Have I Underestimated the Power of Apple Podcast Reviews?

Today I am joined by Joe Saul-Sehy from Stacking Benjamins (which was recently added to the Westwood One Network). Joe recently took a class lead by Sinan Aral (author of the book The Hype Machine) and while it's been proven over and over that Apple ratings and Reviews do not help you in the apple podcast charts, but how much influence do ratings have for those looking for new podcasts?

Sponsor: Podpage

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Check out this video to see how easy it is to setup your show.

People Like Things That Are Liked

When it comes to businesses, 1 out of 20 people will write a negative report online. While a generic, “this show is awful” type of review seems horrible, the worst type of review is a well-thought-out, specific, negative review. It shows it was not written by some nutjob who just wanted to vent.

Recent research by Moz found that a company risks losing:

22% of potential customers when a single negative review of your product, service or company is found
59% of potential customers when 3 negative reviews are found, and
70% of potential customers when 4 negative reviews are found

However, that is for a business. Does this apply to podcasting? For me and my opinion, I just don't look at reviews. What about you? This information alerts us that people are looking at reviews for businesses, and they could transfer that habit to podcasts.

Do podcast reviews influence if you will listen to a podcast? Take this quick three-question survey (no email required)

Play in Traffic

While you're mother told you not to play in traffic, Joe said his class mentioned looking at Google Trends and seeing if there was anything people were already talking about and seeing if it could be integrated into your episode.

Does Podcasting Scare You?

I realize all this talk of negative reviews can be frightening. I've been talking about “Don't Be Boring” and that may be a fear. I always boil being boring down to the inability to make the listener:

  • laugh
  • cry
  • think
  • groan
  • smarter
  • entertained

With just a little thought you can come up with a topic that accomplishes at least one of those. If you throw in the fact that a niche podcast often has information that you can't find anywhere, and it's no hard to avoid being boring.

You might be thinking about THE AUDIENCE (and THOUSANDS of downloads). I'm here to tell you that unless you already have an audience, you won't be starting with thousands of downloaded out of the gate. By the time you get to those numbers, you'll have more confidence behind the microphone and be ready.

Do You Feel Nobody Will Listen to Your Podcast?

I'm starting to think one of the biggest reasons people may not start a podcast is the voice in their own head. This may be based on something that happened to you in your life. Someone or some situation made you feel like you didn't belong, that you weren't one of the cool kids, or you just felt like you were always on the outside. I've been there. I lived that. Don't let the voices of the past rob you of the rewards in your future. Podcasting can give you purpose, and often attracts people who feel exactly like you do. When I was teaching in a corporate setting I was worried about teaching a new class and my boss said, “Don't worry. You don't have to be an expert. You just have to know more than your students.” So don't worry about your podcast. It doesn't have to be perfect. You can edit out all the things that would make you embarrassed. Case in point at the end of this show I am talking about worrying about 5 star reviews (a mistake) and less than 1 second later I correctly say “1 star review.” I doubt anyone will even catch it. (It's the way people talk).

Ready to Start a Podcast?

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Go to www.schoolofpodcasting.com/join today. Need consulting? Mentorship? See www.schoolofpodcasting.com/workwithme

Mentioned In This Episode:

Stacking Benjamins

The Hype Machine Book


Learn Podpage Free Course

Take this quick three-question survey about Podcast Reviews

Leave a 5 Star Review For the School of Podcasting

Google Trends

Join the School of Podcasting


05:26 The Importance of Reviews (outside of Apple charts)
12:35 Follow Trends ( see Google Trends )
15:48 A Faster Way To Create Audiograms
16:38 Managing a Community (want a Facebook Alternative? Check out the Circle Platform)
20:26 SPONSOR:schoolofpodcasting.com/trypodpage
22:09 Give Your Listeners What They Want
25:13 78% of Podcast Discovery is Word of Mouth according to Jacobs Media
29:49 Looking at My Reviews via My Podcast Reviews ( 4 months free on your first yearly subscription )
31:29 Another Strategy to Battle 1 Star Reviews
33:16 Have I Frightened You From Pressing Record?
34:05 Getting Out Of Our Own Way
37:14 You WILL Get a One Star Review
38:32 Getting Reviews Outside of Apple
39:45 Thanks To My Team
40:31 Bloopers

Daily Podcast Tips

Daily Podcast Tips! Put Your Inbox to Work

About the Author
Owner of the School of Podcasting. Also produces the "Ask the Podcast Coach." He is also the author of the book "More Podcast Money" and is a regular speaker at podcasting and media conventions.
2 comments on “Have I Underestimated the Power of Apple Podcast Reviews?
  1. This is going to be hard, because Joe Saul-Sehy is host of my favorite podcast and I edit his show.

    I can’t disagree with his explanation of how people are influenced by what other people are saying. The problem with relating those benefits to asking for written reviews are:

    1. Podcasters are going to hear this and make asking for written Reviews their #1 CTA instead of focusing on what will make their podcast be successful (in my world that is getting people on their email list, FB group, paid course/mastermind, etc).
    …OR they will have a bunch of CTAs rather than a focused one or two.

    BTW: I used to make R&Rs my main CTA – which is one reason I believe my show was not as successful as it should have been. In 5 years / 200 episodes I received less than 150 written reviews. That’s great compared others, but my goal was to find coaching clients. So why did I spend my CTAs on collecting stars and reviews? They don’t pay the rent!

    2. There are only 4 platforms where you can leave a review: Apple Podcasts, which is iPhone/iPad – or anyone who actually listens to podcasts using iTunes on their Windows computer (which is almost no one), CastBox (less than 1% consumption according to Libsyn stats), Podchaser – which is awesome but only available via a browser, and Podcast Addict which is Android only (and also less than 1% consumption). So here we are once again pointing everyone – regardless of their app or device – to go to Apple Podcasts to leave a review. But as we have seen lately, it is dangerous to put all your eggs (or should I say apples) in one basket.

    3. It’s hard to leave a written review in the Podcasts app. Have you tried lately? It can only be done in the Browse or Library listing of the show. You can’t even do it in the window you are playing the current episode you’re listening to. Of course, you need an Apple account, which is another barrier to Overcast and other non-Apple Podcasts app users who just want to give what their favorite podcaster is asking for (R&Rs in Apple Podcasts).

    Essentially what Joe said could be more easily obtained if all/most podcast apps offered a simple rating system – similar to Apple’s 5-star system. Just stars and no written reviews. It’s a much easier favor to ask of your listeners and easier for developers of all kinds of apps to manage.

    My favorite way I hear someone asking for reviews is this: They begin with their main CTA (sign up for x or buy y). Then say “if you’ve already signed up for x or you’re not ready to take that step yet, then could I ask you to leave a review for the show in Apple Podcasts?”

    My beef isn’t with Apple or how podcasters mistakenly believe reviews help them in rankings. My problem is the amount of effort necessary to make an “ask for reviews” campaign successful. The effort greater than the payoff.

    BTW: Joe does an excellent job with his ask for R&Rs- because he uses them as content. It’s the best reason I can think of constantly asking for them.

  2. Steve, very good points my friend

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