Does your podcast NEED interaction or an email list?


Interaction often sets podcasting apart from traditional media. Podcast listeners have learned that hosts are generally responsive and feedback is often included. But do you need to interact in order to have a successful podcast?

Marketers are always talking about the importance of building your email list. Many will even cite their list (usually a very big one) as being the source for millions of dollars in sales. Do you really need an email list for you podcast?

Challenging the Podcasting Assumptions

This is a special miniseries to challenge the ideas podcasters have accepted as truth for years. Some will stand up against the challenge while others crumble, and some will reveal new options you may have never considered.

Do you need to interact with your audience?

I used to use the acronym “POD” to describe what your podcast needs: passion, organization, and dialog. But is it really that important to interact with the people watching or viewing your content?

This topic was suggested by Ben Avery from Welcome to Level Seven, the unofficial Marvel's Agents of SHIELD podcast.

3 kinds of interaction

There are many ways to receive feedback from your audience, and several ways to ask for feedback. Every method of feedback seems to come down to three styles of online interaction

1. Public: social-network interactions

If you have any public presence, you open yourself to responses. This could be on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, or other online communities. Responding to these are usually quick interactions, but responding can demonstrate accessibility and personality.

Some platforms are one-way, like podcast reviews, where you're unable to respond directly to the commenter.

2. Private: direct feedback

If you offer any direct contact methods, like email or voicemail, then you have the option to engage in a private conversation. This usually involves deeper conversations with more details. This can also provide content for your show.

3. Shared: guest appearances

When you invite a guest or cohost onto your podcast, or you're the guest or cohost on another show (or blog), the topic turns from a presentation to a conversation. This may not be ideal for every person or every show.

Benefits of interaction

When you involve others in your content, it's a potential “win” for both you and the listeners.

  1. Brings extra perspectives
  2. Provides new content
  3. Makes your community feel valued
  4. Positions you as personal and approachable
  5. Converts commenters into raving fans.

Disadvantages of interaction

Let's be honest. Sometimes, interaction is not a good thing for the content.

  1. May distract from your presentation
  2. May be redundant
  3. May raise irrelevant issues
  4. May not be where you want to take the show
  5. May be too low quality to use

Conclusion: interact as much as fits

I plan to talk more about handling positive, negative, and show feedback in the future. For now, I do recommend that you interact with your audience as much as you can. This may mean simple, “Thanks for the feedback!” messages you use in reples, or including a message every now and then in your podcast. You could even simply mention someone by name or reference that something was from feedback.

Look at traditional media: TV shows, news broadcasts, talk shows, and more. Most of them have drastically increased how much they incorporate audience participation in some way, even if it's just chatting with official hashtags. Scripted TV shows usually don't incorporate fan feedback, but the cast and crew are often on social networks interacting with their fans.

Find what fits with your show. But always try to be as human as possible and make others feel valued. It's very hard to grow a successful podcast if your audience doesn't feel valued. This doesn't mean you have to be accessible to 100% of your audience, but at least demonstrate that you're listening and interacting.

Do you need an email list for your podcast?

“Build your list” seems to be universal marketing advice for bloggers, podcasters, and businesses. But is this really something you should consider for a successful podcast?

What you can do with an email list

I'll cover how to use an email list for podcasting in the future. So here are some quick ideas of how you could use an email list for your podcast.

  1. Notify of new episodes
  2. Provide extra content
  3. Announce important things
  4. Request specific feedback
  5. Share other interesting stuff

Benefits of an email list

  1. Direct connection with your audience
  2. Easy opportunities for feedback (by allowing replies)
  3. Build trust for recommending or announcing products and services
  4. Profit from quick actions
  5. Connect your audience with content they may have missed

Disadvantages of an email list

  1. Easy to “offend” with frequent or infrequent content
  2. Takes time to create more content
  3. Potentially low value in automated content
  4. May seem gimmicky if you're just starting out

Conclusion: start building your email list

Yes, I do believe that having an email list is extremely valuable. Even if you use it for nothing else except announcing special events. The earlier you can start on your list, the better.

Even if you have no bonus you can offer for sign-ups, offer it as a way to receive updates via email. You could even start with automated RSS emails.

If you have separate sites, I recommend having separate lists for each one, at least separate groups.

I use and recommend MailChimp for email lists.

What do you think about interaction and email lists? Please comment!


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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.

About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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Jason Bryant
10 years ago

Great episode DJL, because as many of you in the podcast space explain, podfading when you don’t stick to a consistent schedule is almost imminent. One thing with the podcasts I’ve hosted in the past were being consistent. In a news-based niche, trying to capitalize on the news can be great, until other things get in the way. With my current podcast, I’m setting consistent release times and I’m starting to see consistent numbers and some steady (slow, but steady) growth. I find I was initially doing the podcast (at first) the same day as a release and there was no rhyme or reason to it. Now that I’ve found a good MWF (two of the shows I produce and host myself) format, listeners are starting to become aware they are released on certain days and they’re already downloading the episodes before I even hit the social media blast on Twitter, Facebook and G+. This series has been fantastic. For some reason, I feel like I’m coming off as a fanboy with listening live and incessant commenting, but this series REALLY is helpful, even to those like me who think they’ve got some of the timing stuff figured out.

Jason Bryant
10 years ago

I always travel with a computer in case news breaks. I’m generally internet connected when I need to be. But I’m starting to make sure I have content in the hopper ready to go. An example is this coming week. I’m going to North Carolina for a wedding for about 5 days. During that time, I’ll have two shows to release. They’re already done. Just plug them into wordpress and auto post when the time comes and hit social media the days they auto post. It’s something I actually did when I traveled on my old show long before I’d ever heard of the John Lee Dumas, who I’ve actually only listened to once.

So I have Friday (of this week), and Monday (of next) already loaded and ready. Wednesday is the only show that’s recorded and released the same day, but that’s actually another show within my podcast. We record that show from a radio station in Iowa as part of our podcast, so that’s the Wednesday show. The only problem that can come up there is little tech knowledge at the station, so I use Audio Hijack to get the audio off the live stream (which can be risky at times, no the studio doesn’t seem to want to record the show for us unless they absolutely have to).

I’m trying to build up non-timely shows (since my offseason is interview based) to have ready to drop in within a two week period and then have the ability to move shows based on relevance. On Monday, I’d already released a podcast and was waiting for Friday to release a big name interview. Then there was a hire at a Division I wrestling program (new head coach). So I’ve got that person as Friday and bumping the previous guest show to Monday. I don’t actually publish the show on blubrry until I know my order, so I’m not saying “Episode 61” when it’s actually 62 or 60.

I also have the Roland ready to roll if I need to do things on the road. I always travel with my computer, even though I might not turn it on.

3 years ago

Hi, I am new to podcasting and would like to launch at the end of the summer.
I am familiar with WP and would use it to create a website as a place to house my podcast episodes etc.
I am thinking of going with Buzzsprout as a podcast host and I know they have a plugin with WP. So that’s good.
So my question is: do I need a site that will host WP? And if yes, what might work?

Thomas Byskov Dalgaard
Thomas Byskov Dalgaard
2 years ago

Hello Daniel!

Thanks for this great mini series. Are you aware that all these episodes (from 170 to 181) aren’t available via the rss feed” ?
Does this serie use it’s own feed?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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