No matter what you want to do, whether it’s to make money from advertising, make money from your own things, get people to subscribe to you somewhere else on social media, whatever your goals of your podcast are, if your podcast listeners don’t listen all the way through, it’s not going to work. Our goal as podcasters is to make people listen to the whole thing, not just skip around specific timestamps or towards the end. How do we do that? Tracy Hazzard and Tom Hazzard discuss some proven strategies in this episode of Feed Your Brand. You’d be surprised at how many of the things we do aren’t as harmless as we think. Tune in to find out what they are!
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Strategies For Captivating Your Listeners Throughout The Entire Podcast
We are going to talk about ways to keep your listeners all the way through because this is critically important. No matter what you want to do, whether it’s to make money from advertising, make money from your things, get people to subscribe to you somewhere else on social media, or whatever the goals of your podcast are, if they don’t listen all the way through, it’s not going to work.
That should be all of our goals to get someone to listen all the way through. I have a plan for this episode and suggestions I want to make to our audiences about how to do that. I came up with one more I’m going to put out there as a lead into this. I’m going to start here only because it’s something we don’t do here at Podetize. It wasn’t on my list but I’m realizing as you’re saying this, “This is, to me, the number one rookie error in podcasting that you do not want to do if you want everyone to listen through your entire episode.”
In the description of your episode or anywhere else you promote your episode or encourage others to share and promote your episode, please do not put timestamped highlights of what’s in your episode where you say, “We talk about this at 10 minutes and 32 seconds. We talk about this at 15 minutes and 45 seconds.” What does that invite people to do?
Skip around. Our goal for everything has always been to get people to come off of the podcast, get into your website, subscribe to your newsletters, and come into your community. That’s our goal with everything but if we don’t fully serve them, which is get them to listen all the way through, and make it easy for them, which is what people say when they’re doing timestamps. It’s lazy because the technology out there or the transcription system already puts timestamps in. It’s harder to strip them out and take the time to make it look right. That’s why people don’t do it.
You get AI, which summarizes it. AI is doing that. It’s picking points so that it’s proving to you that it went all the way through your podcast and gave you points from every aspect of it. It’s trying to do its job. The technology is not in support of getting people to listen all the way through. We dove into this. Everything that happens on Spotify, for instance, is focused on making sure that somebody clicks on it. They don’t have to listen to it. They don’t count it that way. A play is not a play. It’s a click, download, and listen for 60 seconds. That’s it. Everything is focused on this download model.
When you’re looking at your stats, you’re approaching it from the wrong perspective to begin with. Our approach is if they listen all the way through, they’re going to love you. They’re going to want to be a part of your community, consume more, and find you somewhere else. Anything we do that invites them to skip around, not listen, and get the recap at the beginning is not useful in that ultimate goal.
Thank you for that. There’s nothing wrong with your episode description highlighting some of the key points of the episode. I would even suggest you don’t have to put them in the order that they emerge in your episode but let people know, “Here’s what value you’re going to get by listening.” By all means, let’s not give them a roadmap to skip halfway through your episode to listen to one thing and not listen to all of it. It’s not in your best interest and ultimately not in theirs either. That’s a little bonus tip to lead into this episode. I’ve got five other points I want to share with you about how to captivate your listeners and keep them listening all the way through. I want you to understand that, specifically and directly for me, the most important thing that you can do is speak to your listeners.
That’s what we’re doing here. We know our audience well. We know what you’re all struggling with. We’re speaking specifically to your needs and opportunities, breaking the wall, and talking to you. I do it all the time even when I’m interviewing. I’m saying, “Don’t miss this point.” We’re always talking to them so that they feel involved in the process and not distant from it.
That is so important because here in this show, for instance, we’re co-hosts. A lot of podcasts that have co-hosts have a conversation between the two people. You and I are having a conversation and everybody else is having a window into that conversation. That’s what I’m saying you may not want to do. You want to make your listeners feel like they’re a part of the conversation. This is specifically intended for them.
If they disagree or agree, they’re going to listen all the way through to try to get through into that and find out what’s going on, and then they’re going to reach out to you. When we involve our listeners in the structure of everything that we do, our content, what we’re creating, and how we’re approaching it, and we have them intimately in mind, we create much more of an involved or engaged process. That is going to make sure that they don’t want to miss anything because they know we prepared it directly for them.
Before I go on with the second thing on my list, I want you all to understand you’re going to be pretty shocked probably by the fifth one. You’re not going to like it. Tracy, what’s that called?
That’s a technique that we have talked about on the show. We did an entire episode on it called Open Loop. Open looping is a tactic to get someone to stick around. We do it in webinars all the time. We do it in sales presentations. We’re leaving and dropping a crumb of something or saying, “There are five points,” and we don’t list the fifth one. We’re waiting to get to that one to the end.
It invites them to listen all the way through to get to the point at which we address them. The problem is most of you forget. You said, “There are three things that you get to do,” and then you get distracted and forget to do the third one. You must deliver on the promise of giving them the final item, or it’s never going to work because then, they won’t trust you next time. Open looping is a very good strategy, “Wait until the end and you’re going to get a payout.” We’re always creating that, which leads to your next one.
Those of us of a certain age in grammar school in high school doing English composition and things like that were taught about foreshadowing. Open looping can a little bit be considered that although you’re not always telling people what it is that they’re going to get later. You’re just letting them know there is something later. That’s the open loop.
I like to do that and say, “We’re going to talk about this later,” but I’ll preface it with, “We’re going to talk about this in greater detail and there’s going to be some more information that you’re going to need to know if you want to utilize it.” I might touch on it and leave it open but I’ll tell you the story about this or give you the results later. You can do things like that with the payoff reward coming later.
That does lead to my third one, which is to make sure that you plan into your podcast episode. These are strategies we’re recommending. You don’t have to do all of these in every episode. You could do one of these techniques every episode or 2 or 3 of them. You don’t have to do all of them in every episode to keep somebody listening the whole way but set up early in the episode that there is a reward. There is a payoff. There is some good thing coming when you listen through all the way, and then give them a reward.
There are many different forms this comes in. One of the best ones I’ve ever experienced as a podcaster is not on my podcast but a podcast we produced a number of years ago that always was interviewing some person. You may not have known who they were but when you hear about them, you know, “That’s a person of real importance.” They were always either a celebrity, an Olympian, or a captain of industry. It’s somebody big. There would be, at the end of the episode, a little anonymous interview with the guest for the next week. You didn’t know who they were. They didn’t tell you and you knew it was coming at the end.
They would set it up at the beginning. “Later in this episode, don’t forget that once we’re done with this interview, I’m going to have an anonymous interview with the guest for next week. If you think you know who that is, you’re right onto us.” There was even another reward. It was a way to get people off the podcast to communicate with the host. There were a few things about this that were brilliant but it’s one of the best examples of a reward for staying through the whole episode but there are others.
It can be simple. It doesn’t have to be a contest or anything like that. I do this at the end. It’s as much of a payoff for my guest as it is for my audience. I do a recap of lessons learned at the end of my interview. It makes it more concise. It lets my audience know how I’m going to apply what I learned. I might discuss how I would use that in context. It’s like, “That was a great piece of advice. Here’s how I’m going to use it.” It’s application and tactical. They’re going to get that at the end but I also don’t do it with my guest on the air. It also is a payoff for them to come back and listen to the episode, which many guests do not. I’m inviting them in because there’s a piece that they don’t know and they haven’t heard before either.
What I get a lot back is when they do share my episode on social media, they go, “I loved your a–ha from my episode. That lesson learned was so great. I didn’t realize I was giving out that lesson.” Usually, it’s not something that they realize because it’s in comparison to everything else that I do and how I provide that data and advice to my listeners. It’s across all of it. I’m putting it in context from all the other episodes. That’s something you could do. You’re helping them by doing some of the work. That’s a reward for them. They don’t have to do as much work to figure out what they’re going to do with the advice. There are many things you can do. Have segments and things toward the end. That’s where you want to do it. Make sure that it’s at the tail end.
I enjoy doing this. Some of the most brilliant marketers in America do this incredibly well. You don’t even know they’re doing it. It’s not that hard to do when you think about it. It is a little counterintuitive but introduces an element of uncertainty into what you talk about with your listeners. This is easier to do in a podcast that’s not recorded live from beginning to end all the way through. It’s like the way we are doing, Tracy.
We’re streaming this live on our social channels and it’s coming out as a podcast but we‘re recording this in one take. We’re not having several different recordings that get assembled in whatever order we want. It’s a little easier to do when you do that to eject some uncertainty, especially when you have a guest interview show. You record that interview and then record an introduction after that. As you are saying, Tracy, you record some of your final thoughts or takeaways after that. It also can work better when you do that.
Inject some uncertainty because if you’ve already conducted the interview with a guest, and let’s say your guest is controversial. You can talk about that and let your people know, “For those regular listeners of my show, I want you to know my guest might seem a bit controversial to you.” Listening to that interview, the host may wonder, “Do I agree with what they’re saying or not? After that interview, I’m going to share with you my final thoughts. We will see. I’ll share with you what I think.”
I want to reframe the term uncertainty here. It’s skepticism. It’s healthy scrutiny. You want to think of it like that because uncertainty makes people uncomfortable. We want to be careful with that. If you want to make people uncomfortable, that’s good but sometimes it makes them bail out at the beginning. We don’t always want to do that at the beginning. Doing it more toward the end can be helpful in terms of soliciting a response from people. We want to do it in a way that we want them to want to listen but not feel uncomfortable.
Uncertainty can make people feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to but with uncertainty, you would be shocked. Here’s why it’s counterintuitive, and I’m recommending it. It keeps people hanging on. A lot of people use this as a sales technique too when they’re selling something, “I’m not so sure you’re ready for this yet but I’m going to show it to you anyway.” That’s a little different. That’s injecting some doubt, which is the last one, and uncertainty when you’re saying, “We will see what happens.”The most important thing that you can do is speak to your listeners. Click To Tweet
You can bait them and say, “We’re going to talk about this. You’re going to be shocked to hear what our guest thinks about this.” We will see what happens in the interview or you’re going to see what happens in the whatever. Some uncertainty can keep people hanging on it, building anticipation, and making them want to stay and hear the whole story, not skip ahead and hear the very end.
What you’re doing here is you’re pointing out surprise or counter-intuitiveness that might be happening. It’s critically important that you do it at the beginning to set it up because if you don’t, they will think, “I’ve heard this person before.” One of the things that we have is we have a lot of serial guests. I want you to be aware of the fact that you think your guest is original but I guarantee you. We had one of our clients who told us he had been on 750 shows.
That’s as a guest, not even his show.
I’m thinking to myself, “That’s hard to be original 750 times.” It means that it’s very likely that the listeners have tripped across an interview with him before because they’re probably in similar circles, business entrepreneurship, health and wellness, real estate, or whatever it is. They’re in the same category and that means that the listeners go, “I don’t know if I want to listen to this.” If they start listening and you say, “This is the first time this person has ever told this story. You’re going to be surprised at what they’re going to have to say to this or what advice they bring.” That is going to help lead people through that.
I’m going to tie this into the very last one, which is injecting doubt. If you know you have somebody who has been a guest on an awful lot of podcasts, I would recommend two key things. Number one, listen to some of those other shows before you interview your guest and make sure you’re prepared to try to bring something different or unique out of them. Ask them a question they haven’t been asked before.
When you’re setting up this show in the beginning and introducing the guest, say, “Even though a lot of you listeners may have listened to an interview with this guest before, I bet you haven’t heard the guest say their response to one of my questions.” Set it up, “I bet you haven’t heard what this guest said on my show. I would like you to write in and let me know. I bet most of you haven’t heard what this guest is going to say.” By injecting that doubt, “I bet you haven’t heard this,” there’s a payoff. There’s a reward there. I’m curious. It almost makes them want to stick through more if you challenge them.
You’re saying, “I want to know how many of you have heard that before out of this guest or something.” There’s always a way to inject some doubt. While it can be counterintuitive, especially not just in a podcast but in a sales conversation, in my experience, it always makes people want to hang on more. You want to build curiosity and anticipation, present a reward, and inject some doubt and uncertainty. You usually keep people sticking until the end and wanting to hear it.
That is also a strategy I employ at the end. I usually do it in this way, “I doubt that you all can do this. Less than 1% of podcasters do this. This guest did it to the nth degree. They do a daily show, and you are unlikely to do that.” It makes them sit back and think about their success factors. That’s something that I want them to focus on. You can get them to focus on the category, topic, or area of your show and what it’s about. Mine is The Binge Factor. You want binge listeners. If you’re not doing these things, binge listeners are not going to come. You’re not going to be successful in creating this.
I’m pointing out to them what they heard and what was good advice but also, in their failure to apply, I’m challenging them to apply it. What it does though is get them off of the show and say something to you. That’s what can follow up next if you take the doubt injection to the end. It’s like, “I doubt you can do this. I don’t think very many of you are doing this. I’m challenging you.” They’re more likely to comment back on that than they are anything else that happened in that show but it also shows you that they listened through, which is our goal here. We want them to listen to the whole show. Our goal is to leave something out there at the end.
I want to point out a couple of things because all of those were great but here are some things that YouTube has been suggesting, which is also good for podcasting. In the end, they want them to invite them to something else or the next piece of content. If we want to create listening, we don’t want to create listening in a single episode. We want to create binge listening. That’s what I’m all about here. We want to create them so that they go on to the next episode.If we’re to create listening, we don't just want to create listening in our single episode. We want to create binge listening. Click To Tweet
Always, at the end, we want to suggest other episodes. We can do it in the middle if it’s critically important. We don’t want to deep dive into something as we did when we talked about our open looping episode. Nazanin is over in our chat because we have our Zoom clients. They’re seeing this. All of you in the livestream are not. You’re going to have to go to Podetize.com to the Feed Your Brand section. You’re going to have to look for open-loop content as the episode to find it or go to the blog post for this episode and be able to connect to that. You’re going to have to do a little more work.
The reality is if we leave it at the end and point to the top corner of our video, we’re pointing to the end card where we have an info card or an end card leading to that other episode or that relevant episode. We’re helping ourselves and we’re helping them navigate through our catalog. We’re getting even more than getting them to listen through our episode. We’re getting them to listen through our show and that’s valuable as well. We have to create those opportunities.
I learned this early on from Inc Magazine. When I would write an article for Inc Magazine, they wanted us to link to three things in the beginning because what they found is that people would read the opening paragraph to see if it was right for them and then bump out. Before they bumped out, they would want them to go, “That’s what I wanted.” They would then click on that. We want to give them something in the beginning, “If you’re not in the right place, here’s where you want to go.” That’s something that you want to do but what we always did was link to the next thing in the very final paragraph and final sentence. That would send them on to the next article that they wanted to read.
Inc Magazine always shows the relevant articles or the relevant next ones that you might want to read that are surrounding that subject. They were always trying to group them for you. They were creating relevance on their platform as well. That’s something that you will do over time as you get your catalog bigger. You can always propose the next relevant episodes. You can do it in your blog as well. There are all kinds of plugins and apps for that.
Another thing that I want to share, which ties back to the very first tip to talk to your listeners relates very well to this. How do we get them to listen all the way through, especially when we’re repurposing content? I often have a lot of podcasters ask, “I’ve recorded a lot of YouTube Lives or LinkedIn Lives. I have all these webinars that I’ve conducted. Can I repurpose any of those as podcasts?” I’m a big fan of repurposing content and getting as much value out of it as you can. It’s a good idea but if you do not talk to your listeners, then they may not listen to it at all. We recommend that when you’re going to repurpose content, record a 2 to 3-minute little introduction that’s new for the podcast listener.
If you’re going to put it on YouTube in the same context, not as the original webinar but as a YouTube podcast video the same thing, let your listeners know the good reasons why you wanted to share this webinar with them or share this other piece of content that was recorded sometime before with them. What’s the reason now why it’s still relevant and valuable and why they would want to? You can still open-loop them if you’re willing to record another 2, 3, or 5-minute piece at the end saying, “After the webinar, I’ve got a few more important thoughts for you listening to this podcast.”
Give it an anchor and timeliness for them. Say, “I’ve got some updates or additional thoughts that you need to hear.” You’re going to bring that in. That’s a way to get your old content moved around and utilized again. I don’t recommend it with podcasts that have already been published. That’s a tough one. You must have new information you want to add to it to make it relevant and valuable. Sometimes, I’ll take a Feed Your Brand episode and put it into The Binge Factor. My Binge Factor listeners haven’t heard it before. I do give it a frame and context to it and tell them why I’m putting it in there but I don’t necessarily worry about it being replayed because there are very few listeners that are overlapping both. It’s probably not likely.
In our experience, podcast listeners generally don’t like replays unless there is something significantly new that’s happened, you’re giving an update, and only airing a portion of an earlier episode with a new frame of reference or a new relevance. That can be okay but completely rerunning something so you’re putting up something new every week has diminishing returns. In our experience, a lot of very unhappy listeners are saying, “Why are you doing this? It’s not why I am subscribed to you.”
Remember, our goal here is to get them to listen all the way through. They’re going to go, “I heard the first two minutes where you said it. I’ll skip the rest of it and I’m not going to listen again.” They don’t do it. They don’t consume it and it hurts your overall playthrough numbers. It’s not worth doing that if your ultimate goal is to get the playthrough to happen.
I want to reiterate this one last thing before we go. It does not matter if your goal is advertisement dollars or conversion dollars on your stuff. This is the same rule. Spotify, ad companies, Megaphone, and all of them do this. They’re putting those ads at the beginning because they know so few people listen through. They want to shove them down their throat and get the ad plate at least. Is that the best thing? They’re already frustrated before they get into your show and go through your show. Is that a way to set up the tone?
I’m setting the tone and saying, “I don’t care about you, listener. I’m going to make as much money as I can at the beginning of you because I know you’re not going to do what I want you to do.” That’s what that says to them. Think carefully if you’re making enough money off those ads at the beginning to diminish the value of a playthrough. Are you willing to reduce your audience? Are you willing to give away your audience? The average person doesn’t make $100.
It depends on how you’re monetizing or advertising your show.
The average show doesn’t make $100. It’s not worth it if you’re going to destroy the playthrough, the one thing that is most valuable to your business, your time, and your investment in that time. We’re thinking through those things and making sure that we’re getting the listen–through. Do your ads and payoffs toward the end. They’re more valuable there and more receptive to them then.
We have gotten a lot of feedback about that. We have to do another episode at some point talking about ad placement positions. I know we’ve got some new info on that. I hope this gives all of you podcasters out there some good suggestions of some things to try. It’s wonderful you’re recording and putting out content. That’s number one because if you’re not publishing episodes, people don’t have anything to listen to but as you get better at it, you may want to think about some of these techniques that are not meant to be contrived. They’re meant to be providing value and motivating people to listen all the way through. It’s in their best interest and it’s in yours.
Thanks, everyone, for reading. We will be back. Join us everywhere on social media. You can find us @Podetize. Thanks, everyone.