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Successful Podcasters Share What Makes A Great Podcast Intro

Your podcast intro is foundational to its success. Here, podcasters share seven tips to build and engage your listening audience.

Successful Podcasters Share What Makes A Great Podcast Intro

Podcast intros are an important quality of a successful podcast.

The right intro sets the podcast on a path to success.

These seven tips will help your podcast build an audience and retain it:

  1. Hook the listeners fast.
  2. Make every second of the podcast intro count.
  3. A good podcast intro builds audience retention.
  4. Test podcast intros for audience retention.
  5. Three things a podcast intro must communicate.
  6. Podcast intro builds loyalty.
  7. Where to get music for a podcast.

Let’s dig into each one and see how you can put it work for your podcast.

1. Hook The Listeners Fast

Erin Sparks of Edge of the Web Radio podcast says that there is a subtle but important value in the podcast intro when it comes to what he calls, “click browsing.”

Erin suggests that the intro functions like a hook – to grab the listener’s attention and immediately intrigue them.

He shares this insight:

“The audio ‘hook’ is important to podcast click browsing. Walking through a podcast app, people will click and listen to 7-10 seconds to hear if they ‘feel’ the show.

Much different than any other medium.”

Chris Brogan of Making the Brand podcast agrees that a podcast intro should be short.

He shares these insights on the qualities of a useful podcast intro:

“I’m a huge fan of brief. Once you hear it more than twice, it’s boring to everyone.

An intro should set the mental stage for what’s coming up.

Choose music and words that emulate the show.”

2. Make Every Second Of The Podcast Intro Count

Jorge Hermida, Program Director at WMR.FM and Cannabis Radio Podcasts, observes that it’s important to give listeners a reason to stick around for the podcast but to do it in the shortest amount of time possible.

He says there is absolutely no time to waste within your podcast intro so it’s super important to literally make every second count.

He shares:

“Podcast listeners, just like anybody else, have a short attention span.

You have to give listeners a reason to listen to your content within the first 30 seconds.

Whether you create a cold opener or you run down what you’re going to be talking about on the program, you need to satisfy that listener immediately.

Create the intro as if every listener has a short attention span because in my professional experience, they will either stay and listen to your show, or they’ll drop off and find another show to listen to.”

3. Podcast Intro Builds Audience Retention

Azeem Ahmad of the Azeem Digital SEO podcast shares that a good podcast intro will help maintain audience retention, as well as encourage engagement and loyalty.

This is an element of conversion theory, where even seemingly trivial elements can encourage or discourage the action we are looking for.

A classic example is a PPC arbitrage marketer who maximizes the number of sales for every click.

Affiliate PPC marketers succeed or go out of business fast depending on how well they convert every visitor.

This person discovered that detecting the mobile device and adding an “iPhone friendly” or “Android friendly” badge increased their conversion rates by a measurable rate.

The follow-up insight Azeem suggests is similar.

He said that a podcast intro has the same effect of encouraging a user to click and stay for the podcast or to leave.

And for that reason, it’s important to view the intro as a configurable asset that can be used to improve audience retention.

Azeem shares how a podcast intro is important for retention rates and engagement:

“People will get bored with repetition, and regardless of your podcast format – the idea is to engage the listener.

If you lose them within the first 30 seconds, you will very likely see a drop in retention rate and engaged listeners.”

4. Test Podcast Intros For Audience Retention

Azeem next shares that a way to improve retention and engagement is to experiment with new intros and outros.

He shares this tip:

“As a host you should change this up sometimes.

Customizing the intro every time is basically an option to test for what works the best.

For example, you could test asking people to subscribe in the intro vs. the outro for a few episodes and see which drives more growth.”

5. Three Things A Podcast Intro Must Communicate

Sparks offers useful information about what should be communicated in a podcast introduction.

He shares how the introduction should communicate the “What’s in it for me?” proposition to the listener.

Figuring out the tried-and-true principle of answering the question of “What’s in it for me?” is a great way to think about how to create a podcast intro that is useful for the listener.

So, it makes sense to apply that approach to podcast intros so that a listener is reminded of why they are there, which could be to become better at what they do, to catch up on industry news, to be entertained, etc.

Here is what Sparks shares:

“A good intro provides:

  1. A promise to the listener in the first five to seven seconds (a transaction of knowledge communicating what they are going to get).
  2. Sonic branding.
  3. Credibility, contextual reference to subject matter expertise.”

6. Podcast Intro Builds Loyalty

Jim Hedger, the co-host of the popular Webcology SEO podcast, suggests that the podcast intro helps to build a sense of familiarity and ownership of a space.

I’ve noticed that people tend to feel a sense of ownership in a website they enjoy, perhaps because the site might be a part of their self-identity as a baker, sportsperson, or whatever the topic is.

Ever walk into a favorite restaurant and immediately receive a feeling of comfort or anticipation?

It’s a sense of ownership of an experience, that this experience is yours and it’s yours yet again.

Hedger says that a podcast intro can have a similar effect, to bring a sense of comfort and anticipation that one feels in physical spaces that one feels loyal and connected to.

He observes:

“I once read that people aren’t loyal to restaurants as much as they are loyal to spaces they feel comfortable being in.

The same can be said for podcasts.

Like radio, podcasts are a theater of the mind. Your intro is the breath that first forms the space you, your guests, and the audience will create together.

Podcasts are incredibly intimate. I think you need to feel love for your audience and deeply respect the topic and your introduction is your first chance to establish that.

A host’s job is to help the audience develop a zone in which they and the host are virtually in the same place.”

7. Where To Get Music For A Podcast Intro

Something to keep in mind is that any music used should be licensed.

There is an idea that it’s okay to use just a little bit of someone else’s music, but that might not be the case.

And if that’s the direction you are moving in, then it may be prudent to check with an attorney first.

The podcasting professionals consulted for this article all agree that it’s important to purchase a license for the right to any music used within a podcast.

Everyone agrees that it’s best to license royalty-free podcast intro music because this safeguards against copyright infringement claims.

Hermida shares:

“Our music is licensed, and most other podcasts most likely use some kind of licensed music from other licensed music providers for some original music that’s not prone to any copyright issues.

It doesn’t really matter where the music comes from, except that I would always recommend to make sure you use music that you are allowed to use and that license to use the music is documented and can be proven.”

Sparks also recommends paying for a license to use music:

“We have a number of music licenses that we have used over the years.

We highly recommend reviewing different sound repositories and utilizing them to create that sonic brand.

Places to license music are Envato Elements, Epidemic Sound, and the like.

We also have a continual license with our deep voice announcer, our voice over talent.

That should also be something to consider when you’re developing a long-term show.”

Brogan recommends:

“Epidemic Sound works fine. Buy a license. “

Always read the license when choosing a digital music asset in order to be aware of what you can and can’t do with the music and for how long you are entitled to use it.

  • Epidemic Sound – several of the podcasters mentioned Epidemic Sound as a good place to purchase a license for music.
  • Envato Elements is a source for high-quality licensed, royalty-free music suitable for a podcast intro.
  • Shutterstock Music – Shutterstock is known for its stock photography library, but they also offer royalty-free music specifically for podcasts. A license that’s appropriate for use in a podcast costs $49.
  • Music Bakery offers royalty-free music where you pay for it once and can use it anywhere, but be sure to read the license agreement to know exactly what you are paying for.
  • InstantMusicNow offers digital downloads starting at $4.95.
  • Adobe Stock Music Library – Adobe offers royalty-free music that can be used in multiple projects.

Podcast Intros Are Important

At this point, it should be clear that a seemingly trivial thing like a podcast intro is actually part of the foundation of a successful podcast.

Clearly, the content of the podcast is the most important quality of a podcast.

Yet, as important as the content is, it’s the podcast intro that sets the stage and makes listeners feel they have arrived at their happy place, while also communicating what is in it for the listener, which encourages them to stick around for the content.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Alex from the Rock/Shutterstock

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Roger Montti is a search marketer with over 20 years experience. I offer site audits, phone consultations and content and ... [Read full bio]

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