Bonus material: Steal Our Editable Podcast Success Tracker
Meet Rebecca, a fictional podcaster I just made up. Rebecca has been podcasting for a few months, and she keeps asking herself ‘Is my podcast successful? Am I doing a good job here?’.
She checks her hosting platform occasionally to see how many downloads she has for her podcast, but she’s not sure what these numbers really mean in relation to her show being ‘successful’ or not.
Other podcasters seem to have WAY more downloads, and she feels discouraged by that fact.
In the world of podcasting, many creators are fixated on one metric above all else: download numbers.
While this is an important metric, it’s not the only one that matters when measuring the success of a podcast.
In fact, comparing download numbers to other podcasters can be misleading and discouraging, especially for niche podcasts that serve a specific audience – which counts for most business owners with a podcast, including Rebecca.
A niche podcast cannot expect the same download numbers as a pop culture podcast.
And that’s not where the revenue and success potential come from for a niche podcast either.
It’s the wrong metric for this type of show.
It’s time to take a holistic approach to understand the unique needs and expectations of your audience and track metrics that align with your podcast goals.
By doing so, you can see how well your podcast is ACTUALLY performing, adjust your strategies, and ultimately create a successful podcast that achieves your goals.
This article will give you a step-by-step process (and our Podcast Success Tracker Spreadsheet below) to track the metrics that MATTER, and discover actionable insights to take control of your podcast’s growth!
Identify Your Podcast Goals
Before I can tell you which metrics to track, we need to have a conversation about your goals.
Setting clear goals identify the proper metrics to track success.
To define your own podcast goals, ask yourself these critical questions:
- Why did you start a podcast in the first place?
- What do you want to achieve in your business in the next year or two? (that the podcast will help you achieve)
The most common goals we see are:
Audience growth: This is a common goal for many podcasters, especially those who are just starting. Increasing your brand’s audience size can help increase your reach, attract new audiences, and expand your brand’s visibility.
Becoming the go-to authority in your niche: Many podcasters aim to become THE recognized expert in their field by providing valuable and insightful content that is relevant to their audience’s interests. By sharing your knowledge, experience, and expertise, you can establish yourself as an authority in your niche and build credibility with your listeners.
Take Jen Hemphill, for example. She started the “Her Dinero Matters” podcast to help Latinas achieve financial independence and become more confident with their money decisions. Her goal was to become the go-to authority on personal finance for Latinas and to build a community around her podcast. Through consistently creating high-value content, Jen has significantly grown her authority. In our conversation with her, she explained that through having a podcast, she has had coaching clients reach out to her, been offered sponsorships, won awards, and was offered an opportunity to write a book: Her Money Matters.
Client/customer acquisition: For business owners, acquiring new clients or customers through their podcast can be a primary goal. Providing valuable content and showcasing your expertise can help you build trust with your listeners, making them more likely to engage with your business and become customers.
Speaking opportunities: Podcasts can also be a powerful platform for building your speaking career. Many podcasters aim to leverage their show to secure speaking engagements at industry events or conferences, which can help further establish their expertise and build their brand.
Business development partnerships: Podcasts can be an effective way to build relationships and form partnerships with other businesses in your industry. By collaborating with other experts and either having guests on your show or guesting on other podcasts, you can tap into new audiences, gain exposure, and increase revenue opportunities.
Remember that the goals you set for your podcast will shape the content you create, the audience you target, and the strategies you use to promote your show.
By defining clear and measurable goals, you’ll be able to stay on track and make informed decisions about the direction of your podcast.
Which Metrics Should You Track?
Once you have established the goals for your podcast, it’s essential to know what metrics to track for each of them.
Quick note: Almost everyone answers the “What’s your goal” question with “all of them”.
Focusing on everything means you don’t have a focus.
Focusing on ONE PRIMARY goal, with 1 or 2 secondary goals (if you must) will help you prioritize and actually drive results toward your goal with focus and clarity.
Seriously, pick ONE primary goal to really focus on and many of the other objectives will happen naturally as a byproduct of this focus.
Okay, soapbox rant over, let’s explore the best metric and tracking approach for each goal.
If your goal is to grow your audience, track two metrics: total downloads per month and email sign ups per month.
What truly matters is your overall audience growth (tracking both downloads & email sign ups), not just podcast listeners exclusively.
We want people to engage with our podcast, and then go deeper by joining our email list (or visa versa).
Keep an eye on your download numbers using your hosting platform, for example, Libsyn. These platforms provide data on who’s listening, when they listen, where they listen from, and more. The metrics aren’t as extensive as say Facebook Ads metrics, or Google Analytics, but they’re enough for our purposes.
You just need to know how many downloads your podcast received in the past month, so you can compare this number with previous months.
The second metric to track is email sign-ups. Track these by creating a dedicated landing page or sign-up form to capture email addresses from interested listeners who’ve opted in for a lead magnet or want to stay up to date with your content and offers.
Track the growth of your email list monthly and monitor how your podcast is contributing to this growth. Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or ConvertKit (our favorite) are great tools for managing email lists and have clear tracking email sign-ups.
Become The Go-To Authority
By measuring brand awareness through social media, you can determine how effectively your podcast is being shared and discussed across various platforms, which we see as the best indication for authority building.
By monitoring the volume and sentiment of mentions, you can understand how much buzz your podcast is generating and how well it’s resonating with your target audience.
For Rebecca, it’s important that she reaches new clients with her podcast. In that case, track the amount of sales calls booked each month.
To get a better insight of leads coming from your podcast, use a separate URL in the show notes of your podcast and track how many leads use this link. The link-tracking tool we recommend is Bitly.
When you give listeners a Call to Action in your podcast to book a sales call, give the Bitly link so you can attribute these leads to the podcast as well.
For example, if your call booking form on the website is at “yourwebsite.com/schedule-a-call”, you can set up a Bitly link like “yourwebsite.com/call” and share this /call link in your Call to Action in your podcast. (note: make it simple and memorable).
For example, we use the Call to Action for listeners to book a free strategy call at TalkWithBen.com.
You’ll notice this link goes to our standard call booking form, but we can easily track how many people use this specific link.
If you want to increase your public speaking opportunities, tracking the number of offers you receive is essential.
Keep a log of all speaking engagements that come as a result of your podcast or people you’ve connected with through the podcast. This includes invitations to speak on other podcasts or at events, or inquiries that come through your podcast’s website or social media channels.
Additionally, create a contact form on your podcast’s website specifically for speaking inquiries. This makes it easy to track how many speaking inquiries you’re receiving.
Business Development Partnerships
Track your business development partnerships through your podcast by monitoring the number of referrals or collaborations that result from your podcast. This can be done by tracking the number of inquiries that come in after a particular episode or by watching the number of collaborations you have secured.
Alternatively, you can keep things more simple and use a spreadsheet to track partnerships generated.
Other Metrics To Track
The goal-based metrics we discussed so far are the most important to track for your podcast’s success. However, there are some other metrics to keep an eye on as well.
Firstly, look through your download metrics for the month to see if there are any outliers in the downloads per episode of your podcast.
In the following example, you’ll see that the top-performing episode has significantly more downloads than other episodes.
This can be an indication that this topic resonates incredibly well with your audience.
On the other hand, a negative outlier can mean that your audience might not be interested in the topic discussed, or that it wasn’t promoted out to your audience very effectively.
Before drawing final conclusions, test 2-3 more episodes about the same/similar topics to see if these will receive similar download numbers. If that’s the case, use this information in your podcast’s content planning.
The second metric to track is trends in listener behavior.
We’ve found that the best metric to track this is the total amount of downloads per month. Each month, see if your podcast received more or less downloads than the month before.
Then ask yourself why this might be the case? Did you focus more or less on marketing for example? Did you promote using a different channel? Was there something about that particular guest or did they promote the episode more than others?
If you see a continuous decline in monthly downloads, it’s time to map out an updated podcast strategy.
Finally, track the return on investment (ROI) of your podcast.
Divide the total costs of creating and producing the podcast by the key metric for your goal. For example, the amount of sales calls booked in a given month.
This way, you calculate the cost per sales call, and you’ll see your podcast get more and more profitable as you hone in your strategy.
How To Improve Each Metric
Tracking these metrics can be discouraging when they’re not moving in the right direction. So here, I’d like to include an area for improvement for each metric discussed.
Starting with download numbers! The best way to continuously increase downloads is by getting your content (and brand as a whole) in front of new people.
Collaborate with leaders in your industry and borrow their audience, or check out this article with more strategies to reach new listeners.
Increase the amount of listeners who sign up for your email list, clients who sign up to work with you, and speaking engagements by leveraging a super clear, high value call-to-action (CTA).
Use the exact CTA formulas below that work for our clients:
Do you want your social media content to be shared and mentioned more often?
Prioritize creating shareable social content using the Get The 3 Step Podcast Promotion Playbook process like the Cashflow Podcasting team has done for our client below.
What Makes A Podcast Successful?
Now that you know which metrics to track and how to increase them, when are you done?
When is your podcast successful?
There are currently around 3 to 4 million podcasts available, according to ListenNotes. Of that 4 million, only 720k podcasts have more than 10 episodes and out of those 720k podcasts, only 156k are releasing a weekly episode.
Here is the thing, the majority of podcasts don’t make it past episode 10. To be in the top 1% of podcasts you only need to reach around 20-30 episodes. However, as mentioned previously, download numbers, episodes and the lifetime of your show only matter if they matter to you and your specific goals.
Podcasting is a long-term game and continuous growth is the key to success. While it may be tempting to compare your numbers with other podcasters, it’s important to remember that every industry and goal is different.
Instead of focusing on the numbers of other shows, focus on your own continuous growth toward YOUR goals.
Our client XYPNRadio experienced success by breaking down their specific goals and measuring success this way.
By setting clear goals for their podcast, they were able to lead the industry, grow their community and land more clients. They focused on one goal at a time, which has led to an engaged audience and increased download numbers.
Keep this in mind when setting goals for your podcast – it’s better to focus on one at a time rather than trying to achieve everything at once. This allows you to put all your effort into achieving a specific goal and prevents you from getting overwhelmed.
As for Rebecca, she needs to focus on staying motivated and not comparing her podcast to others. Each podcast is unique and has its own audience, and there’s no one-size-fits-all definition of success.
Ultimately, Rebecca can focus on creating quality content that resonates with her audience and achieving her own goals. With consistency, Rebecca can continue to grow her podcast and achieve the success she’s after.
Finally, producing a podcast can be a lot of work, and that’s where services like Cashflow Podcasting come in. By partnering with a service like ours, you can make the production process easy, premium and streamlined, while also getting the strategic help you need to make your podcast successful.
With clear goals and the right support, your podcast can achieve continuous growth and reach new heights.