It's great to get feedback and hear from your listeners—hearing how much somebody enjoys your podcast is some of the best encouragement you can receive.
Even a positive tweet or email can make all the difference.
Audience feedback is one of the best ways to come up with ideas for new episode. Your audience is probably reading books and blogs, watching movies, or listening to other podcasts in addition to your podcast. They will have tons of great leads on new topics or trends for you to podcast about.
So how do you get other people to participate? How do you start getting feedback about your podcast?
Here are five tried-and-true ways to get more feedback from your podcast listeners.
1. Make it easy for your audience to contact you
If you want some feedback on your podcast, then make it as easy as possible for people to give you that feedback. That means providing clear avenues for listeners to reach out to you.
This doesn’t mean you have to make yourself available on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, email, and another ten platforms. Pick the few avenues that you already use in your normal routine and then tell your audience about them.
Here are a few ideas of ways to make it easy for your audience to contact you:
- Social media: Lots of podcasts interact with their listeners via social media like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. One benefit is that you’re creating a community where listeners can interact with each other as well.
But be explicit, tell your audience which outlet you prefer and how they can reach you. If you’re on Twitter, tell them that’s your favorite social media site and which handle they should reach out to.
- Email: Did you know that every RSS feed in iTunes has an email address in it? Most podcast apps don’t link to them and so many people don’t use them, but they are there. You probably didn’t know about these because they aren’t advertised.
With that in mind make sure you’re telling your listeners about your preferred email address. Pro tip: Setup a free gmail account and then forward its emails to your personal email box. That way you don't have to give our your personal email and you'll never miss a message. Once you start getting a lot of email you remove the forward and start checking the new inbox once every few days.
- Voicemail: If you want to feature your listeners in your podcast, then ask them to leave you a voicemail. You can setup a Google Voice number with a mailbox so listeners can leave you voicemails for your podcast.
Example - Pat Flynn
Pat Flynn has a great podcast called Ask Pat where he answers business questions 5 days a week. At the end of every show he tells his listeners that they can ask their questions on his website.
On his main podcast page there is a big record button where listeners can leave a voice recording. Pat uses SpeakPipe, which allows you to receive voice messages from your audience directly on your website.
2. Ask for responses
Once you’ve selected one or two ways for your audience to reach out to you, ask them for responses. Near the end of your show make sure to ask for feedback. Try not to sound like you’re begging for feedback, but make sure your audience knows that you’d appreciate hearing from them.
Try this short template and feel free to customize it for your audience:
Thanks for listening to the show.
As always, we really appreciate your thoughts and feedback about the show. You can reach out to us on Twitter at [insert your Twitter handle] or you can leave us a voicemail at [your Google Voice number]. We listen to all the voicemails and we might include yours in an upcoming episode.
Example - The Distance
The post showed listeners that they were paying attention to their tips and also provided two great ways for listeners to give them new leads.
3. Start the conversation with a specific question
What is the first thing you do when you get together with a new group that doesn’t know each other? You ask an ice-breaker.
People always moan about low lame ice-breakers can be, but by the end everybody is laughing and getting to know each other. The reason everybody feels comfortable is because and ice-breaker is an explicit question. People get stressed with open-ended questions like “tell me about yourself,” but are happy to answer silly specific questions like “what was your favorite candy bar growing up?”
Asking an explicit question can start a debate and get you tons of feedback. In 2010, the toilet paper company, Cottonelle launched the “Great Debate” advertising campaign where they asked Americans to vote whether toilet paper should be hung over or under. It was a great campaign because it got tons of feedback and got people talking about Cottonelle.
Do this with your podcast audience.
Ask them an explicit question to get a response. Aim for something that is somewhat disputed and can create a discussion. Here are a few examples:
- Star Wars podcast - Ask your listeners to call in and rank all the Star Wars movies in order. If they are listening to a podcast on Star Wars they will have a preference.
- Hip-hop podcast - Ask your listeners to give you their top-5 artists in order.
- Financial podcast - Ask your listeners for examples of something they gave up to save money. Give them a few of your ideas to get them started.
By asking a specific question you’re helping your audience think of a great response.
Example - Moz Blog
Moz wrote a great post on how they fought comment spam by asking a pointed question as the first comment in each blog post. This increased quality feedback and interaction with their audience. Even though it isn’t a podcast, this post can give you some ideas of what type of questions to ask.
4. Let them know you’re listening
If you want to get great feedback, you need to show your audience that you’re listening. Every time you respond to a question or highlight some feedback on your show you’re encouraging more feedback.
Nobody wants to shoot off emails to an inbox that might never get checked, but if they hear you reading questions on your podcast they know you’re listening. By highlighting the feedback you’re creating a virtuous cycle of more feedback.
If you want to continue to get feedback then start highlighting the feedback you’re already getting. Make your response as personal as possible and you know your audience will love the attention.
Example - The Minimalists Podcast
The Minimalists is a podcast about living with less. Each show starts off with a discussion on a topic, but they spend a majority of time answering questions. They solicit questions via Twitter and voicemail and then they play the voicemails on their episodes.
They also give a lot back to their audience. Whenever they answer a question they offer to send them a free version of their book, audiobook, or tickets to one of their appearances. The books are always relevant to the question and provide additional incentive for other people to call in.
5. Prime the pump
Now I can hear plenty of podcasters saying “but I don’t have any feedback to highlight! I’ve never received a voicemail, email, or even a tweet…”
Don’t worry! Just because you haven’t received an email doesn’t mean you haven’t had any feedback. You’ve probably shared your podcast with a friend or family member. Did they have anything to say? Did they ask any questions in person?
If so then highlight this feedback in your next comment. You don’t need to say “my wife Heather asked…” just said “Heather from Michigan asked…”. This is honest feedback you’d received and it helps get the conversation started.
I use to run webinars for time tracking software. The webinars usually had about 10-15 people in them and they ended with a Q & A session. For my first webinar I was nervous that there wouldn’t be any questions. So I wrote down three questions that people had asked via email earlier that day. Those were my backup questions in case nobody had a question.
In my first webinar I didn’t get any questions so I lead with my first backup question. As soon as I was done three or four new questions started to come in. It only took one backup question to prime the pump and get the conversation started.
What you should do right now...
It's easy to think of the feedback we'd like our audience to give us, but before you start setting up another email account and a new voicemail box, lets flip this around for a second.
Try to think of a podcast that you really like. If you listen to a lot think of one that is a little bit smaller that doesn't already have 400+ reviews on iTunes.
Once you think of one, drop them a review in iTunes which will help their rating. Then send them a short email or a tweet to let them know how much you enjoy their podcast.
Have any other ideas on ways to get your audience to interact with you? I’d love to get your feedback in the comments below.