Branded Podcasts

The Key Podcast Metrics Brands Should Focus On

Last updated on: 
April 8, 2022

Podcast metrics are very different compared to other marketing mediums. In this article we break down what are the key podcast metrics that brands should focus on to measure podcast performance.

At Quill, our team has worked on countless podcasts with some of the most notable, global brands. One thing that we’re often discussing with clients is podcast metrics and how to not only read them but also what actually matters for your show. 

There are plenty of tools and creative ways to track podcast analytics but to bring it back to the basics and the non-negotiable metrics that your brand should always be tracking, we wanted to share six of our go-tos that are easily accessible. 

Below we cover six key podcast metrics that every brand should be tracking: 

1. Podcast Consumption Rates 

We’ve talked about consumption rates before when it comes to branded podcasts and we’ll always be advocates for this metric. 

Your average consumption measures how much of your episodes listeners are actually listening to. For example, say you have a 30-minute episode, you’ll be able to see how long listeners are tuning in for before dropping off. Maybe the chart shows that listeners are tuning in till the 25 minute mark, meaning you have an average episode consumption rate of a little over 80%. 

This is a powerful metric and arguably one of the most important when it comes to measuring the quality and relevance of your podcast episodes. 

If you notice that listeners are dropping off around the halfway mark, then this is an insight that tells you something has to change. Maybe you should test a shorter episode or try adding a transition in the halfway point to hold your listener’s attention. Whatever the possible solutions may be, your consumption rate is telling you that listeners are uninterested after listening to just 50% of your episode. Or maybe listeners are dropping off right after your intro, which could be a sign that you need to start your episodes in a more captivating way or the content isn’t what they expected. 

As a base, we usually aim to have at least a 75-80% consumption rate for shows. Currently, Apple measures consumption rates while Spotify has both completion and retention graphs. Overall, consumption rates should be a leading indicator for podcast performance. 

2. Unique Listeners  

Often confused with downloads, the unique listeners metric measures the individual listeners who are tuning into your podcast. So at the end of the day, this metric represents the most accurate number of listeners you have tuning into episodes, whereas downloads are tracking any and all listens an episode receives. 

For example, if I was to listen to your podcast five times, this would count as five downloads but only one unique listen. 

As a brand, it’s important to understand how many listeners your podcast is actually receiving to be able to report on. Over time, you’ll also be able to get an idea of how many dedicated listeners you have. If you notice that after every episode drop you have the same base of unique listeners then this is a good sign that those base unique listeners are part of your dedicated fanbase. 

Yes, you have to piece together this idea or metric but for now, this is how brands can track loyalty without hearing directly from listeners. 

3. Podcast/Episode Downloads 

To go along with unique listeners, downloads is another key podcast metric to track. 

Now downloads are probably one of the most popular success metrics that we see podcasters and brands turning to. But there’s a reason why it’s not number one on the list for us. 

We won’t argue that downloads don’t hold value because they most definitely do. But we just like to remind our clients that it’s not the most important podcast metric. Downloads can be valuable to compare to unique listeners to see how many of your audience members are hardcore listeners and tuning for multiple episodes. This is a great sign that you’re producing value-packed, engaging content. 

When it comes to engagement, we typically refer to consumption rate metrics, while for awareness, we turn to unique listeners since it offers a more accurate representation of how many people are in your audience. 

But with that all being said, downloads are still important to be reporting on as an indicator of your overall podcast performance, but don’t let it be the only metric to give you this information. 

4. Listener Demographic & Geographic Data 

Next up we have demographic and geographic data. Demographic data might include age or sex and geographic data lets us know where our listeners are tuning in from. 

As a brand, this sort of valuable data can help to either ensure that your podcast is targeting your desired audience or assist you in future targeting. We will agree that for podcasts, demographic data is more limited but you can still find beneficial insights from what’s available. 

Maybe you have a specific audience segment that you’re looking to target like a certain country, region, or city, or maybe there’s a specific age or sex that you’re focusing on. Whatever it may be, you can analyze if your podcast is actually resonating with this audience and the content is relevant to them. 

You can also use demographic and geographic data for advertising. For example, say you want to advertise your podcast to an audience segment that would be most interested in your show. Maybe you look at your current data and see that the majority of your podcast listeners are between the ages of 25 and 34, identify as female and are located in the U.S. You can take these insights and apply them to your ads to ensure you’re targeting this audience. 

5. Podcast Ratings & Reviews 

Podcast ratings and reviews truly have multiple purposes. Not only does it look great for your podcast to have plenty of ratings and reviews when new listeners discover your show, but they can also be a helpful source of feedback.

As a brand, it’s one thing to promote your podcast and tell potential listeners that you have awesome content but to have real listeners leaving positive reviews and ratings on your show speaks volumes. 

On the other hand, specifically reviews are incredible sources for feedback on your podcast. Even if not all reviews are positive, go through every single one of them and analyze whether there are areas that you could improve your podcast. Maybe there was a content focus that listeners loved and you should create more episodes around. Or maybe there was a new format you tested that didn’t receive positive feedback, which is an insight that could indicate it’s time to go back to your original format or test an alternative. 

6. Listening Platform Chart Rankings 

And lastly, podcast charts and where your podcast is ranking are important podcast metrics to look at. Podcast charts are not only an exciting achievement for your brand to share but they also act as a great source of discoverability for new listeners. 

Pay attention to what charts your podcast is ranking for as it can give you insights into what categories and genres your show falls into that you may not think about and also where your podcast is the most popular (genre and location). 

We’ve had clients rank for charts all across the world, in locations that we wouldn’t have guessed we have a large listener base without looking at the analytics. 

Chartable is a great source for observing all podcast charts and receiving notifications when you’re ranking in one. Also use chart rankings for promotion, it helps to boost your show’s credibility in the eyes of potential listeners, similar to ratings and reviews.

Alison Osborne

Director of Growth Marketing

A passionate storyteller, Ali is Quill’s Director of Growth Marketing, previously the co-founder and CMO of the branded podcast agency, Origins Media Haus (acquired by Quill). She excels in merging creativity with data in order to successfully build and grow a brand.

Platform
Price
Pro’s
Con's
Anchor

Free

  • Easy to use
  • Automatically distributes your podcast to major platforms.
  • Embed media player.
  • Great if podcasting is a
    side hobby
  • Very basic editing
  • Since it’s a free tool, you don’t have full control over the monetization of your podcast.
  • Not the right platform for people taking podcasting seriously
Buzzsprout

Free for 2 hours of content per month

$12 for 3 hours per month

$18+ for 6 hours and up

  • Very user-friendly
  • Caters to both long term and beginner podcasters
  • Advanced analytics
  • Easy distribution of your episodes
  • They measure their size requirements to hours not megabytes
  • Bonus: get a free $20 Amazon gift card when you sign up for any paid hosting plan!
  • Advanced features like dynamic ad insertion need some work
Libsyn

$5/month for Monthly Storage 50mb

  • Oldest podcast hosting site.
  • Easy distribution to major platforms and great for scaling once your podcast gets bigger.
  • Hosted over 35,000 podcasts.
  • An iTunes Podcast partner.
  • Allows you to publish your podcast to specific directories.
  • Embed media player.
  • Price is based on storage
  • 50mb storage for $5 won’t be enough if you are publishing weekly so you’ll end up with a higher price point
Podbean

Unlimited audio package: $9/month

Storage space:

Unlimited

  • Great support & customer service features
  • Unlimited audio.
  • Pages are easy to customize
  • Can schedule podcast release dates.
  • Easy to use.
  • Uploads and changes to podcast titles and/or descriptions are automatic to Spotify.
  • Embed media player.
  • Simple Analytics
  • Analytics aren’t as advanced as other platforms
  • Upload and changes to podcast titles and/or descriptions take a day to change on iTunes.
  • Not an iTunes podcast partner.
  • The process to send a podcast to iTunes is more tedious. But, you will still be able to get on the platform.
Blubrry

Classic

$5/month

Monthly Storage

50mb

  • Podcast Wordpress plugin and management.
  • If you want to record a new introduction or conclusion, add in a sponsored ad or upload a new version of a podcast, it doesn't count towards your storage usage per month.
  • Blubrry allows a 25% storage overage each month
  • Prices are based on storage.
  • Usability is okay.
SimpleCast

Starting: $15/month

Recommendation: $35/month

Monthly Storage: Unlimited

  • Hosts your audio files no matter what the size!
  • Dynamic insertion for podcast ads or edits.
  • Incredibly detailed analytics including number of episodes completed and listener location tracking.
  • Embed media player.
  • Easy to use.
  • Great distribution! Easy access to all major podcast platforms.
  • Customizable podcast
    website.
  • Prices are slightly higher than other platforms, but well worth it especially if you have a branded company podcast!