For any sort of audio creators, podcast ROI can be a black box.
When it comes to podcasts, you have to break out of your traditional assumptions about ROI in order to truly understand the impact that your podcast is having on your brand. In a recent article, Daniel Calabretta in Media in Canada quoted Scott Stewart, the general manager at Glassroom:
“Where I think you can generate ROI from podcasts is if you have a longer term brand building strategy where your commitment is more of an ‘always on’ approach over a longer duration versus at a campaign or product level.”
Podcasts are a long-term strategy and the creators that not only understand this but also how to use the medium effectively can yield exceptional results.
Podcasts equip brands and creators with the opportunity to spread their message, vision, and ideas. For many, awareness is a primary goal for their podcast. But finding strategies for measuring the effectiveness of this medium for your brand isn’t always simple to wrap your head around.
Calculating the ROI of podcast awareness comes down to how many listeners you’re reaching as well as your investment in the podcast.
Podcast Downloads/Unique Listeners
To measure the awareness of your podcast, you can focus on either downloads or unique listeners. If it’s downloads (the number of episode plays you’ve had, can include listeners who have listened to episodes multiple times) the equation would look like this:
# of downloads / cost of production = podcast awareness ROI
If you’re focusing on unique listeners, the equation would look similar but just swap out downloads for unique listeners:
# of unique listeners / cost of production = podcast awareness ROI
Another avenue for measuring awareness for your podcast is through social media and website traffic.
Brand awareness for your podcast isn’t dependent on the actual listening app. Your podcast can increase visibility on platforms such as social media or your website. For both of these channels the calculation is similar to what we’ve provided above but you will need to filter for content that is focused on the podcast:
# of impressions for social media posts about the podcast / cost of production = podcast awareness ROI on social media
# of website visitors to your dedicated podcast landing page / cost of production = podcast awareness ROI on your website
Marketing strategies built around brand awareness will never fade. Without awareness, brands will struggle throughout other phases of their funnels. Revecka Jallad in Forbes writes, “Brand awareness is the probability that consumers recognize your brand, products or services. Fast-moving marketers seeking instant gratification often dismiss the importance of recognition, but it's actually a critical piece of getting into a consumer's consideration set.”
Basically, brand familiarity is key here. Luckily, podcasts are an excellent avenue for building brand awareness. A study by BBC found that podcasts can actually help to boost brand awareness by 89%.
In addition to brand awareness as a whole, this podcast goal helps to generate thought leadership and industry credibility with your desired audience. It can also assist in effectively positioning your brand, aligning your mission and values with what you discuss on your show. And lastly, podcasts help to share your brand story, bringing a human element to your company, something that consumers are increasingly searching for.
Another popular goal for podcasts is focused on sales and lead generation. Yes, it can be more difficult to measure this metric for audio since you don’t always have insights into whether a conversion was made through your podcast but with that being said, it is beneficial to track sales and leads when you can.
Observing your podcast ROI when it comes to sales can be a useful exercise since it represents your financial return on your audio. And while we all know direct sales isn’t everything, they can be great numbers to bring back to your team.
To measure the podcast ROI on sales, it’s pretty similar to the awareness ROI metric but we’re going to sub in the total dollar amount of conversions that came from your podcast, and then divide that by the cost of production. This is your podcast ROI for sales.
$ amount for conversions from the podcast / cost of production = podcast sales ROI
Another approach to this metric could be to use leads generated from the podcast. It would look similar to the equation above but rather than the dollar amount, add in the number of leads acquired:
# of leads acquired from the podcast / cost of production = podcast sales ROI
This is telling you how much you spend on production to acquire one lead.
There are plenty of benefits when you're podcasting for sales. One of them includes humanizing your relationship with customers, which in turn contributes to sales. When customers can look behind the corporate facade of a brand and build a relationship with the individuals that are creating impact, it forms a foundation of brand intimacy and authenticity. PR agency, Cohn & Wolfe found that “customers believe authentic behavior like communicating honestly about products and services and acting with integrity are important, even more so than innovation and product utility.” Focusing on these elements translate into not only higher levels of emotion but also higher levels of sales.
Podcasts also assist to grow your network and strengthen client relationships. Brands can use audio as a tool to get in front of key influencers within their industry to foster partnerships with. And with already existing customers or partners, podcasts create an even deeper connection. Whether it’s through showcasing your company in a positive, intimate light or featuring these connections on your podcast, overall - they all cumulatively help to drive conversions.
Podcast advertising continues to be one of the most effective forms of podcast marketing that our team at Quill has seen. Audio-based platforms specifically perform the best for our clients, and we predict that this is due to the fact that audiences on these platforms are already listening to audio, sometimes specifically podcasts which makes the listeners even more targeted.
For paid podcast advertising, you can use whichever metrics you set as your KPIs to showcase the success of your campaign. This can be leads, impressions, clicks, subscribers, etc. For example, let’s say you wanted to analyze the ROI of your paid podcast advertising for subscribers. The equation would look like this:
# of subscribers from paid campaign / cost of production = ROI of your paid advertising
And if you’re focused on impressions, leads, clicks, or whatever the metric might be, you would just swap these numbers for what’s currently in the “# of subscribers from paid advertising”.
Platforms that our team uses for client advertising include:
Paid advertising can significantly help to boost your podcast’s reach and visibility. Platforms give you the ability to target niche audiences that are already tuning into podcasts to showcase your own. These are audiences that you may not have ever had the opportunity to tap into without the help of a paid campaign. With our own clients, we’ve seen paid advertising sometimes more than double our client’s reach and monthly listeners.
Another benefit is that paid ads give you more intel on your target audience. This will help you better understand who your listeners are, where they like to listen, what other genres they listen to, and what type of advertising they convert with. All of this information can be useful to continue to scale your podcast.
A metric for success that many brands look towards for podcasting comes down to engagement: how are your listeners interacting with your content and are they enjoying it?
Watching your brand awareness grow, gain new leads, or succeed in paid advertising are all important goals and measures of success but at the end of the day, understanding how your listeners engage with your content is critical.
Engagement metrics either give you intel on how much of your podcast listeners are consuming (consumption rates), how they interact with your funnels (website analytics), or give you direct feedback (ratings & reviews or social media). And when it comes to podcasts, we’ve uncovered that for the average length of an episode, they hold an audience's attention for exponentially longer than other marketing mediums.
Let’s say that you’re looking to measure the ROI of engagement through your podcast consumption rate which is a popular engagement metric. You would first need to convert your average consumption rate into minutes. For example, say your average consumption rate is 80%, which equates to 35 minutes. You would then multiply 35 by the number of listeners you had for your episode or your entire series thus far if you want the ROI of engagement for your entire series. For this example, let’s say you have 500 listeners per episode.
35 x 500 = 17,500
Once you have this number, divide it by the cost of production:
17,500 / cost of production = ROI of podcast engagement
There are various avenues you can use to measure the engagement around your podcast. Some that we like to focus on at Quill for our clients include:
With engagement metrics, you can better understand who your target audience is and what they’re interested in listening to. This information can assist in steering your podcast in the right direction for success. Additionally, engagement metrics provide you with feedback on your podcast. With any sort of content, service or product you release to audiences, feedback from audiences is key.
Podcasting is a long-term strategy, it’s not a medium to go hunting for quick wins and a fast turnaround time. It takes effort, time, and patience to watch the positive effects of the medium on your brand. And overall, how brands calculate the ROI on their podcast can differ from show to show.
Podcast ROI is dependent on how you define success for yourself and your brand.
A passionate storyteller, Ali is Quill’s Director of Growth Marketing, previously the co-founder and CMO of the branded podcast agency, Origins Media Haus (acquired by Quill). She excels in merging creativity with data in order to successfully build and grow a brand.