Podcasting growth has been an unstoppable force since the early 2010s. According to the 2021 Infinite Dial Report, the number of weekly podcast listeners in the US topped 80 million in 2020, up a staggering 24% from the year before.
Capturing a piece of the podcast market is a highly competitive venture that demands premium quality content, specialized knowledge of marketing best practices, and well-informed strategic planning. Learn about all this and more in our top strategies for capturing new listeners in 2021.
1. Interactive Content
Interactive content consistently proves to better engage listeners than a static flow of information.
Whether you’re a nutritionist figuring caloric needs or a gamer calculating wifi speeds, providing a formula for your listeners’ success that factors in their unique circumstances is an easy and effective way to create a meaningful connection.
According to a Content Marketing Institute white paper, “Deliver Peak Experiences with Interactive Content,” the number one strategy behind interactive quizzes, assessments, and calculations is to educate the audience, listed in 75% of cases. Driving engagement came in second at 59%, followed closely by lead generation and brand awareness.
One type of interactive experience that often generates a great return is a giveaway contest. Ask your listeners to share your content and tag your social page for a chance to win something. A giveaway promotes active interaction, provides an opportunity for high-visibility product placement, and pushes the content to each participant’s own personal network: that’s a win-win-win.
2. Include a Soundtrack to Enrich the Listening Experience
We all know that a great soundtrack can do wonders for establishing the right atmosphere and building a brand, but do you know why music is so effective?
The impact of a soundtrack lies in its innate ability to elicit an emotional response from the listener. It’s this emotion that sticks with the listener because humans process memories and emotions in the same part of the brain, the limbic system. That’s why people remember the most emotionally charged moments of their life more vividly than they could ever remember any data set, and why the right music is able to supercharge a listener’s neurological response.
Studies confirm that a soundtrack’s musical genre, specifically whether or not it matches the listener’s pre-defined preference, does not correlate with memorability. The research shows that music most memorable to subjects was from productions wherein the subject matter was the most relevant to them.
In other words, the study confirmed that regardless of genre, a soundtrack will stick in a person’s head if they’re interested in the production’s topic.
Once that happens, music unlocks a level of memory otherwise inaccessible through language alone.
Browse over 750,000 songs, sound effects, and beds for podcasts here.
3. Optimize Podcast SEO
With 150,000 new podcasts popping up each year, SEO has never been more important for driving traffic to your podcast. Unlike web page SEO, which requires specialized knowledge to implement, SEO for podcasting can be very simple.
First and foremost, make sure the name of your podcast and episode titles reflect the content of your show and search entries you’d like to rank for. Podcast episode titles are not an opportunity to subvert expectations or play games with listeners; they’re an opportunity to rank in searches. Putting your greatest asset on full display with your titles is the most important step you can take towards driving more listeners to your podcast.
Releasing timely, topical content is another cornerstone of SEO. Catching a viral trend at the right moment can position your podcast in the spotlight for millions of searches and greatly tip the scales in your favor over competing podcasts.
Many small factors come together under the umbrella of podcast SEO to boost rankings and land high-quality podcasts on coveted lists like Apple’s “New and Noteworthy” if you’re able to hype your podcast pre-launch and start strong.
Keep an eye out for our complete guide to podcast SEO!
4. Trimming the Excess
Attention spans are plummeting. DataReportal reports that in 2021 the average global internet user now spends 7 hours a day online, while a study from MIT details just how detrimental hyper-fluid internet browsing is for attention spans. It states that two distinct neurological functions are at play in maintaining focus: 1. the suppression of the competing stimuli, and 2. the suppression of the impulse to jump away to the next thing.
All of this means that podcasters have less margin for listener boredom as they work to win over new fans. Avoid drop-offs by keeping the pace brisk, cutting the filler, and hooking the listener in the first minute, if possible.
Most important for growth is to keep content quality as your top priority. Podcast listeners are more diverse than the wider United States according to data from Nielsen via WARC and more likely to be involved in higher education according to Edison Research, MusicOomph, and Convince&Convert. Unfiltered, decentralized podcasting is primed for continued growth, and for a good, concisely structured show, the sky is the limit.
Keep your content strong, follow the data, and interact with your listeners to build a fiercely loyal fanbase for your podcast.