How We Boosted Listener Downloads by Over 60%

BoostDownloadsAudioblog

The results were quite surprising. Jeremy’s first response when seeing them was, “That can’t be right.”

Careful verification showed that indeed, our experiment had worked more than we ever expected. The downloads of our audio content went up by over 60% (and in some cases doubled).

As a result, we’ve made a major change to our content publishing schedule.

In this post we talk about our test, why it worked and what change we made to our content to continue the growth trend.

Getting More Mileage from Your Content

“Why don’t we do audio version of our blog posts and post some to the main podcast feed?” The idea came up during our usual Monday strategy meeting.

Surveys of our audience showed that they were much more drawn to audio content than to reading. The preference was to consume content on-the-go.

Our blog posts were getting traffic, but not nearly the traction that we get with our feature audio show.

We wanted to continue blogging to have the Google juice provided by fresh text content, but we hated thinking that a huge piece of our following never even saw our blog content.

And so the experiment started. Jeremy and I each chose a couple posts that we’d written and recorded an audio version.

These audio blogs, as we called them, didn’t replace our feature show. Rather, they went out as additional bonus content. We released about one a week for a month.

Then we forgot about them.

The Truth is in the Numbers

Months later, Greg Hickman asked to see results from our experiment. He was preparing to share mobile strategies for his New Media Expo presentation.

And so I dug into the numbers. Here’s what we found.

  • The audio blogs got 60-100% more downloads than the feature podcast (wha?!)
  • The audio blogs had ten times more downloads than the original blog post had unique visits

It was a double-take moment.

Content sent out on the same feed was getting downloaded and streamed MUCH more than our main show.

So why did it work so well? This is where it gets a little tricky. Because audio download traffic is difficult to track, it gets tough to know exactly why it worked so well. However, we have a solid theory.

The Download Multiplier

To explain the surprising results, we looked to two key pieces of info.

Factor #1: Attention Span is Plunging

We’ve already been living in an attention economy for over a decade. The advent of the Internet followed by high-speed Internet connections in our pockets had fractured our attention.

Studies show that the average attention span of an adult surfing the Internet is only getting smaller.

While more and more people are consuming podcasts year-over-year, the length of time that they listen to a podcast in one go seems to be getting shorter.

Keep in mind, this is general data across all podcast listeners. Results could vary depending on the show or topic.

Factor #2: Mobile Usage Has Exploded, But Data Plans are Still Limited

In the past several years, the adoption of mobile phones, particularly smartphones, with broadband connections has grown rapidly.

When we first started podcasting, podcast were consumed far more on a desktop computer or an MP3 player without data connection. Now, you can download and stream podcasts on the go, at will.

That said, many mobile plans are limited as to how much they can download each month.

The Theory

Our best theory for why the audio blogs got so many more downloads comes down to two things.

  1. Shorter duration audios that better fit short listening attention spans
  2. Smaller file sizes that are easier and faster to download or stream on a mobile phone

The Audience Response

Just as, or perhaps even more, important as the numbers is the response from our audience.

  • “I didn’t even realize you had text blog content.”

  • “Thank you for finally letting me consume all your content in the way I want.”

  • “What an awesome way to create more value. Keep it up!”

These are pulled from email replies and Facebook responses when we sent out the audio blog content.

Three Actionable Conclusions

Regardless of whether or now our theory is correct, the numbers don’t lie. This audio blog content is greatly increasing our ability to engage our following and deliver value to them.

Here are the five conclusions that we pulled from this experiment.

  1. We need to post more short-form content
  2. Giving your audience the content THEY want in the way they want it is a sure way to win. Ask them.
  3. Re-purpose your content. It just makes sense. We can release a blog posts through one channel (the blog) or we can release the same content on another channel, with minimal work and get a huge boost in consumption and engagement.

So ask yourself the following questions and make a plan based on the answers.

  • When was the last time you surveyed your audience about your content to see how you can better meet their needs?
  • How can you create shorter form content (blog, audio, video, or other) to better adapt to the attention economy?
  • How can you take one piece of content and easily re-purpose it to take advantage of other content channels?

Our New AUDIOblog Podcast

As a result, we’ve launched an entirely new Internet Business Mastery AUDIOblog podcast feed. Every Friday we release an audio based on the previous week’s blog post. These audios deliver concise actionable tips in 15 minutes or less.

Subscribe here now in iTunes and leave a 5-star review. If we get 50 *written* reviews by the end of April, we’ll create an in depth training on how to launch a successful podcast. Your reviews help our new show to get featured and found so that we continue to create more quality content for you.

The AUDIOblog show comes out every Friday. You’ll find topics such as:

  • The First Key to Online Business Success
  • Branding Case Study: Attracting and Keeping Site Visitors
  • 7 Signs You Need to Escape the 9-to-5 Now
  • The Dangers of Hero-Worship in Business
  • How a 1988 Buick Freed Me from the Rat Race
  • And more…

We’ve also made a video to show you how to subscribe in iTunes and leave a review, including a short clip of me introducing our new podcast in front of the Eiffel Tower :).

eiffel-tower

As always, thank you for listening to the show and giving us feedback.

What other questions or feedback do you have for us about the new AUDIOblog show? Share in the comments below.

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