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15 Podcast Metrics Worth Measuring for Success

Here's your ultimate guide to podcast metrics. We'll show you how to measure your podcasts success by showing you exactly what to track and how!
Stephen Robles
Video & Podcast Creator
Last Updated:
February 8, 2024
10
min
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

Unless you podcast for fun, you probably have business goals for your podcast. Are you hoping to build your brand, sell a product, attract leads, improve traffic to your website—or all of the above?

As they say, what gets measured gets managed. To measure your progress toward your goals and learn what works (and what doesn’t), you’ll need cold hard data.

That’s where podcast metrics come in.

Metrics for podcasts are the measurable aspects of your show, like download numbers, subscribers, completion rates, and more. In this article, we’ll show you why all successful podcasters track their metrics—and which metrics you should consider measuring for your own show.

Why should you evaluate podcast metrics?

You're just operating off of vibes if you’re not tracking your podcast data. Metrics are the hard data that show whether your podcast is successful.

But which metrics you pay the most attention to depends on your unique goals. Many podcasters track basic podcast statistics like total downloads, subscribers numbers, and chart rankins. These can give you a good birds-eye view of your podcast’s popularity and performance. But you might also consider tracking more specific numbers, like listener demographics, downloads over time, and social shares. Each type of podcast metric tells a slightly different story. And, by focusing on the metrics that best fit your goals, you can make strategic improvements to help you reach your goals faster. 

Not only does podcast tracking help you measure your show’s success, but it’s also crucial if you want to land podcast sponsorships. Podcast sponsors are interested in subscriber count, as well as audience demographics, location, and whether your download numbers are consistent. After all, sponsors want a decent chance at a good return on their investment.

If you’re serious about growing your podcast, landing brand deals, or making the best return on investment for your podcast, you need to track podcast success metrics.

15 Podcast metrics worth measuring

Now that we’ve established it’s a good idea to track metrics, let’s look at the best stats to focus on. Below, we’ll show you 15 metrics worth tracking, from the most basic, to the most important, to more niche choices that may match your specific goals.

Basic metrics to track

1. Total downloads

The easiest metric to start tracking from the moment you publish your first episode is total downloads. This golden metric for podcasters shows how many times your people have downloaded your podcast

Keep in mind, though, that there’s a difference between downloads and plays (or streams). Just because someone downloaded the episode doesn’t mean they actually listened to it. Podcast hosting companies don’t show how many listeners pressed play on the episode or if a person downloaded the same episode twice.  

Total downloads has historically been the most important metric for how to measure podcast success. But in recent years, companies have started trying to game the system by purchasing downloads—which means this basic metric may not be the most useful anymore.

Read more: 15 Tips on How to Get More Podcast Downloads (2024)

Most important podcast metrics to track in 2024

Below, we’ll look at the five most important metrics to focus on this year and beyond. You can also check out this video from Riverside to learn more:

2. Audience engagement

Unlike total downloads, audience engagement is a much more accurate indicator of how many people actually listened to each episode. Apple Podcasts tracks audience engagement for anyone who listens to at least 20 minutes (or 40%) of an episode. Spotify counts “streams” as listening sessions that last at least 60 seconds. These apps also provide graphs showing at what point people start and drop off of a stream—which can be helpful when you’re determining what kind of content or segments resonates best.

Audience engagement is the best statistic to track if you want to measure how many people actually listened to each episode—not just downloaded or started it.

3. Followers

Along with engaged listeners, it’s helpful to track how many subscribers your podcast has. Subscribers, or followers, are those who’ve added your show to their podcast player so they get notified of new episodes—or automatically download them—whenever you publish.

Keep in mind that the follower number is usually much higher than an episode’s engaged number. Not everyone in your subscribed audience will tune in for each episode. But comparing follower count to an episode’s engagement can help you experiment with effective descriptions and episode titles to entice subscribers to click “play.”

4. Chart position

Your show’s chart position (or popularity ranking) within your genre is a good indicator of success. Rather than going strictly by download numbers, Apple Podcasts determines chart positions by engaged listeners and the popularity of an episode. 

To look up current charts for your podcast category in Apple Podcasts, search your category on the desktop app. Apple updates chart positions almost hourly. You can also sign up for a Chartable account to get a global report of your chart position.

5. Listener countries

When booking sponsors, you’ll often get asked where your listeners are from. If you can show that a good portion (such as 70%) of your listeners are in the country your sponsor plans to target, you’ll have a better chance of landing that sponsorship deal.

And since podcast charts vary by country, it can be helpful to know where most of your listeners are. That way, you can keep tabs on the relevant chart. Without tracking listener countries, you could be climbing the ranks in another country than where you live—and not even know it. 

6. Listener demographics

Knowing the overall demographics of your listeners can also be helpful when talking to sponsors. However, there’s no way to get demographic data without asking your audience. 

If you’re interested in learning more about your target audience, a good way to gather listener demographic data is to ask them to fill out a simple Google form with questions like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income level (if you feel comfortable)
  • General interests (like hobbies related to your niche)
  • Where they found your show

While you’re at it, you can also ask for open-ended feedback about what they like about your show and what they’d like to see changed. You can also use a free service called Podtrac to generate a listener survey form that integrates with your other download metrics.

Other metrics to consider tracking

7. Total downloads per episode

While it can be helpful to track how many total downloads your show has had overall, it’s much more informative to see how many downloads each episode has. That way, you can monitor which episodes have the highest download numbers—and factor that information into your content and marketing strategy.

8. Downloads over time

Like downloads per episode, downloads over time show you how each episode performs in the long term. Not all of your audience listens to an episode immediately after you publish it—and someone who recently discovered your show might be listening through your backlog of episodes right now. 

Downloads over time give you a detailed look into which episodes had the longest shelf life and how your show has grown overall.

9. Top episodes

It’s important to know which episodes performed the best. That way, you’ll have an idea of what podcast topics and formats resonate well with your audience. 

You can use your top ten or 15 episodes to inform your future content creation strategy and tailor your podcast even more closely to your audience’s interests. And if it seems like your audience resonates with certain interview guests, try to invite them back for future episodes.

Best podcast metrics to track for show quality improvement

10. Audience reviews

If you’re looking for ways to improve the quality of your show, there are few better ways than to rely on direct feedback from your audience. 

While you should always take listener reviews and ratings with a grain of salt—after all, it's hard to avoid the occasional troll—you can watch reviews for patterns and recurring sentiments. If listeners tend to like the same things about your show (or have the same complaint), you can consider this when making changes and improvements to the podcast.

11. Social shares

Another way to monitor listener feedback to your podcast is to keep an eye on social shares. Social listening helps you stay aware of the conversation surrounding your brand and industry. Look for information like:

  • How often are people sharing and commenting on your podcast show on social media
  • Which episodes see the highest amount of social chatter? 
  • How are your social posts performing based on the number of shares, link clicks, and likes they receive?

Keeping an eye on what listeners say about your podcast gives you a good idea of its popularity—and what type of content resonates the best.

12. Social media followers

For most podcasters, an important goal is to grow an engaged and loyal online audience. The number of podcast subscribers is crucial, but so is your social media following. Track your follower count on every social platform where you’re active to see how much your visibility and engagement grow over time.

Tracking social followers can also help you determine listener demographics. Many social profiles indicate the individual’s location, gender, age, and other interests. While these data points aren’t always accurate, they can give you a general idea of your audience makeup.

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Best podcast metrics for brand growth and marketing

13. Traffic to your website

If you’re like most B2B podcasters, your primary goal is not simply to build an audience for your podcast. Your show is a marketing channel for your brand—which means part of what you measure should be how successful your podcast is at drawing new leads to your website. 

To measure your podcast’s ROI, you’ll need to keep a close eye on web traffic. Regularly check traffic data on your web hosting service, and monitor how many new visitors come from links in your show notes or podcast-related social posts. This traffic is almost certainly generated by your podcast.

This metric could also be relevant if you have a podcast website. By checking web traffic over time, you’ll see how much your engaged listener base grows.

14. Bounce rate

Just because someone visits your website, though, it doesn’t mean they like what they see. That’s why it’s also important to monitor bounce rate—or how quickly most people navigate away from your site. 

The bounce rate is usually found in your web host’s analytics dashboard. Ideally, you want a rate of 40% or lower for your website.

15. Conversions

Do you sell merch for your podcast? Or are you hoping to convert some listeners into paying customers for your brand’s product or service?

Either way, it can be helpful to track sales or conversions to monitor how well your podcast serves your overall business goals.

Keep tabs on merch sales over time to see which products resonate the best with your audience and what kinds of merch you should focus on in the future. For instance, maybe your listeners love witty mugs but don’t really go for fanny packs. And tracking podcast-related sales can help you measure your show’s ROI and inform future budgeting decisions.

Do podcast metrics really matter?

Yes! After all, what gets measured, gets managed. Without tracking your podcast metrics, you’ll struggle to understand how well your podcast is doing—and what you can do better.

Podcast metrics are measurable data that, over time, paint a picture of your show’s performance. While things like total download numbers can be bought and manipulated, other metrics like audience engagement, follower count, and chart position are clear and reliable indicators of success. 

Learn more: Podcast Analytics: Why, How & What To Measure

FAQs on Podcast Metrics

How do you measure podcast performance?

How you measure your podcast’s performance depends on your definition of success. We recommend most podcasts rely on audience engagement, follower count, and chart position. If your brand has specific marketing goals related to your B2B podcast, you may also want to track other metrics like social shares, web traffic, and conversions.

What is considered a successful podcast?

Some sponsors consider a podcast with 5,000 listeners per episode to be successful—while others prefer to work with podcasts with 10,000 listeners or more. But your definition of success is completely subjective. If landing sponsorship deals isn’t your main goal, your version of success can vary from ranking in Apple Podcasts charts to seeing an increase in website traffic.

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