Podcasting is a great way to share your message, promote your brand, and build your authority within your niche. It’s also just a really unique way to connect with others who share your passion for a particular topic. You put so much time and effort into creating your show, from creating your valuable content, to seeking out and interviewing some amazing guests, all the time you put into editing (SO. MUCH. EDITING!), and all the ways you strive to establish a loyal community around your show. But at the end of the day, podcasting is still a one-way conversation. How do you know that you’re hitting the mark and that listeners are truly connecting with your show? The answer? Reviews and ratings! Reviews are one of the few true ways that you, as a podcaster, can really know how your content and the overall package is resonating with your listeners. Download numbers are one thing, but reviews are a way for your listeners to actually tell you how much they are enjoying your show, and they help you as the host and content creator know what is and what is not working. Besides the fact that it just feels great knowing that there are people all over the world who love what you’re doing!
Why Reviews and Ratings Matter
But besides the confidence boost, getting more positive ratings and reviews is important for other reasons too. When people are browsing around podcast directories, particularly the ever-popular Apple Podcasts, as well as Stitcher, for example, shows with more gold stars are much more likely to draw their attention than those without the bling. Having that stamp of approval from current listeners goes a long way in showing potential listeners that this show is one of the good ones, and that by not listening to your show, they’re missing out on something amazing! There’s nothing like the power of FOMO to pique curiosity! Having a bevy of positive reviews linked to your show is also a great way to show potential listeners that your show is definitely worth their time. When they see that so many love your show, there’s a much higher chance that they will lend their ear to your show over another one with less or no reviews. That’s because reviews are seen as a mark of credibility and a sign of authority in favor of the host. Ratings and reviews also play a vital part when it comes to seeking advertising opportunities as all your positive reviews can weigh heavily in your favor when brands are picking new shows to partner with.
So now that we’ve asserted how important and valuable those positive reviews and 5-star ratings are, we need to get to the nitty-gritty of just how you can rack up reviews for your stand-out show.
1. Ask Your Listeners
First up, start by simply asking your listeners to leave you a review. No doubt, when you’ve been listening away to your favorite show you’ve heard their appeal for reviews and ratings. This is because it’s one of the simplest ways to start upping your ratings. Your loyal listeners already love your show and what you do, so asking them to leave a review is simply asking them to share something that they love with others. Remember, one of the reasons why we all love podcasts so much is because of the almost one-on-one relationships that hosts cultivate with their loyal listeners. Because of this relationship, simply requesting reviews should see an increase in positive ratings for your show. And if you’re providing the content they love, your request should naturally receive a favorable response. I know it can feel weird asking for reviews. You may at first feel like a salesman trying to flog their wares, but the difference really is the relationship you’ve cultivated with your listeners. If you’re giving your time and effort to creating your amazing show, then your listeners would most likely jump at the opportunity to show their appreciation, they just might not have thought about it before your request. If you make sure that your call to action is genuine and sincere, and if you let your listeners know how much their reviews mean to you, their natural response will be to help you out.
2. Provide A Direct Link
Now that you’ve put out the appeal to your listeners to write you a review, a great idea is to leave a direct link in your show notes so it’s easy for them to navigate to exactly where they can leave the review. This makes it super simple for your audience to follow your call to action while the request is fresh in their minds. I’m sure you’re aware in your own life that things you leave “to do later” very rarely get done. The same is true for your podcast reviews. Rather than hoping that your listeners will go back at a later date and time to leave a review, compel them to go ahead and do it here and now by giving them easy access to the review section. As a bonus tip, remember to include links to all the platforms where podcast reviews and ratings are possible to make it even easier for your listeners to leave you that review on the platform they use most often.
3. Use Templates
So now that you’ve made it easy for your listeners to leave reviews by giving them direct links, how about going the extra mile by making it even simpler to rate and review your show? Our next strategy to help you gain those positive reviews is to have a review template ready and waiting in your show notes for your listener’s convenience. It’s often the case that podcast listeners want to leave reviews for their favorite podcasts, but they just don’t know where to start or what to write. Your listeners may want to shout about your show from the proverbial rooftops, but they may just find it difficult to write what they feel. To overcome this hurdle, you could create a review template that your listeners can use as a guide for writing their own review. This is by no means writing the reviews for them or coercing them into saying what you want them to say. It is merely providing some helpful writing prompts which your listeners can easily use to guide their writing. Once they’ve gotten started, they’ll find it so much easier than they expected to spread the love about your show.
4. Reply To Reviews
Another really effective way to encourage more listeners to rate your podcast and so rack up some great reviews is to use the comments and reviews that your audience leaves as another way to personally engage with your listeners. This can be done by taking the time to respond to the reviews you receive for your show. Knowing that a podcast host they admire and respect might personally respond to one of their comments is a powerful incentive for loyal fans to leave a review for a podcast. As much as is possible, dedicate time to read through your reviews and comments across the different podcast directories and send thank you messages to those who leave feedback on your show. Not only is this a great motivator for your fans to leave you reviews, but this is also just a wonderful way to tell your listeners how much they matter to you, which, in turn, helps to further create that supportive community around your show and helps to strengthen the relationship between you and your loyal listeners.
5. Incorporate A “Shoutouts” Segment
In the same vein as personally responding to reviews as a way to encourage your listeners to rate and review your podcast, another way to boost your review numbers is to start including a shoutout segment during your episodes. All this requires is a small section in an episode every so often where you shout out by name and thank your reviewers, and perhaps even read out the highlights of the reviews. These shoutouts are a fun, easy way to offer your heartfelt and sincere thanks to some of your reviewers as well as an incredibly effective way to further strengthen the community around your show. The replies mentioned above as well as these shoutouts is also a great way to transform that one-way conversation podcasting can be into a real conversation between you and your listeners. It also helps create a level of accessibility around you and your show and lets your listeners know how truly integral they are to the success of your podcast.
6. Run A Giveaway Or Contest
Our last strategy to help you bump up your ratings is by running a contest or giveaway in connection with your reviews. Competitions are a tried and tested method for increasing audience engagement, and so they can be really effective in boosting your reviews. Set up the rules of the competition so that rating and reviewing your podcast on the available directories gains them an entry into the giveaway, make sure that the prize is something that will really appeal to your audience and you’ll be sure to get those reviews flying in. Announce the competition on your episodes and splash it across your social media pages to really hype up the excitement. In your setting up of the guidelines, you can decide whether the prize or prizes is given to your favorite review, or if it will be a random selection of all who wrote a review during the time period the competition runs for. Not only are these giveaways or contests a really fun way to get your audience more engaged, but it’s also a great way to give back a little to the community that has supported your show so faithfully.
Reviews are a great way to strengthen your authority within your niche and broaden your opportunities, but they are also just a wonderful way to connect with your audience and to see that your show means as much to your listeners as it does to you. So don’t be afraid to ask your community to support you by leaving reviews and rating your show. Just remember, that not all podcast sites and directories have the option to rate or review podcasts (yet) so make it clear in your message to your listeners where they should go for their reviews and ratings. Obviously, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher are top contenders, but you could also direct your listeners to platforms such as Podchaser. It may feel a little awkward the first time you ask, but remember, you’re not begging for people to like you. If you consistently put out stellar content and really take the time to create and connect with the community around your show, a positive review and rating is a natural response to their love of what you are delivering. So go ahead and ask for those reviews, keep making stand-out episodes, and the community and opportunities around your show will continue to expand as you soar to new heights.