Want to Attract Podcast Binge Listeners for Massive Download Growth?

Podcast binge listeners are the hyper consumers you want to attract for massive and fast growth in your downloads and listener base. They make up around 20% of the podcast listener base. There are two special classes of hyper-consumer binge listeners: Podfasters – those that listen at very high speeds so they can listen to more in less time; and Completists – those that listen to every single episode. Discover how attracting these unique types of listeners can boost your podcast fan base.


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Want to Attract Podcast Binge Listeners for Massive Download Growth?

We are going to talk really fast for this episode. We’re going to talk podfasters. Tom doesn’t talk fast. Tracy reads fast, listens fast and that’s what podfasting is all about. There was this article in Buzzfeed about podfasters that was just fascinating and just totally right up her alley. For those of you out there who are audiophiles, those that care about the audio quality of your show, the idea that somebody might be putting your show on one and a half, two times, even up to three times speed, and there is an app that allows you to go to 10X speed, which I don’t know what you’re hearing at that speed, but you’re probably cringing right now. That’s probably like a real author who then scoffs at blog posts that are keyword packed and things where it’s like, “But I would never write it that way.” They won’t allow it to happen and then they don’t get to take advantage of the keyword benefits. This is conceptually similar. Especially music people are really particular about the audio quality of their podcast.

Podcast Binge Listeners: Podfasters account for 20% of podcast listeners. Think of them like binge listeners.

First off, let’s talk about this and define them because you’re going to find some of those are going to be your power fans. Scoffing at them is not the right way to go about it. They’re going to be the ones that might bring the most business. They are the ones who’d bring you the most new fans. They’re really valuable and you have to value them. We’re going to talk about that in one side. The other side is how to attract them and take advantage of that, that there’s this audience out there. Podfasters account for 20% of podcast listeners. That’s a huge percentage because they listen to many, many episodes and the only way that you can do that is by speeding it up a little bit. I want to be really clear. One and half times speed is not actually as fast as you think it is, neither is two times speed. It does not sound like chipmunks. I have listened to myself at two times speed and it just sounds like a little faster than I’m talking right now.

We want to be really clear. These people, they’re doing it because they want to consume more. Think of them like binge listeners. They want to consume more. There’s a second part of the value that they add. Many, many of podfasters are what we call completist, meaning that they want to listen to all the episodes. They don’t like letting one or two of them that they missed. They don’t like skipping episodes. They’ll listen to them quickly, maybe slow down if they hear something of value and whatever that is, but they don’t skip it which is really important. You’re talking about being able to make sure that all of the things in your messaging that you’ve been working on and all of the different touch points and different areas at which you’re trying to connect with your audience, they’re not missing any of them. They might be listening to them a little quickly but their brains are also working faster because they’re very comfortable and used to doing this. That’s really an important feature.

I’ve been in this position. Sometimes when I’m taking a drive here from Southern California to Las Vegas and I’ve been so busy the previous weeks or month that I have not been listening to some of the podcasts that I really want to listen to. There are some that have a lot of episodes and I want to catch up. I want to listen to as many as possible. I can see how listening to them in a faster speed is going to help me do that because you only have so much time to listen. Let’s squeeze as many in as we can.

Podcast consumers listen to an average of five podcasts per week. 20% of podcast consumers listen to more than six per week. Podfasters is a subset of that that listen to a lot more, a tremendous amount more. Some of them can consume in a weekend 100 episodes. That’s actually some of the criteria, which I found most interesting and a statistic that’s where we’re seeing it right now. Some podcasters quit at 25 episodes. That’s a very common number to quit just around 25 episodes.

We had an interview we did with Matthew Pollard recently that will be airing in the future. He was talking about having purposefully done what he call a short-term podcast which is only 25 episodes. It was for a very specific purpose and it made sense. It was almost laying out your 25 steps or something like that. Podfasters wouldn’t find that appealing. They look for podcasts that are 100 episodes or greater for multiple reasons.

Number one, because they feel the quality of the show has to be there or you wouldn’t make it to 100 episodes. They feel that it must have great content, so it must be worth consuming. Based on this amount of speed, because they’re going to speed it up, it only takes them about the third of the time as your normal person to listen to it. For them, it fits exactly what they might be in to doing for their weekend or for their week. We know this happens because we have binge listeners. We still get them commenting to us all the time on our WTFFF because we are at 500 episodes.

[Tweet “Many of us want an accelerated learning environment.”]

For the last couple of years as we’ve been experiencing that, we knew there were people binge listening but that term podfaster hadn’t existed yet. We weren’t calling them podfasters. We just said, “They’re binge listeners.” It seems like it would make a lot of sense if you had this serial, the podcast. When you talk about serial, you want to find out what happened so you’re compelled to go to the next one. It is like Netflix binge watching. That’s what binge listening is like. It makes sense on the entertainment side. Does it really make sense on the business side? My answer is yes. Many of us want an accelerated learning environment. We can either skip around to a ton of shows or we can go to one that seems to have a good amount of information in the topic area we want to cram and learn short-term.

If I want to come and learn how to podcast and Feed Your Brand has 100 episodes, I’m going to go, “They probably know what they’re doing. Let me go and listen to these 100 episodes and see if it really is.” Now, you’ll quit out if it’s junk and it’s not what you want. You’ll quit out after your first three episodes, which is why we’re so critical about having an early episode that really sets the tone for what you are. Having your most recent episode is probably the one they’ll listen to first. They will usually do that and then they’ll go back to the beginning if they want. You want those first two episodes to set the tone for really what you’re going to go with it and answer your most important question, the most burning question people have. That’s why we set it that way because if you were doing that, it would still compel you to continue and go forward.

This is also maybe a good reason why you might want to consider after your 100 episodes in, if you’ve gotten much better at it, which is probably going to be the case, and if the format or some of the focus or the content of your show has changed, it might be a reason why you might want to go back and rerecord that introductory episode and update it a little bit because people are going to go back. After you have 100 episodes, you know that’s going to be probably at least a half a year later if not more, depends on how many you do a week. Maybe for some of you overachievers, that’s going to be within 90 days, maybe that’s all right. If you’re six months down the road, it may very well be and it certainly happened to us in our first podcast that some of the focus and the format of our show changed. You may want to update that. We set a new tone every 100 episodes. That’s our process.

I also want to mention too in terms of just looking at it from this block of people binge listening to you. This is also another reason why we’re really big proponents of short intros and not such lengthy, repetitive music. Make sure your music isn’t annoying. I just was listening to another new podcast. Actually, I really like their intro music. I like their show. It’s a well-established show about 50 episodes in or something. At the very beginning, there is this echoe-y repetition. I forget even what they say but it almost sounds like a local car dealership commercial. It’s like, “Save now, now, now.” That’s not what it is because it’s obviously not a commercial. It’s a show. But I kept thinking as I’m listening to this, “If I had listened to this for a dozen episodes in a row on a long drive or something or on the Metro North on the way to Manhattan or something, I would definitely be figuring out how to skip ahead.”

It’s recently come to my attention as how annoying these intros are. We have to balance between the idea that somebody is finding this episode brand new to them and also then there are those that are binge listening. We have a balance between the two. The problem is that it’s like I have this issue with YouTube videos or video tutorials. If you know your tutorials are coming in a row, they’re already subscribed to your membership site or they’re a part of your course, please stop putting intros on the front of every darn video. Just put a title side, quick little music, start, because it’s really annoying. You don’t fast forward as easily on video as you would like to. It would be nice if you would just jump to it but you’ll miss it because it’s only ten seconds or 30 seconds but it’s too long.

That’s the quandary because you don’t want to miss some of the good content. Especially when you’re driving, I’m not going to try to skip ahead of anything because it’s distracting. If I’m sitting on a commuter rail, that’s different. I can probably handle that. What I do on my podcast is I go 3X from the moment something starts and I’ll hit it back to 1.5X if it gets good because that’s just right there. It’s easy to touch the button. For me, that’s how I do it. That’s how I get through everybody’s intro. I have to be honest with you, I’m tuning it out and it’s already set me into the point of tuning it out, which sometimes means that when you start talking, I’ve already been tuning you out. That’s where the long intros hurt you.

Podcast Binge Listeners: Less is more in terms of your intro.

We experienced this as podcast producers and as podcast hosts ourselves. Less is more in terms of your intro. If you’re not a podcast fan and you’re a podcast host, get yourself listening to some shows right now. Make it your weekend or holiday, whatever it is that you need to do before the end of this year. Go and listen to a bunch of podcasts because you’re missing out by not understanding how people are consuming your information and not hearing it for yourself. Don’t just listen to your show. Listen to other people’s shows and hear how they’re doing it.

This whole idea of podfasting and listening at three times or more speed brings something to mind. It brings a new meaning to the idea of a dramatic pause in your episodes. Is there something we can all think about and learn from this phenomenon that’s happening of podfasting and consider as we’re recording our future episodes? If we really want to make sure people are paying attention to a certain point or something you have to say that you think is really important, should we be taking a serious dramatic pause for a second or two which then is going to become half a second maybe so that it stands out? They’re listening as they’re driving and is going by really quick and hears someone talking and all that stuff and then all of a sudden, if there is this pause for what is in reality maybe a whole second. Do we have to have some other alert sound to emphasize, “You want to pay attention to this?” Is anything going to help? Is that something to think about?

I think about it from the standpoint as that our brains don’t work the same way. We don’t work at the same speed and we consume for different reasons. I may be looking for a very different thing when I’m listening. If I were entertaining myself, I would absolutely not do it on high speed because I’d want to get the dramatic pauses. I want to hear that conversational tone. I want to hear that drama going on. I would never do that on a TV show. You wouldn’t watch it like that.

I’m talking about is there a way to effectively emphasize something or make sure that somebody who’s listening at that speed might actually realize, “Wait a second. There may be something I really want to pay attention to hear.” Maybe that’s volume modulation. That’s where you set it. You’re passionate. You’re excited about it. It still comes through at any speed. That raising your volume, raising your excitement level, when that happens, you’re going to stop and pay attention to that. You’re going to hear that. I don’t know if you want to insert a sound or whatever. I think it could get a little cheesy. When you hear the bell, I’ve said something profound, that’s silly. Maybe that’s a little contrived. The reality is I was just wondering if there’s something that we could do as podcast hosts that would be helpful to those that podfasts?

I think it’s no different than writing a blog post. We write a blog post. I work really hard on my Inc. articles. I work hard to make them great. I work hard to make them have a certain flow. I work hard asking the right questions to get at the heart of what the story is. I care about them but I know people scan. I know some people only read the headline and the subtitle and look at the picture and then share it. They don’t even read it. I know that happens. That’s what the point of bullet points, bold face, subtitles, highlighted out quotes, tweetables, to grab your attention. This is the whole point of all of these things.

This is why we send people back to the blog post. This is also the point at which why we don’t send people any other URLs but your blog page, your website because there’s nothing else for them to remember. If they hear something they go, “I want the details to that.” They’re not going to rewind and go get it. They’re probably in their car, on a plane, whatever it is. They’re not going to go get it but they are going to remember, “On episode 257, I heard this and I want those steps.” They will go to that blog post and they will find them. We see it happen all the time and we know that.

[Tweet “These are the people you want to encourage, that you want to excite, you want to give value to. “]

This is what I want to make a point to you is that people consume blog post not like you want them. They do not read the whole thing. They scan it. Sometimes they jump through those headlines. They stop at the bullet points. Maybe they stop at an image, that’s why we break ours up with so many images too and these large tweetable quotes. This is why we have images and tweetables and all of these things in the blog post because they help break it up and make a pause, a stopping point as you’re scanning through it or scrolling through it really quickly. That’s what people do when they’re reading it.

You can’t make them slow down and read it any slower. Why should you expect to control the speed by which they listen to it? Instead, dive in and accept that you have this and you should be grateful that you have them. After listening to 100 podcasts, they’re going to really believe that they know you. They feel that your content was valuable, that it was not a waste of time for them, and they’re going to start talking back to you. They communicate with you and telling others, “I heard this amazing podcast. You should listen to it too.” They share that. These are the people you want to encourage, that you want to excite, you want to give value to.

I want to give a tip to our listeners because we had this just happened to us in an interview we recorded for a future episode. I’m not going to mention who the interview subject was because it really is not important. Occasionally, a guest of yours as they’re answering your question or telling their story on your podcast is going to say, “You can go to my website to get this information.” Sometimes that’s appropriate and you want to let them do that. Other times, we didn’t want that to happen. We want people, and we recommend to you, you have your listeners always go to your website, to your blog post to get information, links, whatever it is that they’re looking for. We want them to be able to reach the guest and go to their website and do all the stuff, but you want your website to be the point of contact, the place where they go. They’re going to have one place to remember to go back to. We actually had a guest give their web address in the middle of the interview. If somebody is listening while they’re eating their lunch or whatever, we don’t want them to get distracted from listening to the whole episode either. We decided, we made a note to our editors, “Cut out this portion where the guest says their web address.” There was an appropriate way to do it so that the interview or the answer to the story they were saying made sense.

In our outro, in our final thoughts, conclusion, after the interview, we’re making sure that the audience, the listener knows, “Come to the blog post at our website BrandcastingYou.com, where you’ll find all the links and information, contact information for the guest and all that.” You can do that. Just because a guest says something in the middle of an interview, you don’t have to air it. You can edit that. We edit for pauses anyway. We try to make the show more concise. We edit for awkward pauses, not dramatic pauses. It happens because they’re thinking about an answer but it seemed to go too long and it was just a little weird in that or maybe there’s this delay in hearing when you’re doing Skype interviews and things like that. It can happen. That’s where a lot of impatience comes with and where a lot of people start listening to their podcast on higher speeds. There’s too much of bad audio practices or zero editing practices because a lot of people don’t spend the money to edit their own podcast and that makes a big difference in quality.

Podcast Binge Listeners: When you have a show with good audio quality to begin with, it can sustain that speed.


What you really want to remember is that when you have a well-edited show, when you have a show with good audio quality to begin with, it can sustain that speed. It’s not a problem and you should really check it out and try your show that way and hear how it is because it can work. I do this very, very frequently especially when I travel internationally because we’ll be on a plane for thirteen hours and I downloaded a whole bunch of podcasts and I want to listen to them. I want to learn something, I have a purpose. I maybe don’t want to skip shows in the process of it because maybe that’s a step that I didn’t think I needed but I should listen to it. It gives me an opportunity to speed right through it, slow it down if I need to and/or make a note and go back to the blog post and check them out if they have that. That’s my process for doing it.

We’ve got to keep in mind that the podcasting is not actually for us. We get a little consumed with ourselves as podcast hosts. We think we’re all that and we’re great and we’re the best interviewer ever and whatever that might be. You get a little bit in yourself. The reality is it’s for the audience. If you don’t have an audience, you don’t have a show. You’re not really a host of anything. You want an audience to be able to consume it in the way that they want to consume it. If that means they want to binge listen on high speed, then they should get to. You should be so glad that they’re doing that because your plays are going way up in a weekend. This is where we see spikes.

We’ve seen it many times. I think the biggest spike we had in a single day across all our episodes is we had 18,000 plays of our shows. That’s across our entire catalogue of probably only 300 episodes that’s live on iTunes at any time. That’s the most they let you list there. That’s probably where most of them are coming from. 18,000 plays in one day. You know that’s because a number of people would be downloading many episodes to be listening to at a later point in time, usually travelling. I don’t think 18,000 podcast episodes got listened to in that one day. That’s probably less likely. Podcast fans and what we call completist, those people who want to listen to full catalogues, they do that and they share it. They share with other friends who are podcast fanatics. You’ve got the possibility that you might have a couple going through at any given time. It can happen especially if your show is on a trend or got recently mentioned from some publicity or in a trade publication or something like that. It can happen.

We’ve had people write into us and say, “I’ve found your podcast last week. I love it. I’m up to episode 134. This is great.” Of course, I don’t even remember what episode 134 was about quite honestly but I have to look it up. They communicate with you and they appreciate it. People are still getting value out of those old episodes, which is another thing to be aware of. The best shows actually are not grounded in time and are providing value months and even years later.

The last thing I want to touch on before we end this episode is really touching on what it does to ads and sponsorships and other things like that. You’ve got to think like the old radio model where they were trying to squeeze in as much talking, “You want to go to the auto dealership online,” whatever it is. They would be doing it at super speed to exactly hit it to the 30-second spot. They would be cramming all this language. They would actually record it and then they would play it on higher speed, check it out and then if not, you would record it again. Alexandra and I did this when she was young. She did a radio commercial for my shop that we had in radio commercial. They went in and they actually sped her up because it was two seconds too long. They said they sped it up so that you can cram it into the time allotment. They do that so you have that old radio model of it.

We don’t recommend that you start recording your ads so that they are perfect 30-second spot and you sped them up from that. It’s okay to fluctuate the amount of seconds of that ad or fractions of minutes of that ad for whatever fits best. If someone is going to listen, it will only be fifteen seconds long if it’s on 2X speed. It will still be speeded up and listened to it. Check it out. If it’s okay there, then go for it. Most people don’t listen faster than 2X. There’s a very rare percentage of that. Even podfasters group who go higher than 2x. If it’s okay on 2X, then you’re fine. If you’re cutting in half the amount of time it takes to listen to a podcast, you’re doing pretty well. That’s pretty efficient.

If it diminishes the value, in other words, you’re trying to cram in a very long URL or doing something like that, which you shouldn’t be doing in ads anyway, you should be sending them to your website and/or maybe giving them a very short code if anything at all for something that they can buy. Then you want to send them through some place that you can track them because you cannot track them on the audio file. You’ve got to have a method by doing it. Make that short. Make that simple. That’s what URL referrers are for. That’s what codes are for. Just use those things to your advantage and make it short. We’re back to less is more.

[Tweet “Podfasters are very valuable to advertisers. “]

The reality is that these podfasters are very valuable to advertisers. They’re very valuable to sponsors because you’re going to talk about repetition of ads. Let’s say you have three ads running in a given month. Then you can run it across your entire back catalogue. You have 100 episodes and you run it across all 100 episodes, those three advertisers are going to get a whole lot of play going on in that particular weekend or that particular amount of time that podfaster is listening to. The amount of impressions of times that they’ve heard it is high. They’ve appreciated the show. They’re a fan. They’re highly likely to convert. You can even mix up either which ads on which episodes or the order of ads within an episode to change it up so it’s not completely repetitive also. The repetition is important. The fact that you’re listening on a higher speed, you won’t skip an ad because it’s really hard to control at that speed. Your finger is too big. It will only skip over way too much in the amount of times. You won’t skip an ad either. That’s even more valuable to your sponsors and your advertisers. Just thinking about all of that. It’s a way of respecting how your audience wants to consume who you are and what you do and consume the content, which you have to deliver. It’s good to be aware of it. It’s maybe good to check on it occasionally and see how you sound and how you’re doing there. Also just be aware that they’re out there and they can greatly benefit you by sharing your information, sharing what you had, sharing how much value they got from you in a short period of time.

Podfasters, it’s counterintuitive. You think it’s fasting like you’re not eating for a while but this is the opposite. You’re just listening to your podcast fast. The things that I personally get the most impatient with is not getting to the point, is not talking fast enough. All those long pauses and slow speech. Personally, I’m an impatient person. It gets to me after awhile. Having a tool like speeding stuff up just makes it so that I don’t skip somebody who might not resonate with me otherwise. That’s really great too. It gives you a broader appeal if that’s your style. Making somebody more tolerable.

I’m often guilty of that. When I listen to myself on podcast sometimes I’m like, “Complete the thought already. I’m going too slow.” I apologize if you’ve ever thought that about anything I was talking about. I do try to speed things up a little bit, especially to keep up with Tracy. Tracy tries to slow things down a little bit but her brain just keeps going so it’s hard. That’s who we are authentically and we’re lucky we get to be these co-host situation so you get a little of a both. Even if you were listening to us on fast speed, there’ll still be a distinct difference between the two of us. That’s not going to change. It’s fun. I love doing it.

Hopefully, you all are getting some value out of this. This is a new nugget we brought you. Something we’re studying up on recently. We didn’t know the term podfasters. We knew there were binge listeners out there. We didn’t know that they would look for 100 episodes but it now really makes sense to us as to why the shows with 100 episodes and more do so much better than others. It’s because they have these podcast fans that go in there and are looking for shows that have a 100 or more. You can check us out on social media, @FeedYourBrand. Thanks for listening. If you’re podfasting, there’ll be another one right after this. This has been Tom and Tracy on Feed Your Brand.

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Picture of Tracy Hazzard and Tom Hazzard

Tracy Hazzard and Tom Hazzard

As podcasting and monetization marketing experts, husband and wife team, Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard help major publications, sports stars, and entrepreneurial influencers broadcast their original messages. A highly successful inventor and product designer, Tom has been rethinking brand innovation to build in authority and high-converting revenue streams. Tracy brings an insider media/promotion perspective as a former Columnist for Inc. Magazine, contributor to BuzzFeed and international speaker. Together, they are the blog writers and podcast co-hosts for Feed Your Brand and The Binge Factor. They provide businesses of all sizes actionable tactics and strategies to spread marketing messages, grow valuable audiences, and retain valuable platform authority without a lot of time, cost or effort.
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