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9 Ways to Measure Your Podcast Audience Engagement

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Download numbers can tell you a lot about how your podcast is doing, but they’re not the full story.

The topics and subject matter of podcasts can vary wildly from one show to the next – and that means that so too can the potential audience size.

Entertainment and “general” interview shows have huge potential audiences. On the other hand, podcasts with huge potential audiences rarely realise them because they’re simply not targeted enough.

A lot of podcast listeners want content that feels like it’s been made exclusively for them. That’s why it’s often hyper-niche or localised shows that have a real hardcore of engaged listeners.

Measuring your audience engagement isn’t as simple as looking at the cold hard facts of your download stats though. It can take a bit more digging to find out exactly how your show is performing.

So here are nine different ways you can try to gauge your engagement. Not only that, but they’ll hopefully give you some ideas for ways to drastically improve it, too!

1. Survey Your Audience

It’s good practice to survey your audience at least every couple of years.

The best way to grow your audience is through catering to those who are already part of it.

Running a survey can give you valuable feedback, as well as plenty of ideas for new content.

It’ll generally be your most engaged listeners who take part in any survey you run.

The best place to ask your audience to take part is at the end of each episode you put out throughout the time the survey is open.

Make this your call to action, and give them clear links and instructions towards finding and completing the survey.

2. Ask For Reviews

Reviews can help encourage and motivate you to keep putting out new content.

They also act as good “social proof” for potential new listeners checking out your show.

The most popular place podcasters ask for reviews is Apple Podcasts. But Podchaser is a great platform-agnostic place to collect reviews, too.

Again, it’ll be your most engaged listeners who respond to this request, and as ever, the best place to ask is towards the end of your episode.

We’ve created a guide on how to get more podcast reviews, which will hopefully give you some tips and ideas on this front.

3. Start an Email List

Collecting email addresses is traditionally the main obsession of marketing podcasters.

A list is a handy thing to have, though. It offers you a direct path to communicating with your audience.

If a listener willingly gives you their email address, they’re probably pretty engaged with the content you’re putting out.

With an email list, you can send out regular updates about anything new you’ve created or released, or share stuff that you think your audience will find useful.

You can also gather valuable feedback or get new ideas by asking questions.

For more on this, check out How to Do Email Marketing for Podcasters, Bloggers, and Youtubers.

4. Start Social Conversations

Your email list isn’t the only place you can ask questions and talk to your listeners. There’s also the social media platforms you’re active on.

Whether you’re posting regular questions, or asking for thoughts on news items within your niche, you’ll find your most engaged listeners are keen to talk to you.

You can even ask questions at the end of your episodes, and direct the audience to a specific platform to offer their opinions. Many podcasters ask them to use a specific hashtag here to create a thread that everyone else can follow too.

If you read out replies or comments on future episodes, that further reinforces how much those listeners like your podcast.

It also encourages others to get involved in the conversation in future, leading to even more engagement.

5. Run a Live Event

You can run a live event for your podcast audience, either in-person or online.

With a live event, you might choose to present something to your audience that’ll entertain them or teach them something.

There’s also the option of running a Q&A where people can have their questions answered directly by you.

Events have the added bonus of allowing your listeners to interact with each other, either in a webinar chatroom or in person.

Naturally, the latter is going to be more powerful, but in-person events can also be much less practical to put together, and harder to pull off.

Whatever route you go down, though, it’ll generally be your most engaged listeners who show up consistently at these events.

6. Crowdfunding

The simple act of asking for money can tell you a lot about your audience engagement.

Many podcasts run a Patreon account where their listeners can help financially support them.

This can be done either by donating a certain amount per month, or per episode.

You also have the opportunity to create special rewards and bonus content for those who support you in this way.

Alternatively, there’s the more traditional method of crowdfunding on platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

With these, it’s more about raising a one-off sum in order to create or achieve something. Nevertheless, any amount of money raised is always a good gauge of audience engagement.

7. Sponsorship, Affiliate, & Product Sales

It’ll usually be your most engaged listeners who buy stuff based on your recommendations.

This is all down to the trust you’ve built with them over the course of running your podcast.

So whether you’re selling your own product or service, or someone else’s, you can get a decent picture of your audience engagement through sales and income.

Obviously, there’s a great responsibility in that too. Make sure every recommendation you give your audience is for something you 100% endorse.

On another note, many potential sponsors and advertisers who are unfamiliar with how podcasting works, are going to see download numbers as the deciding factor in whether they support a show.

If you’re looking for a sponsor, and want to convince them of the importance of audience engagement, then check out our article Should I Sponsor a Podcast?

8. Tracking Clicks

Recommendations don’t always need to be about sales or money.

As a podcaster, you might find yourself talking about all manner of things. Other shows you like, articles you’ve read, videos you’ve watched.

When you mention any of this stuff, be sure to tell your listener that you’ll put the relevant links in your episode shownotes.

Most web hosts will let you see which links have been clicked, and by how many times too.

You can also use tools like PrettyLinks to track clicks, and create short custom URLs that are easy to remember when mentioned on your episodes.

Your most engaged listeners will be keen to check out the things you recommend to them, and you can measure how many of them are doing so in this way.

9. Platform-Specific Engagement Data

You can get more in-depth consumption stats in your Spotify for Podcasters portal, Apple Podcasts Connect, and YouTube. These analytics are exclusive to each platform, and you obviously need to make your podcast available in each place to gather them.

Episode completion rates and percentage of episode consumed can tell you a bit about your engagement, and it’s interesting to compare your show’s performance on each platform, too.

Spotify has a poll feature where you can ask listeners a question, and YouTube has its comments section, too.

Asking Your Audience

The bulk of this post involves asking your audience to go and do stuff.

There’s an art to asking, though, and some podcasters make the mistake of asking for multiple things at once. This is much less effective than simply asking for one thing on an episode.

Many make the mistake of asking for things like financial support or reviews at the start of their episodes. But the start of your episode should be about the content you’re about to deliver to your listener. Jumping straight in and making it all about you is a bad first impression for new listeners.

Instead, use your Calls to Action to make those asks. That way, you’ve delivered some value, first, and listeners are more likely to act on your request.

Growing Your Audience

Though engagement is more important than numbers, the two don’t exist in isolation.

An engaged audience will regularly share your content, and talk about it enthusiastically with others.

This means you’ll always have new listeners arriving to check out your show, and download your past episodes.

And if you’ve already created a core of engaged listeners, who’s to say these new listeners might not end up falling into that bracket over time too?

Ultimately, look after the folks who are already listening, and you’ll have an engaged and growing audience.

On a final note, have you tried any of these tips or tactics to measure your podcast engagement? How did you get on? It’d be great to hear your thoughts in the IndiePod Community.

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