Foolproof Ways To Growing Podcast Downloads


“How do I increase my podcast’s downloads?!” is one of the burning questions that virtually every podcaster asks.

Download rate is one of the most reliable growth metrics for a podcast. If you see your download rate steadily rise through time, then it’s a clear sign that your listenership is growing!

However, podcasting is an incredibly crowded industry. According to industry sources, there are over 2 million podcast channels and 48 million podcast episodes. So, fighting for the ear of a single listener could be difficult, especially if you're just starting out.

At ZenCast, we believe that every voice should be heard, and podcasting shouldn’t feel like an impossible challenge. We’ll show you a few tips and tricks that you can use to grow your listenership by improving your podcast download rate!

What Is the Podcast Download Rate?

When someone “downloads” a podcast episode, it simply means they are listening to (or have listened to) it.

In podcasting, “streaming” isn’t a concept, and there’s no such thing as a streaming rate.

Someone can press “Play” on an episode and listen all the way through. Or, they can download the episode into their phone to listen offline later … both cases will count as a download.

Download Rate vs. Listen Rate

Since the download rate includes both streaming and manual download … does that mean it’s the amount of time your podcast has been listened to?

No, not exactly.

Here’s why. 

Popular podcasting platforms like Apple Podcast and Spotify have auto-download features. If a listener follows your podcast, new episodes may be automatically downloaded to their phones.

But it’s their phone that did the downloading, not them. So, these downloaded episodes may never be listened to at all!

In fact, according to one statistic, 13% of downloaded podcast episodes are never listened to. And in a UK podcast listeners survey, around a quarter of the respondents said they listened to half or fewer downloaded podcast episodes on their phone.

So, let’s say that your podcast channel has 1,000 downloads. There’s a high chance that 13% of these downloads (around 130) have not been listened to.

Instead, the number of times a podcast has been listened to is measured using the listening rate. It’s how many times a listener has pressed “Play” on one of your podcast’s episodes.

How to Find Podcast Download Numbers?

The podcast hosting platform (Apple Podcast, Spotify, etc.) will tell you how many downloads your podcast has had. Podcast distribution apps like ZenCast can show you this data, too.

Wondering how to see how many downloads a podcast has (and the podcast isn’t yours)? Unfortunately, advanced metrics like this are only available to the podcast’s owner. You won’t be able to view them.

Is the Download Rate Really Important?

Even though it doesn’t tell you exactly how many people have listened to your podcast, it is still one of the most useful podcast metrics to track the growth of your channel. Obviously, the more people following and tuning into your podcast, the higher the download rate.

And you can get useful insights from that number! Seeing your download rate grow from one month to another means you’re heading in the right direction with your content and presentation.

But it’s important to note that your podcast’s download rate does NOT measure your podcast’s success.

There are two big reasons why you shouldn’t use the download rate as your gauge for success.

Potential Audience

Let’s say your podcast is about enterprise marketing, and you make episodes about how to get high ticket clients for SaaS enterprises. Your podcast acts as a lead magnet that will help you find potential enterprise SaaS clients, as well.

Ask yourself two questions:

  • How many people would be willing to listen to me talking for 30 minutes or more about it?

  • How many of these people are currently listening to my podcast?

  • What is the goal of my podcast?

Let’s say the answer to the first question is 50 people per week. Even if you only got 45 downloads for your podcast, you will have captured over 90% of your niche topic. 10% or 5 of those listeners also turn into clients. Depending on your client acquisition costs, getting 5 enterprise clients can be a huge win for your agency business!

Quality of the Audience

Podcasting is a long game. If you’re committed to becoming a podcaster, you cannot expect good results in weeks or even months (unless you’re lucky.)

The best recipe for growth in podcasting is cultivating a high-quality audience. That means having listeners that actively engage with you from one episode to another.

For example, if you ask your listeners a question or ask them to check something out, and someone reaches back out to you … that’s a high-quality listener! You will want as many of these people in your corner as possible.

High-quality listeners are hard to come by. They will only show up if your contents resonate with them enough that they feel they must reach out to you. That’s a positive sign that you’re doing great with your podcasting!

And that’s another reason why download rate shouldn’t be used as a measure of success: it doesn’t tell you the quality of your audience.

For example, if a podcast has 100 downloads, but only one person is willing to reach out and engage with the podcaster, that’s not a very encouraging sign.

But if your podcast has ten downloads, but almost half of them engage enthusiastically with you, then your podcast can be considered a success!

Besides giving you more content and motivation, high-quality listeners are more likely to recommend your podcast to their friends. You will be able to scale your podcast more reliably and quickly as a result!

Best Ways to Increase Your Podcast Downloads

If you seek to improve your download rate, there are many strategies and tricks that you can use.

Roll Out Your Podcast to As Many Platforms As Possible

There are many podcasting platforms out there, the most popular being Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast. You can use ZenCast to automatically publish and distribute your episodes across all these platforms in a few clicks:

According to one survey, a third (31.7%) of podcast listeners use Spotify as their “gateway” to their favorite shows and channels. Apple Podcast follows up close behind Spotify, which takes around 26.9% of listeners. In last place is Google Podcast, with a tiny 2.9% of market share (but that still adds up to about 2 million listeners.)

You can reach more people by rolling out your podcast to different platforms, including social media, online communities, and newsletters. That should make a big impact on your download rate!

You can check out our selections of the best podcast distribution networks here.

Pay Attention to Your Episode Descriptions

An episode’s description is how you “hook” in new and returning listeners alike. Think of it like a cold pitch. If your episode’s description doesn’t intrigue or interest them, they will be less likely to press the “Play” button.

Here is our guide on how to write a good podcast episode description.

But it’s a lot more important than just being a listener magnet. 

It’s also an algorithmic play: Podcast trackers and aggregators like Spotify and Apple Music use metadata like your show’s title and description to catalog and recommend your show to the right people. The better you prepare your podcast’s metadata, the higher the chance of it being recommended to the right audience.

Additionally, if you want your show to rank high on these platforms, you’re required to have good metadata. Particularly, you must pay attention to six fields:

  • The show’s title

  • The show’s description

  • Show’s artwork

  • Show’s language

  • Parental advisory information

  • Category information

Many podcast publishing programs, like ZenCast, can sort out all of the metadata for you.

Collect Good Reviews

Many podcasters use positive reviews and ratings of a show as a way to search for a new podcast channel to listen to. So, good reviews and ratings are how to get podcast listeners!

So, whenever possible, try to boost your review and rating.

Ask your friends and family to listen to your podcast, then leave a review. It’s a good way to start for beginners.

Once you have accumulated an audience, you can ask them to review and leave a rating at the end of each episode. You can even post the link on your podcast’s website (if you have one) and social media to ask your followers to review and rate them on different platforms.

High ratings will lead to more listeners and downloads.

Craft a Good First Impression

First impressions are everything. People will be more likely to listen to your show if they have a good first impression of your content.

There are three elements that you can leverage to make a good first impression on listeners.

  • The show’s name

  • Episodes’ titles and descriptions

  • Cover art.

Keep your show’s name short, relevant, and easy to read and pronounce. If your show is in the comedy section, you can even try to come up with a humorous name!

Each episode will obviously have a different topic. You can communicate the topic with your listeners through the episode’s title and description. Write them in any way you want, but remember to keep the title and description relevant and to-the-point (while also being interesting!)

Last but not least, come up with a good cover art. It’s the only visual element of your podcast. You can put together your own podcast’s logo, or you can hire a professional artist to do it for you.

Either way, an attractive cover art will help you stand out among the thousands of podcast channels out there.

Ready to Launch Your Podcast with ZenCast?

Podcasting can be hard, time-consuming work. But ZenCast can help you start and manage your podcast far more simply and intuitively.

With our distribution and hosting tools, you will have full control over your podcast channel from top to bottom. And using our analytic tools, you can easily track the performance of your channel, including the download rate!

Start your podcasting journey right away with a 14-day trial from ZenCast!

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