Voice Mail For Podcasters
I strongly feel that the most valuable content that you can ever include in your podcast is the voice of those who listen to your show! Reading blog comments and emails from your listeners is an easy place to start. However, why not take your listener feedback to the next level?
Simply listen to the professional sound that comes from this audio clip that I played in one of the podcasts that I produce for the tv show, LOST. Note: The first “listener” that you will hear in this audio clip is none other than Jorge Garcia, the actor who played “Hurley” in the show!
Setting up a voice mail / listener feedback line for your show is not very difficult. The best part is that these voice messages can be sent straight to your email inbox with many services. There are so many different options to choose from. However, I’m simply going to list the three options that I think will serve you best.
The benefits of Google Voice are that it is Free and that it is supposed to be a number than you can use your entire lifetime. I have a Google Voice account and absolutely love it. However, I don’t use it for a voice mail line for my podcast. Instead, I use it as my main number for my business.
The main reason why I chose not to use Google Voice was due to the audio quality of the audio files. While the caller’s voice can be easily understood, the audio quality is not as high as the service that I began using before Google Voice was an option, which I’ll mention shortly.
One point to note is that with Google Voice, you can get an email notification of each new message. However, to retrieve the audio file, you will need to log into your google voice client to download each message.
For “most” podcasters, Google Voice will be the least expensive and most likely solution for a voice mail feedback line. However, if you are as serious about audio quality, as I am, I’ll share the service that I have been using the the past few years.
The Broadvoice Option:
Broadvoice is a VOIP (Voice Over IP) phone service similar to something like Vonage. A long time ago, I had decided to cancel our land line phone service to go to this VOIP service for our home phone usage. When I decided to do podcasting full-time as a career, I began to do a great deal of phone interviews which meant that I didn’t want to rely on VOIP quality calls, so I had a land line put back in.
When I first signed up with Broadvoice, I immediately turned it into my listener feedback line as I was only intended to use the Broadvoice service for outgoing calls. After I went to back to having a landline phone, I kept my Broadvoice account and dropped it to the least expensive plan at $9.99 (I pay $15.42 each month after tax).
Some clients have told me that they followed instructions that allowed them to download an iPhone app and sign up for their “BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) plan” which allowed them to get the same service I have for approximately $5/month.
With the service, I was able to configure every detail of every option online and I had it set so that when someone called the number, it would ring ZERO TIMES and it would send the caller IMMEDIATELY to Voice Mail. I had also set it up so that each and every voice mail would be sent to me via email as an attached .wav file.
I’ve been happy with the audio quality of the voice mail calls that had come in from Broadvoice. The audio files are recorded with less compression and sound a bit better than the Google Voice option. This is why I still use the Broadvoice service today.
If you choose to go with the Broadvoice option. I am also an affiliate for this service. If you click here here here to sign up for Broadvoice and the “referred by” field is not pre-filled, please enter 859-795-4067 as your referral number.
The SpeakPipe Option:
SpeakPipe is an option that many podcasters have found appealing. Their website touts that your audience can “leave voice messages right from a browser. No phone calls are required!” If your listeners have a built-in microphone or any other microphone connected to their computer, and Adobe Flash is installed, then they can leave you a message right from their computer.
At the time that I am writing this, the service still remains free of charge and nothing on the site indicates that this will change. However, I am certain that once this product moves out of beta, a pricing plan will be made available.
Honestly, I think this is a valuable solution for voice mail feedback. Personally, I’m not a fan of the code that puts a big button on the sidebar of your site begging people to leave you a message. However, if you are desperately seeking more call-ins, perhaps it would serve you well.
I do have an account with SpeakPipe. I don’t currently promote it very often. Rather than using their code to put the function of leaving a voice message right there on my site, I, instead, use their optional landing page as found at http://SpeakPipe.com/gspn. Of course, I would never consider reading out that URL in a podcast episode. Instead, I have it set up so that I can tell people to go to gspn.tv/feedback which I have set to forward to the voice message landing page.
The SpeakPipe developer is very responsive and genuinely has a desire to make this service the best it can be. Who knows, perhaps I’ll begin to promote it more over the coming months. One thing about SpeakPipe is that if your listener is using a usb headset or the ambient sound in the background is really low, you will almost always get a better sounding audio recording than any telephone line.
Create A Community Around Your Podcast!
Creating a community around your podcast involves a great deal more than having a voice mail listener feedback line. However, in my mind, this is a first step that each podcaster should take to provide an opportunity for their listeners to let their voices be heard!
I hope that this information has been helpful to you. If you found this page as the result of a google search, I encourage you to check out the Podcast Answer Man Podcast and that you’ll check out my resources page.
Cliff J. Ravenscraft