A typical marketing funnel consists of several distinct phases that map out a potential client, customer, or podcast listener’s relationship with us.
These phases might include a person’s general awareness of us and our work, engagement with our show and other content, consideration of our product or service, and finally making a purchase.
Funnels like this are helpful for visualizing the path a typical customer might take through our content ecosystem.
But what they miss is the micro funnels that exist within each of the larger segments.
Of particular relevance to growing a podcast is the micro funnel that exists between Awareness and Engagement.
These are the specific steps a potential listener must take between becoming aware of our show and ultimately deciding to subscribe to it.
In my experience, this listener acquisition funnel comes down to 7 steps, as follows:
➡️ Listener spots our show title and/or cover art
↪️ Clicks through and reads show description
↪️ Scans episode titles
↪️ Clicks through and reads episode description
↪️ Clicks through and listens to first 3 minutes
↪️ Commits to episode and listens through to the end
↪️ Subscribes to show
Each of these steps presents a fork in the road to a new potential listener.
And while we might not have any way to measure it, we can be sure that many (if not most) people at each fork are taking the offramp leading away from our shows, possibly never to return.
So what are we to do?
The first step is being aware that these offramps both exist, and are regularly being used.
Then, once we understand where these offramps are, our job is twofold:
First, understand why someone might take a given offramp in the first place.
Second, reduce the reasons they have for doing so.
In my experience listeners most often exit the funnel for one of three reasons:
- They don’t perceive the show as valuable
- They don’t perceive the show to be of sufficient quality
- They don’t perceive the show as being a good fit for themselves specifically
Potential listeners draw these conclusions from a series of subtle clues embedded in the limited amount of information they’re presented with.
At first contact, that information may be solely your show’s title and cover art.
Further down the funnel, the decision is based on an aggregate of all the information they’ve been given so far, with each new piece of weight carrying more weight than the previous.
The description might hit all the right notes for example, but if they press play and are immediately greeted by a long-winded intro that meanders for 5 minutes before getting into the content, they may leave well before that, perceiving a lack of quality of the show as a whole.
If you want to improve your listener acquisition rate, then, a good starting point is to ensure that every early listener touchpoint clearly communicates:
- Who (specifically) will find the show most valuable
- How (specifically) the show will make their life better
- The quality and legitimacy of the content
Said differently, if you believe your show is valuable to a specific group of people, don’t give them any reason to doubt it.