No matter what form of content you’re investing in, measuring your return on that investment is necessary and important. However, attempting to do so with a podcast can feel daunting, to say the least. That’s because unlike some other forms of content, the aim of podcasts is typically not to sell a product to consumers. The podcast itself is the product.
That makes measuring the return on investment less straightforward than you may like. But fear not, here are some strategies to help you measure the ROI of your podcast.
By Quincy de Vries
Let’s start with the basics; what exactly is return on investment (ROI)?
ROI is the metric that calculates your profit earned compared to the amount invested. In the podcasting space, there are a few types of ROI, including awareness, sales, and paid advertising ROI.
Before we dive into some strategies to measure these various forms of ROI, it’s important to acknowledge that a good return on investment looks different for every podcast. One of the most powerful things about podcasts is their ability to reach many people and cover a wide array of topics. That means that every podcaster’s goals are going to be slightly different.
So, before you begin measuring the return on your investment (or better yet before you invest), clearly set out exactly what a good return on investment looks like for you and your podcast. Is it audience growth, engagement with your other channels, or subscriptions to a newsletter?
Think about it this way. Say your ideal listener is someone who lives in North America between the ages of 18-24, and your investment goal is to better reach this audience. If your analytics show you that your typical listener is 65+ from Germany, your ROI is probably not what you are hoping for. If you didn’t have this clear goal from the outset, measuring your ROI would be murkier.
Measuring Your Podcast ROI
So now that we know what ROI is, what are five good ways podcasters can measure it?
At its most basic, measuring the ROI of your podcast comes down to how many listeners are tuning in. According to CoHost’s Podcaster Insights Survey 2022, 85% of professional audio creators said that achieving consistent audience growth is what they find most challenging about podcasting. With that in mind, if you are able to achieve consistent growth, it’s a great signal that the ROI of your podcast is healthy.
Even if your growth isn’t quite what you want it to be, having a large audience that engages with your podcast is a good indication of ROI as well. Use the analytics of your hosting platform of choice to gauge who your audience is, how long they listen for, and other helpful statistics. These help you better understand who your listeners are and how engaged they are with your podcast (the product!).
2. Ratings and Reviews
If you immediately check out a podcast’s ratings and reviews before hitting play, you’re not alone. A podcast that is consistently reviewed positively is a podcast that is succeeding, and your listeners know it.
Depending on your target audience, your listeners may not be as active in this area as you expect. Busy business executives or on-the-go parents may not take the time to rate and review a podcast, even if they are enjoying it. If your analytics show that your audience is consistently listening all the way through and coming back for more, chances are they are enjoying it (even if they aren’t reviewing). This would be a perfect opportunity to use call to actions to encourage them to do so!
Quick Tip: Consistency in ratings and reviews means two things: that the podcast receives primarily positive reviews, and that it’s reviewed often. Think about it this way- a podcast that has a rating of 4.9 but whose last review is from 2018 is probably experiencing some issues with audience engagement.
Brand awareness is a goal for many podcasters, and for good reason! Even if it’s not the primary aim behind your investment, increased awareness is a great sign that positive things are happening.
Awareness can also mean increasing the visibility of your other channels, like social media or your main site. Having more eyes (and ears!) on your content means whatever investment you’ve made is making an impact.
Use metrics like downloads or if you want to get more specific and accurate numbers, unique listeners, to measure the ROI for podcast awareness.
Seeing your podcast on the podcast charts is a dream for many creators and marketers alike, and one of the signs you’ve ‘made it.’ Being one of the top-performing podcasts within your niche gives you exposure and authority, two things that increase your podcast’s impact and ROI.
However, keep in mind that some podcast categories are more saturated than others. You have a better chance of charting in more specific categories like woodworking, and less chance charting in very popular categories like true crime.
Quick Tip: Podcasters will typically choose a subcategory as their primary category on platforms like Apple Podcasts. For example, rather than choosing business as your primary category, you might choose marketing, a subcategory of business.
While likely not the main goal of most investments, it’s important not to underestimate the value of the connections and relationships that can form through podcasting. Whether these connections be with other creators or with your audience, knowing that your podcast is resonating shouldn’t be undervalued.
Forming connections is also an indication of your podcast’s visibility and engagement, and these connections have the potential to form mutually beneficial relationships with other podcasters. This can come in the form of guesting on other shows, cross-promotion, ad slots, renting RSS feeds, etc.
Analytics Are a Podcaster’s Best Friend
You’ve likely noticed a common theme so far. Analytics, analytics, analytics. They truly are your best friend when it comes to measuring your ROI.
No matter your goal, whether it be sales, awareness or engagement, analytics are how you measure if that goal is being met.
Remember, knowing exactly what you want out of your investment is key to effectively measuring it.
Equipped with these tools, you can begin to use your data to evaluate your ROI and form strategies for developing and measuring it.