How to Create Your Podcast Listener Survey

 
 

You're reading a post from Backyard Media's Podcasting 101, a series of guides meant to explain podcasting and podcast advertising to new and current podcast creators. To see our other guides, click here.

For podcast creators who are looking at how to get sponsored and make their show a self-sustaining business, a listener’s survey is essential. As we noted in our last guide, a survey is useful for a number of different reasons, from understanding demographics and buying preferences to serving as a test case for listener engagement. Maybe you've read that guide and are ready to take the next step and actually make a listener survey. So, what should it actually consist of?

 

1. Create Your Survey

As we noted previously, there are a number of platforms you can use to create your survey: Google FormsSurveyMonkey, TypeForm and the Form Block on a Squarespace website. Here’s a list of questions you should include in your form, along with common answer choices:

  • What is your age? (under 18, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65+)
  • What is your gender? (Male, female, other)
  • What is your race or ethnicity?
  • What is your current marital status?
  • How many children under the age of 18 are currently living in your household?
  • What is the highest level of education you have attained?
  • What is your employment status? (Full-time, part-time, student, unemployed, retired)
  • What is your total yearly household income?
  • What industry do you work in?
  • What is your job title?
  • How large is the organization you work for? (0-10 employees, 11-50, 51-200, 201-1,000, 1,000+)
  • How would you describe your primary job functions? (short answer is best here)
  • Which of the following best describes your primary place of residence?
  • Which language is spoken most often in your household?
  • How many episodes of our podcast have you listened to?
  • How did you find our podcast?
  • How would you describe our podcast? 
  • How do you listen to our podcast? (iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Music, third party podcast app)
  • Is there anywhere where you think our podcast should be available that it currently isn't?
  • When do you listen to our podcast? (during my commute, at home, while exercising, with friends)
  • How often do you listen to our podcast?
  • How much of an episode do you usually complete?
  • How many other podcasts do you listen to?
  • Why do you listen to podcasts? (educational, entertainment, etc.)
  • What’s your favorite thing about our podcast?
  • What would you change about our podcast?
  • Do you read the show notes and links that accompany each episode?
  • Have you ever purchased something from one of our previous sponsors?

That's a long list of questions! Be sure to tailor your exact survey list to who you think is listening to your podcast. Here are some general tips when creating your survey:

  • Place long essay questions throughout the form. Seeing them all together is intimidating for people who may not have that much time to fill them out.
  • Mix up the types of questions you ask. For example, some of them should be short answer, multiple choice, check all that apply, and long answer.
  • Use scales for ranking different things.
  • Create a custom URL for your survey using services such as tinyurl.com. This helps listeners remember the URL when you mention it on your show.

 

2. Get Your Results

The next step is to get your listeners to take your survey! Promote it on every channel you can: your podcast's social media accounts, your podcast website, your newsletter if you have one, and most importantly your podcast! Mention the survey across multiple episodes so you can catch listeners who don't consume every episode as soon as it comes out. Consider adding an incentive to completing the survey, such as entry into a giveaway for a gift card or other merchandise. The more people that complete your form, the more representative your data will be when you bring it to potential sponsors. We suggest running your survey for 3-4 weeks if your podcast is a weekly show, and 3-4 months if it's a monthly show. Your goal is to run the survey across 3-4 episodes and make sure to mention the survey on each episode. These timeframes will give you ample time to collect data without mentioning it too often on your show and having listeners tune out.

 

3. Analyze the Data

Once your listeners have filled out your survey, it’s time to analyze all the data you've collected. Remember that advertisers are looking for information on who your listeners are to understand if they're the right audience for the sponsor's product. One helpful step is to aggregate your data into a "listener persona" - basically a theoretical person who represents your average listener. You should know how old this person is, what they’re interested in, why they listen to your podcast, and what kind of products they might be interested in. By creating a listener persona, you make it easier to reach out to potential advertisers and explain your audience to them. For yourself as a creator, a listener persona can give you helpful insight as to who’s listening to your show and what you can do to better meet their needs and expectations in the future

Here’s an example of a sample listener persona, all of which is made-up information that represents the average respondent to a listener survey:

  • Name: Susan
  • Age: 35
  • Marital Status: married with 2 young kids
  • Salary: $100,000-$150,000
  • Industry: CTO in an innovative technology company
  • Susan listens to our podcast about clean eating, self-care, and fitness on her drive to work. She does this to set herself up for a productive day where she prioritizes eating healthy. As CTO at her company, she has never had much time to dedicate to fitness or eating well. She turns to our podcast for insights on healthy eating, self-care, and fitness in the small free moments she has throughout her day.

This persona gives advertisers a very clear visual as to who Susan is, what her day-to-day life is like, what some of her daily struggles are, and even what her interests are. When advertisers have a conception of their target audience and that target matches your listener persona, you've already done the hardest part of a sponsorship deal - convincing the sponsor that your audience is who they're looking for. They know that your persona is the median of your podcast audience, and so their products should be well received by your audience if there's a match. That’s the power of a sample listener persona.

Knowing this information can also help you tailor your content to better match your audience. Previously, your podcast may have been targeted more toward people with a previous background in fitness and who knew their way around a gym. This outlook may have meant some of your content, like mentioning macronutrients, was confusing for listeners like Susan. Knowing this, you may want to plan your content different moving forward, so that your episodes better reflect the knowledge base and interests of a majority of your listeners.

Make a one page summary of all you learned from your survey's data, including a handful of written listener personas, so that you can reference it later when speaking to advertisers!

Want to see some real podcast surveys? We've collected some surveys that podcasts have put out for their listeners to complete. Check out the links below:

 

Read more about why listener surveys are so valuable for creators who are trying to get sponsored? Read our full guide "Why Podcasts Need to Do a Listener Survey"  here.

Want to read more guides for podcast creators? Click here to see our other guides.