Emily Kingland

Lead Writer at Sweet Fish Media

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4 Frameworks for Measuring Podcast Success & ROI

man-looking-at-graph-on-laptop-measuring-podcast-success

Emily Kingland

Lead Writer at Sweet Fish Media

Full Profile »

When you see this picture with no context… 

sheepdog-with-shaved-head-meme

… you might be kind of confused, understandably.

But when you add some context, this image becomes much less disconcerting.

sheepdog-with-shaved-head
@chaos.reigns_ on Instagram

The moral of the story here is that context is important. That goes for numbers, too.

Analyzing the success of your podcast without context for the numbers you see doesn’t produce any real insights. Frameworks add the necessary details for you to understand where your podcast stands in terms of success and ROI.

Then, you’ll know whether something is working or needs adjusting.

The big question we’re answering today is… 

How do I measure my podcast’s success? To measure your podcast’s success and ROI, use these four frameworks:

  1. Track the number of guests who are now customers.
  2. Look at your show’s downloads over time.
  3. Compare your podcast data to that of your other channels.
  4. Compare your podcast data to benchmarks of other shows.

Now, let’s look at how to use each of these frameworks.

1. Guests to Customers

What’s the #1 reason why you started a B2B podcast? To land more customers, right?

Well, this is the first framework that determines whether or not your show is on the right track — the number of guests who are now customers. This metric is what you should base the majority of your show’s success on (not the number of downloads).

james-carbary-linkedin-status

Content-Based Networking

Launching a business podcast is all about connecting with industry leaders and eventually earning their business.

The best way to make instant connections with people you want to meet is to create content with them. That’s why you ask them to be interviewed on your podcast. You get to meet them, they get to look super smart — it’s a match made in ABM heaven.

[LISTEN/READ: You could be supercharging your ABM campaign with a podcast. Here’s how.]

In short, turning friendships with your ideal buyers into business relationships should be the main goal of your show. So, it makes sense to figure out how many of those accounts have actually garnered any business for you.

Finding the ROI

This metric is pretty simple to come up with. Ideally, you have a list of all the guests you’ve had on your podcast. Go through that list and compare the number of customers against the number of guests who haven’t converted yet.

“For B2B companies, your short-term success metric should be the number of deals you’re closing with the guests you feature… Not how many people are listening to the show.”

James Carbary, Sweet Fish Media

The other metric you can glean from this process is the number of guests in the sales pipeline, (hopefully) on their way to becoming customers.

Then, calculate the time and money spent on producing your podcast. Is it less than what you’re making from those guests-turned-customers? Lovely!

Is it a lot more than the revenue you’re earning from guests-turned-customers? There’s probably some work to do. 

If you find yourself in the latter boat (or even if you don’t) here are two examples of people who generated a positive ROI with their podcasts:

2. Your Show’s Past Benchmarks

The second framework you can use to get a better understanding of your podcast’s success involves your show’s old benchmarks.

In essence, you’re looking for an upward trend in monthly downloads. The number of downloads (or streams if you use Sounder.fm) is a bit of a vanity metric in the short run. 

But, over time, it will tell you whether or not your content is resonating with your audience.

[READ: B2B Growth has over 4m downloads. Wanna know our audience growth secrets? Take ‘em.]

Growth Takes Time

Again, when it comes to B2B podcasting, your best short-term metric is going to be guests to customers. 

A lot of new podcasters get discouraged seeing the slow growth in downloads. Keep in mind that growing an audience takes about as much time as it takes my Uncle Bruce to get out of bed the morning after bingo night (a while).

Real Examples

Over the span of two years, the average number of downloads per episode of 59 Sweet Fish podcasts went from 94 (30 days) up to 875 (2 yrs).

number-of-downloads-per-episode-graph

Although 59 of the shows we produce reached an average of 94 downloads/episode at 30 days, only 11 achieved the average of 875 downloads/episode at the two year mark.

This is all to show that real audience growth happens around the 1-2 year mark. Many business podcasters throw up their hands before that point (even though the short-term measure of success is the number of guests-turned-customers… in case you forgot 😉).

As long as your downloads are trending upwards over time, you can rest assured that listeners are consuming your content.

3. Your Other Channels

Another way to easily measure your podcast’s success is to compare its engagement with that of your other marketing channels.

[READ: Running out of podcast marketing ideas? Here are 20 unique ones w/ examples.]

Now, this might sound a bit like comparing apples to oranges. It doesn’t have to be, but it’s also not an exact science. Even so, this is one of the most reliable ways to understand if your podcast is pulling its own weight in your business.

Measuring Engagement

Say one of your LinkedIn posts yielded 10,000 views — not bad! 

Now think about how long it takes someone to read your 140-word post. Maybe 1-2 minutes.

Your latest 30-minute podcast episode earned 800 downloads. That’s 800 people engaging with your content for at least 20 minutes.

Even though the episode got the attention of fewer people, you held their attention for 10x as long.

Compare Over Time

Of course, that example only accounts for one instance within your much larger marketing plan.

Try combining framework #2 with #3. Gather up historical data from your podcast and other marketing channels and compare.

4. Other Podcasts’ Benchmarks

The fourth framework for measuring podcast success is to compare your benchmarks to those of other shows. This method, however, isn’t super reliable.

Differing Goals

Podcasts aside from your own have different goals, target audiences, and formats. They also didn’t start from the same starting line.

While it can be tempting to compare your show to others in your category, it doesn’t produce a very dependable analysis.

Analytics Reports

If you choose to use this framework, you might glean better insights from comparing your podcast to averages of many similar to yours.

There aren’t many podcast analytics reports out there, but our team has found Chartable to be useful. There, you can make a free account to see the data they’ve collected on billions of downloads.

Step Outside of Podcasting, Too

The success of your podcast doesn’t have to only depend on itself. Podcasts provide the opportunity for so much more supporting content.

Content Waterfall

From every interview you do on your show comes a bountiful offering of potential content goodness.

You’re collecting valuable insights and advice from industry experts — why not turn those into snackable, shareable knowledge bombs?

Here are eight pieces of content you could create from each interview:

Look at that majestic content waterfall. 😍

Reach More People

Believe it or not, not everyone listens to podcasts… yet. Including people you want to become your customers.

So, you’ve gotta reach them a different way.

Those eight ideas up there 👆 are a really good start. For those that don’t listen to your business podcast yet, they can still engage with your informative and helpful content.

In other words, your podcast isn’t only for serving your podcast — it also serves your other marketing channels.

Context Makes the Difference

Looking at Joe Rogan’s analytics isn’t going to give you any clue to whether your podcast is successful or not.

The only shows you should take into consideration are… 

  • Yours
  • Podcasts very similar to yours

Remember, you decided to start a podcast because you want to build relationships with your ideal buyers. So the #1 metric you should be concerned with is the number of guests turned into customers.

Happy ‘casting!

Get even more podcast marketing tips by subscribing to B2B Growth on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.