Every social media platform has a different method of measuring success. While YouTube looks at channel subscribers, it is views that rule the roost. Twitter’s top gauge is followers. TikTok is views, Instagram is followers, and podcasts are downloads.
The term “downloads” refers to the number of people who download your episodes to their devices. More than listens and follows, downloads are the biggest indicator of active listenership.
Technically, downloads are the number of times your RSS feed is requested by listeners. They don’t actually have to have listened for it to count—if they have their podcast software set up to automatically download your new episodes, it will show up in your stats.
There is no real rule to indicate how many downloads you should or could have. But Buzzsprout has reported that a podcast that receives 30 or more downloads in the first seven days of release will be positioned in the top 50 percent of all podcasts. A podcast that gets 4,200 downloads in the first seven days is in the top one percent.
So, if you’ve been wondering whether you should spend time trying to increase your Apple reviews or social media followers or ebook sales, the answer is simple:
Increasing your download numbers should be your number-one priority.
How to do that? Let’s look at five ways, now.
- Avoid the unsubscribe.
Podcast listeners are binge-listeners. They’ll listen to all your episodes at once before moving on to something new. And then, they tend to actually unsubscribe for a while, until you’ve published enough episodes to warrant binging again.
To prevent listeners from unsubscribing, which in turn increases your overall download numbers, make sure you are publishing episodes at regular, close intervals—daily, weekly, or bi-weekly. If you’re currently publishing monthly or bi-monthly, your downloads will likely go up quickly with this change.
The other benefit of producing more content is that you can be found by an even wider group of people. You never know when an episode will resonate with someone who’ll share it with an even broader audience.
And don’t forget to be consistent when releasing your episodes. Once your audience can no longer count on new episodes coming out at regular intervals, they’ll lose interest and fade away.
- Get listeners to share your episodes.
On the front end, asking your audience to share your episodes is the easiest way to grow. But that strategy is generally most effective the first time you ask. After that, the number of people who “do their duty” dwindles.
What makes more sense is creating episodes that motivate people to share them.
So, before recording and publishing an episode, think about the reactions your audience might have.
In order to share something, those listening have to first feel like they wouldn’t be embarrassed if others knew they listened. Put a different way, they have to feel a little pride in being a listener, and that others will respect them for it. It’s harder for folks to share things that are socially unacceptable, that promote ill will or bad purpose, or are embarrassing.
Consider making uplifting episodes that every listener will want to share with a friend in need of encouragement.
- Market your show.
Many podcasters put all their effort into the podcasting part of their business and forget about how they’ll share it with the world.
Start marketing your episodes a month before they come out. Let your audience know what is coming. Use social media to tease episodes, and don’t forget about email, phone calls, and physical mail.
Just like theaters hang “Coming Soon” signs on the wall outside the theater and Subway puts an image of next month’s sandwich of the month on the door, you too should be creating suspense and desire in your marketing. To inspire intrigue, you might cut valuable quotes out of episodes and post them, for example.
And consider telling the first half of the podcast pre-story in your emails as a series to get your audience interested in hearing the rest of the story.
- Get in the directories.
Make sure every podcast directory is featuring your podcast in one way or another. Podcast Directories in Australia can post about your podcast while you’re sleeping. But no one can find you if you are not listed there. (Check out last month’s issue of Podcast Magazine® for a list of directories you can manually register for.)
- Tell them what to do.
When potential new listeners show up on your website, explain how to become a regular listener. Tell them which platform you want them to start listening on and walk them through subscribing. On your show episodes, suggest that listeners download all your episodes.
On your website, include links to “Listen on Libsyn” and “Listen on Podcast Republic,” and then, include the links for them to get there and do that.
You don’t want a passive audience, so teach them how to become lifelong listeners and downloaders.
There is no real science behind improving downloads other than truly focusing your time and effort on it. Take action on the ideas that are already jumping into your mind while reading this article—don’t just think about them.
October 2022 Issue