Podcasts have become a competitive space so in order to increase your audience engagement, you need to understand data and use it in an innovative way to grow your audience.
Brandon Santos, Director of Podcast Marketing at Vox Media and Liz Nelson, Editorial Director at Vox Podcasts, gave tips and tricks on how to measure audience engagement and how to think about analytics during a webinar presented by PRX on podcast analytics.
Setting realistic download goals
“Your specific goals will depend on what you are trying to achieve,” says Santos.
He shares a few points about when you are starting out.
- Every show starts from zero, it takes time to build-up your downloads, “when we launch a show we won’t really look at those numbers until we are about two weeks in, so we can give the show a chance to build-up those downloads,” says Santos.
- It takes work to attract an audience. It is important to count the people you have access to, and you cannot expect people to stumble upon your show, you have to go out and get or attract people to your show.
- You need to adjust goals as you go, assess and re-set news goals as you go.
- Podcasts tend to grow on a curve.
Key reports and numbers to know
Key baseline metrics which are important to track:
- Look at total downloads by day: This is best for identifying sudden spikes and cliffs in your overall downloads, although there are some limitations to looking at numbers this way. “It can be difficult to get the full context just by looking at the day by day downloads,” says Santos. Adding that “daily downloads tend to drop on the weekends”.
- Track total downloads by week: You are able to see a bigger picture or a view of how your show is growing or changing as it flattens out the spikes and cliffs from the day by day downloads. This is a good measure, especially for podcasts which drop episodes at a regular schedule for example on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s.
- Look at the seven-day and 30-day episode downloads which gives you more of an episode by episode performance. It is best to look at the seven-day or 30-day as a metric.
Limitations to ‘download’ and how we look at downloads
- It can’t tell you how many times file has been downloaded.
- It doesn’t tell you how much a listener enjoys a show.
- It can give you a sense of how much the listenership of your podcast is growing or shrinking but it can’t tell you exactly what’s causing your listening to grow or shrink.
The pace of your show will be tied to specific moments for example if you drop an episode and the content is about relevant new events, it will receive attention resulting in more people downloading it.
Common causes for ‘spikes’ in downloads: a few reasons why your show is experiencing a sudden high increase in downloads
- Receiving a feature placement from a major platform
- Media mention which can drive downloads, for example being tweeted or mentioned by a celebrity.
- Guest appearances on other podcasts.
- Conversations about relevant news events.
- Releasing or publishing of extra episodes.
“These are the things that cause noticeable immediate jumps in numbers but there also many other factors that contribute to growth that maybe aren’t as spikey,” says Santos.
Causes for ‘drops’ in downloads: a few reasons why there are less people listening to your show then before.
- Marketing effort ended.
- A problem publishing a new episode.
- Lack of advertising of an episode across social media platforms.
- Change in listener habits.
The pace of your show will be tied to specific moments such as the ‘causes’ mentioned above.
Looking beyond the download
‘There is a lot of other data outside of downloads which is useful for creators and probably the most important one is qualitative data such as audience feedback, reviews, which gives you a lot more context on what people are liking, disliking and informs on how to talk about the show,” says Santos. Adding that “this is a really important source of data for your show.”
Additionally, episode consumption data which shows you how quickly listeners are dropping off while listening to specific epsiodes is a useful metric which allows you to see whether you can retain listeners throughout the episode.
“Data is very helpful in figuring out on what we are going to do next, what we stop doing and what we start doing but it is one factor in the decision-making,” says Nelson.
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