Podcast Analytics: How to Understand and Use Your Data to Grow Your Show | Episode 36

Podcast analytics – do you regularly track your analytics and leverage that data to make informed and intentional decisions to improve and grow your show? In this episode, we’re looking at what are podcast analytics, why you should track them, which analytics to track and how to interpret them, where to find your podcast analytics and some industry benchmark standards.


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More about Podcasting Tips & Tricks

Podcasting Tips & Tricks is a show designed to share quick, actionable tips and tricks for launching and growing a successful podcast and is aimed at both new and seasoned podcasters. We’ll cover a range of topics from launching your podcast, editing, publishing, hosting, equipment, systems and processes, marketing, monetising, industry news and lots more.

Podcast awareness and listenership are growing year-on-year so it’s no surprise that it is still growing in 2024. And now is a great time for small business owners and entrepreneurs to launch a podcast to raise brand awareness and position their expertise whilst building authority and trust.

I’m Lyndal Harris, Podcast Consultant and founder of Podcast VA where my team and I simplify the podcasting journey. We offer a variety of done-for-support services, online and in-person training, as well as strategy sessions and health checks. At Podcast VA, we have launched hundreds of podcasts for both Australian and international clients, who collectively captivate millions of listeners worldwide. And quite a number of these shows have hit number 1 in the charts!



Podcast Analytics: How to Understand and Use Your Data to Grow Your Show

[0:15] Welcome back to another episode. I am your host, Lyndall Harris, and this podcast is brought to you by Podcast VA, where we help simplify your podcasting journey.
Podcast analytics. Do you regularly check and track your analytics and leverage that data to grow your show?
A lot of podcasters I know don’t really look at their analytics beyond the download and listener numbers.
And whilst they’re important, there’s some real gold if if you actually start digging into some of the other analytics that can give you more insight into how engaged your listeners are.

[0:53] In this episode, we’re looking at what are podcast analytics, why you should track them, which analytics to track and how to interpret them, where to find your podcast analytics.
And we’re going to end with some fun facts and benchmark stats for you to hear how your show might be going against the industry standards.

[1:15] Now, before I get into the content, I have a podcast analytic tracker template that you can download and use to help track your statistics.
Head to my website, podcastva.com forward slash podcast hyphen analytics hyphen template.
And I’ll put the link for that in the show notes. It’s a spreadsheet that’s set up for you to track what we’re talking about today so that you can see how your podcast is performing.
Performing and tracking and understanding these analytics is not about getting caught up in the numbers and the vanity metrics and comparing yourself to other shows because like we’ve mentioned before on other episodes comparing your download numbers with other people’s shows it’s just not comparing apples with apples because there are so many different elements that you’re really not necessarily playing on a level playing field so it’s not about looking at those numbers and getting caught up with what people are doing or necessarily even telling people what your numbers are.
It’s about using the data and using the actual concrete evidence to make informed decisions, and that’s whether you’re looking to grow your show or engage with your audience more or even attract sponsors and monetise your show down the track.

[2:34] So let’s start with what are podcast analytics? Well, really simply, it’s the data relating to your show that offers insights into how your podcast is performing.
It gives you the information about your download numbers, your streams or plays, the unique listeners, the number of followers, demographic information, like where people are listening, what platforms and apps they’re using, and your consumption rates.
And these are a really great part of your toolkit because essentially it provides you with the knowledge to refine your content to increase that listener engagement and strategically grow your show.

[3:13] So why should you track your analytics? Well, every podcaster wants to know if their show is a success and whether your podcast is performing well ties back to your individual strategy.
It’s not about comparing the numbers like we just said. It’s about looking at what is the purpose of your show? What’s the message that you want to share?
Why are you podcasting and who are your target audience?
And by tracking your analytics, you can actually see what’s hitting the mark and what’s not.
And when you start digging into that data, you can get some really great info, which is much more than just your download or listener numbers.
And it can really reveal a lot about audience insights, content performance, consumption and retention rates, and monetization opportunities.

[4:05] From the aspect of audience insights, tracking your downloads, your unique listens, the plays, streams, and the followers, and seeing if they’re increasing or decreasing over time shows if your audience is growing.
The listener demographics, such as the location data, the gender, the age, seeing what device and platform people are listening on.
They can help you with your marketing and monetization decisions.

[4:35] The content performance. You can actually start to see patterns and trends in your topics when you’re analysing it to see if people are liking certain types of topics or certain formats of shows and also your podcast schedule.
So looking into how that is actually performing will really make a difference for you.
The consumption and retention stats are really amazing to look at.
Do you know if your listeners are actually listening to the whole show?
By looking at these consumption and retention stats, you can start to see if you are delivering what your audience want to hear.
And your analytics are important when it comes to monetization opportunities.
If you’re looking to attract sponsors or advertisers or other paid opportunities, you You really will need to know these podcast analytics to showcase the value of your show.

[5:36] So which analytics should you be tracking and how do you interpret the data?
Well, to start off with are the numbers of downloads, plays or streams, unique listeners and followers.
Now, just to break those up a little bit, a download of an episode is not going to give you an accurate figure of who has actually listened to an episode or not.
The download can automatically download through certain platforms or it might download when someone hits play.
So you don’t really know if they have listened.
So a more accurate figure is to look at the number of plays or listens or streams and different platforms and hosting providers use different language there, but that’s the number of times that your episode has been played.
And generally the directories will be looking at how many times it’s been played for over a minute.
So it’s not just going to count somebody who’s hit play and jumped out in 10 or 15 seconds.
And you can also get the unique listeners from some of your platforms as well as the follower numbers.

[6:41] Now the follower and subscriber numbers was something that we haven’t been able to get historically.
So it’s really great that you can now log into the various directories and see that information.

[6:56] And these numbers are important to track because then you can see if your show is growing over time because you’ll see an increase or a decrease in these numbers if you’re tracking them regularly.

[7:08] Listener demographics. So who are your listeners?
Knowing their geographical location, their gender, their age, and even which device they use to tune in.
Really knowing this demographic information can help you tailor your content, your marketing strategies, and even targeted ads.
So for example, I know when I look at my analytics, 75% of my audience listen through Apple Podcasts or an iOS device.
77% of listeners are based in Australia, and then there’s a percentage in the US, the UK, New Zealand, and a few other countries as well.
And I know from my Spotify listeners, 85% of those are female, aged between 24 and 59.
So examples of how I could use that information. If I wanted to run an event or a conference, I could then look at the geographical location data and see where to run that.
So obviously with 77% based in Australia, I would look at running it in Australia, but then I can dig Dig down further into those and see the majority of my audience in Brisbane, in Sydney, in Melbourne, and then work out where I would run that event.

[8:28] If I wanted to have a live podcast show, again, I’d look at that data to see where most of my audience are, and I’d probably choose that location.
And I could also run some very targeted ads if I know where people are listening or their gender or their age.
And then if I could see that most of my listeners are on Apple Podcasts, then I could use some of the promotional tools that Apple Podcasts have to go and promote it further.
So knowing some of that listener demographic information is really key.

[9:04] The consumption or retention rates. This is an amazing piece of information that you should be monitoring because it gives you a great insight into what’s working and where you could make improvements.
This will tell you if people are listening to your entire show or if they are dropping off.
If you see a decline at the beginning of your episodes, you can consider if your intro is too long, or do you need to refine the first few minutes of your show, or do you want to start using a hook or a teaser at the very beginning?
If people are dropping off and not listening to the entire episode, then you could start to think about, are my episodes too long for my target audience?
Should I shorten them? And if you’re giving away a resource or you have a call to action or a sponsorship message that you’re only playing at the end of an episode, your listeners aren’t hearing it.
So you’ll see that I actually put my call to action up closer to the beginning of my show for this episode because I generally do put it at the end of the show.
And I could see a drop off in that outro stage of about 25%.
So I can see that everyone wasn’t hearing my call to action.
So I’m going to try something different and put it up towards the front.

[10:26] And then there’s just some general analysis that you can do by looking at your stats.
So for example, understanding which episodes have the highest retention rates and looking at which episodes have the highest number of listens might allow me to see a pattern on the type of content that I’m providing and what people are more interested in.
So using my show as an example, I have episodes that are about launching a podcast and then I also have episodes for people who have already launched and are after some tips and advice on how to grow their show or improve their show.
Over time, I can start to look at those two streams of content and if there was a massive difference in one of those, then I would know what lead magnets I could create and potentially build my email list.
I could create a workshop and run it designed for the people who listen to whichever part is more relevant for them or I could go and design an online program.
So you can see that really using those analytics are helping me in turn monetize my show through my business because I would get a clear indication of the type of content that people like listening to.

[11:45] And another one to have a look at is your ratings and reviews.
Now, to be honest, the number doesn’t necessarily do much.
It doesn’t do anything for the charts. it doesn’t do anything for your SEO, but they’re a great tool for social proof and marketing purposes.
And remember, even negative feedback is also really useful because you can use that to work out how to improve your show.
So they’re the main ones that I’d be tracking, looking at the numbers of downloads and plays for your episodes, the listener demographics, the consumption or retention rates, and then also looking for patterns and trends and doing some general analysis on your episodes.

[12:30] Where do you find this information? Because getting your podcast analytics can be a little bit confusing and some of them are quite complex, but knowing where to find them is the most important place to start.
And everyone can access a certain level of analytics through their podcast hosting platform.
That would be the number one place to start having a look there.
Then you also want to log into the various directories.
So log into Apple Podcasts Connect, log into Spotify and log into YouTube Studio and have a look at the statistics that they provide about the people that are listening through their platforms.
Often the consumption and retention rates and some of that demographic information you’ll get from actually logging into the directories and you won’t get that from your podcast hosting analytics.

[13:21] In addition to getting the analytics from your hosting provider and the various directories, there are a number of third-party services that can give you more information.
And two that I know about and have looked at personally and used are Chartable and PodTrack.
And I’ll put a link for those into the show notes so that you can have a look at them if you want to dig further into your podcast analytics.
Now, an interesting thing to keep in mind is that some hosts and some platforms might deliver or count their numbers differently.
So, you’ll probably find that your podcast host is IAB certified or compliant, and that’s the International Advertising Bureau has put together some standards so that they can calculate the audiences and the download numbers on a set standard.
So the chances are that you will have a podcast host or a third-party service that is compliant or certified using the IAB standards.

[14:24] I really wanted to end out the episode with giving you some podcast analytic benchmarks and just some fun facts so you can hear some of those industry stats because I think you’ll be quite surprised to know that if you get more than 26 downloads within seven days of your episode being released, you’re in the top 50% of podcasts.
If you get more than 72 downloads, you’re in the top 25% of podcasts, more than 231 downloads, and you’re in the top 10%.
And if you get more than 3,062 downloads within your first seven days of an episode being released, you’re in the top 1% of podcasts.

[15:09] So that gives you an idea of some of those benchmarks that you can take into account.
Some more stats. So the average podcast gets around 27 listens per episode and 80% of podcasts don’t survive the first 10 episodes.
So if you’re just starting out and you reach 10 episodes or you go for longer than that, you’re part of the top 20% of podcasts already.
So they’re just some general analytics and benchmarks that I just wanted to share with you.
Hopefully that’s given you an idea of the types of insights you can get from analyzing your stats.
And it’s not really about focusing on just the download and list numbers.
When you start to dig into those other analytics, you can really take the guesswork out of it and collect the data that will actually tell you what is working and what’s not.
And that means that you’re taking intentional steps to grow your podcast.

[16:14] I will have a link for any of the tools that I have mentioned, as well as the analytics tracker template in the show notes.
But I would love to hear from you if you are tracking your podcast analytics?
And if you are, what kind of information have you been able to get out of that?
And have you made any changes to improve your show from looking at that data?

[16:41] Thanks for listening to another episode. And if you know any podcasters who might not be tracking their analytics, I would love if you could share this episode with them.


Lyndal Harris

About the author

Lyndal Harris, Founder of Podcast VA offers podcast editing and production support services making podcasting easier for everyone. We’ll look after the techy stuff for you… All you need to do is record your episode and we’ll do the rest. Ready to start?