Measuring your podcast's success

Posted by Cindy Paulauskas | Mar 27, 2023

As we said in this post people create business podcasts for lots of reasons, but at the end of the day, they roll up to three main goals:

1. Reach a targeted audience

2. Make money

3. Creative outlet

The bulk of this discussion focuses on the first  goal: How do you know if you’re growing your podcast's reach successfully?

The most obvious metric to look at is the number of listeners/downloads. This is an important metric, and you want it to trend up over time. But it’s important to bear in mind that your goal is reaching a target audience, and if that audience is all women between 25-70, your target is MUCH larger than if it were all women who attended college while raising their children. Don’t get caught up in the absolute number when your target audience is relatively small.

The second easiest metric to look at is ratings/reviews. This is an important corollary to your overall listeners/downloads. Having a well-reviewed, highly-rated podcast makes it more likely you’ll win new listeners willing to give you a try. Plus, if you have a small following but they take the time to rate and review your podcast, you’ve won the brass ring: Engagement. We’ll talk more about that below.

Another number to pay attention to is the listen-through rate. If you’re trying to influence your audience with your message, the more of your message they hear the better.

At the end of the day, you’re trying to get listeners to your website, whether to sell goods or services, learn about your cause, or engage with your other content. Look at site traffic and conversions pre- and post-launch, how much traffic your podcast pages are receiving, and how much traffic the pages referenced in the podcast or linked in the show notes are getting.

A little more subjective, but in some cases more important, is the value of the network and ongoing relationships your podcast enables. How many guests with whom you had no prior relationship nevertheless agreed to come on? With how many guests (or even guests that didn’t pan out, but folks you now have a dialogue with) do you have an ongoing dialogue? 

The learning that you do in researching and talking with your guests is another key value. You don’t have to be an expert in the topic of your podcast; you just have to be passionate about it. Using the podcast as a vehicle to get smarter about something you love is a perfect way to provide value to your listeners and yourself at the same time.

In many cases the most important criterion is audience engagement—the number of listeners who’ve also subscribed to your newsletters, interacted with your social media posts (shares, comments, likes), and responded to your calls to action.

The impact of your podcast can be measured by increased brand awareness. You can use tools like: 

And as with all other aspects of your business, measure yourself against the competition. How does your show fare relative to theirs? How’s your overall share of voice (SOV)?

As with other forms of content marketing, podcasting is a long-term strategy. If you need quick boosts of followers, paid advertising is a better bet. But the cumulative positive impacts of a sustained podcast are incredibly valuable for brands and pay dividends if you invest effort, quality and patience.

Here’s a brief discussion of the ROIs on the other goals:

  • To calculate the ROI on goal 2 -- making money -- you’ll find lots of Googlable resources. The high level summary: Take all the money you earned (Revenue) and subtract all the money you spent (Costs) and compare that answer to your Target. Revenue-Cost=Profit/(Loss). If Profit is equal to or greater than your Target, you’re in good shape. If not, you need to figure out how to raise Revenue and/or reduce Costs.
  • Calculating the ROI on goal 3 -- personal satisfaction -- involves a lot of assumptions. The high level summary: Calculate the Economic Value (EV) of the joy and pride and other rewards having a podcast gives you. Then, subtract the EV of any negatives, such as frustration and lost time. If the resulting number is positive, you’re getting benefit from your creative outlet. 

In summary, to truly measure success, the formula would be something like:

Economic Value of Benefits (Audience Size + Ratings/Reviews + Website Traffic + Community Engagement + Network and Relationship growth + Increased Product Sales + Direct Revenue + Brand Awareness + Competitive Advantage + Learning + Personal Satisfaction) - Economic VAlue of Costs (Direct Costs + Opportunity Costs + Emotional Costs) = ROI.