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4 Audience Growth Lessons for Branded Podcasts

Last updated on

November 2, 2023

4 Audience Growth Lessons for Branded Podcasts

Learn how to grow your branded podcast’s audience using tips from Quill and CoHost’s Director of Audience Growth

Eric Babakhanian


 min read


When your brand creates a podcast, understanding how to grow your audience to produce measurable results is one of marketing’s main objectives. While podcast marketing is different from other mediums, it should generally work in conjunction with other content strategies you’re deploying — the approach should be holistic.   

Growing your audience isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. You need to understand your goals and how to use your resources to your advantage. It can be overwhelming, which is why I’ve broken down 4 lessons that I’ve learned while creating audience growth strategies for our clients over at Quill

This blog post will set out how you can drive growth and become a more effective podcast marketer while fostering trust and connection with your audience.  

1. Don’t skip out on setting podcast goals 

It may seem obvious, but accurately measuring growth and success is nearly impossible if you don’t set goals and measurable key performance indicators (KPIs). If you don’t know what success looks like for your branded podcast, how will you know if it’s successful? 

As you begin to brainstorm your goals, identify your north star, the primary goal of your show. This primary goal will guide which podcast analytics you should be measuring and how to understand performance.. 

Here are some examples of a primary goal: 

Brand awareness and reach 

If your primary goal is to increase your brand awareness and reach, the primary metrics you will measure success by will be largely based on downloads, listeners, and impressions on other marketing assets that promote your show. 

Also, consider who you’re trying to reach. If it’s purely brand awareness for the sake of awareness then all listeners are qualified listeners, but you likely have a target audience in mind. Or I should say, you should have one.  

Here’s a quick example: You’re an American software company that sells to small and mid-sized businesses to help them with their accounting. You want to increase awareness within that market. You have great listener numbers and reach, but your main audience is 18-year-olds from Germany. Are you reaching your goal of awareness? In short, no. 

This is an extreme example, but goes to show why awareness for the sake of awareness is not a good goal to set. 

That’s why I love using analytics tools like CoHost B2B Analytics: Companies & Industries. You can track which companies are listening to your show along with characteristics like size, industry, location, and revenue. This data makes it easy for brands to understand if they’re reaching the right audience.

Key metrics for awareness and reaching goals: 

  • Downloads: The number of downloads is a good metric to track overall popularity of the podcast, but it is not always a reliable indicator of the level of engagement of listeners.
  • Unique listeners: This metric measures the number of unique individuals who have listened to your podcast. This is important because it shows how many people are being exposed to your brand message.
  • Engagement: This includes metrics like the number of likes, comments, shares, and reviews. Engagement metrics are an important indicator of how much your audience is invested in your brand message and the impact it is having on them.
  • Social media reach: Track how far your podcast is reaching on social media by monitoring mentions, tags, and shares. This helps to determine if your content is being shared widely and if it is resonating with your target audience.
  • Brand lift: This measures the extent to which your podcast is increasing brand awareness and brand perception. Surveys or interviews can be conducted to track changes in brand awareness and perception before and after the launch of the podcast.
  • Conversion rates: This metric measures the number of people who take a desired action, such as subscribing to the podcast or visiting your website, after listening to the podcast. This indicates the effectiveness of the podcast in driving action and achieving your marketing objectives.

Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is a powerful result of podcast growth. Podcasts that establish their host or guest as thought leaders in their respective fields often attract a loyal following of listeners eager to learn from their insights. 

A podcast can establish thought leadership by providing unique perspectives, sharing research or data-driven insights, providing expert commentary on current events, and bringing fellow leaders within the industry onto the show. Consistency is key when building thought leadership through a podcast, so regularly publishing high-quality episodes is essential.

Similar to awareness and reach, understanding your audience is key here. You want to ensure that you’re targeting listeners within your respective industry. If you’re not, then take some time to understand WHY your target audience isn’t listening, and why the people who are listening are tuning in. 

To do this, I typically like to have a brainstorm session with my team as well as the brand we are working with. This way, you can merge experts on podcasting and experts on the brand to come up with a gameplan for targeting the most qualified listeners or identifying a new audience for the brand.

Key metrics for thought leadership goals: 

  • Subscriber Growth: The number of subscribers to your podcast is a key indicator of how successful you are in growing your audience and establishing yourself as a thought leader.
  • Listener Retention: This metric measures how many listeners return to listen to your podcast regularly, which shows that your content is valuable and engaging.
  • Reputation: Tracking mentions of your podcast in media outlets, social media, and other platforms can indicate whether or not your podcast is being recognized as a source of thought leadership.
  • Industry Recognition: Winning awards, being invited to speak at industry events, and being recognized as a leader in your field can all be indicators of your success as a thought leader.
  • Engagement: Tracking how often your listeners engage with your content (likes, comments, shares, etc.) can give you a sense of how well your content resonates with your audience and how engaged they are with your brand.
  • Guest Appearance: The quality of guests you are able to attract to your podcast can also be a sign of how respected you are in your industry.


Listeners are always on the lookout for podcasts that provide them with valuable knowledge and insights they can apply in their personal and professional lives. 

Educational podcasts can take many forms, such as interviews with industry experts, deep dives into specific topics, or instructional episodes that teach listeners new skills or concepts. By offering valuable, educational content, a podcast can establish itself as a go-to resource for listeners and attract a loyal audience that trusts the host's expertise. A big win for many brands.

Gauging the success of an educational podcast is going to boil down to who you’re trying to reach. Mass downloads aren’t very helpful if you’re in a niche industry or audience. If you haven’t already noticed, your target audience is going to drive the majority of discussions around whether a podcast was successful or not. That’s no different here — you want to make sure you are reaching the right listeners.

Key metrics for education goals: 

  • Completion rate: Tracking the percentage of listeners who listen to an entire episode can indicate how engaging and informative your content is.
  • Retention rate: This metric measures how many listeners return to listen to your podcast regularly, which shows that your content is providing ongoing value and helping them to learn.
  • Reviews and feedback: Soliciting reviews and feedback from listeners can provide insights into the effectiveness of your educational content and help you improve it over time.
  • Social media engagement: Tracking how often your listeners engage with your content on social media (likes, comments, shares, etc.) can give you a sense of how well your content resonates with your audience.
  • Influence and impact: Measuring how your educational content is influencing and impacting your listeners can provide valuable insights into its effectiveness. This can be done through surveys, interviews, or other forms of feedback.

Lead Generation

By providing listeners with valuable content and building a relationship with them, a podcast can become a powerful tool for generating leads and growing a business. 

However, it's important to strike a balance between providing valuable content and promoting products or services, as listeners will quickly tune out if they feel like they're being sold to. I always like to ask myself or our clients, would you listen to this podcast? If it was overly sales-y and pushing products onto the listener, would you honestly listen to it? The answer is likely no, I know I wouldn’t. 

Focus on providing value first and foremost, a podcast can build trust with its audience and drive lead generation over the long term.

The obvious problem marketers face with gauging the success of a podcast as a lead generation tool is attribution. Pixels or personalized codes have made it easier for podcasters interested in monetization, but it hasn’t helped brands attribute business leads to their show. 

Getting to ‘look under the hood’ and see who is listening to your podcast is truly the best way I’ve found to attribute leads to podcasts. With tools like B2B Analytics as I mentioned above, you can export all the companies listening to your show and import them into your CRM for prospecting. 

Another route that I’ve seen work is adding a “where did you hear about us” section throughout your onboarding process or in your lead forms. Typically, I like to do drop down options of where a user might’ve heard of us vs. a free form, it requires less thinking and work on the users end. 

Key metrics for lead generation goals: 

  • Website Traffic: Tracking the number of visitors to your website from your podcast can indicate how effective your podcast is in driving traffic to your site.
  • Lead capture: This refers to the number of leads captured as a direct result of your podcast, such as email sign-ups or requests for more information.
  • Conversion rates: Measuring the number of leads that convert into paying customers can help you assess the impact of your podcast on lead generation and sales.
  • Listenership demographics: Understanding the demographics of your listeners can help you target your lead generation efforts more effectively.
  • Partner engagement: If your podcast involves partnerships with other businesses, tracking the number of leads generated through those partnerships can indicate the effectiveness of your podcast as a lead generation tool.

Building listener trust 

It’s also important to note that all of these goals have one thing in common: they all develop trust with your listener. Listener trust is one of the biggest benefits of a branded podcast and something that can’t be forgotten. 

By establishing credibility and trust with your audience, you’re creating a loyal and engaged audience who will keep you top of mind when they make purchasing decisions. And I’ve seen this be one of the most effective strategies there is. 

2. Solidify who your listener persona is

KPIs and success metrics are largely based on who your target audience is. That’s why it's so important to create a listener persona and understand the niche you’re targeting. 

If you’re wondering what constitutes as ‘good download numbers,’ it’s based on a variety of factors but the most important is, you guessed it, who you’re trying to reach. Not always the case, but B2C shows generally set higher download targets since they go after a broader audience, while B2B brands are typically targeting a specific industry, size of company, and role within brand, meaning their audience and listener targets are more specific, and therefore lower in download numbers. 

Here’s a quick example: 

A sports-drink brand that sells directly to consumers has a large target audience. They’re targeting anyone that’s involved in athletics or sports. Their target market is huge, so when they define their ideal listener persona, they will be setting high listener and download KPIs. The nuance here is that they will be specific enough with their targeting to reach the correct audience, but broad enough to garner high levels of exposure. 

Now let’s say there is a B2B brand that sells project management software to construction companies. Their target audience is much smaller, they want to reach decision-makers at construction companies. 

These companies, while both having a podcast, are targeting vastly different groups. The sports drink company wants a huge swath of consumers to consider purchasing their product, while the software company only needs a few people to purchase their offering for the podcast to be successful and to reach its KPIs. 

3. Omnichannel marketing for the win

When it comes to audience growth, unsurprisingly, strategic marketing is key. However, as a marketer, you need to take a holistic approach to the way you promote your show. What this means is that you should avoid putting your podcast in a tactic silo. 

Think omnichannel marketing when it comes to your podcast, how can it influence and contribute to your other tactics? What can the content from your podcast be repurposed into? How can all of your company’s marketing tactics and channels work together to reach the same goals? Podcasts are just one engagement touchpoint for your audience. We see the most success when brands integrate it with their other channels to make a cohesive brand experience. 

Podcasts are content repurposing goldmines, turning your audio into other mediums is an easy way to develop that omnichannel mindset. Here are just a few ways your podcast can be repurposed for other mediums and tactics: 

  • Blog posts: Transcribe podcast episodes and transform them into informative articles, retaining the key points and insights.
  • Social media content: Share bite-sized clips, quotes, or insights from episodes to engage your audience on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
  • Infographics: Visualize the podcast's data, statistics, or main takeaways in an eye-catching infographic.
  • Video content: Combine podcast audio with visuals, such as slides or animations, and upload the video to platforms like YouTube or Vimeo.
  • Ebooks or whitepapers: Expand upon podcast content to create in-depth guides or research-based resources for your audience.
  • Newsletter content: Incorporate podcast highlights, episode summaries, or guest interviews into your regular email newsletters.
  • Webinars or workshops: Utilize podcast topics as the foundation for educational webinars or workshops, further engaging your audience.
  • Guest contributions: Collaborate with guests to create complementary articles, guest posts, or opinion pieces based on their podcast appearances.
  • Q&A sessions: Host live Q&A sessions or AMA (Ask Me Anything) events on social media or community forums, allowing listeners to interact directly with hosts and guests.
  • Behind-the-scenes content: Share the podcast production process, bloopers, or exclusive interviews with hosts and guests to give your audience a glimpse behind the curtain.

If you’re just getting started in the world of podcast marketing, CoHost has a variety of resources to help you navigate the space: 

4. Create a long-term relationship with your listeners

Finally, it's important to remember that your audience isn’t going to appear overnight. Especially when it comes to podcasts, building that trust and value that we’ve discussed above takes time. As we always like to say, podcasting is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re building genuine relationships with your listeners and that takes time and consistency.

Even when it comes to thinking about your relationship with your audience, think long-term. You don’t want people to tune in for one episode and move on, you want listeners to come back for more in order to build that trust and relationship. 

I’ve learned that brands need to prioritize these long-term and long-lasting relationships. By focusing on relationship-building, you invest in the future of your podcast and create sustainable, organic growth that benefits both your brand and your audience. 

Audience growth lessons for branded podcasts

Growing a branded podcast audience requires a strategic approach and a focus on building long-lasting relationships with listeners. 

By incorporating your podcast into an omnichannel marketing strategy, repurposing content across multiple platforms, consistently delivering value, and emphasizing trust, you can cultivate a loyal audience that drives engagement and promotes your brand. 

Remember, podcasting is a long-term endeavour, and with patience and commitment to these audience growth lessons, your branded podcast will thrive and leave a lasting impact on your audience.

If you have any questions about audience growth for branded podcasts, feel free to reach out to the CoHost team!