Podcasting is a fantastic medium and way to connect with your audience, regardless of the type of business you’re in, what your brand is, or what your goals are with creating content. Everyone who listens to podcasts has the same goals: be inspired, be entertained, or be educated.
However, due to the nature of podcasting as a mostly one-way means of communicating it is sometimes difficult for us as content creators and owners of our shows to know how our content is resonating with listeners.
To draw a few comparisons to other similar content types for blog posts you could look at things like pageviews, email optins, comments, or Time On Page as an indicator for how much a particular piece resonated with your readers. Similarly if you have a YouTube channel you could look at things like Average Listening Duration, Comments, or Likes as an indicator for how well a particular video is doing with your audience.
With podcasting there are just 2 ways that we like to look at to indicate whether a show is striking that chord with your listeners: downloads and ratings/reviews.
Ok, so just a bit of terminology to get out of the way here to start with about podcast reviews and ratings.
Firstly, when we talk about Ratings and Reviews almost all of the time we’re JUST talking about those ratings/reviews within iTunes. Yes Stitcher and Google Play are becoming an increasingly large presence in the podcasting space, but for now let’s just say that iTunes is the only game in town.
From there we’ll break down the difference between Rating and Review.
A Rating is 5-stars, or 1-star which we never like to see. A Review on the other hand is something like “This is the best podcast ever, I don’t know how I lived my life before I found this show”. Those are great to hear and will really make your day.
Some recent changes in the iTunes platform and the native iOS Podcast app have made the review process a lot easier both for subscribers of shows and those just browsing through the podcast catalog.
Your Podcast Rankings
Not only are Ratings and Reviews important for the social proof aspect of growing your audience (nobody wants to be the first or only listener to a show…we all want to listen to what other people have told us are good shows) but they also greatly impact your podcast’s ranking within iTunes.
While iTunes does not give specific information about their ranking algorithm suffice it to say that there are a handful of things we know with pretty strong confidence go into your rankings:
- Ratings and Reviews
- Downloads overall for your podcast
- Downloads in the first 48 hours of a new episode being published (this is an indicator of “subscribers”)
- Amount of time your podcast has been active
There are likely a few others, like the change in pace of each of these over time, the so called Trending affect, that indicates that a new show (or episode) is ‘HOT’.
We all focus a lot of our energies on the Downloads aspect of our podcasts, but do many of us think about how to encourage our listeners to give a Rating and Review for our shows? Probably something we could all do better with.
Best Practices for Getting More Podcast Reviews
There are a handful of things you can do to set your show up for success when it comes to Ratings and Reviews. The first is to educate your listeners how, and where, they can leave a review.
Have a strong Call To Action:
The first place to do this is both in the Outro segment for each episode. Have a strong Call To Action at the end of each episode encouraging listeners to go to iTunes and leave a Rating and/or Review for the show.
Similarly in the show notes for each episode a standard Call To Action to listeners to leave that same Rating and Review is vital. There are several ways to create a template of this language so that you don’t have to recreate the wheel every time you publish an episode. Get a system that works for you and stick with it…you’ll love the ease of publishing and your audience will love the consistency in your podcast.
Have a dedicated Review tutorial page
My friend Jane Portman over at UI Breakfast has a great page on her site that walks listeners through exactly how to leave a Rating and Review for her show in iTunes. Complete with annotated screenshots this is a great guide to walk anyone through the process, even if it’s their first time.
Reward Listeners for Leaving Reviews
This may fall under the category of a launch strategy, but it can apply anytime really. When it comes to asking someone to do something for you a little ‘quid pro quo’ goes a long way. Is there something you can offer your listeners in return for them leaving a Rating or Review for your podcast?
Things we’ve seen work really well include: a white paper or eBook, a 15 minute consultation call with you or a member of your team, a free online course, a copy of your book, or a bit of swag from your business.
These are really more just gestures of your appreciation than things of immense value, but they should be considered when asking for people to do something for you.
Viewing Your iTunes Reviews
We’ve talked a lot about Why ratings and reviews are so important, as well as some of the Best Practices when it comes to those podcast reviews and ratings. But now it’s time to bask in the glory of our show being uber popular, and viewing all of those ratings and reviews.
Here’s where iTunes comes up a bit short, but worry not, we’ve got a great solution for you.
iTunes actually separates out all your podcast reviews by the geographical area in which they were given. So most of your podcast listeners might be in the United States, but unless you’re viewing the UK page of iTunes you won’t see any Ratings and Reviews that listeners in England or Scotland have given. That’s no fun, right?
And who has time to go through each iTunes country page every week to look at your latest reviews? Not here.
Fortunately our friends over at Podrover have made this, and a few other awesome things when it comes to gathering and encouraging Ratings and Reviews, really easy.
Podrover aggregates all of your iTunes ratings and reviews in one place for you. So no more scouring through pages of iTunes from each country you think you have listeners in. Podrover goes through automatically and gathers your reviews in one place for you to check out, and to share with your listeners.
Remember when we talked about Social Proof and how we all want to listen to shows that other people are already enjoying? Well I can’t think of many better ways than sharing Ratings and Reviews from other listeners with your audience on social media. Podrover has a nice built-in social sharing functionality where it will share select reviews with your audience on the day of the week you choose.
How is Your Show Performing?
So, how are you doing with your own podcast when it comes to getting more Podcast Reviews, and sharing those Ratings and Reviews with your audience? Using some of the best practices we talked about today as well as a neat tool like Podrover is a great way to simplify this process for you and get your show set up for success.