Before You Record, You Need To Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is an important part of anything you do in public: blogging, speaking, training sessions, and podcasting. If you don’t know your audience, you may not be making the emotional and intellectual connections that you need for growing and retaining your podcast and it’s audience.  

Know your audience

Why Do You Need To Know Them?

Like any form of public speaking or engagement, podcasting is all about delivering the right message to your audience.

James Martell says,

Knowing your audience is everything. I always create an audience profile detailing exactly who they are, what their problems, challenges, needs fears, all of it. I get right down to identifying the perfect listener. Then I talk to them.

If you’re attempting to reach a marketing audience of people that care about conversion rates, click tracking and cost of customer acquisition, you may not want to talk about writing software code or managing teams of people. If you’re dealing with technology professionals as an audience, mentioning the word “apple” is likely going to imply the technology and consumer electronics company while the same word may bring up images of fruit for a farming based podcast. 

David Jackson continues this line of thinking, likening a podcast to a presentation in terms of why you need to know your audience

Without knowing your audience, how will you know what to talk about? If my audience wants to talk podcast gear and I start talking monetization it doesn’t connect. It doesn’t have impact. It is to a certain extent the same. You want to know you audience in a presentation so you cam provide content that has an impact.

Knowing your audience is critical so that you can deliver the right message, using the right language. 

How To Know Your Audience’ Language

With the importance of knowing your audience, it’s important to take the time and actually get in to their minds and understand them. But how do you do that? 

The truth is, there are as many ways of getting to know your audience, as you can imagine. Anyone that is already working or dabbling in the industry about which they are podcasting will already have an advantage. Implicit knowledge from experience is a great way to get started. But the methods of knowing your audience go far beyond this. 

Todd Cochrane offers some advice from his own experience in understanding who his audience is:

Knowing your audience is critical. Most podcasters know who their audience is generally based on the content of the show but it should be much deeper.

From a business perspective we ask podcasters to tell us about their audience as a way to categorize them for advertising deals. Knowing your audience and collecting demographic data are two very separate things.

Getting demographic data is as easy as running a survey, I do one annually.  This tells me if the M/F ratio has changed, is the audience age bracket changing and I want to know martial, kid status, along with education and income to name a few.  The listener survey widget we provide takes listeners 20 seconds to fill out.

Todd’s advice really comes down to this: engage your audience and get feedback. Whether it’s true surveys, providing a comments form on blog posts about your episodes, using voicemail software and services to for listeners to leave you messages, or whatever the means are, getting feedback from your audience is critical. Feedback and engagement will help you to understand your audience. That understanding will create a more engaged audience, who will in turn provide more feedback.

How To Know Your Audience’ Preferences

There are many ways of knowing your audience, as noted above: market research, being directly involved in the community, feedback and engagement, and more. All of this provides provides information about what your audience is interested in, how they think and how they respond to different styles of communication.

One of the often over-looked methods of knowing your audience, though, is knowing how they prefer to receive communcation and how, when and where they consume that information.

  • Is your audience listening on mobile devices? From Apple, or Android or Windows Phone?
  • Are they listening via your blog?
  • Are they listening while on the way to work?
  • In what country does your audience reside?
  • Which of your episodes had the most engagement with your audience?

Having access to this information can help you optimize the podcast experience for them, as well. You’ll be able to answer additional questions that can make your show even more appealing to the audience you already have, and help to attract new listeners. Questions such as:

  • Should you stick with .mp3 files for Android users, or switch to .m4a for an Apple-centric audience?
  • Do you need to reduce the file size and sacrifice a bit of quality for the sake of mobile devices?
  • Should you shorten the length of your podcast for the morning commute listeners?

If you aren’t connected to your audience in message, communication style and in listening habits, it can have a negative impact on your audience. You don’t want to turn listeners away from your show because it’s too long for their commute, or the wrong file format for their device. You don’t want people unsubscribing because they can’t wait 30 minutes to download a 200mb file. You need to know how and when your audience listens, not just why. 

How To Know When And Where Your Audience Is Listening

The easiest way to know your audience listening habits and preferences is to use analytics and reports from the actual listens. You don’t want to guess and do surveys for this information; people misunderstand and misrepresent their own habits and preferences, even if they do not realize they are doing this. Using analytics from the actual listens to your episodes is a great way to get around the self-reporting problem, though. And and I’m pleased to announce SignalLeaf’s first set of reports that help to answer the above questions!

The Advanced Reports for SignalLeaf’s “Pro Podcaster” (and above) subscriptions will help you to understand who, where and when you audience is listening.

From listens by geographic region (country):

Listeners by country

To operating system used when downloading / listening:

Listens by os

And trending / top episodes for a given time period:

Top 10 episodes

SignalLeaf now provides all of these reports, and many more including total listens and listens in specified time frames. These reports are available for SignalLeaf hosted podcasts on the “Pro Podcaster” subscription. 

Upgrade Your Insight

Get closer to your audience with better insight in to where your audience is, when they listen and which episodes are having the most impact!

Sign Up For A SignalLeaf “Pro Podcaster” Subscription

You will instantly have access to all of these reports, and the myriad of other new reports that are in the works. 

Not Ready To Subscribe?

No problem! I’ve got a live demo of the reports that you can play with, if you’re not quite ready to upgrade. You’ll be able to see exactly how powerful and insightful these reports are, using real data from a real (and somewhat popular) podcast!

Check out the reporting demo, now, and sign up for your account when you’re ready.