May 21, 2020

How to Grow Using Podcast Listener Surveys

A podcast host can use a survey to improve a podcast.

How to Grow Using Podcast Listener Surveys

A podcast host should always be thinking about the listeners when creating content. Some times a host has no idea what listeners want to hear on the podcast. Creating a survey is one method for getting listener input. A survey is an opportunity to get direct feedback from listeners. A host receives the exact answers that they want from listeners.

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How To Create A Survey

Filling Out The Survey

If a host were to make the process of filling out a survey difficult, fewer people would be willing to fill out the survey. Several methods will increase the number of surveys. Do not make listeners sign up or sign in to anything for taking the survey. Make the first questions multiple choice. People will fill out the survey and become committed to finishing it. Put the fill-in-the-blank questions at the end. Listeners will be more likely to answer them because they are invested in the survey.

Ask People Their Favorite Episode

Asking about listeners' favorite episodes can guide a host for the content to create. If a solo host's most popular episode is an interview, then they should do more interviews. Answering this question gives a host an idea of the listeners' desires. Picking a favorite episode might mean they want to hear similar episodes. If the episode was experimental, then the host can start producing related episodes.

Why They Listen To The Show

This question will help a host provide the best value for listeners.  For the answer, a host should provide three options. The options should be for entertainment, to learn, or to hear progress. When an audience is listening for enjoyment, a host can experiment with the content. The host can add and remove segments or change the order of content. These listeners will not leave if any small changes are made. For the listeners looking to learn, a host could add the steps of action for the listener. When the sequence of steps is recorded, listeners will know how they can do the same.
A host could add the numbers to show the course of action improved for the host. Those listening for progress will be satisfied.  Start by adding segments based on the answers. Add the other options later.

Ask Them What They Want To Hear

Asking this question is one course of action to find out if there are any topics that listeners want to hear. Listeners may want to hear a topic that a host did not think to cover. This question allows listeners to give their input for new episodes. This question might lead casual listeners to become loyal listeners. The listeners that have an episode idea created will be part of the production process. The listener with the episode idea might share the episode with their friends.

Ask How They Found The Show

The reason a host might want to ask this question is to find out which promotional channels are working. A host can change promotional strategies based on answers. If listeners found the podcast from one channel, a host could put more effort into it.

If listeners do not mention a different channel, a host should stop promoting on that channel.

Ask How Long They Have Been Listening

The benefit of this question is knowing how much to recap. If most listeners are new, a host needs to go into detail when mentioning old episodes. When the audience has listened from the start, past episodes only need a brief overview.

Ask Them If The Show Is Missing Anything

This question is to find out if listeners want anything added to the show. Listeners' answers might range from music or better transitions between topics.

Make Every Question Optional

Making every question optional prevents spam. If a listener does not want to answer a question, they can skip it. They do not have to put in some random answers to get to the next one. This saves time when sorting through the surveys. A host will not need to filter through fake answers.

Ask For Email

At the end of the survey, ask the listener for their email. If they provide any interesting answers, then a host can follow-up with them.

Allow For Anonymous Submissions

Some people do not like giving their information out. These people might not want to fill out a survey if they have to give personal information. If a host allows anonymous submissions, more people will fill it out.

Anonymous submissions will lead to more honesty. People will be able to give more honest feedback if they know their identity is secret. As a host, the input might hurt. But it will help the podcast to hear honest feedback. If a host makes jokes during a podcast, get prepared to hear that the jokes are not funny.


Knowing What The Audience Wants To Hear

The benefit of doing a survey is the listeners can tell a host what they want to hear. A host does not have to guess. A host has the opportunity to maximize the enjoyment listeners get from the podcast. Listeners are hearing about subjects that they want to hear about.

Involving Listeners In The Production

Current listeners that fill out the survey may become more loyal listeners. They might feel a connection to the podcast if an episode that they recommended was recorded. They might share the podcast with their friends and post it on social media. Which will help the podcast grow. The impact of listeners will increase as the number of listener episodes goes up.


Getting Listeners To Fill Out A Survey

Any host might have trouble getting listeners to fill out the survey. Some people that listen to the podcast may not be able to fill out the survey when they see it. In that case, a host has to remind listeners to fill it out on different mediums.

Choosing Questions To Ask

Some hosts might have trouble finding questions that will give them the most value. A host can always edit a survey or send out a new survey if the answers are not helpful.

Get Survey Filled Out

Show Notes

To get people to fill out the survey, a host can link the survey in the show notes. Anyone who reads the show notes will see that a survey is available. A host might not even need to announce the survey with a link in the show notes. People might start filling out the survey because they see it. Putting the link in the show notes will put the survey in the emails that are being sent out to the listeners.

Social Media

A host can promote a survey on social media. Using their personal accounts to promote the survey and podcast social media accounts. A post for the survey can get pinned to the podcast’s social media account. Anyone that looks at the account will see the post. Which might lead them to fill out the survey.
A listener might not only fill out the survey but share the survey on social media.

Promote The Survey With The Episode

A host should promote the survey with episodes. When a host is promoting the episode, they can link to the survey underneath the link to the episode. People that see the promotion of the episode will see the survey too.

Announce The Survey On The Podcast

The goal of the survey is for anyone who listens to the podcast to fill out the survey. Announcing the survey on the podcast would help reach that goal.  A host can mention the survey at the beginning of the podcast before getting into the material. A host can say, "before we get started, I'd like everyone to know that there's a podcast survey in the show notes." Every listener will know about the survey after that.

Ask People in Private

A host can reach out personally to listeners and ask if they would be willing to fill out the survey. This idea does not scale well, but if a host has a personal relationship with these listeners, it will work. The loyal listeners will be willing to provide answers.

Offer An Incentive

A host can offer an incentive to listeners to complete the survey. If a host does not want to spend money, there are several options. Depending on the podcast's topic, listeners might want a podcast shoutout. Someone trying to grow an audience in the same industry will be able to introduce themselves. A host will not have to wait long for someone looking for a free shoutout to answer the survey.

Some listeners might want to see how the podcast gets made. Offering a behind the scenes look will incentivize some listeners. The host can walk listeners through the production of an episode.

Do Not

Ask For Too Much Personal Information

The purpose of the survey is to get feedback for the podcast. Asking for listener information is not the purpose. The only information a host needs from a listener is an email address.

Expect People To Fill It Out Right Away

A host does not know what listeners are doing when they listen to the podcast. For that reason, a host can not expect that people will fill out the survey right away.  Some people listen to the podcast at the gym or while driving. They are not in a position to look at their phone while they are listening to the podcast. That is why a host should announce the survey multiple times and on different mediums.

Drag Out The Survey

Listeners that complete a survey are doing hosts a favor. A host should not waste the listeners' time by asking questions only to fill space. Ask questions that will provide value. Keeping the survey short does not give room for filler questions.


Comedians "survey" crowds when on stage. A comedian uses the energy from the crowd to figure out what jokes to tell. When a crowd laughs at a comedian's jokes, a comedian will continue with those jokes. If no one is laughing, the comedian will make changes to their routine.


Creating a survey gives a host and their listeners a chance to collaborate with one another. There is not a specific platform for hosts and listeners to collaborate.  A survey allows a host to consider subjects that listeners want to hear. Creating content from survey data might lead to listeners becoming loyal listeners. There are no drawbacks to creating and promoting a survey.


This post is an excerpt from the Open Podcast Community book. The book is available for purchase here.