Getting podcast reviews is nice. You put a lot of work into your content, after all. Sometimes you can go through periods where you feel like no one is listening. Then a positive review from a listener pops up, and it's like a virtual pat on the back.
There’s more to podcast reviews than fanning the flames of your ego, though. Reviews create social proof, and potential new listeners might decide whether to listen or not based on what others are saying about you. They prove that your show has an engaged and loyal following.
So, although reviews aren’t the be-all and end-all, they are important. How do you go about getting them?
Where Do Listeners Review Podcasts?
The first step is to look at where the reviewing process happens. Unsurprisingly, it's on listening platforms themselves.
The most common places we see podcast reviews are Apple Podcasts/iTunes and Podchaser. Podbean, Stitcher, and Castbox are 3 other places some shows might see some feedback and chatter about their content.
Some podcasters ask specifically for Apple Podcasts/iTunes reviews. Whilst this is comfortably the biggest place podcasts are consumed, it can be more useful to ask for podcast reviews “on your listening app of choice”.
Or, you might choose to focus on getting Podchaser reviews. This doesn't rely on anyone being tied to the Android or iOS platforms. Besides, Podchaser – often referred to as “the IMDb of podcasting” – is fast becoming the leading platform for podcast discoverability.
Who Should Review Your Show?
There’s only one answer here – your audience.
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There are a number of ways that you can quickly get a lot of 5-star reviews in a dishonest manner. You can take part in “review swaps” in communities where everyone exchanges a 5-star rating.
Nothing screams “dishonest review swap” like a show with a long list of 5-star reviews, on the same date, with generic titles like “Great Show!” People can spot this a mile away.
There are also folks out there who may offer you the opportunity to “buy reviews”. Avoid these strategies at all costs. They can do your show's reputation and reach a lot more harm than good.
Anyway, that’s a couple of the don’ts – what about the do’s?
Asking Your Audience for Podcast Reviews
It seems obvious, but if you want your audience to review your show, the first step is to ask them.
The best place to ask for a review is at the end of your episode. Your most engaged listeners will always listen to the very end, and they’ll be more likely to take action. Especially if they’ve enjoyed the episode they’ve just heard.
The beginning of an episode isn’t a good place to ask. For starters, you’ll always have a few new listeners trying out your show for the very first time, and it isn’t the best first impression. It's like asking for the bill before you've served the meal.
Also, by the end of the episode, the listener will probably forget that you even asked. Asking for a review at the end will always be more effective.
Some podcasters prefer to ask for an “honest review and rating” rather than specifically a 5-star review. Of course, you always want a 5 star review, but it’s good to know your content alone has earned you one. There's also a lot of value in 4 star reviews – potential new listeners are more likely to pay attention to these than they are the 5s and the 1s.
When asking your audience for podcast reviews, be sure to explain the benefits to them. This could be things like the fact that it’ll help you reach new listeners, grow the show and enable you to keep putting out the content that they enjoy so much.
Show Them How
Like anything else, leaving a Podcast review is simple when you know how to do it.
If we use Apple/iTunes as an example, they do make you jump through a couple of hoops. This can put someone off if they’ve never done one before.
It’ll help you both if you can point your listener to a page or link on your site, where you’ll walk them through the process of reviewing a podcast.
You can create a video yourself, focusing on your computer or phone’s screen as you click through and review a podcast you like. Or you can use screenshots if you think that would be easier for you. Short guides showing people how to subscribe to your podcast are well worth having, too.
You can even link to someone else’s Youtube tutorial on rating/reviewing a podcast, if you don’t want to spend any time making one.
Whatever resource you choose to provide for your listener, let them know where they can find it, and how you'll show them.
Hopefully, there’s a handful of people out there who listen to your show, that you’d consider your core fans. People who you know never miss an episode, and that you find yourself talking to on a regular basis.
You might choose to reach out to these people, and ask them if they’d mind leaving a rating and review. If they’re loyal listeners to your show, then you’re still asking your audience.
Chances are, they’d be more than happy to help out and support you in this way.
Reading Out Podcast Reviews
Reading out a recent podcast review at the end of an episode is a good way to lead into asking for more.
It shows that other listeners value what you do, adding to the “social proof” that comes from positive reviews in general.
People also like to hear their names read out on their favourite podcasts. When a host reads correspondence from a listener, it helps reinforce the relationship between them. It makes them feel part of that show and the community around it.
So, if you’ve already had a good review on iTunes, Podchaser, or anywhere else, read it out when you’re about to ask for more. It’ll help encourage others to leave one of their own, because they might end up being a part of a future episode.
Try to only read out reviews that'll be useful for your listeners. This might be stories and examples of how your content has helped in some way. If you're only reading out reviews like “this show is amazing and I love the host's voice” then it could start to feel a little self-indulgent.
Keeping Track of Podcast Reviews
It's counterproductive taking time away from creating content, to regularly go searching round the web for new podcast reviews.
With that in mind, you should think about using a service like MyPodcastReviews or Podrover to keep track of them all. This way, new reviews from the various platforms will be delivered to you automatically. This also makes it really easy to share them on social media, or with your audience in general.
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Podcast Review Competitions
Is it “cheating” to hold a competition where people enter by leaving a podcast review? That depends on where you share details of the competition.
If you mention it on social media pages that aren’t directly connected to your show, then it could be considered a little underhand. Some potential reviewers might never have listened to an episode before. This could, again, lead to the telltale signs of multiple generic “Great Show!” reviews.
If you announce a reviews comp on one of your episodes, though, then it’s all above board. You're simply asking your audience for reviews, and they’ve got the chance to win something in return.
You'll want to make things easy for yourself when running any competition. Once the listener leaves their review, have them screenshot it and email it to you. That way you have a method of getting in touch with them, without having to guess who they are based on something like their iTunes name.
Be clear on the closing date for choosing a winner. Decide if it's a one-off competition, or something ongoing. With the latter, you might pick a winner at the end of each month.
Decide if the prize is digital (an ebook, course access) or physical (a bottle of wine, a book). If it’s physical, are you in a position to post it anywhere in the world? If not, opt for the former.
If the prize is digital, you might even consider the “prize for all” approach, so anyone who leaves you a review and then emails you will get a copy of your ebook, for example.
Finally, you can offer incentives that can get your listeners working together towards a common goal.
That could be something like “when we get 25 reviews in the US store, I’ll….”
Once they get you to that milestone, you then deliver on what you promised. Whatever that is, depends on you and your show. But it could be some form of premium content, a live episode, or an already recorded interview with a top tier guest.
Or you could offer to do something a little different, like a parachute jump, having your head shaved, or running a marathon.
Again, the incentive really depends on your topic and your audience. You’ll know them a lot better than I do, so pick something that’ll interest them, and set them a goal.
How to Get More Podcast Reviews
Hopefully, this has given you at least a couple of ideas towards getting more podcast reviews. Remember, it isn’t something to obsess over, but these tactics can be employed to have multiple benefits for your show and your audience.
Finally, try not to see podcast reviews as your main growth tactic. For more effective ways to promote your podcast and grow your audience, check out our full guide, linked to there.
And if you'd like to work with us on this, check out The Podcast Host Academy. There you'll find all our courses (like 30 Days of Growth), as well as our downloadable resources, and weekly live Q&A sessions!