Being able to read minds would be amazing but unfortunately, you can’t. This means you need to find a different way to understand your audience, and what better way to find out what your audience wants than just by asking them, or rather, surveying them. Sending out a survey will help you refine your podcast into something worthy of your listener’s time.
Now the thing to keep in mind when asking your listeners to fill out a survey after the episode is that most podcast listeners are usually multitasking when they’re listening to your podcast. So you might need to ask them more than once and then use that handy email list you’ve established and send out the surveys and a few reminder emails the next day.
A great way to motivate your audience into answering a few questions is to run a giveaway and then use the survey as one of the tasks they need to complete before they can receive their FREE gift. Providing a little incentive will be more than enough so you can get the answers you need. You can also do this once a month to once every three months, just to stay on top of things and to ensure that your podcast adapts when necessary.
Now that we’ve established the basics behind a survey, here are a few things you can take into consideration when crafting your survey questions.
1. Audience Statistics
Starting your survey with a few personal, short questions might help break the ice just a little bit. This is a great way to get a better understanding of the demographics of your audience and who exactly you are catering to with your podcast. Keep in mind that when you’re asking for things like their age, maybe try and avoid a specific number and rather than provide them with a few age ranges and then they can just choose which one works best for them. Again with their location, instead of asking for their address, ask them for their country, city, or town they live in. Knowing these specifics will help you to focus your discussion to a more specific area and age group and in turn make your podcast more relatable.
Another great first question to ask your audience can be about their interests; they don’t have to name them all, just one or two will do. If most of the survey answers have at least one thing in common then it could potentially provide you with a unique new topic of discussion. Overall, these types of audience statistics will really help you get a clearer picture of what exactly your listeners are. This avatar will come in handy as your podcast grows and you tailor your content towards that specific listener.
Related read: 5 Steps to Create Listener-Driven Content for Your Podcast
2. Feedback on Show Format
One of the first things you establish when starting a podcast is the show format. But this is also a great thing to change up when your show needs a refresher. Knowing how your audience listens to your podcast might help you decide which parts are irrelevant, which are not, and where you can add something new and interesting to keep them entertained. Your questions can cover everything from specific segments in your podcast, whether they prefer solo shows or interviews, Q&A’s, or even those classic intro and outro portions of the show.
In your survey, ask your audience specific questions about recurring segments in your show that they hear time and again. Often times a constant intro section can be reassuring to your audience, with the familiar tune reminding them of a great show to come. However, if you’ve had the same intro for years, maybe it’s time to think about giving it a makeover. Get your audience’s input on this and make it a fun change that you can do together. Of course, you have the ultimate creative control, but if your listeners really know you well then it can be fun to see what ideas pop up.
3. Value Provided to Your Listeners
When starting out, you created your podcast for a reason! Whether the reason was to provide valuable information or to share happy vibes, it doesn’t matter unless you can ensure that your audience is actually getting value from listening to your show. They won’t keep tuning in if they didn’t get anything back from listening to your podcast. This value can be anything from gaining insightful information to help them try something new, excel at a specific skill, or even just putting a smile on their faces and giving them a moment of escape from a busy day.
Understanding exactly what value you are providing for your audience will help you in the future during a rough patch to remember why you’re doing it, or to give you the motivation to keep podcasting when life gets overwhelming. Not only will it drive you to create more valuable content, but it will also help you to create the type of content that your listeners are really after. Why is it that they are listening? Why do they keep coming back? If you know the answers to that, then you will have no problem creating those loyal podcast fans everyone desires.
Related read: 6 Ways to Create Loyal Podcast Fans
4. Where Listeners Found Your Show
As podcasters, you’ll always be trying to reach a wider audience and get discovered through various sites. And since discoverability is often a big concern for podcasters, knowing where your podcast is being found will help you to better target your efforts to get your podcast into the hands of new listeners. So for those listeners who’ve been there from the start, did they find you through one of your paid advertisements or through a tweet someone shared? Was it a specific podcast directory, or a top chart that popped up after a search they did?
Knowing where your listeners first heard about your podcast might just tell you exactly where it’s okay for you to spend a little extra time and advertise a little more. It will also show you exactly where you are just wasting your money and not gaining any exposure whatsoever. If most of your audience heard about you when you were interviewed on someone else’s podcast then it might be time for you to go to a few interviews again. Plus, if there are places that you think listeners should be finding your podcast then maybe it’s time to switch up your promotion and distribution strategies in those areas.
5. Listener-Driven Content Inspiration
Creating new content can become challenging especially if you’ve been at it for a while. Finding new things to do to keep the topic exciting can be hard. This can often lead you to look to others, and maybe even becoming overwhelmed, feeling like other podcasters are just killing it out there with great content. But instead of looking outwards, look inwards to your very own audience. They are the reason you are creating content, so they should be the focus of your efforts.
Using a survey to ask your audience for their opinion on fun new ideas is a great way to spark that creativity and ensure that your content is listener-driven. Use your audience as your new content inspiration. Often times your listeners are in search of having their most important questions answered. So find a way to tailor your podcast topics towards answering those questions and really providing your audience with value they won’t find elsewhere. No one as your specific knowledge and experience base, so really put your own personality into the content, and make it unique to your podcast.
Related read: How to Stay Motivated to Keep Podcasting
6. Specific Feedback on Show Content
Similar to getting feedback on your show format, getting feedback on specific show content can be key! This type of feedback can be gained by asking your audience very direct questions related to a specific episode, guest or topic discussed. Ask your listeners to think back and reflect upon the specific lessons that they learned – anything new that they had not known before. This will help to avoid vague responses like “I enjoyed this topic” and replace it with the exact reasons why a particular topic was helpful and the value that your listeners were able to pull from it.
This type of questioning can also help you to determine which types of guests are best suited for your audience, and which topics to do more of. Here you can even dive into things like episode length, interview styles, and anything related to the content that they would like to see, or hear, more of. This will serve as a guiding path for you to follow when creating content in the future.
7. What Listeners Dislike About the Show
Ahh, the question no one really wants an answer to. Well, now that we’ve seen how knowing the positive feedback can be helpful, it’s time to dig into the negative feedback. Now, this does not mean hearing from someone who simply doesn’t like your podcast because it doesn’t suit their “vibe”. This is actual constructive feedback to help make your podcast better.
Asking your audience which parts of your podcast they dislikes might be just what you need to hear to break through your creative barrier. Who knows, it might be exactly the part you’ve been trying to get rid of for months! Don’t let this type of feedback discourage you; use it to make your podcast even better! Besides, most podcasters will find more faults in their own podcast then their listeners do. However, if you’d prefer this question not be open-ended then do so. Specify it to parts of your podcast that you were already wondering about and where you are ready to make a change. This way you can stay on track and use it as constructive feedback.
Related read: The 10 Must Do’s for Successful Podcasting
8. Testing Your Assumptions
As with anything in life, we all have some type of assumptions that go along with our points of view. Most of your listeners have made assumptions about you just as you have made assumptions about them. Whether they have assumed that you are a 20-year-old kid podcasting from your basement, just looking to make a few jokes or that you are a wise old guy trying to get your message out there, we all have our first impression assumptions.
In the same way, you might have created your own assumptions about your listeners. Assumptions like thinking that your audience wants you to make tons of jokes each episode, so you’ve been pushing yourself each time to come up with at least 10 jokes. Or perhaps you’ve assumed that they enjoy silent audio, when in fact they wouldn’t mind a few sound effects every now and again. A survey is a perfect place to test these assumptions and find out the real facts. You might find out that you only need to create one or two jokes because your listeners actually tune in for the knowledge, not the comedy. It is also a great opportunity to find out what your listeners assumed about you, and what types of episodes you can add in to help them to get to know you better as well.
Related read: 10 Podcasts that Use Sound Effects to Stir Emotion + CEO of Soundsnap Weighs in
9. Establishing a Listening Schedule
Okay, you already have a publishing schedule but won’t you like to know whether your audience actually favors this schedule? Of course, everyone is going to have their own preference for when they listen to your podcast episodes, but getting some sort of idea of their listening schedule might help you see if you are really as successful with your publishing schedule as you initially thought. Keep in mind, just because every listener doesn’t listen on the day an episode is published doesn’t mean you have to completely overhaul your publishing schedule. However, it is always good information to have at hand, nonetheless.
This type of question on a survey will provide you with valuable information when it comes to recording live episodes. It’ll provide you with a more accurate timeline to reach the biggest number of listeners to tune in to your live session. Often times it can also be helpful to know what your audience is busy with while listening to your episodes. Maybe they’re driving to work so you can add a few minutes to help with traffic. Or perhaps they’re in the gym so maybe you can change up your background music to help keep them motivated. Whatever you choose to do with this information, it can definitely come in handy to know when and where your audience is actually listening to your podcast.
10. Evaluating Podcast Guest Reception
This type of question applies mostly if you’ve had guests appear on your show, or if you are thinking of inviting them on for future interviews. The main goal with this question is to find out whether or not your audience engaged with the guest you had on and if they found the interview or conversation valuable. Were they able to pull helpful lessons from the information your guest provided? Did they use their website or resources as a followup after the interview? What would they have liked to see discussed that wasn’t covered in the initial interview?
These answers will give you a guiding path to understand which types of guests your audience really responds to and who you should invite back for a followup conversation. It can also guide your choices for future guests, and help you to see if their values and teaching styles align with what your audience wants to hear. You can even ask your listeners for specific recommendations of who they would like to hear you interview next, what topic they would like to hear discussed, or what kinds of products they are interested in hearing about. This will help shape your interview process and tailor it specifically to your audience.
Related read: 6 Strategies for Improving Your Podcast Interview Questions
When sending out an audience survey, keep in mind that most people don’t have the time to answer fifty questions. So keep the questionnaire as short and as valuable as possible. Ask your top five to ten questions in the survey, making the questions as direct and specific as you can to help you get the most out of it and that each question provides significant insight that you can use.
Multiple choice questions will get you more focus answers and is a lot quicker to answer whereas open-ended questions might take a bit longer but it will allow your listeners to speak their mind. Plus, you can always send out another survey again down the line after you’ve implemented new changes and your listeners have had a chance to adjust. There is a lot you can learn from your podcast by just understanding your listeners’ experience, so never take their insight for granted!