How to Measure Podcast Success

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How to Measure Podcast Success

February 9, 2023 • About 11 min. read

How to Measure Podcast Success

In this blog post we are going to teach you a few different ways of how to measure podcast success. 🌈

Here is how we are going to do it 👇

First, we will share a few thoughts about why analytics are important for podcasts, but only in the context that they serve your goals. Plus, we will talk a little bit about how you as the host need check on how you are feeling internally so that you do not hit burnout and end a show that otherwise has outstanding numbers. 🦸

Then, we briefly review why it is important to make sure that the data you are seeing is good and valid. You can have the best tools in the world, but you need to input IAB certified data or similar data in other fields in order for those tool to really help you. 👍

At that point, we dive into the best, key metrics. To start we cover downloads along with unique listeners, completion rate, and subscribers. Then we look at target audience demographics both in terms of generating ad revenue, and in terms of other goals. Next we talk about brand awareness and why that those numbers are important if your podcast is one tool in your marketing tool belt. We finish with reviews and ratings. 📈

Excited? Ready to start learning about how to measure podcast success? Let’s start! 🚀

Check in on Internal Success

Before we get in the weeds, let’s make one thing clear: How you define success for your podcast is completely up to you. And that is important!

It is easy to get sucked into thinking that success is based on how many listeners or downloads you have or how much money you can make as a host. For a lot of podcasters, yes, this is what they want to build towards. 💰

For the Love of the Game

But there are plenty of podcasters out there who do it for the love of podcasting. Maybe it is a good excuse to interview fascinating people in your free time. Maybe it is a reason to get together with friends and have a fun audio recording experience together. Some people even start podcasting without really having one clear answer why. 🙃

Burnout is the Ultimate Bad Metric

Even if you do have a very clear answer to why you are podcasting , and the answer is to make money, the metrics cannot tell you everything. 🤔

If you are not enjoying yourself, chances are you are going to burn out and quit… then you really are not going to reach your goals.

So beyond all the podcasts’ numbers and analytics, be sure to check in with yourself and see if you are hitting the internal success indicators like curiosity and creativity. 🥰

Use Tools to Help

Not to toot our own horn, but podcasters rediscovering that joy and empowerment is part of the Ausha experience. 🧑‍🚀💜

We create powerful all-in-one hosting, marketing, monetization, and analytic tools that save podcasters time and energy so they can get back to what makes them happy.

Ok, enough with the internal feelings stuff! Let’s get to the cold hard metrics!

Importance of Verified Metrics

Do not just trust anybody out there in analytics land! Make sure you are getting verified data that is consistent with industry standards when you are trying to figure out how to measure podcast success. 🤓

For example, make sure your hosting platform is IAB certified (Ausha is)! The IAB stands for the Interactive Advertising Bureau. It creates industry-wide standards and definitions so everyone is on the same page and can trust one another.

For other metrics on platforms like Google or social media, there may not be on single certification body, but you should look at their data analysis definitions so at least you know what exactly they measure and if they measure it well.

Ausha IAB Guidelines for podcast

Number One Podcast Success Metric: Downloads

The default metric that everyone in podcasting refers to when you talk about how to measure podcast success is the download number: How many times have your episodes been downloaded.

The assumption is that if it is downloaded, then it is listened to. 👂

This is a actually quite a big assumption since we as an industry do not have the means to tell if someone for sure listened to an episode they downloaded. In fact, sometimes it is hard to tell if multiple downloads of the same episode has been made by the same listener.

But we all know it is an assumption, so we follow the IAB technical guidelines to get the data as clean and accurate as we can, and we move forward with it. ➡️

One of the main reasons downloads is the prominent number for tracking podcast performance is because that is where the money is made. Advertisers usually pay podcasters a set amount of money per 1,000 downloads. This is called CPM, “cost per mille.” You can learn more about this here. 💵

Sub-metric: Unique Listeners

Every podcast listening directory is different (example: Apple, Spotify, etc.) so how they capture and share information is different. Every podcast hosting platform (example: Ausha, etc.) is also different in terms of capabilities to gather and analyze data. 🔬

Whenever possible, you should try to get numbers on unique listeners because that will help you get a higher-quality understanding of what your download numbers truly represent.

Ausha does provide numbers on unique listeners for podcasts, not just downloads. 🧑‍🔬

Sub-metric: Completion Rate

A podcast episode download is defined by the IAB as at least one minute of content downloaded. That is not much time at all! ⏰

To get a better picture, you need to be able to see what the episode completion rate is. In other words, did the listener stay tuned for the whole episode?

This data can also help you improve your listener experience because you can look for trends of when your listeners dropped off. 😅

Ausha provides this data on completion rates.

Sub-metric: Subscribers

The number of subscribers, or followers, of a podcast show can be helpful when thinking about download analytics too.

A subscriber indicates someone who is committed to continuing their downloads and listens. They have taken an action by clicking the “follow” or “subscribe” button. The newest episodes will populate in their listening library. Many times they will even receive an alert when a new episode is available. 🗣️

This metric not only helps show that your download metrics are in fact backed by real listeners, but it also shows the potential of the show moving forward. Subscribers give advertisers confidence that your downloads were not just a fluke, but that listeners very much plan to continue to listen to your episodes.

And guess what… you are never going to guess what we are going to say next… Ausha provides this data to you! 🥳

Podcast Success Metric: Target Audience Demographics

Advertisers do care about downloads and its sub-metrics, but they also care a lot about the demographics of your audience: Exactly what kind of person is listening to your content.

They care because they want to advertise certain products and services to certain groups of people who are likely to be persuaded to buy them. 🚗

That is why audience data is so important, both in terms of proving to advertisers that you have the audience they want, and to help guide you in producing content that your target audience will stick around for.

Here at Ausha, we track all the listener data we can for you: What area your listeners lives in, their age, their gender, what time they typically listen to your episode, what device they listen on, etc. 🤸

Non-Business Reasons

Keep in mind that even if the purpose of your podcast is not to generate business advertising dollars, this information matters. For example, if you are hosting a podcast that you hope will inspire young men in southern states to become more active in ecological restoration, you will want this listener demographic information as well. 🧑‍🌾

Podcast Success Metric: Brand Awareness

Again, some businesses get into podcasting not because they want to make money selling ads, but because they want to build their brands. And for good reason!

According to the CSA and Havas study in October of 2022:

  • 88% of podcast listeners think that a podcast is a good way for a brand to communicate.
  • 74% want to get to know brands better after hearing them on podcasts.
  • 69% say that hearing about a brand on a podcast made them want to buy the product/service.
  • 65% have changed their mind about a brand after listening to its podcast.

Brand awareness is typically not something you can figure out from numbers provided by listening platforms. You usually need to do some kind of professional research study. That is why usually only major brands are able to get these kind of numbers. 👔

Even for the Little Guys

However, even if your podcast is much smaller than the big brands’, you can still do free email, website, and/or social media surveys to get an idea of if your podcast is increasing your brand awareness. 📋

You can also look at where your website traffic is coming from, checking to see if it is coming from your show notes or anything else related to the podcast.

Additionally, if you sell products or services, at the point of purchase you can ask your customers if they heard about you through your podcast. 🤠

You can also get a sense of your brand awareness by how many people reach out to you in your role as an expert in the topic that your podcast is about. If people email you questions or ask you to make media appearances (including writing a guest blog post), it is a sign that people see you and your brand as a leader in the field!

Podcast Success Metric: Reviews and Rankings

The last key metric in how to measure podcast success is reviews and rankings. Here we are mainly talking about the ones on listening platforms, although you definitely can count write-ups in industry newsletters and entertainment media! 👩‍🎤

Apple Podcasts

Apple Podcasts is one of the only listening platforms where free, in-depth data is available when it comes to this category. 🍏

Here at Ausha we pull that data from Apple. We notify you when someone leaves a new review. We track your ratings (usually out of five stars), the number of review comments you get, your current ranking, and your average ranking. 📊

Since Apple Podcasts is where almost half of all podcast episodes are listened too, their numbers on reviews and rankings is very significant!

Of course it is a good idea to track your reviews on other platforms, if they provide that feature. ✍️

Use Reviews Wisely

While some reviewers are just trolls, many of them give concrete feedback that can really help you improve your show’s audio and content. Use it as a tool to help you improve and then leave the rest. 💆

Good reviews and rankings can be some of the best indicators of a successful podcast!

The Last Word on How to Measure Podcast Success

Before we go, allow us to say to make a few more points about how to measure podcast success.

Internal Trends are More Important than External

The most important trends to look at are your internal trends. By that, we mean compare your podcast’s past performance to your podcast’s present performance. Do not worry about comparing it to other podcasts’ performance. 🙅

First, you do not even know if you have the same goals as the other podcasts. Second, lots of people listen to more than one podcast so you really are not in competition for them. 💁

Slow Growth can be Great Growth

And remember, growth is often slow and steady. It is natural to have plateaus and even dips. Do not overreact when the data shows this. Carefully observe, analyze, and think through any changes before you make them. 🧘‍♀️

Create New Listeners

The wonderful part of podcasts being a somewhat new media is that we are creating listeners as we go. That means rather than trying to follow listeners and performance data, we can take risks to produce new content and new formats because we can convert non-listeners to first-time-listeners! 🎧

So do your thing! Use audience analytics as one free tool to guide you and inspire you. The rest is your creation to make! 🧑‍🎨

Technology Changes

And as always, technology changes all the time. For example, Spotify used not to have a ratings option and now it does. 🤷

There are so many podcasts directories, podcasts hosting platforms, and new podcast analytics technology coming out every day that things are constantly shifting. 🤖

Stick to the basic fundamentals and you will go far. Never stop learning and experimenting.

If you have any questions, you can always connect with us on our website chat or by sending us an email at [email protected] We always love to hear from fellow podcasters! 🧑‍🚀

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February 9, 2023

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