Marketing and Promotion

How casual podcast listeners can become paid subscribers

As you grow your podcast audience and build your business, it’s helpful to visualize the different opportunities to reach and engage your audience on Apple Podcasts. In marketing terms, this is often displayed as a funnel — following the customer’s journey from discovery to transaction. 

Audience segments explained

The top of the funnel represents your widest possible reach. It is where listeners first encounter your podcast — whether sampling a trailer, listening to an episode, or following your show. You can see your listeners in Apple Podcasts Connect broken out by followers, listeners, and engaged listeners (anyone listening to the greater of 20 minutes or 40 percent of an episode).

The bottom of the funnel is the smaller but very loyal group of listeners — super fans. They not only listen to your every episode, but they buy your merchandise, follow you on social media, join your email newsletter, and attend your live shows.

The rising opportunity in the middle 

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions opens up a new opportunity in the middle of this funnel. This is where you can address the casual majority of your audience — the people who may not be motivated to go off-platform for deeper engagement but are are happy to keep listening in-app and, when easy, subscribe to get extra content or support their favorite creator. They are paying attention but are not (yet) your super fans. 

When prompted with the right invitation and a compelling benefit, this audience can become paying subscribers to your show. Apple Podcasts makes this action as seamless as possible: these listeners can simply pay for and immediately enjoy subscription benefits right where they already listen. 

Strategies for reaching each audience

It’s helpful to distinguish between these three segments and understand the complementary business models and messaging tactics for each:

At the top: Creators often focus on monetization through advertising. The goal here is driving discovery and adding new listeners, maximizing your reach and impressions. Here, it helps to welcome, introduce, and invite new listeners to discover more as they increase engagement with your show.

In the middle: Now creators have a new opportunity to convert casual listeners to paying subscribers. The goal is here is to generate recurring revenue for your show on a per-listener basis. To help with subscriber retention, thank subscribers for joining, remind them of the valuable benefits they have paid for, and update them on what’s coming next.

At the bottom: Creators invite super fans to go beyond listening by offering off-platform benefits like early access to live event tickets or a members-only community. The goal here is engagement — cultivating a deeper relationship with a valuable fanbase. For super fans, explain the range of additional experiences available beyond your show and your subscription on Apple Podcasts.

An increasing number of creators are pursuing opportunities across all three audiences as part of a diversified and expanding podcast business model. Audiences can belong to each of these groups at different points in their relationship to your show. The more casual listeners you attract, the more paying subscribers you can convert, and the more super fans you can identify.