Two ingredients make a successful podcast:


  1. An audience that cares
  2. Content that matters


If you’re missing either of them, your podcast won’t go very far. The problem is that to build an audience that cares, you first need content that matters. How do you make the right content for your audience?


There’s a solution, simple surveys that ask the right questions.


In this article, you’ll learn how to send out surveys that get the job done.


The goal of the audience research survey


At the beginning of your podcast journey, there are countless things to think about.



The answer to these questions will end up having a profound impact on your podcast’s success.

A survey sent out to your audience (if you have one) or your potential audience will make sure you make the right decision.


In addition to answering questions about your show, you get more insights into the challenges your audience has and roadblocks they’re experiencing. You can use these as themes for your episodes.


Even if you’re doing interviews, you can make sure the experts you call in are relevant to these challenges.


It also will affect your monetization strategy. You may find out that your audience is dying for a course on a specific topic. Or, you may realize that a specific kind of sponsor will work best for your audience.


There are a lot of uses for the data you collect from your survey. In the end, you’re crystal clear about what you should focus on.


Who should you send it to?


When you’re gearing up for a survey, it can be tempting to send it to any and everyone. After all, podcasts are listened to by millions of people in the United States alone. Why not get the opinions of all those humans?


The problem is that not everyone is interested in the niche you’ll choose. Unless you go with something broad like This American Life, your addressable market will be much smaller.


Before you start this exercise, you don’t need to be crystal clear on the niche you want to tackle but you should have a general idea. This is important because you’ll avoid asking the wrong people for advice. Interacting with people outside of your target market could do a lot of harm in the early stages.


Send your survey to people who’re currently in your audience or to the audience of people in a similar niche. If you don’t have access to any of these groups, I’ll share a way to find people to survey at the end of this article.


Questions to ask


This is where it gets interesting. What do you ask your people to get the most insights and make important decisions?


Do you ask them what they like to do? Do you ask them where they work? Do you ask what their interests are? The right questions are the difference between a survey that helps you grow your podcast audience and one that’s a waste of time.


There are a few different types of survey questions you can use for this.  I’ll get into those in a minute. The main question you’ll ask is:


What’s your biggest challenge related to X?


X is the niche or theme that you’re considering focusing your podcast around. The reason this question is so important is that it’s open-ended and gets people to use their own words to describe their problems.


In addition to being a useful way to collect voice of customer data, it’ll help you identify patterns and the most important problems.


You can use this info to launch your podcast with a bang. Let’s look at the other types of questions you can ask your audience.


Demographic questions


Demographic questions focus on understanding the characteristics of your audience which don’t change often. These are things such as ethnicity, age, gender, income, etc.

These questions are ideal in the beginning because it helps people ease into the survey and creates micro-commitments. At the same time, these questions will give you an idea of your audience in a general sense before you get into specifics.


For example, after the survey, you may find out that the majority of your audience consists of men of all ethnicities over 40 years old. This will immediately tell you that talking about pop culture icons like Kylie Jenner won’t be as interesting to them.


You could also guess that finances, politics, certain business topics, etc. would be more interesting to them. Of course, I’m generalizing but these are the kind of conclusions you can draw from demographic data.


At the same time, when you’re ready for sponsors, this is some of the information they’ll be interested in.


Ask a demographic question first to easy into the questionnaire. After that, ask them what their biggest challenge is. That’s your most valuable question.

After you ask them what their challenge is, you can then move on to another demographic question or behavioral and psychographic questions.


Behavioral questions


Behavioral questions focus on understanding how your audience behaves towards certain things. For example, a behavioral question could be if you were to launch a new business tomorrow, what would be the first step?


Another question could be specific to your podcast. Would you listen to a podcast that was only 20 minutes long? Would you think it delivered any valuable lessons?


Get creative here and ask questions that’ll help you make solid decisions about how you to format it, the length, and when it’ll be consumed (for example, in the evenings or on the commute to work).


Psychographic questions


Psychographic questions focus on the beliefs and values of your audience. You’re trying to find out the social status, attitudes towards events or situations, and activities they engage in on a regular basis.


This is important because you don’t want to focus on topics that your audience feels strongly against. For example, a presidential candidate that most of your audience doesn’t like or a stance on a social issue.


When you don’t know their views, you can accidentally offend them. This is never fun and if I was inclined, I could link quite a few instances where this happened.


I’m not inclined.


Anyways, those are the three types of questions you can ask to get the deep insights. If you ask nothing else, understand what their biggest challenge is. It’ll help you get the rest right.


How often should you send your survey?


Though you’re sending out this survey before you start your podcast, that doesn’t mean it should be the last survey you send out.


In fact, you should send out surveys regularly. Instead of assuming your audience will never change or expand, assume that it will. With that assumption, you’ll be focused on evolving right along with them.


A good rule of thumb is to send out a survey at least once a quarter. This is long enough so that your podcast listeners will grow which means there are new participants.


Compare the results over time to understand what you’re doing right and where you can improve.


What to do if you can’t reach your podcast audience


What happens if you’re starting from scratch with no list, no traffic, and no audience?


It’s not the end of the world. In fact, there are quite a few ways you can still make work. Follow the same strategies you would if you were trying to get new users or quick feedback on a product or idea.


  • Use social media. Get active in a few Facebook groups and ask people to give you feedback so you can improve your podcast
  • Reach out to people in your niche. Partner with people who have an email list and pay to send out a sponsored survey. Keep in mind that this is an approximation to your potential audience and the end result may bias your decisions
  • Pay for ads. If nothing else works, you can always pay for ads on popular social networks. To get a reasonable response rate, you’ll want to offer an incentive.


Conclusion


A podcast can do wonders for your business and life. It’s not something you should jump into and figure out as you go. That time has passed. If you’re starting from scratch today then you need a deliberate strategy.


A survey can help you answer the tough questions and launch your podcast on the right foot. Focus on the right questions and send them out multiple times a year to correct course often.


If you get this part right, everything else becomes much simpler.


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