don’t know, point them to your website e.g. “Listen to more episodes of the show at PodSchoolPodcast.com.”

If people haven’t used a podcast app before they’ll definitely be familiar with a website.

Once they get to your site make sure you’ve got clear links that take them to a podcast app or show them how to subscribe.

You could do this by using the Google and Apple Podcasts badges or you could make your own with a really simple instruction …

Listen on iPhone Listen on Android Listen on Spotify

By linking directly to a podcast app new listeners will be taken directly there without needing to go searching.

So, when you’re telling people to check out your show, don’t leave out the potential listeners who’ve yet to experience the magic of podcasting.

By the looks of the stats, there’s loads of them out there so this could be a great opportunity to grow your audience without much more effort.  And all you need to do is change one word.

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.

Read full show rundown

Hello fellow podcasters and welcome to the show. Today I'm going to be talking about something I learnt at an Australia podcasting conference called OzPod. It was in a presentation by a guy called Adam Jaffrey from Wavelength Creative - a podcast agency for brands. He was talking about how to improve podcast promotion off the back of some interesting research that showed what we're doing wrong. The research showed 91 per cent of Australians had heard of a podcast but there was a huge gap between that number and the number of people who had actually listened to a podcast in the last month. It was around 33 per cent. I've seen some studies that have put it even lower, around the 23 per cent mark. That is a giant gap between people who know what a podcast is and people who know how to listen to one. So the challenge for you as a podcaster is how do you get access to people who've heard the word podcast but have no idea how to get it into their ears?

One really big takeaway I wanted to share with you because I thought it was something that can make a big difference was the idea of moving to the word "listen" instead of "subscribe." Some of the reasons he suggested for doing this was that for people who don't listen to podcasts "subscribe" sounds like something they'd have to pay for. If you think about it that makes a lot of sense because everything in our life we "subscribe" to e.g. Netflix or Spotify comes at a cost. So the word subscribe, for a lot of people is associated with money coming out of their bank account. And if you're just starting to find podcasts and you're interested in listening to them why would you click subscribe if every other experience you've had with the subscribe button has left you with less money? So encouraging people to "listen" instead, which is really what we want them to do when we're asking them to subscribe seemed like a smart idea.

One of the other things he said was that by asking people to subscribe as a first request, we're asking them to marry us on the first date. Really we should ask them to try our show, listen and see if they like it, then move to subscribing so they catch those episodes on a more regular basis. Using the word listen instead of subscribe, I think, is a really smart thing to do when you're trying to educate people about your podcast. The other thing to do in conjunction with this is to point to a website. Often we'll say "subscribe to our show in Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Stitcher or wherever else you listen to podcasts." Again if you're a brand new listener you don't really know what some of these things are. In fact, in the research one of the main reasons people gave for not listening to podcasts was they didn't have the app on their phone. That's interesting since those apps come standard on phones, so that indicates there's a missing education piece there because people aren't sure how to access a show. So if we're encouraging people to subscribe by saying "subscribe on Apple Podcasts" and they don't even know they've got that app on their phone how are they ever going to find it?

Instead, we should be pointing people to a website. You'll notice quite often on this show I'll point to my website, PodschoolPodcast.com. I put my show notes there and all the information as well as links for how people can subscribe in the different podcast apps. He was suggesting a website is a much better way to show people where to go because even if they don't know what a podcast app is, they'll know what a website is. Then if you have the links clearly marked on your website e.g. "Listen on Android" and "Listen on iPhone" it'll be much easier to guide a path for them to the podcast app in their phone.

A lot of people use podcast badges for directories like Apple and Google. These say "subscribe on Apple Podcasts" or "Subscribe on Google Podcasts" and you can download them from Apple or Google but if you're creating your own buttons why not just say "listen on an iPhone" or "listen on an android" or both? That's a really simple way for people who aren't sure about their podcast app or what it's called to know which button to click because they will know "Oh I have an Android!" or "I have an iPhone!" Think about how you can easily encourage people to listen that might not have listened to a podcast before. If you're a regular podcast listener or if you're making your own podcast it's easy to assume everybody has the knowledge you do. But just because you find it easy to listen to a show doesn't mean other people do. Don't forget to educate your audience on how to find our show. And I think that suggestion from Adam is a really simple and effective one. Just saying "listen to my show at mywebsite.com" is a much more accessible way to do that. So I'd say "listen to my show at PodSchoolPodcast.com and I have all of the episodes listed there. You can click on the embedded players or click on the links under the players to subscribe to the show.

Make the path to accessing your show easier and it stands to reason you'll make it easier for people to find your show. Adam is right. We always associate subscribing to things with money so if you're trying to remove barriers to entry for new people coming to your show it's probably best to use language that doesn't scare the crap out of them because they think they're going to have to part with their hard-earned cash.

Of course for the people who listen to your show who know all about podcasting and how to download they can go into their app and find your show. Saying your website isn't going to be a problem for them because they'll know how to find. Really we want to access that audience that don't know and haven't had experience with podcasts and encourage them to listen and make it really easy for them to work out how to do it.

Hopefully, that has given you a little interesting advice. I found that really insightful and I'm definitely going to be using that in my podcasts moving forward. If you've got any questions you'd like answered on the show please head to PodSchoolPodcast.com and send me an e-mail at the contact page. And if you need a little more help you can head to PodSchool.com.au, my online podcasting course where I take you step by step through all the things you need to get your show into peoples ears. I will also be adding that little piece of advice to the course because I think it is fantastic. I'll see you next week and until then, happy podcasting.

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