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7 Tips to Optimize, Promote, and Grow your Podcast: Cracking the iTunes code



7 Tips to Optimize, Promote, and Grow your Podcast: Cracking the iTunes code

As a podcast marketer, I constantly get asked how to promote a podcast to grow an audience. There are currently over 660,000 podcasts published across the major listening platforms, so how do you stand out from the crowd and get listeners to subscribe to your podcast? In this article, I will give you practical tips that you can implement right away that will help you get more listeners and will also tell you the key to ranking your podcast on the iTunes charts where nearly 70% of all podcasts are downloaded (Hint: it’s simple but not easy).

The biggest mistake podcasters make, is they spend hours recording the episode, editing content, editing video, adding intro/outros and doing everything they can to make sure the content is great. Then they simply push the content out on their social channels and hope that the podcast gains traction. Podcasters must think about their podcast just like they would a business, and if there isn’t a strategy, that business won’t grow. Here are some tips to get more exposure for your podcast:

1. Make sure your audio is of high quality:

First and foremost, if the podcast sounds like you are speaking through a fan, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage immediately. Content and quality are important, don’t let apps like Anchor fool you (even though I love Anchor for beginners). There are over 660,000 podcasts and if your podcast doesn’t sound high quality, listeners will immediately move on to the next option. This doesn’t have to be expensive, simply investing in a high-quality USB microphone (I suggest the Blue Yeti microphone as it is high quality and affordable), recording in a sound suitable space, and using an editing software can make your podcast sound crisp.

2. Submit your podcast everywhere:

While iTunes is the most popular podcast directory, there are many others that you should be submitting your podcast too. A listener is a listener, whether it comes from iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, CastBox, Soundcloud, TuneIn, Blubrry, Speaker, etc. These are the most popular directories, but the more you can submit to, the better chance your podcast will be discovered. If you have the time, I also recommend creating a video version of your podcast. This gives your podcast another chance to be discovered and will allow you to create micro-content that you can use to promote your podcast on social channels.

3. Think of your podcast from an SEO perspective:

Podcast directories are search engines and you should be optimizing your content with that in mind. Podcasts rank very highly in Google search, but just as important, the titles, tags, and descriptions are major discoverability factors. A few tips include: Focus on a keyword for each episode (what would you want someone to search for to find your podcast), optimize your meta descriptions to explain the episode details, add episode tags, create a blog to coincide with your podcast, and ask for ratings/reviews.

4. Add calls to action:

Your audience won’t do anything unless you ask them to, simple as that. When you put out each episode, ask your listeners to subscribe, rate and review your podcast. If your goal (or reason you read the article) is to rank your podcast on the iTunes charts, then new subscriptions are key. In fact, the most important ranking factor iTunes uses for their charts is new subscribers. This is also the reason that a major sports blog that has built their highly engaged audience on millennial males, asks their listeners to subscribe, unsubscribe and re-subscribe.

5. Ratings and Reviews are still important:

While ratings and reviews might not help you rank on iTunes, they are important for everything else. Many listeners subconsciously consider social proof when deciding what podcast to dedicate their time to. If three shows are all equal, but one has zero reviews, another has 10 and the third has 200 reviews, it’s clear which show will get the subscription. Ratings and reviews may not help you rank on iTunes, but they will help you get new listeners via social credibility and discoverability. The best way to get more ratings/reviews? Simply asking your listeners to rate/review your podcast will go a long way. If you start with your power base (friends/family/colleagues) you should be able to build up a strong base of initial reviews. The next best way to grow your reviews, and gain new subscribers, is to run a giveaway to incentivize people to subscribe, rate and review your podcast! That giveaway can be done directly with your audience, or consider partnering with an influencer within your niche to generate more buzz for the giveaway and the podcast.

6. Create Video Micro-Content:

If you have the time and resources, you should also be doing a video version of your podcast. While very few people turn to YouTube to watch full podcast episodes, they do discover podcasts via social channels. If you record the video version, you can create 1 minute (or longer) teaser videos to distribute on Instagram, Facebook, Snap Chat, LinkedIn, Twitter and any social channel you are active on. If these videos are engaging, people will check out the link and may subscribe to your podcast.

7. Guest Appearances:

If you are struggling to attract a new audience, the best way to change that is by tapping into an already established audience. Guest appearances on podcasts, whether you are having them on your show or appearing on theirs, is the next best way to grow your podcast audience. If you can personally appear on an established show within your niche, you automatically gain the trust of that audience that may also be interested in your show. If you are able to create value by showing your expertise and engaging with a new audience, they may also listen to your podcast. Further, that host will typically share the show across their social media channels, giving listeners another opportunity to find you and your podcast. This doesn’t mean you should start asking every host if you can guest appear, just to promote your show. Each guest appearance should begin with the intent of building quality relationships and giving value to the audience. If you focus on giving value, listeners will find you.



Growing a podcast audience can be difficult, mainly because most listeners find podcasts from other social channels, mainly Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. If you are able to give yourself every advantage possible by creating high-quality audio, listing your podcast on every directory and optimizing your podcast for SEO, then you level the playing field. The focus then becomes discoverability and gaining awareness by tapping into other audiences, getting ratings, reviews and promoting your content everywhere via micro-content. If that still isn’t working, consider running giveaways, interviewing influencers within your niche, Facebook ads or find a marketing company that specializes in podcast marketing to help you gain exposure. Similar to anything else in marketing, the more people that are exposed to your podcast, the better chance you have of converting them into a new listener.

Hi, I'm Carson! Founder of Giant Voices Media and Shining Icon Publishing. I have been featured in Nasdaq, Yahoo Finance, MSNBC, and the NY Journal for my work in influencer marketing and podcast marketing. Everyday we are innovating how brands & podcasts break through the noise and create massive awareness online. I love sports, writing, traveling and most importantly, meeting new people. If I can answer any questions or provide more insights specific to your needs, always reach out!