Creativity

Acast+ beta testing: 5 things we’ve learned about podcast subscriptions

Acast+ beta testing: 5 things we’ve learned about podcast subscriptions

Written by By Lauren TharpProduct Manager2021.07.20

Earlier this year we announced the launch of Acast+, a new suite of monetization options for creators of all sizes. It lets our podcasters offer things like ad-free streams and bonus content to paying subscribers, and you can set different membership tiers with their own price points and benefits.

I’ve been leading the beta testing phase with select partners for the past six months, working with our creators, listeners, and all the talented people throughout Acast to tweak and refine Acast+ — to get it in perfect shape for our full launch later this year.

So far, partners such as Bachelors In The City in the US, Irish History Podcast in Ireland, Mellan Himmel och Jord in Sweden, and Les Petites Histoires in France — and plenty of others around the world — are seeing an average revenue boost of 20% compared to their usual ad revenue.

And, during these six months, we’ve learned a lot about what works — and what doesn’t — when it comes to converting your loyal podcast fans into subscribers.

1. Provide real value

Listener support is primarily driven by their affinity to the podcast, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve real value in exchange for their membership dues.

For example, shows offering meaningful bonus content — fully produced, well-formatted episodes, at least bi-weekly — are performing 150% better than those only providing ad-free content.

And the number one reason subscribers tell us they’re canceling? They want bonus content that is consistently released and lets the podcaster’s creativity shine.

2. Memberships help your public feed

In most conversations I’ve been having with podcasters, it’s clear there’s a myth going around the podcast space lately that says having a membership will somehow take away from or diminish the value of your public, ad-driven feeds. But our experience so far just does not bear this out.

For one particular show, one third of its recent ad revenue growth can be attributed to increased awareness of the podcast due to its PR push around the introduction of its membership tiers. Total listens to its public episodes have also increased.

Memberships and podcasting are not either/or. Rather, they’re complementary aspects of a successful podcast business.

3. The “cost of a coffee” sweet spot still stands

Listeners are ready and willing to throw $3–5 towards podcasts they love. Go much higher, and support trickles off.

But, perhaps most interestingly, we’ve seen that going much lower has not led to higher adoption of memberships.

4. Listeners are putting their trust in you — so be transparent and give back

By paying the creator directly, listeners are demonstrating a more serious bond and care for the podcast — and podcasters with memberships do well to return that same care.

Going on a content hiatus? Offer the membership for free until you return. Have an issue where a week didn’t land? Give away a month free to show appreciation for listeners sticking with you.

Better yet, build up a backlog of exclusive content so there’s no interruption in delivery.This bond is for the long haul, so treat listeners with respect and they’ll be happy to support you.

5. 3% of your audience is a great starting goal

The truth is, the people most likely to pay you directly are your most ardent fans, who tend to make up a small percentage of your overall listeners. And that’s absolutely fine — public feeds with ad revenue are a proven method for podcast success.

But, for your most dedicated fans, we see roughly 3% engagement as a healthy and realistic benchmark for your first six months of membership success.

From there, you can use that base to test new formats, offer different perks, and continue to foster your listener community over time.

If you’re interested in setting up Acast+ for your podcast head to acast.com/acastplus for more information — and sign up to be the first to know when we launch in full.

Stories you might like

See all