Understanding how to track your podcast’s performance can be challenging. However, if your company has recently launched a branded podcast, you’ll want to gain a firm grasp on your show’s key metrics so you can continue to improve going forward.
While it hasn’t always been easy to understand podcast metrics, the tools we use to measure performance are improving every day. Now, it’s becoming easier than ever to track the metrics that matter most to you and your business, and stay on track with your podcast goals.
If you’re hoping to grow your audience, increase ratings and reviews, and improve engagement with your podcast this year, there are a few different metrics you’ll want to check in on so you can understand your starting point. Knowledge is power, and once you have a hold on which metrics matter most for your podcast, you’ll be better equipped to move forward and reach podcast success.
Here are some (but definitely not all!) of the metrics to track when measuring your podcast’s performance:
Your consumption rate is one of the most important indicators of success in the podcast world. Essentially, the consumption rate tells you how much of a podcast episode listeners are actually listening to before dropping off.
This number is calculated on a percentage basis, so the closer you can get to 100%, the better. While some dropoff is normal, you want to ensure your content is engaging enough to retain listeners and keep them wanting more.
A good goal to set is to try to maintain an average consumption rate of 70%. This means that listeners are tuning in for a little less than three quarters of your episode, which for the average length of a podcast, blows any other mediums like video or blogging out of the water.
Pay close attention to your consumption rate for each episode because it can provide you with valuable intel on your podcast. If you see that listeners keep dropping around the 50% mark, test out adding a transition halfway through your episode to re-engage them. Or maybe you want to test out making your episodes shorter and seeing how that performs on engagement.
And then on the flip side, maybe you tested out a new episode format and received a 90% consumption rate whereas your typical episode average is 60%. This could inform you that the new format you’re trying out is preferred by listeners.
Observe this metric for every single episode and your podcast as a whole to truly unlock the power of it.
The number of unique listeners listening to your podcast refers to the number of individual devices (iPhone, computer, etc.) that have streamed or downloaded your show. This is different from a download which measures every stream or download you’ve received on your podcast even if it’s from the same device. For example, if I streamed a podcast episode four times, it would be counted as four downloads but only one unique listener/download.
And as a result, this is the metric that’s most important to advertisers who are considering advertising on your show since it displays the true number of listeners that your podcast has (sadly, it’s very likely that your unique listener metric will always be smaller than your download metric).
For context on download success, according to Podcast.co:
But with all that being said, achieving these numbers within a month can be challenging. Don’t be discouraged if it takes some time to build momentum with your show. If, on the other hand, you have achieved these numbers, then congratulations are in order!
ROI, meaning return on investment, is a great indicator of how much bang for your buck you’re getting with your podcast. This will ultimately help you secure more budget for your podcast if you’re reporting to shareholders or leadership teams, and it will give you a clear picture of exactly how your podcast is leading back to your business outcomes.
Your ROI is calculated into a percentage number based on a variety of factors like the amount of money you’ve invested into your podcast, the number of listeners you have for each episode, or your consumption rate. Typically, podcast ROI falls into the categories of sales, awareness, advertising, or engagement.
To calculate podcast ROI, you would take whichever metric you want to find your return on investment with and divide it by the amount you’ve spent on the podcast. This will give you the overall ROI for your entire show.
For example, if you’re trying to find your ROI for sales you’ve made from the podcast, the equation would look like this:
(total dollar amount of sales from the podcast / total cost of podcast) x 100 = ROI for sales
Remember that podcasts are a long-term strategy and you likely won’t see immediate results within the first few weeks or even the first few months after launching. Ensure that you’re setting realistic expectations when it comes to your podcast ROI within any of the avenues we mentioned above.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth breakdown, here’s a helpful article on how to calculate your podcast’s ROI.
As a marketing tool, your podcast can increase the number of new sales leads you see within your business. Depending on your business, how you define a lead can vary, but some examples include newsletter subscribers, form submissions, whitepaper downloads, webinar signups, etc.
How to track leads on your podcast:
Effectively tracking leads that come in through your podcast can be a challenge, but at the core of it, you want to find ways to provide listeners with unique pages, links, or promo codes. As you get leads from these unique channels, you’ll know that they came from your podcast since only listeners have access to them.
If the overarching goal of your podcast is to drive sales, then of course, this is a metric you’ll want to watch closely as you release each new episode.
Last but not least, ratings and reviews are also an important podcast metric to track if you’re hoping to gauge the overall audience response to the content you’re putting out. Keep an eye out on the ratings and reviews you receive on your podcast so you can play up your strengths and improve on weaknesses to ultimately grow your audience base.
First-hand feedback from your listeners is a powerful tool for success that many podcasters overlook. Take time to analyze especially your reviews to pick out any nuggets of wisdom that you can implement into your podcast. Maybe it’s a certain type of guest, style of format, discussion points, and so on. Let your listeners assist in guiding the direction of the show.
As for ratings, these are key to looking at the greater picture of your podcast success. Month over month or episode over episode, observe your ratings to see whether they spike or drop for specific episodes or guests.
As a bonus, more ratings and reviews can also help to land you a spot on Apple’s podcast charts, which will increase your exposure significantly. Ratings and reviews aren’t everything so don’t assume that with stellar reviews will come an immediate ranking on Apple’s charts. But they definitely help, and we’ve seen this countless times with our own clients.
To optimize on this, try including a CTA at the end of each episode prompting your listeners to rate and review the show or leave you some sort of feedback. Tell your listeners that if they want to support you and the show, then that’s an easy channel for them to do this, similar to how we often hear YouTubers encouraging viewers to like and subscribe to their video/channel.
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.