After working on countless branded podcasts, we’ve noticed that the majority of brands and agencies fall into the same mistakes when it comes to tracking the performance of their show – and it makes complete sense.
The importance of podcast analytics
Podcast analytics are a relatively new arena and from first glance the jargon can seem confusing and the dashboards can appear overwhelming. However, regardless of whether you’re a “numbers person” tracking podcast data is a crucial part of your show’s success.
Whether your goal is lead generation, thought leadership, or brand awareness (and the list goes on) you must ensure you’re tracking the relevant metrics and pulling the correct insights to help inform your podcast strategy, identify the top-performing marketing channels, and cater to your target audience.
To make podcast marketer’s lives easier, the team at CoHost put together a list of the 5 most common podcast analytics mistakes and how to correct them so you can improve your tracking in 2024.
1. Relying solely on vanity metrics
Relying solely on vanity metrics for podcast tracking is a common but critical mistake. Vanity metrics, such as download numbers and subscriber counts might initially seem impressive and indicative of success – and they can be (partially). However, these metrics often fail to provide a comprehensive understanding of your podcast's actual performance or impact.
This is largely because these metrics lack depth; they offer a superficial view of your podcast's reach but fall short when it comes to revealing crucial aspects like audience engagement, retention, or loyalty. While high download numbers might catch attention, they don't indicate whether listeners are genuinely engaged or if they continue to follow your content.
A significant pitfall of focusing on vanity metrics is the inability to gauge the true connection between your podcast and its audience. Without insights into listener behaviors or their interaction patterns, it's challenging to tailor content to meet their preferences or improve the overall listening experience.
To avoid this mistake, shift your focus to metrics that provide meaningful insights into audience behavior. Metrics like consumption rate, average listening time, or churn rate offer a deeper understanding of how your audience engages with your content.
Consumption rate indicates the percentage that listeners stay engaged throughout an episode, while average listening time highlights content resonance. The churn rate reveals how many listeners you retain over time, showcasing audience loyalty.
By emphasizing these engagement-driven metrics, podcasters can make informed decisions to refine content, improve listener experiences, and cultivate a dedicated audience base.
CoHost Tip: If you’re interested in learning more about the podcast metrics that matter for brands and how to track them, check out our complete guide.
2. Overlooking goal setting and KPIs
A cardinal mistake is launching into podcast tracking without defining clear goals or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) beforehand. This oversight leads to an inaccurate understanding of your podcast's performance, makeing it more difficult to interpret data in a meaningful way.
Ultimately, without a roadmap of where you want your podcast to go, analytics become disparate figures rather than strategic tools to guide your progress.
Here are some common podcast goals to consider:
- Brand Awareness: Are you looking to get as many listeners as possible onto your podcast to spread awareness about your series and your brand? The focus of this goal is all about quantity and the number of ears you can have tuning in.
- Tap into new audiences: If there’s a new audience segment you want to tap into, this goal is for you. This goal involves shaping your content around a specific niche audience that you want to break into.
- Thought leadership: This goal involves you bringing on targeted guests and discussing subjects that will help to make you the go-to expert source on a desired topic.
- Lead generation: For brands trying to find new leads, this goal focuses on shaping your content in a way that will attract new leads as listeners or bring leads as guests onto the podcast.
- Strengthening company culture: Launching an internal comms podcast? This goal involves you creating an internal podcast that is focused on building or strengthening the culture of your organization.
Moreover, aligning KPIs with these goals is paramount. KPIs should mirror your objectives, reflecting the desired podcast outcomes. For instance, aiming to increase revenue requires KPIs like sponsor counts, donation volumes, or listener conversion rates.
Failing to define goals and KPIs before delving into analytics hinders your ability to interpret data effectively and obscures meaningful insights. Goal setting and KPIs not only provide focus and direction but also empower you to glean actionable insights and drive your podcast toward success.
CoHost Tip: Podcast goal setting isn’t the most straightforward process, so we wanted to help brands looking to optimize the impact of the show. Download our Free Podcast Goal Setting Template to answer key questions when it comes to identifying your show’s goal and the metrics needed to measure it.
3. Not interpreting your podcast insights
What is the use of tracking podcast analytics if you’re not going to draw insights from the data?
Here are a few main reasons why interpreting your podcast data is crucial for success:
Failing to interpret insights means missing out on crucial information hidden within your data.
These insights hold the key to understanding your audience, content performance, and areas for improvement.
For example, if you notice a large percentage of your audience is consistently dropping off at a certain segment of your show, you can refine that segment or even cut it completely to see the effect on your consumption rate.
Insights drive informed decision-making. Without interpreting data, you risk making decisions based on assumptions rather than evidence. This leads to ineffective strategies, misplaced resources, and missed chances for podcast optimization.
For example, if you assume your audience primarily lives on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll likely put a lot of effort into your social media presence on these platforms and run ads. You then realize these efforts are not driving the return you expected, so you decide to tap into Audience Advanced Demographics to see your listeners’ social media behaviors and it reveals that your target audience is actually most active on LinkedIn and X (Twitter).
Ultimately, if you know your audience, you can make much more informed decisions on which channels to nurture and which to avoid. Leveraging cutting-edge data empowers you to launch campaigns and execute strategies you can feel confident in.
Failure to engage stakeholders:
Communicating insights is essential for engaging stakeholders, be it your team, sponsors, or audience. Clear and concise communication of data-driven insights fosters understanding and buy-in. Without it, stakeholders may fail to recognize the value of your podcast or may not fully support your initiatives.
For example, if people on your team are skeptical about renewing your podcast for a second season, you can look at relevant data points that correspond to your podcast's overarching goals and KPIs to help you justify your decision.
Missed monetization opportunities:
Sponsors and advertisers seek podcasts with clear insights into audience demographics, behavior, and engagement. Without effectively communicating these insights, you may miss out on lucrative sponsorship opportunities.
For example, if you want to appeal to advertisers looking to tap into your specific listener base, you can leverage Audience Advanced Demographics to demonstrate specific audience characteristics and behaviors – from age and gender to income and pets – to advertisers.
To avoid these pitfalls, take the time to delve into your data, asking pertinent questions and extracting meaningful insights. Use these insights to inform your decisions and enhance your podcast strategy.
Moreover, communicate these findings effectively using understandable language and compelling visuals to ensure that stakeholders understand and appreciate the significance of your podcast.
CoHost Tip: If you’re not sure how to leverage your podcast data, we put together a list of our top four ways to leverage podcast data to create compelling audio content.
4. Conflating downloads and unique listeners
Distinguishing between downloads and unique listeners is essential to an accurate portrayal of your audience reach.
Downloads represent the total count of plays lasting at least 60 seconds—every instance a listener engages with your content, regardless of whether it's a first-time experience or a repeat play.
Conversely, unique listeners offer a distinct count of individual audience members tuning in to your show. If a listener revisits your podcast multiple times, it registers as a single unique listener.
Why does this differentiation matter?
Consider this: A podcast has a substantial number of downloads, indicating a high volume of plays. However, upon analyzing unique listener metrics, it is revealed that the number of distinct individuals engaging with the content is notably lower.
This discrepancy signals a crucial insight: While there might be loyal listeners revisiting episodes, the overall audience size might not be as expansive as inferred from download figures alone.
Said another way – although impressive download counts may hint at a popular show, it's the unique listener data that provides a more accurate depiction of the audience's size and loyalty.
Understanding this dichotomy proves essential in tailoring strategies to align with specific podcast goals.
For example, a podcast that relies heavily on sponsorships might prioritize unique listener data to show potential advertisers the size and engagement of their audience. On the other hand, a podcast that's focused on repeated listeners might prioritize download data.
Ultimately, while both downloads and unique listener metrics offer valuable insights, their nuanced differences significantly impact the interpretation of a podcast's success and audience engagement levels. By recognizing and leveraging these distinctions, podcast creators can refine strategies and foster stronger connections with audiences.
5. Using the wrong podcast analytics tools
Choosing the wrong podcast analytics tools or features can significantly hinder your ability to derive meaningful insights and make informed decisions. Here's why this mistake can be detrimental:
Incomplete or Inaccurate data
Inaccurate tools might not capture or report data effectively. This could result in missing crucial metrics or presenting skewed information, leading to misguided decisions based on flawed insights.
Different podcasts have distinct needs. Using tools not suited to your podcast's format, audience, or platform may provide irrelevant or excessive data, making analysis cumbersome and misleading.
User experience challenges
Tools that lack user-friendliness might impede your team's ability to navigate data effectively. Complicated interfaces or unintuitive features can lead to misinterpretation or underutilization of available insights.
Security and reliability concerns
Choosing unreliable or insecure tools might compromise data integrity or expose sensitive information. This can pose risks to your podcast's reputation and privacy compliance. To mitigate this, we suggest only using podcast analytics tools that are IAB-compliant, like CoHost.
To avoid these pitfalls, conducting thorough research is crucial. Assess tools based on your specific needs, considering factors like compatibility with your podcast type, ease of use, reliability, and security measures.
If you’re not too sure where to start, here are a few podcast analytics tools we recommend to help your show reach its full potential:
CoHost is a podcast analytics and audience insights tool that empowers leading brands, agencies, and networks with sophisticated tools to boost podcast reach, growth, and revenue.
Created by award-winning podcast agency, Quill, CoHost offers a seamless podcast solution that provides media companies with in-depth podcast analytics, audience insights, and hosting capabilities to succeed in audio.
Some key CoHost features include
- Audience Advanced Demographics: Verify if podcasts are reaching their desired target audience by gaining insight into your listeners' age, gender, household income, family members, lifestyle, hobbies, social media habits, and more. This feature is offered in both prefix and hosting plans.
- B2B Analytics: Company breakdown, listener engagement, individual episode breakdown, and exportable downloads list for lead generation. his feature is offered in both prefix and hosting plans.
- Tracking Links: Consolidate listening app links with the ability to track download sources, individual link analytics, and single tracking links.
- Analytics Dashboard: Consumption rate, growth rates, top episode vs. latest episode insights.
- Downloads and Unique Listener Performance Metrics: Downloads over time, episode launch comparison, and episode breakdown data all with segmented downloads or unique listener dashboards.
- Automatic Transcriptions: In-app AI-powered transcription tool for effortless editing, distribution, boosted SEO, and accessibility.
- Podcast Hosting: Custom media player, multi-show management, collaborative team settings, and one-click publishing capabilities.
- Podcast Website: Automatic, SEO-optimized podcast websites with complete customization and automatic episode and transcript uploads.
Castos is an easy-to-use platform that tracks podcast performance insights like top episodes, listener behavior, demographics, and more. Castos empowers podcasters to increase engagement, create better content, and nurture sponsors.
Key features include:
- Custom podcast website
- WordPress Integration
- Video republishing to YouTube
- Video file hosting
- Automatic podcast transcriptions
- Dynamic ads
- One-time and recurring listener donations
- Podcast analytics including episode-specific, device, location, and app-based insights
- Private podcasting
- Multiple team members
Megaphone (by Spotify) is a podcast hosting and analytics tool for content creators and brand advertisers. They work with brands like WSJ, Disney, Bloomberg, and LinkedIn, to grow their shows and ad revenue.
Megaphone has a heavy focus on ad targeting and campaign tracking features and their analytics tools include audience listening, engagement data, and downloads by location.
Key features include:
- Podcast hosting is designed for publishers and networks that work with advertisers
- Exclusive to podcasters with an established audience with at least 20,000 plays per episode
- Monetization using the Spotify Audience Network to sell advertising slots in their shows
- Dynamic ad insertion with flexible ad-points
- 3rd party tracking URLs
- Downloads and ad delivery by country, region, state, city, and app
Podbean is another popular podcast hosting, monetization, and analytics platform. It provides podcast performance insights such as listeners, downloads, followers, comments, and likes. Additionally, they provide audience demographic information and downloads by listening app.
Here are some of their key features:
- Unlimited hosting and bandwidth, making it suitable for high-volume podcasters.
- A user-friendly website builder to create a custom podcast site.
- Built-in monetization options like patron support and a marketplace for finding sponsors.
- Supports video podcasting in addition to audio podcasts.
- Allows you to record and publish episodes directly from your mobile device.
By investing time in selecting the right analytics tools and utilizing their features effectively, you can ensure accurate data representation, derive actionable insights, and make informed decisions to enhance your podcast's performance.
CoHost Tip: If you’re interested in a full list of the best podcast analytics tools for 2024, check out our complete guide.
Level up your podcast analytics tracking in 2024
The five critical podcast analytics mistakes discussed here shed light on the potential pitfalls that could skew your perception of audience engagement and show performance.
From conflating downloads with unique listeners to solely focusing on vanity metrics, each mistake highlights the importance of nuanced interpretation and a holistic view of metrics.
By avoiding these missteps and embracing a more informed approach to analytics, podcasters can harness the power of data to refine content strategies, attract sponsors, and nurture a loyal and expanding listener base.
Remember, podcast success goes beyond sheer numbers; it's about fostering meaningful connections with your audience. As you navigate the analytics landscape, prioritize a balanced understanding of downloads, unique listener metrics, engagement patterns, and the alignment of these insights with your podcast's unique goals.
To learn more about podcast tracking and finding the podcast analytics platform that’s right for your team, reach out to CoHost.