How To Measure Whether Your Podcast Is Effective
It's true: podcast metrics suck.
If you're used to tracking page views of your blog posts, new followers on social media, or subscribers to your YouTube channel, measuring the effectiveness of your podcast can feel nearly impossible.
Even though podcasting has entered the mainstream and big companies are spending big bucks on both podcast advertising and branded podcasts, we're still approximating subscriber counts and guessing how many of our downloads are actual listens.
We believe that the lack of podcast-specific metrics are a business blessing in disguise.
Podcast metrics are business metrics.
We don’t need podcast-specific metrics if we develop holistic ways to track whether our efforts to produce and grow a podcast are contributing to the greater business goals.
In fact, fixating on podcast-specific metrics could keep us from actually measuring the effectiveness of the show and, instead, cause us to simply measure whether people like the show or not.
Yes, we want to know whether people like the show and are engaging with the content. But what we really want to measure is whether our shows are actually helping us reach business goals.
The key to knowing whether your podcast is effective is tracking your business goals and clearly supporting those goals through strategic content and systematized calls to action.
Measuring the impact of a podcast will always be an art, never a science.
We listen to podcasts in our cars, while walking the dog, or during our morning runs—not the kind of place where we sign-up for email lists or make a purchase.
We listen on devices that make navigating complex websites less than enjoyable—not the best place to follow instructions from a marketer.
We listen to content that encourages to think deeply and challenge our assumptions or, even better, get lost in a story—not the best time to consider a major investment.
It might sound like I'm suggesting that podcasts aren't an ideal medium for marketing...
...but nothing could be further from the truth.
Podcasts aren’t a magic bullet but they can be a highly effective part of a sales and marketing ecosystem. Paired strategically with supporting forms of marketing and communication (email marketing, SEO, Paid traffic, social media, etc...), a podcast can accelerate and increase your results.
Podcasts and podcast advertising build brand awareness, nurture customer relationships, and—yes—drive sales.
So those are the kinds of metrics we should track as podcasters, strategists, and producers to measure the effectiveness of our shows.
Every business will want to take a personalized look at the specific mix of metrics they track. But here are some ideas to get you started:
Yeah, let's start with the one we all have in mind: how is this show making me money?
You're already tracking sales in one way or another. But are you tracking where those sales come from?
It's easy to assume that they come from high-powered sales channels like your email list or Facebook advertising. And they might! But it's worth finding out where your customer actually made the decision to buy as opposed to what pixel fired when or what email they clicked on.
After all, that email or Facebook ad might not have been very effective if it wasn't for the relationship your new customer formed with your company through your podcast.
So how do you track whether a sale actually got made through email marketing or whether that new customer decided to buy during their morning commute?
You have to ask.
We recommend surveying customers within the first 24 hours of purchase to determine the referral. You can do this as part of your check-out process, through an automated email, or by personally thanking your customer and asking them how they heard about you.
Then, track your results.
Social Media Mentions
While most social media metrics end up being vanity metrics, social media mentions can go a long way to broadening your reach and building your audience.
Plus, those mentions bring the clout and credibility of the referrer along with them.
We're big fans of driving social media mentions on Instagram, where people are already on the device they likely use to listen to podcasts. With Instagram Stories, a mention can actually drive people straight to your show on Spotify.
But anyone talking about your show publicly on social media is win and can be measured.
Blog Post Mentions
Interviews On Other Shows
Interest List Sign Ups
We've found that podcast listeners are much closer to buyers that we expect them to buy. They invest countless hours with you, feel like they know you, and trust you to bring them exactly what they need, week in and week out.
However, most podcast listeners don't stop what they're doing to buy.
A better strategy for encouraging action and measuring interest is by creating an "interest list" for your product or service.
This isn't list-building as you've come to know it. It's not a vague request to join your mailing list. There are no freebies.
This is a call to action that references an intention to buy.
Tell your listeners about the product or service you offer and have them sign up to receive more information about it.
It's not marketing, it's sales.
(The marketing is everything you've already been doing on your podcast.)
Experiment with different formats of ads or mentions on your show and send listeners to a page dedicated to collecting email addresses of people interested in buying.
Webinar Sign Ups
Challenge Sign Ups
The buyer's journey for your product or service isn't really a metric. But it is something you can track, analyze, and optimize to help you reach your business goals.
As part of a sales and marketing ecosystem, a podcast can do an incredible job of shortening your buyer's journey or filling overcoming the obstacles in that journey that have prevented people from buying in the first place.
Pay attention to email communications, social media mentions, and comments to figure out how prospects are engaging with your content and what types of content create more action. Look for connections between listening to the show and clicking on a particular ad or signing up for a particular free offer. Talk to new customers about why they bought and what inspired them to commit and invest.
Once you have a better idea of what works for you and your customers, you can use your podcast content strategy to attempt to both enhance your buyer's journey (fill in the blanks and answer questions) and shorten your buyer's journey (help you customer make a decision faster).
Remember, your podcast is effective as part of your whole business strategy.
If you don't have clear business goals, a plan for reaching those goals, and consistent execution of that plan, you can't measure the effectiveness of your podcast.
There is no metric you can track that will somehow quantify whether your podcast is worth the time, money, or energy you spend on it outside of the way your business performs as a whole.
Your podcast can do amazing things for your business but it can't fix a broken strategy.
A truly effective podcast makes an effective business even more profitable and impactful.