Podcasters often ask for ratings and reviews, and I created My Podcast Reviews to get all your reviews and more. But do ratings and reviews actually matter? Here are 7 ways ratings and reviews are important for your podcast's growth and success.
Before I tell you what good ratings and reviews are, here's some information for how to get more reviews:
1. Podcast ratings and reviews are NOT for iTunes rankingsPodcast ratings and reviews are NOT for iTunes rankingsClick To Tweet
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about how iTunes rankings work (and even what they are!). One of these biggest is the power of ratings and reviews.
You'll hear many podcasting marketeers pressure push for podcast reviews during launch or throughout your podcast. Usually they imply or explicitly say that ratings and reviews help your podcast “climb the charts.”
But that's not true.
First, iTunes's “New and Noteworthy” is not a ranking system. Most of the podcasts that are featured on the front page are hand-picked by the iTunes Podcasts team. You'll often see podcasts in there with few or no ratings and reviews.
Second, the true rankings in iTunes (the “Top Podcasts” lists) have been tested and confirmed by Rob Walch to be based almost entirely on subscriptions with a weighted average on the most recent days. Thus, to rank well for a short time, you must get a lot of new subscribers within a short period of time. To maintain that position, you must have a large number of subscriptions over the lifetime of your podcast.
Ratings and reviews appear to have nothing to do with your podcast's true ranking. After all, when would someone review a podcast without being subscribed (unless it's a shady review exchange)? Like a “bestsellers” list, doesn't it make sense for rankings to be based on actual consumption, and not merely reviews?
Yes, ratings and reviews may help Apple notice your podcast more, but this is most likely cross-compared with your actual audience growth (subscriptions, plays, and downloads).
Now that you know what ratings and reviews are not, I'll tell you what they are.
2. Podcast ratings and reviews are social proofPodcast ratings and reviews are social proofClick To Tweet
While ratings and reviews don't help your podcast rank better, it's possible for them to contribute to your podcast's success by boosting your “social proof.” This is a psychological effect that can influence decisions. Think of it this way. If you see two restaurants next to each other, but one is crowded with a long line to get in but the other is almost empty. What are your impressions of these two restaurants?
For most people, the “social proof” of the crowd influences more positive opinions about the place with more activity. This is especially true when someone is unsure of a choice; they will usually conform to what they see others doing.
It's the same for podcasts. When there are two podcasts about the same subject, the higher number and score of the ratings and reviews will highly influence that person's decision.
Thus, the power of ratings and reviews can increase exponentially and help you to get a larger audience, simply because potential subscribers see who the larger crowd is following.
3. Podcast ratings and reviews are public testimonialsPodcast ratings and reviews are public testimonialsClick To Tweet
Look past the raw number of ratings and reviews and read the content (the reviews). These can be powerful testimonials of how your podcast has positively affected others.
Like any testimonials, the written reviews are great for quoting and displaying so others can read them. This goes beyond the basic influence of “social proof” and starts giving more personable influence.
People relate with people, not rankings or ratings. A testimonial is one person telling another why they should subscribe to your podcast.
So when you receive great reviews, showcase them! They may even work for promoting your business, too!
4. Podcast ratings and reviews allow other people to praise youPodcast ratings and reviews allow other people to praise youClick To Tweet
We often form a bad opinion of others when we see them bragging.
Consider, for example, if I said this of my own podcast.
I share my vast knowledge of podcasting freely because I truly want you to succeed. You will be impressed with everything I offer.
That seems quite arrogant, doesn't it? But how about this actual review I based that on?
Daniel is a down to earth real guy with a love for helping people. He shares his vast knowledge of podcasting freely because he truly wants other podcasters to succeed. I was so impressed with everything that he offers that I joined his Podcasters’ Society and I couldn’t be happier with the decision.
—Mark Des Cotes [via My Podcast Reviews]
When someone else says nice things about me, I no longer seem arrogant.
I like the way King Solomon of Israel said it, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2, ESV).
5. Podcast ratings and reviews engage your audiencePodcast ratings and reviews engage your audienceClick To Tweet
You may have podcast subscribers who never send you feedback because they think they have nothing to add to the conversation. But writing a review for your podcast is a way to get them engaged.
When you publicly praise something, it's a simple step that gets you more connected and even more loyal. When your audience takes a simple action like rating and reviewing your podcast, they become more invested and will be more likely to take further actions when you ask.
If you read all your global podcast reviews in your podcast, it also validates your audience.
6. Podcast ratings and reviews highlight your strengthsPodcast ratings and reviews highlight your strengthsClick To Tweet
My Podcast Reviews is now tracking more than 80,000 international podcast reviews for more than 1,100 podcasters. In all that data, we see an overwhelming 93% of reviews include a 5-star rating! Add the 4-star reviews to that, and that totals a 96.8% average positive ranking. That's a lot of good reviews!
Quality podcast reviews (those from your actual audience, not from shady review-exchanges) will often highlight something the subscriber particularly likes about your podcast. This not only tells you what you're doing well, but it can also help you know what you should do more.
7. Podcast ratings and reviews reveal your weaknessesPodcast ratings and reviews reveal your weaknessesClick To Tweet
Not all ratings and reviews are positive. Looking back at the data My Podcast Reviews has from over 1,200 podcasts, 2.1% are “negative” 1- and 2-star reviews. Although someone can leave a star-rating without writing a review, every review must include a star rating. Thus, the negative reviews are usually from those who cared enough to take the time to explain why they don't like the podcast.
It might be a little painful, but you can learn a lot from negative reviews. It's especially helpful when you can see a pattern in the negativity. This doesn't mean you must change something, but it can help you know where you need to improve or what you might want to avoid.
For example, when I filter the reviews for The Audacity to Podcast to only those with 3 stars and below (you can do this kind of filtering and sorting with a premium My Podcast Reviews account), I see a small pattern about some audio quality issues and promotion techniques. Since then, I've addressed those and changed how I do some things.
So when a review reveals a weakness, you can then know to either fix, avoid, or ignore that issue and your show could improve while remaining authentic.
Want more reviews?
Now that you know the true value in podcast reviews, you probably would like to know how to get more. The best two tips are:
- Make it easy for your audience.
- Thank your existing reviewers by name with excerpts of their reviews in your podcast.
More more tips, get this email series from My Podcast Reviews.
Thank you for the podcast reviews!
- My speaking schedule: Social Media Marketing World in April, Podcast Success Summit in May, and Podcast Movement in July (use promo code “SOCIETY” to save $40 on Podcast Movement)
- Recently appeared on Podcasters' Roundtable talking about show prep, and Over the Edge with Josiah Loye talking about turning a podcast into a business.
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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.