Understanding how engaged your listeners are with your podcast content is essential for building an audience and growing your show over time. After all, how will you determine what your next move should be if you’re unclear on how any existing content is landing with your audience in the first place?
Luckily, there are several ways to uncover key insights about just how engaged your listeners are with your content, their likes and dislikes, and exactly when they’re dropping off and abandoning ship on an episode. Looking at salient back-end analytics and data provided by your hosting site, Spotify or other platforms like CoHost will equip you with the knowledge and insights you need to truly understand your audience and continue building authentic connections with them in real time.
So, what are the best ways to discover the current level of audience engagement you’re garnering, and more importantly, how to increase it in the future? In this article, we outline some of the key metrics you should be looking at when measuring listener engagement if you hope to grow your audience and increase engagement:
What’s the easiest way to gauge your audience’s level of engagement with your podcast? Just ask! Don’t be afraid to do a call out either on the podcast, via social media, or in your newsletter to ask your devoted listeners to share any constructive feedback they may have about the show. As your show grows, you’ll also likely get some unsolicited feedback, which can be helpful provided it’s respectful, of course.
When it comes to understanding podcast listener engagement, downloads are an important metric to track that can help you understand which episodes are getting the most buzz. Take a look at which episodes are getting the most downloads, and analyze the topics, guests, or episode format that made these episodes a success. From there, adjust your content strategy accordingly to capitalize on the more popular content and minimize anything that’s falling flat.
Similar to tracking downloads, looking at the number of unique listeners each episode is drawing in will give you a good sense of the kind of content that tends to perform well versus not so well. While the downloads metric tracks the number of times people have downloaded the episode to their device, the listeners metric tracks the number of unique listeners you have for the episode in total. You can typically guesstimate the number of loyal followers you have based on the average number of unique listeners tuning into your show.
Subscriptions, by contrast, measures the number of people who have subscribed to your entire show, meaning they will receive a notification each time a new episode comes out. While this metric won’t necessarily give you an episode-by-episode breakdown that will give you a rough sense of the kind of content that’s most popular with your listeners, you can still use it to your advantage by tracking any spikes or dips in subscribers you may potentially see when you release (or don’t release) new content.
Tracking the average listening time of each episode will help you get more granular and take a closer look at what’s causing listeners to drop off. By identifying any patterns when it comes to the average listening time, and therefore, your drop-off rate, you’ll be able to gain an awareness of the content that’s hindering your engagement levels.
For example, are most listeners dropping off every time you start a specific segment during the episode? This could be an indicator that it’s time to rethink that segment. Or, are most listeners dropping off right at the beginning of the episode? Then it may be time to re-evaluate your sound quality, editing, or any other factors that could be leaving a less than stellar first impression.
Listener ratings and reviews can offer some pretty telling indicators of your content’s success. Pay attention to the ratings and reviews listeners leave, and take their feedback into account. Of course, you don’t need to implement every suggestion you get from listeners, but it can be helpful to use ratings and reviews as a kind of temperature check for your podcast.
If you just aren’t getting enough ratings and reviews to help you gain insight into your audience’s preferences, don’t be afraid to ask your listeners to weigh in. Try adding a call out for ratings and reviews at the end of each episode, on your website, on social media, or in any other show materials. To incentivize listeners, you could even throw in a free gift for those who leave a review, like an e-book, products from your advertisers, or show-themed swag.
If you hope to increase audience engagement, you’ll first need to dive deep into the identity of your listeners. Who are your listeners, really? Where do they live? What kind of device are they mainly using to tune into the show?
Finding out the answers to these questions by exploring your audience analytics will help to arm you with the knowledge you need to get inside the mind of your listener and tailor new content to suit their needs, desires and preferences. Gather as much data as you can about your listeners and use it to create a profile of who is tuning into your show regularly. This will ultimately help you gain a better understanding of who you’re really talking to, which will create a more personalized and authentic relationship between you and your listeners.
Social media platforms can also offer a plethora of revealing metrics that can help you determine your audience engagement. Not only can you track your engagement rate on posts that are promoting a new episode launch, but you can also take a closer look at any other content you share that’s performing particularly well or poorly, but that may not be directly related to the podcast.
For example, let’s say your podcast is about sports, and you share a story about Peyton Manning on Instagram that performs super well. Now, you can use that information to your advantage to inform your podcast content in the future and gain a clearer picture of who your audience really is.
Also, you can start monitoring what audience members are consitently engaging with your social media posts or sharing your podcast on their own accounts. From here, you can start to uncover a loyal fanbase and measure their engagement or even reach out to them to connect further.
Similar to social media, your podcast’s website can reveal much about the kind of content that’s resonating with listeners. For example, by tracking website metrics like pageviews, clicks and bounce rate, you can gain a clearer picture of the content that people want to see more of. You should also look at backlinks (other sites that are linking back to your content) to determine where your podcast is fitting into the online landscape, what people are saying about your content and the overall sentiment surrounding your show.
To sum up, there are several different ways you can determine audience engagement to continue growing your podcast and connecting with listeners. If you hope to gain more devoted listeners who find your show valuable, it’s important to take stock of what they hope to get out of the deal.
Podcasting is a two-way street. There should always be some give and take when it comes to your content strategy so you can ensure listeners are finding value in each episode. Of course, stay true to your own authentic goals and mission as a podcaster, but don’t be afraid to play to your strengths and give the people what they want when it’s appropriate.
Mackenzie Patterson is the Senior Producer & Content Strategist at Quill Inc, and a Toronto-based writer, and journalist. She's always exploring the latest movies, TV shows and wellness trends.