Are download numbers enough to measure the engagement of your show's audience?
Matthew: This question came in from Linda who is asking, how does she measure engagement with her podcast? I guess the first question that comes up here from her point of view is why might you want to measure your engagement, Colin?
Colin: To see how well you're doing I guess. There's a bunch of reasons isn't there, I mean you want to be able to judge whether the time you're putting into a show is worthwhile, you want to be able to judge what's working, what isn't. That's probably one of the big ones for me, being able to test this episode worked well, this episode didn't work well. Maybe the audience wants more of this and less of that. Then obviously you get to the number stuff which is if you want to monetize this show, you need to be able to tell your sponsors how well you're doing.
Matthew: An obvious first impression is that you could measure how well you're doing by download numbers, but of course that's very specific to your niche topic, isn't it?
Colin: Yeah, there's a bunch of ways that you could measure it. They're always a good base aren't they the download numbers. You've got lesson hours, you've got … It gives you an idea of how many people are currently subscribed to your show, currently finding it on the web, it's also mixed in. You can find decent stats out there of course, go to Blueberry, Libsyn, whoever, they can narrow it down to where people are listening so you can get an idea really of casual visitors and subscribers. The other ways of measuring I think are much more important, engagement with your audience isn't it? It's actual interactions with your audience I should say.
Matthew: Yeah getting emails in, getting comments on social media, these are things as well that are really difficult when you start out and a lot of people get disillusioned because of being podcasting for a certain amount of time and they're just being hit by a wall of silence. It could be quite difficult, but it's great when you get those first couple of comments in. Again, I know a lot of experienced pod casters out there who get big numbers and have been doing it a long time, they're not snowed under with emails and things like that. It takes a bit of effort for someone to actually sit down and actually write you an email doesn't it?
Colin: You have to push it as well, a lot of people don't ask, so they? People ask for reviews and ratings and stuff like that, but they don't tend to ask so much for send me an email or send me a tweet. It's hard to convert folks sometimes from listening to a show out and about, or maybe in the gym or something like that, into engagement. I think that's such a valuable measure of engagement, isn't it? If someone does make the effort to go and tweet you or to email you, it's so much more, well it's obviously more effort for them emailing the show, since there probably twenty shows in my podcast feed that I down load every single episode of automatically and never listen to. There I'm getting my numbers but actually no engagement.
Matthew: A lot of people as well miss trick when people get in touch with them because as you say these people are really engaged with what you are doing. I think a lot of people are maybe guilty of just saying, “Thanks very much for getting in touch,” and leaving it there, but there's an opportunity there to build a relationship with that person isn't there?
Colin: Absolutely yeah, you want to find these people that are fanatical fans, they're the ones that are going to refer you to other people. Would you ask for social media mentions, do you ask for emails, what do you do on your shows?
Matthew: Usually just say to get in touch, give the email address and maybe I could be a bit more tactful about it and ask somebody to get in touch about something rather than just leave it wide open. I think when we're done that in the past we've tended to get more responses, rather than just asking for an email.
Colin: Yes, absolutely. It's being specific about it, isn't it. It's giving them an actual task. Would be someone with a bit of an outcome as well. Say, “Get in touch, what's your favourite …” You're subject, “What's your favourite audio drama and we'll list them all out on the next episode.” It give people a real purpose to as opposed to generally get in touch, let us know what you think?
Matthew: I think you do tend to get more responses when you've asked … Like if we've had a discussion about something, I wouldn't call it debate, but we've been debating certain points, “What do you think of this, what do you think of that?” It's not just an interview maybe, and we'll ask for the listeners opinion and we do tend to get a lot of emails in when we go down that route. Social media comments as well, Facebook comments, Twitter comments, just whatever social media that you're on as a pod caster.
Colin: Yeah. There's obviously those contact methods isn't there. Social media, great way to measure engagement, number of tweets, number of Instagram follows, all this kind of stuff. You can set yourself targets through what you want to achieve via the podcast. You can track that kind of thing through a Pretty link. Pretty Link is something that I use, we use all the time for measuring engagement because, we'll give out a particular link on the show. Say it's like, go to this forum and give us some feedback on this season, what you want to see next season, you'll give it a particular link. Maybe it's the podcasthost.com/seasonthreefeedback or something shorter than that to be honest, but you can measure the number of accesses through that particular link. That's really around your call to action on the show, you're giving a call to action at the end and you can measure how many people really take action on that.
That might not even be feedback, it might be, go and pick up a check list based on what you were talking about. If you can give them an incentive, then you can measure how many people are taking action on that. That's really valuable stuff for sponsors as well. The download numbers all that kind of stuff, that's obviously the standard, but see if you can boost your … If you can improve your amount of engagement you get the amount of action your audience takes. If you can say, “On every episode we only have a thousand listeners, but we have fifty people every single time go and click on our link, so go and get the resource list,” that kind of stuff. That shows a lot of action from your audience, you can justify higher costs, higher sponsorship money because of that as well. It's looking beyond just simple contacts, also trying to track people, taking action on your requests I suppose.
Matthew: Yeah, not to repeat what you've just said, but it just made me think that Libsyn one of the big podcast media hosts, because they're able to pair you up with advertisers when your show reaches a certain number of downloads, I think it's 5,000 US downloads within a month of your episode going out. What Libsyn will do to set you up there, is to get you listeners to fill out a survey and they ask that you only mention that survey at the end of your episode as your call to action. Not post it on Facebook et cetera, even if it's a group dedicated to your podcast listeners because what they want to know, and you know what advertisers are wanting to know is that you're saying something at the end of your podcast and listeners are doing what you ask. That is absolute proof of engagement. If you're maybe deceiving advertisers, or if you have big download numbers but you don't have any engagement, it will soon be found out when nobody is clicking through to the things that are being advertised. It makes a lot of sense.
Colin: Absolutely, like I said, download number is a problem in the podcast industry right now that a lot of people are trying to solve is that download numbers that we can measure are completely flawed because they don't show how long someone listened to a show. They don't show if anybody listened at all. Like I say I've got 30 shows subscribed to my phone and they all download every single episode and I listen to a fraction of them. It's just flawed. I think it's something that there's some good companies working on it, there's some good solutions looking like they're developing out there.
We might get much more detailed stats on when people listened, when people fast forwarded, the bits that people dropped out on. I think that would be so useful once we've got those kinds of stats when we can see ten minutes into this show, 60% of the audience dropped off, why is that? You're going to look at it and it helps you improve your show based on that. Right now, we've got our download numbers, we've got our engagement through social emails and then we can try and measure our calls to action as well.