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How to Utilize Podcast Episode Titles To Increase Your Podcast Downloads

How to Utilize Podcast Episode Titles To Increase Your Podcast Downloads

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How are you doing in podcasting as a guest, host, or both?

If you’ve never explored the psychology behind podcast listener behavior, you’re missing out on a wealth of insights that can help you attract new listeners. In this blog post, Courtney Elmer shares the subconscious triggers that influence why someone clicks play on your podcast and how to use persuasive language that compels them to keep coming back for more. Get ready to discover the psychological “secrets” that will help you title your episodes to increase listeners and create an addictive podcast experience people can’t stop raving about!






Read the Blog Post: How to Define Your Target Listener To Level Up Your Podcast

Have you ever spent hours planning a podcast episode that you know is packed with value but it only gets a handful of downloads when you publish it? Why is it that some episodes get higher engagement than others? Why is it that some podcasters grow faster than others? And why is it that even though you know you have tons of helpful knowledge and insight to share, your listeners overlook your podcast in favor of other more popular shows? I’m Courtney Elmer, and today. You’ll discover the answers to these questions that every podcast host has asked themselves at one point or another.

“Growing a podcast is not about increasing your listeners as much as it is about increasing your listeners. When you know how to get the listeners you currently have listening to more episodes, your listens will go up, creating a flywheel of organic growth.” – Courtney Elmer

Explore the captivating psychology of listener behavior for valuable insights to engage new listeners. Discover psychological secrets to boost weekly listenership and grasp subconscious triggers influencing clicks. Learn persuasive language applications for consistent audience retention. Growing a podcast isn’t just about gaining more listeners; it’s about maximizing engagement with your current audience.

Podcast Episode Titles That Make Listens Go Up

Your listens will go up. And that, in turn, will help more listeners find your show. They’ll start listening, and that’ll increase your listens even more. As more and more people start listening to more and more of your episodes, you will create, in essence, a flywheel of organic growth to attract more and new listeners to your podcast. But how do you increase listens?

increasing your podcasts ranking in google search results.png

You’re already pouring your heart into every episode you create in every interview you host. Yet, you still can’t figure out how to get people to understand that if only they would listen to the episode, they’d fall in love with your show and become fans for life because they’d be getting tons of value. And to solve this problem, we’ve got to step into the mind of our ideal listener and look at your podcast. Experience the experience you’re giving them through your podcast, through their eyes. Because of two massive mistakes hosts make that prevent people from engaging with their podcast, even though the content they’re producing is precious. Number one, they assume people will listen if they spend much time making the episode content great.

After all, that’s why people listen to Joe Rogan and Andrew Huberman. Or Amy Porterfield. Right? Great content. But in their eagerness to be like Joe, Andrew, or Amy, most hosts overlook the four things that help listeners understand that your content is excellent.

The Big Mistake We Make With Podcast Episode Titles

Mistake number two is centering your podcast episode titles and episode notes around the benefits of what your listener will get from that episode. Rather than on the pain that will get resolved when they listen to that episode. See, most hosts don’t realize that your listeners are not looking to benefit from listening. They’re really interested in solving the real pain and problems they’re experiencing in their life right now. When Andrew Huberman does an episode on sleep, he’s not talking about the benefits of sleep so much as he is talking about the problems that you’re experiencing right now from a lack of sleep that will be solved when you optimize your sleep.

Do you see the difference? It’s subtle, but it is powerful and understanding. This will be key for you when it comes to increasing your listening. So, for the remainder of our time together today, we will look at this problem from inside the mind of your ideal listener, which will set your show apart in your category and the podcasting space as a whole. To do that, we have to remove the host glasses.

Important Questions You Must Ask

So go ahead, take them off with me, and put on the glasses of your ideal listener because it’s time for you to start seeing your show through their lens. When a podcast listener is browsing their app for new shows to listen to, what do they see first? Your cover image. And what do they see next? You’re right if you said your title and tagline if you have one.

If a new listener is intrigued enough by those two things, they might click through to read your show description, which would be the next thing they see. And if they read that, what would they look at next? From there, your podcast episode titles. Now, I call these four elements the four solicitations, because capturing the attention of a potential new listener doesn’t start with the meaty good stuff you’re putting inside your episodes. It starts with the four solicitations, the four chances you have to earn a new listener’s attention.

What Matters To Listeners

Your art, your title, your description, and your podcast episode titles, and in that order. These four solicitations, or invitations, act as the gatekeepers of your amazing content. If a listener can’t get past the gate, they’ll never even give your unique content a chance. Now, let’s look at this from the perspective of an existing listener—someone who’s already been following you for a while.

They know who you are. They know what you stand for. And they like you. And each week, what happens when you release a new episode? If they’re following your show, they get a notification on their phone with the title of that episode. And if the title of that episode grabs their attention enough, they will feel compelled to listen.

If it doesn’t, they will skip that episode. That doesn’t mean they’ll stop following your show altogether. But they might not listen to that episode, which, over time, compounded, decreases your number of overall listens. So, if you’re with me, let’s continue.

Don’t forget to RSVP:

Whether it’s an existing listener deciding whether to listen to your latest episode or a new listener deciding whether to listen to your podcast, the golden thread that ties all of this together is a first impression. And if you were to Google the stats on how quickly first impressions are made, the answer is within 7 seconds. But that’s with an everyday face-to-face interaction. When you move that online, the stats get far worse. Did you know that you have just 50 milliseconds of 0.5 seconds for users to form an opinion about you that determines whether they’ll stay or leave?

“To make a lasting impression on your ideal listener, you must communicate the value they will get from listening to your show. By using persuasive language and addressing their deep-rooted dreams, you can become magnetic and attract more listeners to your podcast.” – Courtney Elmer

That’s about how long it takes to glance at your cover art or read the title of your latest episode. And if you fail to capture their attention within those milliseconds, you lose them. I know that might sound a little alarming, but to solve this problem and not let it be the thing that causes you to lose podcast listeners, let’s take it a step deeper. What are first impressions made of? First impressions are made of subconscious triggers.

If you want to thrive as a podcaster stop sharing information

This is why they happen so fast. Because in those split seconds, your brain makes thousands of computations you aren’t even aware of. It happens subconsciously and in an instant. The question you need to ask yourself here isn’t how can I make a better first impression, but how can I adjust my four solicitations to better communicate to my listeners the value they will get in listening to my show? And the way to do that is by understanding the subconscious triggers that cause someone to hit play or scroll right past.

Apply Some Psychology In Your Podcast Episode Titles

And this is the part where you need to apply some simple psychology and start speaking to your ideal listener subconsciously. This will be an invisible part of your show that no one else will ever know is there. But when you have this in place, you and your listener will suddenly communicate on the same plane. Because right now, your listener is judging your show from a subconscious level. So, to win their attention, you have to also speak to them on a subconscious level.

“The key to increasing your podcast listens is understanding the subconscious triggers that cause someone to click play. Your content will become irresistible by speaking to your ideal listener on a subconscious level and addressing their specific problems and pain points.” – Courtney Elmer

Most hosts go wrong by logically communicating value, but listeners process subconsciously. Learn to communicate on a subconscious level for a significant advantage. Understand what motivates your listener on this level to make your content irresistible.

Now, this is not a logical thought process where they’re sitting there, and they’re evaluating your episode, and they’re spending time deducing whether it’s not worth their time to listen to. No, this is an unconscious automatic process. To interrupt that automatic pattern, you first need to understand the thoughts that drive their behaviors so that you can position your content in a way that gets their unconscious mind to pay attention. You do this by asking yourself and answering four simple questions about your ideal listener.

Three Steps to Come Up With Podcast Episode Titles That Convert

  • #1. What Specific Problem Is My Ideal Listener Experiencing Right Now?
  • #2. What Is the Underlying Cause of This Problem?
  • #3. What Have They Already Tried to Fix This Problem?


This is the first step in crafting a Top 100-worthy podcast. Understanding your ideal listener’s subconscious is key. Once you grasp their triggers, using persuasive language becomes magnetic, making your message irresistible. Today, we’ll focus on a simple and effective persuasive language pattern

Apply this concept to all four solicitations—show title, tagline, description, and podcast episode titles. Persuasive language sparks the ‘I need to listen’ response. Most hosts focus on benefits, not the pain points that drive listenership. Address core problems in your title, description, and podcast episode titles for a significant increase in listeners.

identify your ideal listeners as a podcast guest

Once, a consultant’s show, ‘Move Forward Anyway,’ offered valuable insights on pursuing buried dreams. Despite two years and 30-50 downloads per episode, he hit a plateau. To address this, we changed the title to ‘Stop Doubting Your Dream,’ pinpointing the core issue of self-doubt hindering listeners’ dreams.

We shifted his description’s focus from dream achievements to addressing obstacles. The goal? Trigger self-identification with listener problems. Podcast episode titles were revamped to highlight real pain points, like changing ‘Acknowledge the Gifts You’ve Been Given’ to ‘The Surprising Mistake Costing Dreams.

Or for an episode on self-worth and personal value. We changed that title from Learn to See Yourself for Who You Are to Why some people achieve their dreams but not others—the same content inside the episode. But remember, if a potential listener makes it past your cover, art, title, and description, your podcast episode titles are the final gatekeepers of your content. It’s the wrapper around the gift that you have inside for your listener.


And there are three simple psychological formulas for framing click-worthy podcast episode titles—number one. Help your listener. Avoid pain. Number two, help Them Avoid Pain and see how avoiding it will help them achieve some benefit.


Step three: Ask an open-ended question, creating a curiosity loop that compels them to listen. For example, if the episode is about boosting engagement, frame it as ‘Three surprising content mistakes costing you clients.’ The key: Identify the problem your episode solves and craft a title that communicates it effectively.

Now, I will say there is one caveat to all of this. If you haven’t undergone extensive training in neuro-linguistic programming or language patterns, all of this will feel foreign. So here’s the part where I make it simple for you. I’ve got an exceptional gift for you. This is something we only ever give to our clients, and it’s quickly become a cult favorite among them because it is a Mad Lib-style plug-and-play guide with over 100 plus title templates that have these psychological principles baked in.


You fill in the blank with your specific topic, and in a matter of seconds, you will be on your way to communicating the value of your content in a way that your ideal listener understands based on the pain points you’re solving for them. So, to get a copy, make sure you go to Antifragileentrepreneurship Co podtalks to sum all of this up. The key to creating an addictive podcast experience is understanding the listener psychology at play. Ignoring this fact is only going to continue to stunt your growth. Most hosts will continue to struggle with this. Still, you now have the distinct advantage of understanding the subconscious triggers that influence your listeners’ decision to hit play and how to start adjusting your language to communicate the value of your show in a whole new way.

Listeners will notice and return. You will experience the deep satisfaction of knowing that your work is impacting the lives of all you touch through your podcast.

About Courtney Elmer

Courtney Elmer is the Founder of The EffortLESS Life® and host of the globally-ranked Insider Secrets to a Top 100 Podcast podcast. She’s interviewed renowned experts, including John Lee Dumas, Jordan Harbinger, Gay Hendricks, Hal Elrod, and many others. She’s a popular speaker on the topics of podcast marketing, business systems, and entrepreneurial anti-fragility at notable industry conferences. Her skills and knowledge are frequently sought by leaders and teams from Forbes, Fast Company, PopSugar, and dozens more.

As a former corporate employee and cancer survivor with a background in psychology and expertise in business systems and podcasting, Courtney blends her life experience and knowledge of these fields to help today’s experts streamline their business operations and increase their visibility through podcasting, so they can increase traffic and sales while enhancing their reputation as respected thought leaders in their niche.

She lives in New Orleans with her husband Alan and their son AJ, a surprise miracle baby following her cancer treatments.

💬 What was your big takeaway or insight gained from this episode?