Would you, could you, subscribe to my podcast?

Growing your audience is no small task. In earlier installments of our Listener Lifecycle series, we’ve talked about how True Fans help grow your show exponentially and how to get people Curious about your show. Now that their interest is piqued, what can be done to ensure they stick around?

This is what we call the Explorer stage. Explorers have listened to your show at least once, so they’ve clicked beyond your website or trailer, but have not yet smashed the follow button. 

In an ideal world, this critical stage is transitory. It’s one that a listener will be in for 2-3 episodes, then follow your show quickly after. But sometimes it does take some convincing to convert them to a Follower. Your mission in this stage, should you choose to accept it, is to get them to click the “follow” or “subscribe” button on their podcast player of choice. 

According to the most recent data from Edison Research’s Infinite Dial report, the average dedicated podcast listener will listen to eight podcasts per week. With over 2,000,000 podcasts available, that means the competition for your listener’s ears is fierce. This doesn’t mean that we need to be aggressive, though… Just persistent!


Don’t sell them, befriend them!

Listening to a new podcast is more akin to making a new friend than a transaction. Sure, a few extra downloads here and there are great to add to your episode data, but consistent listeners are way more important over time than a few one-offs. 

So how do we “befriend” our listeners and convince them to take that extra step and follow our podcast? 

1. Get the basics right

Explorers will be heavily biased towards your show’s quality and content. They’re fickle in the beginning. They don’t know you. They want to understand you. If they can’t understand you either due to poor audio quality or just bad/inconsistent content, they’re likely to turn away. If you need help setting up your audio equipment and show structure for success, check out our first season of The Humble Podcaster here.

2. Keep your brand standards consistent

Like any new friend, Explorers want to know more about you and your background. They’ll often go back and listen to early episodes of your show. They’ll sample noteworthy guests you’ve had, listen to episodes that hold special interest to them, and, be warned: they’ll probably listen to your very first episode if it’s still available. That’s why it’s so critical to maintain your brand standards throughout the course of your show. It’s during this stage where listeners get a feel for you and your show and decide, “Should I give them my time?”

3. Engage with your audience on social media

Like with making new friends, you’ve also got to show up to the party. Explorers will want to know you’re on the same social media platforms they are. They’ll want to know you engage with your fans, and, just like they were in the Curious stage, they’ll want to know you have more than “just a podcast.” It’s in this phase that you will see Explorers follow you on social media. In fact, it’s often this digital connection that then motivates them to listen to your podcast. So the content you share here is equally important to the content in your podcast.

Remember, Explorers of your show haven’t subscribed so they won’t see the latest episode promotion appear magically on their phone. You have to bring that to your social media channels where you’re more likely to be visible to them.


Know your audience

Sure, everyone says it. But how can you know your audience if you don’t know how large your audience actually is? And more importantly – what do you even do with that information? Not to worry, that’s why we’re here. We developed The Listener Lifecycle because understanding your audience lets you know what is and isn’t working for your show. 

To calculate how many audience members are in the Curious stage, you’ll need to gather up your website visit counts, web player downloads, and trailer downloads. These are all things that a Curious listener would engage with as they discover your show. 

When it comes to Explorers, we have to get more specific. We’ve developed a couple of formulas to estimate the number of Explorers in your audience but first, we need to figure out how many Followers you have. 

Remember, don’t just base this off of how many Followers Apple or Spotify tells you you have (for more information on why, listen to this episode). Instead, base your count on how many people listened to your most recent episode in the first 24 hours. These are your avid, active listeners. For this data, you may need to dig, but most podcast hosts provide the first 24 hours of download activity as a stat you can easily dig up. We then want to take that number and average it with the previous two episodes. This gives us a good estimate as to how many people are truly following each episode. This is the number we use to calculate Followers. 

Now that we have our Follower number, we can calculate the Explorers. Simply subtract the 30-day total downloads from the Follower number. The difference is your estimated number of Explorers.

Now that we have these numbers, we can begin to make some assessments about your audience. Ideally, you’ll want to have the largest numbers in the Curious stage, followed by Explorers, followed by Followers and so on. You always want more people discovering your podcast and in the early stages of The Listener Lifecycle than the later stages – that means you’re growing your reach and attracting new people to your audience! What you don’t want to have in this phase is more Followers than Explorers. That’s an indication that you are not promoting the show properly and that you possibly have a dwindling audience.

A word of warning: while we want to see more Explorers than Followers, having too many Explorers compared to Followers could indicate that you’re not converting enough people with your content. Don’t worry, this is fixable! HumblePod offers a free Listener Lifecycle Assessment, so if this is something you’re struggling with, reach out and we’ll help you determine where adjustments need to be made to improve your conversion. 


Persistence, persistence, persistence!

The most important thing you can do in the Explorer stage is get a listener to convert to a Follower. As we’ve already discussed, there are a lot of ways you can motivate people to explore your show, but how then do we get them to convert? Quite simply, we need to ask them to follow the show. Over. And Over. And Over. Again. 

Include the obligatory, “Like and subscribe!” call to action in all the obvious places: your website, newsletter, the outro of your podcast, and so on. Make sure you make the ask clear and ask every time. You can also experiment with including direct links to podcast players that you know your listeners consume your content on. Quite often that’s going to be Apple and Spotify, but there are others, and you should definitely make it clear that you support a wide variety of podcast players.

Once you’ve managed to convert them to a Follower, congrats! You’ve grown your audience, and hopefully, you’re on your way to developing a True Fan. For more on this, stay tuned for new episodes of The Humble Podcaster every other Thursday!