The Three Tragic Reasons Your Listeners Can’t Reach Out To You

Ever wonder why very few of your podcast listeners reach out to you even if you have a decent number of plays on Apple or Spotify? It may simply be because, despite their best efforts, they can’t find a way to reach you at all! It might be that your email isn’t showing up or they aren’t being redirected to your landing pages at all. In this episode of Feed Your Brand, Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard break down the three tragic reasons why your podcast listeners can’t reach you. Join in and learn why you might want to secret shop your podcast on the player apps to make sure you’re getting the most out of your efforts.

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The Three Tragic Reasons Your Listeners Can’t Reach Out To You

This is one of Tom’s pet peeves. We are going to talk about something that bugs the heck out of him. It bugs me too but in a business intention rant way. I’m going to try to stay away from that as best as possible. We are going to go over the three tragic reasons your listeners can’t reach out to you. This is about you getting connected to your subscribers or listeners and making it easy for them to reach out to you. I’m disappointed, Tom, that the industry makes this so hard for people.

I am too, Tracy. I geek out on this and get fired up about it but here’s the real reason why. Tracy, we’ve been podcasters for many years. When we started our first podcast, we wanted to make sure our audience could reach out to us. Honestly, I don’t understand why podcasters, independent or not, would not want to make sure your audience can communicate with you in some way.

It might be in different areas. You might want to be reached out an email. Maybe you want them to follow you on Instagram. It might be where you want them to follow you and connect with you. It’s different if you’re a celebrity versus an independent business person or an entrepreneur but that doesn’t mean you don’t want them to connect with you. Why are you putting your voice or message out there if you don’t want a connection?

It’s a disheartening thing that I see every day. I meet with 6 to 10 podcasters every day and usually review their show in some way. We’re titling this The Three Tragic Reasons Your Listeners Can’t Reach Out To You. There are 3 big ones but there are 5 or 6 that I find all the time that even experienced podcasters and a lot of times, rookie or newer podcasters also don’t know.

They’re not aware that they’re being held back. They’re committing these unforced errors and are making it hard for their listeners to connect with them and find them. Those are the things we’re going to talk about in this episode. There are three core ones. I might throw in a tidbit of a fourth or fifth here. We’ll see how it goes.

Let me start by saying that this is what we want you to understand. People are listening to your podcast on a listening app. That’s the only way that they find you unless you’re doing all the work on the other side. If you’re promoting yourself on social media somewhere or an email newsletter, chances are those people are already connected to you.

This is for you to connect with people who don’t know you yet. More specifically, the subscribers of your podcast or someone who may have tapped into an episode and is checking it out and hasn’t made the decision yet to subscribe. It’s executed. The mistakes are happening somewhere else but where we’re seeing it happening is it’s visible in the player apps.

Not Having A Public Facing Email Address

The player apps are the biggest culprits that are holding people back but there’s also your hosting platform. Tracy, this is one of your pet peeves too. What’s the number one issue you have with podcast listings for each of our shows that people probably don’t even know has happened to their show and that’s holding them back?

It’s the email address. We’ve done a whole episode on this. Apple claims that they were trying to help your privacy concerns and spam email issues by hiding the email address for your show. I don’t know about you but I have a special email address for my show because I want to make sure people can connect with me. If that is being blocked, then I’m not going to have anybody reach out to me in any kind of meaningful way without having to do a lot of work to find me. If they can’t click through that, it’s one of the biggest problems I have.

I agree with that 100%. You can decide, “It’s a public-facing email address.” There’s this one you’re going to put out there. I wish the apps would display the official email address. You have the ability to have your official email address be a part of your show listing in the RSS feed. This gets a little technical and I’m not going to go down a deep technical rabbit hole. 3 or 4 of the podcast hosting companies out there have made it a default that your email address for your show is hidden from your RSS feed.

 

Feed Your Brand | Podcast Listeners

 

You should check, especially if you have a special email for your show. It’s meant to be public-facing. Make sure that you have that email in your RSS feed and there is a way for you to make it public. At Podetize, we believe you should have that public-facing email address so people can reach out to you. I don’t understand why any podcaster would not want to have somebody reach out to their official podcast email.

This is the way that your community interacts with you. We got an email through our official Feed Your Brand. We got a message right into that through that email address on PodcastersUnited.org, which is the home of this show. Somebody reached out to us and said, “Tom, you were wrong in your episode recording. It has changed that Apple and the episode art is appearing. You’ve got your wish and that was fantastic.” That’s the kind of feedback we want. Somebody disagreed with us or let us know that things have changed and we’re not up on it. That’s amazing. We wouldn’t have known that until we tripped on it accidentally or somebody else has but a listener knows.

I have no problem being wrong. I’ve been doing this for a long time. Apple Podcasts app was not using the episode art in their app for a very long time. I even talked with some of the executives at Apple in podcasting and they said, “We know it’s not there.” That must have changed and I’m thrilled. I’m happy to be wrong.

This is the thing. Most podcasters are not listeners. You do not listen to your podcast or other podcasts. It’s less than 10% who are listeners that I come across in The Binge Factor of the interviews that I’ve done and I’ve done well over 300 interviews. You’re not checking out how the app works and understanding some of these things that we are going over with you.

You’re not seeing and experiencing it like a listener. You’re not a listener who wants to respond and then can’t find the email address. That email address is my biggest pet peeve. Those hosting companies and Apple have decided that for their selfish reasons, they want to make the default that is not seen. It’s fine if some people want that. You’re making a mistake as a podcaster if you choose to hide it.

If you have privacy concerns, don’t give out your real email address. Give out one that’s for the show. There’s a way around that. It still gets to you, your team, or whoever. You check it. This is what we want. We want our listeners to communicate with us and know that they reached out to us so we can communicate back with them and say, “You’re right. That makes a loyal listener.”

I’m thrilled to interact with our listeners and have a conversation but I agree. Email address is the number one reason. Yes, it is your show. Any of you reading who you have your show, it’s your choice but make sure you’re making that choice. This choice wasn’t just made for you.

At the same time, you can’t sit there and complain that you don’t have listener interaction if you’re not doing these things. Stop complaining about it because it’s your fault. You have to fix these things. It’s your host’s fault so don’t let them do this to you. Don’t let them steal your connection.

Letting Your Hosting Platform Hijack You

That’s a great segue into the second tragic reason. For this, I have the Apple Podcasts app here. What I’ve gone is to the new and noteworthy section. I’m going to pick on a few big produced shows because why not? These shows have huge budgets and are bringing their show out to the entire podcast ecosystem.

They have big production teams.

 

 

There’s no excuse for them to be getting this wrong what I’m about to share with you. I’m going to take a few different shows here. Let’s start with The Daily Show: Ears Edition. I’m a fan of The Daily Show. If you’ve seen the news at all, Jon Stewart came back one day a week. The Daily Show has a podcast. When we click on The Daily Show and go into an episode, there is a link, especially on the Apple Podcasts app, called Episode Webpage. Not every listening app has it or they call it different things. You click on that link. Where it’s going to take you is to their webpage. The webpage of The Daily Show is Omny.fm. That’s the hosting platform for this podcast.

The Daily Show should be pissed because they have their whole website and a whole interaction section there.

They should know better that it’s going to take you there. I’m pretty sure The Daily Show and Comedy Central have their websites.

They do. The Daily Show has a whole interaction section for fans. It’s a whole place for it.

That’s where you want them to go. Whoever is in control of the hosting at The Daily Show is unaware that Omny.fm is hijacking their traffic. When somebody clicks on that link, it’s not going to TheDailyShow.com or ComedyCentral.com.

Let’s be clear. Not every host hijacks your webpage. At Podetize, we do not allow it. We prevented it from happening. If you don’t put an episode page, the link to a blog, or the link to a page that you want it to go to, it will default to your show page. What Omny has done is replaced it with their show page.

I’m going through the Apple Podcasts desktop app. This is their new and noteworthy section. These are what Apple considers new and noteworthy shows. There are only 20 or 25 shows here. Back in the day when we started our first podcast, there used to be a couple of thousand shows because there were always a lot of shows launching. You could see where you ended up in the whole list of new and noteworthy but you can’t do that anymore. They have some new and noteworthy ones.

I want to show you here one by Audible called Your Mama’s Kitchen. This is produced. It says it’s an Audible Original. They have an episode that was published. This is a show that is one of the ones that the Obamas are a part of. I’m going to come back to this show to illustrate the third tragic reason your listeners can’t find you. This one’s a twofer. When you go and click the episode webpage, you end up on Acast, the page for this show, which is their podcast host.

What I want to say to everyone here is it’s not just that Acast is committing a crime against a person who’s paying them for this service. With Omny, it’s the same thing. You’re paying them to host your show and then this is happening. Your subscribers and listeners are getting annoyed by this because they’re getting the same thing they already had on the app.

That’s my biggest frustration too, Tracy.

As podcasters, we want our listeners to communicate with us. Share on X

Forget it. I’m not even going to work that hard to go find you.

You’re so right, Tracy. I’m a listener. I read this description and I’m like, “That’s interesting. Episode webpage. There’s more information. What can I learn there?” I go click it. I’m expecting to get more, not the same but I ended up getting the same. This is even pretty much the same as what the Apple Podcasts app is doing, showing you the show and all the episodes. “Why did you send me here? I’m annoyed.”

If you’re reading this as a blog, you have to go watch the video and see what I’m showing you. I’m showing you two different windows, Apple Podcasts and a web browser. I’m showing you what happens when you go on these links. You need to see it. You have to make sure that your host is configured. If you’ve read this show for any length of time, you know that we are advocates of having a unique episode landing page or a post for every episode.

Even if you do not create that, you can make the link that populates in every episode and the apps always go to your podcast website. Even if you don’t have a whole lot of supplemental information from them and not providing a whole lot more, any of that traffic from your episodes in any listening app should always go back to your website.

Not Getting The Credit As Show Author

It could go to a Contact page or an About page. It could go somewhere where it’s like, “Thank you for listening. Here are all the ways to reach me.” It could go to a Linktr.ee if you don’t even have a website. There are so many ways to make sure that your listeners can get to you and find you. What is this twofer that you’re going to give us here? I want the twofer.

Here’s the twofer. I’m coming back to this Audible Original. This show is called Your Mama’s Kitchen. I’m not sure but it looks like Higher Ground is the production company. In this case, maybe the production company is causing the problem.

Higher Ground is Obama’s production company, Tom.

They’re getting the credit for being the authors of the show, which isn’t accurate. On the cover art, it says, “Hosted by Michele Norris.” I understand with highly produced shows and paid produced shows, there may be arrangements of who’s the producer, who’s the host, who owns it, and who gets the credit. I get that there are complexities but this is still an important lesson.

If I know Michele Norris, I didn’t know the show Your Mama’s Kitchen, and I’m not sure what Obama’s production company is called, I don’t remember, but I know the host, I’m going to go search in Apple Podcasts app on that host’s name. This host, Michele Norris, is a ghost when it comes to podcast listening apps because her name is not in this author field in the listening app, nor is it in the description of the episode. I didn’t see it anywhere.

It is in the description of the show but not in the episode.

Feed Your Brand | Podcast Listeners
Podcast Listeners: You should have a public facing email address so people can reach out to you. It doesn’t make sense why any podcaster would not want to have somebody reach out to their official podcast email.

 

The thing is you’ve got to understand these search bars in the podcast listening apps are not the best search bars, search algorithms, or software out there. Unlike Google, which if you type something in a little bit wrong, it’s going to say, “Did you mean to type in this?” They don’t do that. It is meant to search for an author’s name through this author field in purple. If you’re replacing that with a production company name, it’s probably not even in the best interest of the podcast. It depends on who’s more recognizable. “I want to have that podcast hosted by Jon Stewart,” somebody else famous, or in this case, Michele Norris.

You have a couple of options in this case so if your network is constrained, and I want to give you those two choices here if that’s you, you can have Your Mama’s Kitchen with Michele Norris or Higher Ground and Michele Norris listed as co-authors because you’re allowed to have more than one author. In this show, you’re going to see that Tom and I are both separate authors because people search for Tom and me.

Here’s a good example of that. Although there are three people in this one so it’s truncated, I did expand this and found that this show is hosted by three different people and all three people’s entire names are in the author field. That is the best practice right there. Make sure everyone is in there.

What happens is if I don’t put Tracy Hazzard in the author field of my shows, and I have many shows, then if I’m interviewed on someone else’s show, that’s going to show up before my show shows up. You being a guest and them titling you and giving you credit for that is going to make it so that their show shows up before yours does. That’s a tragedy.

We’ve talked about this before but it bears mentioning briefly. You can see here on this show that we have both Tracy Hazzard and Tom Hazzard. We have the same last name. We didn’t do that in our first show. It just said Tom and Tracy Hazzard. When people search for Tom Hazzard, nothing comes up. I was a ghost.

Tom And would have showed up.

If you search for Tracy Hazzard, that’s great but I had no search ability because my last name was not right next to my first name. This happens with hosts all the time, especially when they’re related. What’s the podcast that has Travis and Jason Kelce in it?

It’s called New Heights.

Look at this mistake they’re making. New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce. Let’s face it. Travis Kelce is with Taylor Swift so more people are searching on Travis Kelce than Jason Kelce. Jason, if you’re reading, I hate to tell you this but if somebody searches on your name, it’s not going to come up as quickly. Maybe eventually it will come up and that would be probably well because he’s in the description as Jason Kelce from the Philadelphia Eagles but it should be New Heights with Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce from a searchability and discoverability perspective. I’m sure the marketing people are cursing me and not liking that.

It doesn’t have to look that way on your cover art. You can do Tom and Tracy or Jason and Travis. You don’t need to do that on the cover art.

Your show, your choice. Just make sure you’re making that choice instead of it being made for you. Share on X

Good kudos to New Heights. Their site doesn’t look like a hosting platform. It looks like something specific to their show. I don’t know. At least it’s not going to a hosting platform.

At least they have all their social links and have a great way to connect with their audience. You can find them. That is fantastic. Even if it’s not a full-on website, they’re not a business.

They are selling some merch and that’s there too. It has access to their YouTube stuff and all sorts of other things so that’s great. There’s a lot more of these and I’m not going to go into a lot of greater detail there. I just want to illustrate the point here that some tragic things hold you back.

I do think you want to hit that the website address is very often wrong. It’s a combination of also a bad hosting company that is doing things not in your favor. They want to send them back to Libsyn, Podbean, or themselves. If you don’t go in to replace your website address for your show, it will populate with your hosting platform. You do not want that to happen. There’s also something. When you switch hosting companies, very often they replace that as well so they hijack it right at that moment in time. With every episode link and website description, they replace it with their own as an automatic thing when you re-import into the auto imports.

Let me put a little more clarity on that if I can. That episode webpage link and it’s there for every episode in Apple Podcasts, that link is in the RSS feed for your show. When you move your show from one platform to another, most of them, as we do at Podetize, import your RSS feed from the old platform. If your show is imported from Podbean, and we did this with a show, then every one of those episode webpage links goes to a Podbean webpage. It’s still going to be that way on the new platform unless you change it.

At Podetize, we’re hyper-aware of this because we see this all the time. We would go in and remove all those episode webpage links and recommend that you either use one page on your website if that’s what you need to do initially or if you have a page on your website for every episode, you replace them. It unfortunately takes a little time to do it because most people don’t know that that is happening until it’s too late. They’ve already imported and moved to another platform.

You may find you have your very first host and you have all their episode links. You may find a mixed bag if you’ve moved hosting companies. This is also something that we wanted you to be aware of as well. If they can’t find your website and any more information on the website but what’s already on the player app, this is a rookie. “They don’t care to connect with me,” is what the listener is going to receive as a message. From a big show like The Daily Show, I’d be like, “They don’t want to hear from their audience.” That would make me feel unlikely they want to keep listening.

The issue I always think about is, “How hard do I want to work to dig for the information I was looking for and get to what I was hoping to get to? You put up too many challenges for me. I’m on to the next thing, another show,” or whatever it might be.

I’m very sure that some of the hosts reading this are going to go, “I’ve got links to my website and got all that in my episode description.” That’s great that you do that but know that not every listening app displays those links as clickable.

Not just as not being clickable but you have to expand and scroll down through the whole description to get to them. On a lot of phone apps, that’s not obvious and not the easiest thing to do but guess what is a little more obvious? It’s that episode webpage link. They’re probably going to click that before they even click more or expand that description to even see if there are some other links.

Feed Your Brand | Podcast Listeners
Podcast Listeners: Another potential pitfall is when you hire a production company and you think that they’re acting your best interests, but a lot of times they’re putting their own links or sending people to their site rather than your own.

 

Keep in mind that you think you’re doing stuff but the system and the way that this is displayed in the listening app itself may be working against you. That’s why we call these tragic because this is a simple thing to fix.

It’s tragic because most people are unaware. They don’t even know.

You might’ve gone through hundreds of episodes and it’s still happening to you or you’re using a very expensive producer who is not doing what they should be doing.

Tracy, that brings up another real potential pitfall and tragic thing. You hire a production company and you think that they’re acting in your best interest but they’re not always. A lot of times, they’re putting their links or sending people to their site rather than your own.

I don’t think it’s nefarious that they’re stealing that and other things like that. Often, you hire someone fabulous in video and they say, “I’ll produce your podcast too,” but they don’t understand it. They’re not up on what’s going on and are not an expert in it. They have not aligned themselves with a hosting company that’s a value and doing these things to you so they’ve created that by putting you on that hosting platform. The other place we see it a lot is radio stations. Radio stations will do everything in their power to make sure that all they get is the radio station. If you expect to get personal value and grow your business from that, it’s never going to happen.

The other thing that I do see also is one of the things that producers do intentionally or not, and maybe it’s innocent, but a lot of producers will syndicate your show to the listening apps for you, the newbie podcaster, and then your show listings are under their account. You leave them and don’t realize it. You don’t have control. It’s very hard to maintain your audience where you go. This causes problems all the time. I’ve encountered another podcast that has two listings of its show on Apple because they didn’t know any better.

They don’t have control and it’s becoming very hard to get control even to find where that other show was hosted to be able to fix it. Make sure you have control of your stuff. It’s your show and you own it or be clear about your arrangements. If you have a producer and you’re working with a network, do they own it? Do you own it? Who’s in control? One important thing, if you can’t log in and look at your analytics, you probably don’t have control. It’s a couple of little tips there.

All of these things could have been prevented if you acted like a listener or a secret shopper. Secretly shop your stuff, act like a listener, and listen to your show. Interact with it, click all the buttons, and try all the features. I was on Spotify. They’ve got a new preview feature that wasn’t there when I checked it. It flashes up and says, “Try the new preview.” It’s not fantastic but it’s there. Something new is always happening in these apps. You must check regularly.

That’s some great advice, Tracy. Why don’t we leave it there? We appreciate you for reading.

We’ll be back with another topic.

 

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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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