What's in this session?

  • The statistics (0:32)
  • Takeaway #1: Podcast listening is on the rise (3:05)
  • Takeaway #2: Listenership is 3x greater among Christians (3:28)
  • Takeaway #3: 4 out of 5 listen to the whole podcast (3:53)
  • Secret #1: Podcast listeners will be your biggest supporters (5:23)
  • Secret #2: smartURL (6:11)
  • Secret #3: Host every episode of your podcast on your website (7:41)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mills: Well, hey there. Welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less, you’re going to get a daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we try and navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills. Joined as always by the boss man, it’s Brady Shearer. And today we’re talking about 13 surprising truths about church sermon podcasts.
Brady Shearer: We have a lot of data to go through, a lot of exciting and fascinating, at least I’ve found to be, data points and statistics on church sermon podcasts.
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: And podcasts in general, Alex. So let’s dive right in.
Alex Mills: Let’s get to it.
Brady Shearer: First one, as of 2018, 26% of all American adults listen to podcasts on a regular basis.
Alex Mills: Wow.
Brady Shearer: That’s number one.
Alex Mills: That’s not a little bit.
Brady Shearer: No, that’s … and it keeps going up, which is what’s also interesting.
Secondly, podcast listenership has increased across every major age demographic in each of the last five years.
Alex Mills: Oh, wow.
Brady Shearer: So, this is Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers. You know, young people, medium people, older people. Podcast listenership has gone up every single year in the last five years-
Alex Mills: Wow.
Brady Shearer: For each of them. So, even though as we’ll see, podcasts trend a little bit younger, even those that are older are starting to dive into the audio listening game.
Alex Mills: My dad is a medium person, as you just described him, and he loves listening to podcasts. And I’ve seen it in … I’ve seen that truth in his life the last five years, just the increase in frequency in which he listens to podcasts. And you and I are listening to podcasts basically all the time. I’m listening to one right now. I’m creating a podcast and listening to a basketball-
Brady Shearer: Listening to one.
Alex Mills: Podcast as we talk.
Brady Shearer: Moving on, podcast listeners have increased their weekly listening by 40% in the last year as weekly podcast fans now listen to an average of seven different shows each week. And so, what does this show us? Not only is podcast listenership getting wider, it’s also getting deeper.
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: Before we started recorded this week’s episodes of Pro Church Daily, Brandon, one of our employees, was like, “Yeah, I have 82 shows in my queue.” And I have something similar.
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: There’s more podcasts that I want to listen to than I even possibly can.
Alex Mills: Yeah. I’m listening to a handful everyday.
Brady Shearer: Most listeners choose to consume podcasts from the comfort of their own home. And this was something I found interesting.
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: You think about listening to podcasts on the go, you especially thing about listening to shows in your car maybe-
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: But, the majority or the largest cohort of listenership areas is the comfort of ones own home.
Alex Mills: That’s interesting.
Brady Shearer: The vast majority of podcast listeners, 80%, consume most or the entire podcast episode. 42% of Millennials listen to podcasts regularly. And here’s where things get really interesting for Christians. 17% of practicing Christians are listening to podcasts on an everyday basis, compared to just 6% of non-Christians of all ages. Said differently, three times as many Christians listen to podcast compared to the general population.
Alex Mills: Wow.
Brady Shearer: So, I know that was a lot of data. Let’s talk about three takeaways from all of that data.
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: Takeaway number one: Podcast listenership is on the rise and has been for the better part of the last decade. And perhaps most importantly, Millennials, the largest living generation in the North American workforce, represent the age group most dedicated to podcasts. So, not only has podcast listenership gone up in the last decade, it projects to continue to increase-
Alex Mills: Whoa.
Brady Shearer: In the coming decade.
Takeaway number two: Podcast listenership is three times greater amongst practicing Christians.
Alex Mills: Wow.
Brady Shearer: And this presents a meaningful opportunity for your church. A lot of the times when we think about digital media and Christians, we think about how Christianity is behind the times.
Alex Mills: Right.
Brady Shearer: But when it comes to podcasting, we are significantly ahead of the times.
Alex Mills: We’re three steps ahead.
Brady Shearer: And so that’s a huge opportunity for your church to take advantage of.
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: And takeaway number three: Four out of every five podcast listeners consume the entirety of majority of a podcast episode. So, in a digital world of limited attention spans, and mindless scrolling, podcasts represent a significant divergence from the norm, because it’s a long form medium where long form content is not only accepted, but actually celebrated.
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: You create a 30, a 60 minute podcast, the vast majority of your listeners are listening to the whole thing.
Alex Mills: I don’t know if it’s just me, my personality type, if it’s my oneness on the Enneagram Scale, but I can’t delete a podcast episode until that listened bar is fully complete. Even if there’s an outro, I skip it using the 15 second skip ahead to make sure I get to the end. I listen to every episode in its fullness.
Brady Shearer: This is not an episode on the Enneagram, but Alex and I are both ones, which is the perfectionist, also known as the reformer.
Alex Mills: Right.
Brady Shearer: This is the perfectionist side, because I do the identical thing. I do the exact thing and there’s 30 seconds left and they’re just like, “And make sure to check out Blue Apron,” and I’m like, “I’m not going to delete … 15 seconds, 15 seconds, 15 seconds, done.”
Alex Mills: “Complete, I did it.”
Brady Shearer: No, we’re terrible. Three more secrets/takeaways that we want to take about. I labeled these three secrets, because when I discovered them I was either shocked or they made a meaningful difference on our own podcast-
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: Things that you don’t really know, but are hugely important to know.
Secret number one: Podcast listeners are going to be your biggest supporters.
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: So, almost certainly, your podcast download stats for your church’s sermon will disappoint you.
Alex Mills: Yes.
Brady Shearer: They’re not going to be glamorous. They’re not going to be extravagant.
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: Especially when you compare them to hits on your website, or even social media reach. But here’s the thing. Podcast is a medium that’s all about depth, not width.
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: When we go to conferences, when we do meetups, when people come to talk to us, our biggest supporters of Pro Church Tools are almost always podcast listeners.
Alex Mills: Absolutely. Yeah.
Brady Shearer: Because if you spend an hour plus with somebody in your ear every single week, that represents a huge commitment from them.
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: So, don’t be discouraged by podcast download numbers or metrics that are kind of discouraging-
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: Because it’s almost about depth, not width.
Alex Mills: Awesome.
Brady Shearer: Secret number two is a tool actually-
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: Called Smart URL. Even though Apple Podcast is still the biggest platform, when it comes to listening to podcasts-
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: There are so many different applications, like TuneIn Radio, like Spotify, like Overcast, like Breaker, like Google Play, there are so many different one. And so, what you should consider doing is using the a tool like Smart URL. You can see an example of what this will look like at our Pro Church Daily website.
Alex Mills: .com.
Brady Shearer: URL, like Alex said. ProChurchDaily.com. Basically this page is what’s called a pivot page. So, someone lands on ProChurchDaily.com and it shows all of our podcasts and then it gives them an option of where they wish to subscribe.
Alex Mills: Anywhere.
Brady Shearer: Exactly. So, it shows Spotify, TuneIn, Overcast, YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and whatever destinations you want to include. And so that way your visitor can choose where they wish to subscribe.
Alex Mills: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: It’s a great way to create a pivot page for your podcasts.
Alex Mills: That’s so helpful, because when we first started hosting podcasts and uploaded our sermons to podcast, I was doing it exclusively to the Apple Podcasts store.
Brady Shearer: Right.
Alex Mills: And I got some pushback from a small number of people in our congregation say, “Hey, I would love to listen to this sermon, but I’m on this phone or that phone,” and I was kind of scrambling so I’d give them the direct RSS feed link.
Brady Shearer: Right.
Alex Mills: And be like, “Well, you can listen to it here or whatever.” This is perfect. You’d set up a pivot page on Smart URL and then whoever lands on that page can choose to listen or subscribe wherever their little heart pleases.
Brady Shearer: The final secret, really the most important I think, is to make sure that you’re hosting every single episode of your podcast on your website. You don’t need to host the audio file there, but you need to have a page dedicated to your podcast as a whole, and then every single episode of your podcast. And the reason for this is because it’s one thing to point people to another location, but when it comes to SEO and when it comes to owning your own content, you need to have control of that as well. So, this isn’t necessarily an either or thing, it’s a both and.
Alex Mills: Right.
Brady Shearer: We call a sermon engine, where all of your content is in one place, where it’s easy to find, easily organized, easily categorized, your visitors can sort through it, but it also makes sure that you have a home base-
Alex Mills: Yes.
Brady Shearer: For all of your podcasts. They don’t just live on Apple, so they can make a decision and change the rules.
Alex Mills: Right.
Brady Shearer: They don’t just live on YouTube, where they can make a decision and change the rule. You own that content as well. We can it a sermon engine and we just put together a free guide called The Essential Sermon Series Bundle. It’s not just one guide actually, it’s five different free resources in a bundle.
Alex Mills: Wow.
Brady Shearer: It’s called The Essential Sermon Series Bundle. It’s the featured resource for this episode of Pro Church Daily. It’s linked in the show notes for this episode. It’s 100% free. Go and download it and you can start putting together your own sermon engine today.
Alex Mills: There you go.
Brady Shearer: That’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ll see you next time.

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