Tracking whether your podcast is successful or not can be complex. Unlike other forms of online media like YouTube, where you can track your success by the number of views your videos garner, or Facebook, where likes and shares are a good proxy for popularity, there's no single way to track the exact number of people who listen to your podcast.
Unlike music or video streaming, a podcast is usually downloaded from a host server onto a device where your audience actually listens to it. Once an episode is downloaded, it’s not easy to find out if users listened to it or forgot about it.
Fortunately, metrics like podcast downloads and subscriptions allow podcasters to approximate the size of their audience along with a wide range of new-age podcast analytics tools to gauge listenership.
In this piece, we'll take a look at the most important podcast metrics you need to track and the tools that help you access this all-important podcast analytics data.
Why should you care about your podcast metrics?
Podcast metrics help you answer the all-important question, "Is my podcast working?"
Tracking podcast metrics also help you:
- Track the growth of your podcast: Podcast metrics tell if your podcast is growing at a consistent clip. Tracking the highs and lows of your podcast's growth can also help you identify opportunities for improvement.
- Better serve your audience: Podcast analytics provide you with deep insights into your listening audience. Once you know the type of content that works best for your audience, you can double down on it.
- Measure the monetizing potential of your podcast: If you wish to pitch your podcast to advertisers, you'll need data about your listenership, demographics of your audience, and the engagement with your content, to convince sponsors of the value of your podcast.
Metrics are an all-important piece of the podcasting puzzle that help you improve your podcast's performance over time.
How do you know if your podcast is performing well?
To know if your podcast is performing well, you'll need two pieces of information: podcast metrics such as the number of downloads and subscriptions, as well as a benchmark to compare your podcast performance to.
Podcast metrics to track
Podcast metrics are common indicators of engagement with your podcast. They help you gauge how popular your podcast is with audiences and provide you insights on how to increase your podcast's reach and listeners.
Some podcast metrics are direct indicators of audience engagement with your podcast, while other metrics are indirect indicators of your podcast’s success. Let’s take a look at both:
Direct indicators of podcast engagement
Number of downloads per episode: The number of times a podcast episode has been downloaded to a mobile device shows how popular it is among listeners. The number of downloads also helps you gauge if your titles are compelling enough for audiences.
Some podcast analytics platforms provide information about who downloads your podcasts — your audience's age, location, and the devices they use to listen to your podcast. This information can help you find more listeners, as well as relevant sponsors to pitch your podcast to.
Number of listeners per episode: Some embedded players like SoundCloud allow you to look at the total number of plays an episode gets. That gives you a rough estimate of how many podcast listeners you have. Even though it’s not an exact number, the estimated listenership of your podcast is a good indicator of your content's performance.
Podcast subscriptions: Subscriptions refer to the number of people who have subscribed to your RSS feeds or have opted in to be notified of new episodes by email.
Podcast subscribers are a good indicator of how compelling your podcast content is and if you're driving enough relevant listeners to your podcast subscription page. If your podcast subscribers are low but downloads are high, you might need to spend more time marketing your podcast and creating awareness about it.
Indirect indicators of podcast success
Backlinks: When a website links to your podcast, the link is called a backlink. Whether you host your podcast on a third-party platform or your website, it’s crucial to monitor the type and number of backlinks your podcast is getting.
Putting effort into link building is important. A high number of backlinks from quality websites helps you grow podcast subscribers and listeners.
Social media: You're probably using social media to promote your podcast. Keep an eye on what people are saying about your podcast, the number of likes and shares your social media posts receive, and the number of people who click on your podcast links.
Social media helps you gauge if your podcast has a strong word of mouth, and if your content has struck a chord with your audience.
Reviews and ranking: If you publish your podcast episodes to a podcast directory, you should be able to see rankings and reviews for each of your episodes. More reviews and rankings mean more people are listening to your podcast, but you also want to pay attention to the content of these reviews. Reviews tell you what type of content works best with your audience, whether your podcast audio quality is up to the mark, and what you need to do to improve your podcast content.
Newsletter open rates: If you run a newsletter to promote your podcast episodes, your open rates and click-throughs tell you how many of your subscribers care about your latest release. If you see open and click-through rates declining, seek user feedback about what makes for a compelling episode, which episode made them sign up for your newsletter, and which episode didn’t hit the mark for them.
Invitations to other podcasts and platforms: If you’ve been podcasting for a while, you’ve likely carved a niche for yourself in your industry. Are you frequently invited to guest speak on other podcasts in your industry? Have you been invited to contribute to blogs in your industry? If so, your podcast is successfully positioning you as an expert in your field.
Networking: Successful podcasts often attract high-profile speakers and help podcasters build valuable relationships in their industry. If you’ve been able to forge such relationships through your podcast, it’s a sure sign of success. If more speakers and experts in your field reach out to get featured on your podcast, that’s a good sign too.
Choosing a benchmark to compare your performance to
Comparing your podcast performance to that of a benchmark tells you if your podcast's downloads, plays, and subscribers are on par with others in your industry. When choosing a benchmark to compare your podcast's performance, don't pick a years-old podcast in a different niche that was created for a different audience than your own.
A good benchmark to compare your podcast to is one that’s:
- In the same niche as yours, be it travel, cooking, or marketing
- Created for an audience similar to your own
- Almost as old as your podcast
Other than using an external benchmark to compare your podcast's performance, compare your current episodes' performance to that of your older episodes. This will help you continually improve your own performance and strive to serve your audience better.
How can you measure your podcast performance?
Depending on how and where you host your podcast, you may have access to a range of podcast analytics data to measure your podcast's performance.
There are three major sources of podcast analytics data you can tap into:
- Your podcast media host, that is, the platform where you upload your episodes in the form of an MP3 file
- Distribution platforms such as Google, Spotify, and Apple
- Third-party podcast analytics tools
Let's take a look at how you can measure podcast performance using each of these tools.
Use data from your podcast media host
Depending on the podcast media host you choose, you may have access to data such as all-time downloads, downloads for each episode, unique downloads, downloads within certain dates, and downloads by location.
Some podcast media hosts may also provide you with the ability to slice and dice your podcast analytics data with custom dashboards.
Here are some examples of podcast media hosts that allow you to track podcast analytics:
If you distribute your podcast through Kajabi, we provide analytics about:
- total downloads by date range
- the apps used to listen to the podcast
- the devices used to listen
- device operating system
- top countries where your listeners are
- top 10 episodes by downloads
The best part about using Kajabi to distribute your podcast is that it's integrated with all of the other aspects of your knowledge commerce business - your other digital products and your website and marketing. It's easy to run everything from one place and avoids the tech headaches from having to use multiple platforms to achieve the same objective.
Simplecast boasts of a first-of-its-kind analytics platform where you can better understand your listeners, know their geographical location, where they listen to your podcast (like at home, work, or on a plane), compare episode trends, and get detailed insights into podcast engagement.
Blubrry offers powerful analytics to track your podcasting success. Unlike other websites, it takes into consideration resuming downloads, unique internet addresses, duplicate requests, and network errors, bots, and web crawlers to filter podcast data that would otherwise inflate your statistics.
One of its unique features is Play and Partial reporting that allows you to see how much of an episode have users listened to.
Transistor's analytics page provides you with a variety of high-level stats such as the average number of downloads per episode, the number of people who subscribed to your podcast, most popular episodes, which podcast listening apps do people use, and the geographical location of your listeners.
Track podcast analytics on distribution platforms
While a podcast media host is where your podcast lives, distribution platforms such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify are popular distribution platforms that help your podcast gain more visibility. These distribution platforms also offer some insight into your podcast's performance, such as the number of listeners and reviews and ratings.
Here's a sampling of the data offered by popular podcast distribution platforms:
Apple Podcast analytics are present in your Apple Podcasts Connect Portal. The analytics tab shows you listening trends such as the number of subscribers and non-subscribers, total time listened, top regions or countries by device, reviews and ratings, and average consumption.
Google Podcasts allow you to get additional data on the performance of your podcast on Google's Podcast Manager. Take a deep dive into each episode’s statistics to see when your listeners tune in and when they drop off.
Podcasters can also see how their audience listens to their episodes across devices like smartphones, desktops, and smart speakers and understand how their content is discovered on Google Search.
Spotify offers you a powerful snapshot of who your audience is, which episodes are being streamed the most, and what music is the most loved by your listeners. These insights help you better plan your future episodes or get appropriate sponsors. You can also glean information such as parts of an episode where your audience hits start or stop and total listening time.
7 ways to improve podcast metrics: downloads, subscriptions, and ratings
To improve podcast metrics such as podcast downloads, subscriptions, and ratings, you’ll need to improve both your podcast’s reach as well as the quality of your podcast content.
Let’s take a look at some ways you can do each of these:
How to improve your podcast’s reach
1. Guest star on other podcasts
New bloggers frequently use guest blogging as a way to get backlinks and spread word about their blog. Similarly, guest starring on podcasts helps you introduce new audiences to your podcast and invite them to subscribe to it.
Find podcasts that are related to the central topics you cover, and check if they accept guests on their show. Listen to a couple of episodes to get a feel for their content — in particular, the format, length, and style.
Then, send a friendly email telling them how much you enjoy listening to their podcast. Without going too much in depth, let them know about your podcast, the message you share, and your work. In the end, slip in a quick mention about your availability as a podcast guest.
2. Invite industry influencers to your podcast
While guest starring allows you to capitalize on an existing podcast’s audience, inviting industry experts to your podcast lets you bank on the experts’ popularity. Industry experts usually have a huge following on social media and other channels, such as email newsletters where they engage with their audience.
After you’ve recorded an episode with an influencer, be sure to collect their feedback about your show and request them to share your podcast on their social media channels. If possible, ask them to include a link to their podcast episode in their newsletter too.
3. Make your podcast easy to share for listeners
The easier it is for listeners to share your podcast, the easier it will be to spread word about it.
Enable social media sharing for podcast episode’s on your podcast media host. If you run a newsletter, include a call-to-action for readers to forward the newsletter or share your latest episode on Twitter or LinkedIn. Incentivize users to share your podcast by offering access to exclusive, behind-the-scenes content.
How to improve your podcast’s content quality
1. Record in a quiet environment
Unwanted noises affect the listener experience, harm your show’s reputation, and interrupt the flow of your podcast. Choose an appropriate place and time to record your podcast, so you’re not interrupted by pets, neighbors, children, or roommates. You can also remove background noise by using various tools and platforms.
2. Stick to a script
When planning each podcast episode, you may create a detailed script or give yourself an outline to keep you on topic and make sure you hit your talking points.
If you’re comfortable speaking off the cuff, a detailed outline may be all you need. But for many podcasters, a script is a good solution. It keeps your ideas centralized around your episode’s topic and prevents you from rambling unexpectedly.
Here’s a good resource on writing a podcast script. Take a look at some of the tips it includes:
- Keep it conversational and not robotic
- Add pauses, emphasis, and sighs at appropriate places
- Allow yourself to stray from the script, but not too far off
- Use detailed and vibrant descriptions
- Keep a reasonable pace
3. Use sound effects and music
Background music and sound effects help set the tone of your show. You can also use music at key points in your episode for emphasis such as when you introduce a guest, when your podcast shifts to a new topic of discussion, or when a sponsorship recording is about to play.
Sound effects also help you add humor and variety to your show.
4. Pay attention to post-production
Once you record an episode, your job is hardly done. You’ll need key post-production activities to make your podcast a pleasant listening experience. Post-production includes adjusting the volume of your podcast, removing audio clips, blending audio segments, and adding layers like sound effects or music.
Post-production allows you to smoothen rough edges in your episode and get it ready for listeners.
Measure, iterate, repeat
You may have stumbled into podcasting as a passion project. Or perhaps you think of podcasts as an additional marketing channel for your online courses or products. Either way, you're spending considerable time on creating and publishing content each week.
To get a suitable payback for your efforts, you need to know if your content is hitting the right chord with your audience. You need to measure podcast performance on a regular basis.
By tracking your podcast metrics, you’ll know how well your podcast is growing. You’ll also gain audience insights you can use to improve your content.
So what are you waiting for? Measure the right podcast metrics, iterate based on what you discover, and repeat the process all over again.
Starting your podcast on Kajabi
Ready to up your entrepreneurial game? Kajabi makes it easy to offer not only public and private podcasts, but also online courses, membership sites, coaching, And, you get all with the tools you need to run a business like a website, marketing funnels, and payment processing. Learn more about Kajabi Podcasts or start your free 14-day trial.
Still researching? Join us for live Q&A webinars every day, Monday through Friday. We’ll cover everything you need to know to succeed as a knowledge entrepreneur, including selling products, Kajabi themes, pipelines, webinars, and the Kajabi Partner Program.
Don’t forget to check out our podcast, Kajabi Edge!
Find more blog posts by category: