How To - Podcast Guides

How to Grow Your Podcast Audience

You've crafted exceptional content to impress your target audience. The next step is learning how to grow your podcast listenership. Here's our plan for optimum growth and visibility.


Small group of people in a room

There’s an old saying: 

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? 

Something similar can be said about podcasts. If you have amazing podcast content that you pour your heart and soul into and nobody downloads it, does it make a sound? Knowing how to get your podcast out there is just as important as creating epic content.

Growing your podcast means increasing your downloads, leveraging your content on different platforms, and building (and engaging with) a loyal fanbase who can consume your content wherever and however they want to.

how to grow your podcast audience
If you already have raving podcast fans, then how do you find more?

 As your podcast grows, you steadily increase your ability to gain awareness with each new episode. By exploring other avenues of exposure, you’re able to increase your reach, your distribution, and ultimately, your audience. 

We’ll look at how to grow your podcast through the benefits of using SEO correctly, leveraging social media, engaging with your audience, making your content widely available, measuring results, and more. Let’s get started.

Before You Start: Know Your Listenership

You’ll hear it a million times, from everyone in business and marketing, you need to know your audience. While the idea of casting a wide net might sound enticing, thinking you’ll gather more listens, the opposite is actually true. 

You want to create your podcast and the content of every episode with your key audience in mind. Who are you making this content for? And frankly, why should they listen?

Find out exactly who will be interested in your content. Then every time you record make sure what you are putting out there is providing value to your listeners. 

Further Reading: Defining Your Ideal Listener

First Step to Grow Your Podcast: Be Discoverable

Before your podcast can grow, it needs to be found. Your show has to be discoverable. What does that mean?

Make sure it appears to those who are searching. Now, that means both ensuring you are creating content that your audience is looking for, but also being in places they are looking.

Make sure your podcast is listed in all the directories and players where listeners might find you. 

This distribution guide lists the top podcast directories to ensure you’re in all the right places. This list is far from exhaustive, but it’s more than enough to get started. Besides, directories that aren’t featured on the list above are unlikely to make any material difference to your download numbers.

Don’t Skip Out On YouTube

YouTube is now the second-largest search engine, and it is also the preferred platform for listening to podcasts. So even if audio-only, you’ll want to get your show on YouTube. 

Podcast hosts like Transistor make it easy to do by connecting an RSS Feed.

If you do decide to upload your podcast to YouTube, investing in video podcasting is well worth it. It can increase your discoverability, and increase your engagement 

While it does make for a much more complicated production process, it’s a great vehicle for creating shorter clips and stackable (or even clickbait-y) content for social.

We are seeing more and more video podcasts that are spawning off second channels that feature nothing but clips and highlights. And the viewership numbers for that extra content speaks for itself. The JRE Clips channel has over 3 million subscribers, the H3H3 Podcast Highlights channel is at nearly 1.5 million, to mention just two examples.
I’d also recommend creating a dedicated podcast channel. It’s a great place to share behind-the-scenes and other bonus material in addition to your main episodes.

Tap Into Podcast SEO

Another step to discoverability, if you want to grow your podcast you should make sure it appears in searches. No matter what your budget is for growing your podcast, it’s worth spending the time to get your SEO dialed in. SEO can take some doing to begin with, but once the groundwork is in place you’ll be able to steadily grow your following without too much work.

Optimize Your Show and Episodes for Podcast Platforms

By now podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify act as mini search engines. They crawl through the content provided to see if your show is a relevant result for the user searching.
That’s why it’s so important to keep SEO in mind when writing your show description and show notes

For starters, you need to choose keywords around the topic of your show, and then individual episode. You’ll want to aim for a mix of large and small keywords. Niche can work in your favor, but overall just make sure it is relevant. For example “True Crime” is a broad keyword, “financial crime” or “true crime in Canada” are more specific.

Take advantage of the space in your show notes to include relevant keywords, but also share compelling text to entice listeners to press play, and share any resources named in the episode.

It doesn’t have to stop there. You can get a ton of benefits from SEO traffic if you take the time to repurpose your podcast episodes into long-form blog posts. We do this for our clients at Lower Street and it’s a very efficient way of creating high-value written content for your brand’s website.

Take a key theme from the episode and write about it more in-depth. Bringing in additional expert input—internally or externally—to further enhance your story. This makes for great bonus material for those listeners who want to go deeper, while simultaneously benefiting your organic search traffic as well.

Create a Podcast Website

Creating a podcast website that’s optimized for user experience is an important part of marketing a podcast to new listeners. And when we say optimized for users, that means make sure it’s mobile-friendly. It can mean the difference between someone landing on your site and bouncing straight off again, or having them stick around and maybe even subscribing to your show. 

When it comes to someone potentially listening to your podcast, you want to make the barrier to entry as low as possible. This is critical when you don’t have a ton of money to spend on paid channels, but it’s equally important when you’re running ad campaigns. The last thing you want is to waste those valuable page visitors.

Just like a sales landing page, your podcast homepage is a sales funnel. Instead of making a purchase, you want the site’s visitors to convert into podcast subscribers. You therefore need to look at your homepage design with the same level of scrutiny you would a marketing site for a product or service.

Add an iTunes Smart App Banner

Talking of mobile-first, something to keep in mind when you’re designing your site’s mobile experience is to make use of an iTunes Smart App Banner.

Along with being easy to set up, it offers a conversion rate of 10-15%. That’s a really big deal, particularly when your site is attracting significant traffic. It’s also an easy win. Take a look.

Simply add the following code into your site’s <head> tag:

<meta name=“apple-itunes-app” content=“app-id=XXXXXXXXXX”>

Where XXXXXXXXXX is your show’s unique numerical ID.

A quick way to find your unique ID (if you don’t know it) is by looking for your podcast on the Apple Podcast directory, like this:

How to find your Apple Podcasts id
How to find your Apple Podcasts ID


What’s more, you can make this banner link trackable using Apple’s Performance Horizon. We’ll get to that later in the measurement and attribution section of this guide.

Podcast Website Design Template

Figuring out what your podcast website should look like can be overwhelming when you’re just starting out. (After all, you’re a podcaster, not a designer.) Here’s a template for you.

Of course, there are always exceptions and this is by no means a one-size-fits-all design, but if you need some guidance laying out your podcast landing page—go with this. (You can also look at these podcast website examples for inspiration.)

podcast homepage layout template
A podcast website template

Let’s break it down:

  • iTunes Smart App Banner: only visible on mobile, but a non-negotiable nonetheless

  • Navbar: consistent across your entire site, it includes your logo and menu items

  • Hero and subscribe CTAs

    • This is super important and must be above the fold (ATF) on all devices. The point being you want to reduce as much friction between a visitor landing on your website and becoming a regular listener. At this point, since arriving on your podcast’s website, the user is one click away from opening the podcast on their preferred platform. No scrolling necessary.

    • There’s an entirely different conversation to be had around what CTA to use here. Subscribe, listen, follow? The debate rages on, so we’ll discuss that later.

  • Embedded player

    • Again, the priority is to have new visitors engage with your content as easily as possible. So, having a player immediately visible will mean they are one click away from hearing your show.

    • While preferable to have this above the fold, it can sometimes be a squeeze on mobile once you’ve added in the subscribe CTAs, nav, and smart banner. However, on the desktop it’s simple enough to make this visible without the need for scrolling.

  • Testimonials or sponsors

    • Social proof is valuable. Be sure to include brands or guests that have appeared on the podcast along with notable listener reviews. If applicable, list off your paying supporters as well.

  • Episodes

    • In the same way as a blog, we want to list all podcast episodes here as separate posts.

    • Note: instead of having a text headline and ‘read more’ link, the embedded players should be visible for each episode right here on the podcast homepage. This one simple addition means one less click for a user to listen to the episode they are looking for. Which in turn means you will lose less of those precious listeners!

    • When they do click the episode link, they should be taken to a stand-alone page that houses guest photos, behind-the-scenes, bonus content, and show notes. Done right, the page will serve as a resource to your listeners and boost your on-page SEO. More on the latter in a second.

  • Footer

    • Not much to add here as your site-wide footer will be used in most cases. However, it’s definitely worth including social media links for those who want to engage further.

Should You Transcribe Your Podcast?

Transcribing every episode is an additional step  and it could be argued that it doesn’t add to the listener experience. Today many apps like Apple Podcasts will automatically transcribe your podcast, making it at least a bit easier on your end.  But if you want to ensure the language is correct, and the transcription hasn’t made any odd errors, you can submit your own. 

However, many people recommend offering episode transcripts for accessibility reasons, since it gives deaf visitors the opportunity to enjoy a podcast by reading transcripts. It’s also suggested that transcripts are good for podcast SEO.

Some say that may no longer be the case...

...which means transcribing your podcast could be for naught if you’re doing it purely for SEO purposes. At the end of the day, this is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Transcripts are not something we recommend for all podcast clients, but if you do decide to go ahead and do it we recommend using Descript. (It's free to get started, so why not give it a try.)

Leverage Social Media for Podcast Growth

social media for podcasts
How to use social media to grow your podcast audience

After being discoverable on podcast platforms and through SEO, the next channel to find listeners, is social media. Using these free outlets to promote your podcast is a no-brainer, but just posting a link to your latest episode on each platform isn’t going to cut it. You’ll need a strategy in place to make an impact—repurposing your podcast content for each platform to give it the best chance of reaching a large number of people. What works on LinkedIn probably won’t work on Reddit.

Pull quotes from your episode and highlight surprising, inspiring, thought-provoking, or otherwise relevant snippets to use as bite-sized teasers to hook your followers.

Formatting them as plain text quotes and open questions encourages a dialogue that increases a post’s view count. This approach works well on LinkedIn, while creating images out of your quotes can increase engagement on X, Facebook, and Instagram.

Where is your community most active? It could be relevant subreddits, old school forums, Discord or Slack communities. Get involved in conversations around the topic your episode covers, and link to your episode as a resource. These things might sound obvious, but the vast majority of podcasters aren’t doing these things.

If you’re active on YouTube, then a two-minute promo is a great way to get your subscribers from one channel to another. And speaking of video…


podcast audiograms for social media engagement
You can podcast audiograms to make shareable pieces of micro-content for social media

Using video to grow your podcast can get 3x the engagement of static image posts on social media. Instagram and LinkedIn are two platforms where this works particularly well, so creating engaging video snippets of your episodes is a great way to drive traffic to your podcast.

What’s an audiogram? It’s an animated waveform, visually representing your audio clip. When combined with a still image or video background and a transcript, it can catch a lot of attention and engagement in people’s busy feeds.

It might sound like a lot of work, but luckily there are some tools out there to help you easily make animations from your audio clips. One of those tools is Wavve.

Captions are a must when it comes to social video in 2019. Interview style podcasters are successfully leveraging these in a way to feature guest quotes and encourage guests to share the podcast clip to their networks on social media. Clips at or around 60 seconds seem to be performing the best.

-Baird Hall, founder of Wavve

Another great tool for creating audiograms is Headliner. Headliner’s founder Oliver Wellington made these suggestions for optimizing your social posts:

Captions are often helpful but you need to make sure you pick a bold style that is easily readable from a mobile device. I usually suggest people use the “Bold Description” caption style based on our tests.

Using an image with a moving waveform is easy, but you may see increased engagement if you use multiple images and video as well.

Featuring a person’s face prominently in the video will usually also help with engagement.

-Oliver Wellington, founder of Headliner

Services like Wavve and Headliner don’t cost a lot (and even have free options) and can turn a short mp3 and transcript into something that gets much more attention.

Instagram Story Sharing

Instagram stories for podcast promotion
It's easy to share your podcast to your Instagram stories with Spotify

Instagram and podcasts haven’t always been the best mix. But by now podcasters are leveraging their Instagram following, and it’s common practice to use your profile for cross-promotion.

One great way to drive traffic straight from Instagram to your show is by sharing it from Spotify to your stories.

Linking to Your Podcast on Social Media

This can be tricky. The person reading your carefully crafted video tweet could be on Android, so if it links to your show on Apple Podcasts it’s of no use to them and you’ve wasted their precious click!

You want to make the journey from reading a message on social media (or anywhere else for that matter) to listening to your podcast as simple as possible. It’s therefore important to have a way of linking to your show that works no matter what device the user is on, or whether they prefer to listen—Spotify, Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts, or anywhere else.

My advice used to be to send the social traffic to your podcast website. That way, you can track your traffic, control the user journey, and give your audience all the options they need to listen wherever they prefer. But now, thanks to services like Plink, you can make one link that will open the show straight up in the user’s preferred podcast app. Awesome.

And with Linkfire  you can get even more detailed, and tightly control where the traffic is sent. Again, if you combine this with trackable links (more on that later in this guide), you’re in the best possible position to gauge attribution, which will inform your future social campaigns.

A third option (and in our opinion, the best) is Chartable SmartLinks. Not only does this offer the functionality of the two services above, it also allows you to track attribution—super important if you want to understand which promotion channels are working. We’ll get into that later on in the measurement and tracking section.

How to Grow your Podcast? Connect With Your Listeners

Fostering meaningful relationships with your most loyal listeners—your true fans—is especially important for the long-term growth of your podcast.

Setting up a place for your audience to have an open dialogue with you (and each other) is a great way to encourage engagement, get feedback on the content you're creating, develop new content ideas, and provide value outside of the confines of your podcast RSS feed.

Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Slack channels, or even good old forums, are all great ways to give your listeners a platform to communicate with you and one another.

Call-Ins and Questions From the Audience

Seth Godin’s podcast Akimbo is a great example of using listener interaction to increase engagement and directly respond to his listeners' thoughts and questions. Consider doing something similar.

Using a service like SpeakPipe, you can easily add this functionality to your website to make it easy for listeners to record and submit their questions to your show.

Keep in mind though, that this is only worth something if you actually respond to your audience’s questions and comments. People want to know they’ve been heard. If they feel like they haven’t, there’s a good chance they’ll go in search of another podcast to listen to.

Promoting Your Podcast With Paid Campaigns

While the ways to grow your podcast we have mentioned above can largely be done with little to no budget, there’s something to be said about promotion. 

Targeted campaigns can be launched on social media or podcast platforms directly. While social media can be great for getting followers there and raising awareness, there’s less of a guarantee these will convert to actual listeners. Promoting directly on podcast platforms means your audience can click to subscribe or listen right away.

Even better, you can use host-read or programmatic ads on podcasts with audiences similar to yours. This means you are directly talking to who you want to convert, and it might be the best investment

Measure Your Results

With so many ways to promote your podcast, it’s important to measure the results to find out what’s working and what isn’t. If you’re just tossing out promotions and seeing your numbers go up, it’s time to start measuring and optimizing.

By leaning into what’s driving results—and away from the things that take up resources without accomplishing all that much—you’ll be able to exponentially increase how effective your podcast growth strategy is. Before you can interpret the data, you’ve got to gather it.

Where to Find Podcast Analytics

Apple Podcast Connect and Spotify offer information on the engagement and consumption of your episodes. This is very useful data to let you know which episodes are resonating most, which segments of your show are being skipped, or where you’re losing listeners.These platform-specific data only tell a part of the story, but it’s a starting point.

Combining this information with the data from your podcast hosting platform can inform how you structure your episodes, what kind of content to double down on, and what to cut.

The information provided by your media host will also give you an idea of where your listeners are based, what time of the day or week they are typically listening, as well as what device they listened on. This will give you a good sense of how your listeners are consuming your show. It can also impact the kind of content you’re producing as well as how and when to promote it to them.

Chartable is a great place to aggregate all this data. It combines data from your media host, Apple Podcast Connect, and Spotify accounts, along with your iTunes podcast rankings, ratings, and reviews. It’s a great place to get all your data in one spot.

Chartable podcast analytics
Chartable's podcast analytics aggregates all your data in one place

Another source of analytics is your podcast’s website. Podcast tracking and analytics can be broad, and not really let you dial in specifics about each listener. However, combining your podcast data with data from Google Analytics (or another web analytics service) can help you paint a clearer picture.

Putting the Data to Work

Podcast analytics aren’t always as in-depth as we would like them to be, and there are some traps to look out for to make sure you aren’t forming false conclusions.

An example of this is if 10-15% of your listeners find your podcast on your website, and you then extrapolate their demographics across the rest of your audience. The data you get from your website will tell you a lot, but remember that it’s entirely possible that the demographics of users that visit websites for podcasts instead of using an app could be very different from your “average” listener.

Tracking the ROI of your podcast can be tricky, too. If you’re selling sponsorships, it’s pretty straight-forward to know how much you’re earning and how much you’re spending. If you’re using your podcast to promote your own business, it can be a little trickier. In cases like that, you can use coupon codes or set up a mailing list to better quantify how much your podcast is helping your sales.

Final Thoughts on Growing Your Podcast

No matter where you’re posting your podcast, you’ve got to respect the platform. Don’t just upload the same audio file everywhere. It’s going to sound weird and off-putting if your YouTube listeners hear you saying: Don’t forget to subscribe and rate us on Apple Podcasts.

It’s crucial that your content fits into each individual platform. It takes a bit more time and effort to learn and understand the nuances, but if a platform is worth pursuing in the interests of podcast growth, then it’s worth doing right.

Now that you’ve studied up on how to grow a podcast audience, it’s time to get to work. There's no getting around it. If you’re serious about learning how to get more podcast listeners, you'll need to put in the hours to make that happen. The good news is that it doesn't all have to be done in a day (or even a week).

Before you know it you'll have a steadily growing podcast with engaged listeners who keep coming back for more. 

And if you need an extra hand? That’s what Lower Street experts are here for. Get in touch and tell us all about your brand podcast, we’d love to help you grow.

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    Harry Morton

    Hi, I'm Harry. I'm a father and the founder of Lower Street. I like mountain biking, making music, and travel.