We feel you - podcast metrics are at best vague and at worst unreliable. Per our , there are a number of hosting platforms that help unlock some bare bones analytics for listens, downloads, reach and geography. There is a huge opportunity here to provide better benchmarking and cohort analysis of podcasts and their listener base. Here’s hoping as the podcast ecosystem continues to grow so will the data resources.
Without being the all-seeing eyes of Apple or Spotify, we have attempted to aggregate reliable, usable benchmarks for your podcast. We also gathered some proprietary data from our friends at Coda who work with dozens of podcasts as a part of their advertisement strategy. If you are thinking about monetizing your podcast or simply just want to know if you’ve hit your team’s listener goals, read on for the metrics that matter.
A Win is a Win
25-30 downloads a month is in the top 50% of podcasts according to Buzzsprout. Because of the long tale of podcasts, the average is brought heavily down based on the fact that the 80% of podcasts don’t survive past 10 episodes. Take a look at how the listener benchmarks have shifted over the period of February 2021 to November 2022.
Which is the best hero metric for you podcast?
Taking a step back, analytics matter because they provide valuable insights into how your podcast is performing and how your audience is engaging with your content. By tracking analytics such as total downloads, unique downloads, average downloads per episode, audience retention, and demographics, you can better understand what's working and what's not, and make data-driven decisions to improve their podcast. For example, if you notice that certain episodes are getting significantly more downloads than others, you can look for patterns in the content or guest selection to replicate that success. Similarly, by tracking audience retention, you can identify which parts of their episodes are most engaging and which parts are losing their audience's attention. Overall, analytics are a powerful tool that can help you grow their audience, attract sponsors, and create better content. Some sponsors will want listens, others downloads, and other followers. It can depend heavily based on the goals of the sponsors themselves. We spoke with , demand gen lead who manages Coda’s sponsorship, to unpack the different types of metrics they look for in each podcast and the why behind the ask.
At Coda, we see podcasts as a powerful awareness channel, but we don't stop there. We optimize our podcast strategy towards performance, tracking its impact in multiple ways. We use discounts for each audience and track attribution through vanity URLs. Additionally, we employ pixel tracking for view-through conversions and gather data through post-signup “How did you hear about us” surveys. By measuring the halo impact of our podcasts, we can develop a multiplier that helps us gauge the overall impact of our podcast channel. Initially, we experimented with a wide range of categories but ultimately narrowed our focus to tech and business. Our best performing podcasts target startups, where we personalize our messaging, drive them to our startup program, and offer to deliver support for growing companies. By combining our strategic approach with analytics-driven insights, we continue to refine our podcast channel to drive tangible results.
Riverside’s recent blog post about analytics that matter had a great point about the discussion between unique and total listens. They wrote,
When comparing unique listens and total listens, remember that unless you’re using a unique listener report, “total listens” are measured each time someone presses play. So if you’ve got a high number of listens, it can mean repeat listens or people listening to episodes in two (or more) goes, not necessarily that your audience has grown.
Furthermore, remember that subscriptions and downloads don’t necessarily mean the person has listened. Instead, look for common themes in listener peaks, make changes to content when episodes don’t perform well, and do more of what does well.
In summary, the first season of your podcast is going to be a gold-mine of data and indicators of what’s working and what’s not. Fine tune your style, your content, and your marketing around the data to continue giving your listeners and partners what they want.
Podcast Analytics Benchmarks
So you know how to measure your podcast analytics, now what should you be comparing them to?
Number of listeners: the , while the top 1% of podcasts have almost 3,200 listens per episode. This entirely depends on how long you’ve been doing your podcast and how niche your content is, but there are plenty of ways you can to reach more listeners. Number of episodes: . Beginner podcasters, if you make it past that benchmark, you’re part of the top 20% already! Engagement: podcasts lose between in the first five minutes and . Aim to engage those listeners and minimize these statistics by optimizing your introduction, targeting your ads, and ensuring you have great quality content by recording with . Revenue: for beginners, getting your first sponsor is a great achievement. For seasoned podcasters, set your own benchmark based on the ROI of your equipment, software, subscription, and podcast hosting platforms. Once you’re earning your goal amount per episode, aim high: horror-comedy show Last Podcast on the Left earns over ! Positive reviews: this one’s very simple - the benchmark is having all five-star ratings with positive feedback. But remember, negative feedback is also really useful to know where you can improve.