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Podcast Tracking: Why Monitoring Your Analytics Matters

Which podcast analytics should you be measuring to get actionable insights for your podcast's performance?

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Podcast Analytics is the key indicator of a podcast's success. Data is essential for guiding strategies, making strategic decisions, and monitoring return on investment (ROI). So it only makes sense that any podcaster should carefully track podcast data to help them make critical decisions surrounding their podcast efforts.

The keyword here is "confirmation." Has creating and publishing a podcast been worth your time and investment? Emotionally that could be the case; you could feel a great sense of personal achievement with the final product. 

But, if you're creating a podcast to increase brand awareness or lead generation, you need to have the cold, hard metrics surrounding your show to justify your time and costs.

Podcast Analytics Overview

Podcast analytics is a set of data points to help podcasters understand how well their podcast is performing. This can include episode downloads, listening platforms, play-through rate, top-performing episodes, geographic locations, etc. 

  • Podcast Analytics is the process of making decisions based on the relevant data patterns.

Data points present the trends within your metrics. For example, say your downloads are trending down, or you have more listeners within a specific app- in analyzing those trends, you can make executive decisions on what to change (or not).

Where can you find this data? Apple Podcasts track some in-app metrics, while Spotify quantifies others. Then there's your hosting site. No two hosts monitor data the same way. So, the bottom line is that no one central hub collects all of the data needed to make concrete decisions. 

Podcast Success and Analytics: What to Ask Yourself

By monitoring and using your data correctly, you can better serve your podcast listeners and expand your overall impact.

So, to gather the correct data ask yourself, what does success look like for you? 

When it comes to measuring how successful a podcast is or not, you should start off by answering three simple questions:

  1. What is your overall goal(s)? 
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. Why are you creating a podcast? 

Podcast success can take many different forms, whether to draw in more leads, build trust among a new audience, gain brand awareness, or just tell a story- it is different for everyone. 

Your goals, and the key point indicators (KPIs) that help you reach those goals, will give you an idea of which podcast analytics need to be tracked and measured.

Say your podcast goal is to build up your brand's reach. How do you know if you're achieving that goal? 

One way would be to see how many downloads, reviews, and subscribers you're gaining per episode. Also, you could look at the number of email list subscribers before and after a certain number of podcast episodes. 

Okay, so you've set your goals; how do you view and track podcast analytics? 

Why It's Important To Track Podcast Data and Insights

Tracking data and insights is a crucial part of any marketing effort. With good data, you can see what is and isn't working. Analytics can give you deeper insight into what's resonating with your audience and help you create more meaningful and valuable content.

By the way, this goes for both paid advertising and organic marketing such as SEO. Analytics and data drive all of these efforts and determine spend and strategy.

Why You Should Be Measuring Your Data:

  • Monitor your listener base, streams, downloads, subscriptions, and how much they have increased/decreased.
  • Make changes to your content or publication schedule should episodes perform poorly regarding listener numbers, reviews, and overall engagement.
  • Find, address and rectify any quality issues.
  • Get listener demographic, device, and location data to help you create highly targeted ads to monetize your podcast.
  • Present actual listener data to help market yourself to sponsors and podcast networks. 
  • To assess if you should be creating any added-value content such as transcripts or videos.
  • Utilize positive reviews from listeners in any of your marketing campaigns.

Until fairly recently, podcast analytic data has been much harder to ascertain. But, by looking across the proper channels, you can track all kinds of metrics that give insight into your podcast audience and your overall ROI. 

The metrics can include how many listens a downloaded episode gets, how many listeners per episode, how long people listen to specific episodes, etc. 

So marketers rejoice! Now, you can easily include this data in your reports. 


Understanding Your Audience

Listeners are the number one asset of any podcast. That means your audience's wants and needs must be important for podcast creators. Podcast analytics help us understand our audience's interests and habits, so we can produce the best content and marketing strategies accordingly.

Podcast analytics provide listener statistics such as:

  • Number of listeners
  • Location and time of listening
  • Devices used for listening
  • Listening duration and stopping point
  • Highest ranked episodes.


Measure Podcast Growth

For almost every podcaster, seeing podcast growth is one of the key indicators that a podcast is healthy and doing well. Brands, marketers, and even the average podcast creators can tap into their growth measurements by carefully reviewing their analytics. 

Continuous review phases of your analytics provide the most up-to-date and unbiased estimation of its performance. For example, a growth indicator could be a rising curve of the audience numbers, downloads, or subscriptions across 30 days.


Estimate Monetization Potential

Podcasts are excellent for community building and increasing brand awareness. As your audience grows, so does the potential to begin monetizing your podcast. 

Analytics tell potential sponsors how popular a podcast is and the defining factor for whether they want to partner with you. Include the downloads per month in your media kit or advertising content if you're pitching to sponsors. 

Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts analytics may also be useful. These platforms can provide your audience demographics, countries/regions they're listening from, age ranges, gender, careers, and yearly income. Gathering this kind of information can give you scope to refine your sponsor options. So not only do you want to be attracting a sponsor in the first place, but know that they will resonate with your audience.

  • Learn more about podcast monetization here

Measuring Your Podcast Performance

Depending on where you host your podcast, you may have access to various podcast analytics and data that will help to measure your podcast's performance. 

The three primary data sources for podcast analytics: 

  • Your podcast media hosting site where you upload your episode MP3 files
  • Distribution platforms such as Google, Spotify, and Apple 
  • Third-party podcast analytics tools 

Let's look at how you can measure podcast performance using each of these tools. 


Podcast Media Hosting Site

First, let's clarify something: podcast media hosts are not podcast analytics tools- but they are helpful.

Podcast hosting platforms (Buzzsprout, Castos, Transistor, Captivate, etc.) host and store a podcast's media files and update other podcast directories, such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify, when new content is published via an RSS feed link. 

Depending on the podcast media host you choose, you may have access to multiple sets of data, including:

  • Total number of subscribers for the month
  • Number of all-time downloads
  • Number of downloads for 7, 30, 60, and 90 days from episode publish date  
  • Number of episode downloads within a specific period
  • Where people are listening from geographically (countries and cities)
  • Device used (smartphone, iPhone, Smart speaker, etc.)
  • The app used to listen (Apple Podcasts, Castbox, PocketCasts, etc.)


Distribution platforms

While a podcast media host is where your podcast lives, distribution platforms such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify push podcasts towards gaining more visibility. These distribution platforms showcase a podcast's performance, such as the number of listeners, reviews, and ratings. 

Apple Podcasts: The Apple Podcasts Connect Portal under the analytics tab provides an overview of all your podcast trends within the Apple Podcasts app. This includes the number of followers, listeners, engaged listeners, plays, total time listened to, top regions/countries by device, reviews and ratings, and average consumption per episode.

 

Google Podcasts: The Google Podcasts platform provides you with additional data on your podcast's performance on Google's Podcast Manager. You can access multiple metrics and look at listener engagement and how it evolves over time. 

Also, any activity across your recent episodes, including retention analytics, listening duration, minutes played, and more. 

Podcasts Manager shows the percentage of what device audiences are using- phones, tablets, desktop computers, smart speakers, etc. 

"This data can help podcasters better understand and respond to changing listening behavior," say the folks at Google. "For example, you might discover that most of your listeners access your show on a smart speaker. This might mean you add shorter form content for listening on the go." 

Spotify: Like Apple Podcast Connect, Spotify offers an in-depth overview of listener activity within the Spotify podcast app. The dashboard provides you with starts, streams, listeners, and followers and an audience section that dives into the age, gender, and location of listeners. You can also track each episode and where there is listener retention or drop-off. 

 

Chartable

One of the most trusted podcast analytics tools around, Charitable is IAB certified and focuses its attention on collecting podcast statistics. You can Track podcast charts and all your podcast reviews from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher, across over 150 countries.

It offers marketing tools both for advertisers and publishers to track the monetization and growth of the podcasts with their SmartAds, Smartpromos and Smartlinks.

SmartLinks—Track your full-funnel using SmartLinks. This feature lets you monitor which marketing channels drive listener growth through a unique shareable, trackable URL that automatically routes listeners to your podcast in their favorite apps. 

SmartPromos—Podcast-to-podcast promotion using trackable analytics prefixes within a podcast's RSS feed. Once an ad campaign starts, Charitable can track the advert's success and provide an updated report on an hourly basis.

Downloads

Let's start with the most obvious metric: how many downloads do you receive per episode?

Download numbers are one of the most common metrics podcasters use to measure the success of their show. The reason is that these stats are immediately accessible to anyone via their hosting site- literally from the minute you launch your first episode. 

The number of downloads could be likened to page views a website gets. But, with that said, downloads don't really tell you much other than how big your audience is. On the other hand, download numbers are instantly accessible and extremely easy to evaluate. So they're an obvious way to measure a podcast's success.


Where to Find Number of Podcast Downloads

Most podcast hosting sites will collect your download data. Depending on the host site you use, you may see multiple columns or graphs on the homepage for downloads within a certain time frame. 

Most host sites will allow you to display the average number of downloads per episode 7, 30, 60, and 90 days from the episode publish date.

 

A wise podcaster syndicates their show across several podcast directories, so your host can collect the download numbers from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, etc.

If your new episode gets, within 7 days of its release:

  • more than 26 downloads, you're in the top 50% of podcasts.
  • more than 72 downloads, you're in the top 25% of podcasts.
  • more than 231 downloads, you're in the top 10% of podcasts.
  • more than 539 downloads, you're in the top 5% of podcasts.
  • more than 3062 downloads, you're in the top 1% of podcasts.

Niche Podcasts Can Have a Reduced Download Scope

Being niche and having lower download numbers isn't necessarily a bad thing. Say you did a survey of the entire world; how many individuals would be interested enough in your topic to actually download each episode? Some podcasts would warrant hundreds of thousands of downloads. 

But, if your show is about basket weaving in the Andes, your download pool will be much lower. The main focus should be on how your listeners interact with your content, primarily the consumption rate. Are they listening to an entire episode or tuning out when you discuss a specific topic etc? Understanding that can help you set realistic goals that don't involve comparing your show with viral social content and influencers.

Audience Engagement: Play Through Rates

Analyze your listener drop-off rate: are people skipping over your intro or ads? The podcast play-through rate shows creators how much of an episode people listened to.

According to recent studies, most podcasts can lose up to 35% of their listeners within the first five minutes, so you want to ensure that relevant content will hook listeners in. 

As mentioned earlier, sync your podcast up to Spotify and Apple Podcast Connect. Their dashboard offers an episode-by-episode breakdown, where you can review episode consumption percentages, where listeners are tuning out, and whether those numbers pick up again. 

You can even listen to clips of where listener drop-off happens to get an idea of what the content was and whether you can improve upon that in the future. 

 

Listener Demographics Matter

Listener demographics are the features that draw your ideal listeners out from the crowd.

Factors like age, gender, and geographical location can get any podcaster connecting with their audience on a whole new level. In the podcast world, content is key. So when you have an understanding of who your audience members are, you have a much better idea of how to relate to them. In addition, knowledge surrounding your demographics can help you refine your choices when forming advertising campaigns or other marketing strategies.

For instance, if you have a solid following in a younger age bracket, market your ad or podcast content to them. Say you have a business-tech podcast, bring in a guest that is young but successful within their field. 

How Are Listeners Tuning In?

There are many apps and devices people can use to listen to your podcast. But have you ever considered how and why they've chosen that device?

Knowing your audience's primary listening habits is a goldmine for podcast content planning. For example, if most of your loyal fanbase is utilizing mobile devices, that may indicate they're on the move, which means you may want to create shorter content. 

"If we saw an increase in listeners using Chrome and desktop browsers, it would be worthwhile to work on our podcast website, provide transcriptions, and up our podcast SEO efforts to boost discoverability and audience engagement." - Captivate.

 


Analytics Should Serve Your Audience

Success looks very different for each podcast. 

Tracking podcast analytics effectively can be incredibly time-consuming. The data collection depends on multiple variables, such as your podcast media hosting site, the alternative tools you're using (Chartable, Apple Podcasts Connect, etc.), and your overall goals and KPIs. But even once you have all the charts and numbers at your fingertips, you must remember that podcast analytics are a tool to help you serve your audience. 

  • Analytics give podcasters the power to create better content. 

Ultimately, by utilizing podcast analytics, you are more equipped to serve your listeners and craft content that is better suited for them.

  • How many people have listened?
  • When and where have they listened?
  • Where do they live, and how did they access your podcast?
  • How much of an episode did they listen to and at what point did they stop listening?
  • What are your highest-ranking episodes?

All of this data allows you to gauge how your content is landing with your listeners.

You can then evaluate possibly refreshing your content or marketing approach from there. It's important to keep referring to these analytics because they will evolve and change.

Summary

Without having the capacity to understand your podcast analytics, you won't be able to make informed decisions on how to best market, advertise, monetize and even produce your podcast. 

Defining and refining your podcast's data and then tracking those crucial KPIs using the correct stats is only one piece to this constantly expanding puzzle. When you combine your analytics with other performance measurement tactics – like listener reviews and social media engagement – you'll start to form a detailed picture of your audience, their behavior, their ideal content, and how that influences your podcast's growth. 


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