Do you need a podcast intro?

Should your podcast have a set intro? You know, a segment of audio which is supposed to briefly introduce your show before you, the host, come on?

This is a question I have seen pop up in a few Facebook group I am part of. Usually the arguments in favor are:

  • Makes your show sound professional
  • Tradition is a key aspect of branding and marketing
  • Saves time in editing
  • Opportunity to hightligh important messages
  • Marks the beginning, let your listeners your show is about to start
  • Great for new listeners to get situated

The arguments against are:

  • Not having an intro gives you the freedom to create a new experience every time for your listeners
  • Intros are bad for regular listeners who can get tired of that fancy intro

On top of that you find plenty of advice on how to make your perfect intro: here, here. From my un-educated perspective, I would think that an intro would be a good thing as long as:

  • Some element remain constant (sound track, consistent wording)
  • It introduces the content of the episode I’m listening to
  • Tease something that I’ll want to stick around for

An alternative, which I heard in a couple podcasts, is the hybrid approach. Put an intriguing 5 sec part of the interview right at the beginning, then play the intro.

Let’s take a look at a few variations:

Fixed intro, always the same
Intro is different in content for every episode, but usually has the same elements, gets you straight into the episode
Intro before the intro (not their best exemple, but could not find another track)

As a podcaster, how are you to choose the best option for your podcast? What does your audience like anyway?

You know the drill: Facebook, survey and twitter to try to get your listeners’ opinion. Then make a gut decision.

You decide to have an intro, and start pushing your show out. But really you don’t know whether your intro is doing its job: get listeners intrigued so they listent to the entire show.

You’ll never know how many people might be turned away by that intro. I’ve seen a podcast where the intro is 30 seconds and by the end of those 30 seconds, 40% of the audience was gone, 40% in 30 seconds. My best guess for that podcast, is that the intro did not tell the listeners what the episode is about. It’s just a cool sounding audio segment. But this segment, leads the listeners to not even give a chance to the rest of the content. That listener you worked so hard to bring to your site in the first place just left…

And guess what, you’re regular stats won’t help you there. You still have the same number of downloads. If you could dig into those numbers, you’d learn some hard truth. You’d be able to learn from your mistake and improve your content.

That’s where installing Audience from on your website will help you. Audience will show you when your listeners are tuning out. Show you if your listeners are dropping off, or skipping ahead? Audience will not tell you why your listeners don’t like your intro and what to do about it. But it will highlight that something needs to happen. Then your creative genius will kick in and you’ll create even better content to engage your audience right from the start of your episode and keep then on the edge of their ear bud to the end of your podcast.

You can even use Audience to test out new intros and compare episode to episode which one (or maybe none) keeps your audience the most engaged.

Have a different opinion, want to learn more reach out on Facebook or Twitter.

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