023: Podcast Launch KPIs to Measure Success

Podcasters are historically very frustrated by the lack of stats that we get on our podcasts. It’s actually very difficult to get detailed stats to who’s listening or how many people are even listening to your shows. 

I’m going to show you the things that we can track and how you can know if you are increasing in your success.

The number one thing that podcasters track is the number of downloads that they get in a certain time frame or per episode. 

Most hosting sites are able to tell you how many downloads you’re getting per episode or in a time frame. So what I mean by this is, let’s say that you launch your show with 10 episodes. Your show launches and over the course of a week or whatever and 10 episodes go out in the first about week (this is how we do it for our clients that we are launching their shows).

So 10 episodes go out. Now your host will likely be able to track. And if you don’t understand what a host is, go back to the last episode What’s a Podcast, where we talk about the difference between hosting and distribution. You are putting your episodes into a specific posting site. We use Libsyn typically, but there are lots of other hosting sites that you could consider. So you’re going to put that out and that’s where you’re getting your stats from. You’re tracking in your podcast host for this.

If you put 10 episodes out, you can track downloads per episode. Let’s say how many downloads did episode number five get. Episode number five might be about a specific topic that’s really juicy to your audience. So you might see, wow, we have a lot more downloads in that episode than in the other episodes. That’s going to help you know what’s the juiciest content, because you got a ton of episode downloads for that one episode.

A download is basically when somebody has listened to your episode, streamed it, or downloaded it. So if they’re listening to that episode, that’s considered a download. Now, if somebody listens to that episode three, four, five, 20, 70 million times, it’s still getting downloaded. That’s the tracker that we’re supporting. 

Now, do we know how many people downloaded it? Was it new people that downloaded it? Was it your current subscribers? That’s kind of like a wash. We don’t really know those stats right now. But what we do know is whether or not it was downloaded. So that’s one thing.

We can also track how many downloads do you get in general over the course of let’s say a month. 

We call those monthly downloads. Now your monthly downloads is for however many episodes that are downloaded in that current month. What that means is if you have, let’s say that you do a weekly show, so in any given month you might have four episodes per month. In that month if you’re used to getting, let’s say, every one of those episodes, your baseline is like you get just for ease let’s say that you get 100 downloads every time you have an episode go out, 100 people are downloading it. That might mean that you have 100 people subscribed. So every time you send out an episode, you get about 100 people.

Now, some of those episodes, you’re going to have a little bit more, a little bit less because people didn’t listen or you had a few unsubscribes that way, whatever. But in general, let’s say that you’ve got 100. So in a month with four episodes, your monthly downloads are going to sit around 400 downloads per month.

But, we’re also needing to remember that you’ve got old episodes that people are going to find. So in that month, let’s say in the month of July maybe you are going to get your usual 100 downloads per episode, you get those 400. But then let’s say that you launched last month. So June also is going to get a few downloads from the month of June because maybe you get one new person. They’re going to look at all of them in July. They’re going to look at, “Oh wow, four episodes of July,” they’re going to listen to all of those. And then they’re going to go to your June. You have 10 episodes in June. Plus those weekly ones now they’re downloading. So now you’re getting all 12 of those in addition. So you see what I’m saying?

Now let’s envision that your podcast has been around for five years, and you’ve been putting out weekly episodes for five years. If you get one new person that comes to your podcast and finds you for the first time, and you’ve been recording consistently for five years, only a weekly episode, that’s 52. Let’s say, for easy math let’s say that’s 50 episodes a year. For five years, that’s over … What is that? 200, 400 episodes or something crazy.

Now, they’re going to be able to go back and listen to all of those. So if you get one person in the month of September, when you’ve been around for five years and they find that now they’re downloading all of those in September and they’re going back to all of those previous episodes to find ones that they’re interested in. So all of a sudden now your monthly downloads are going to grow and grow and grow. That is the cumulative impact of having a podcast around for a long time because you’re getting more and more and more episodes.

So now when people find you, now they’re looking back at those old episodes. 

Here’s the KPI that you want to track. Your monthly episodes month over month should be increasing. 

Let’s say in month one you had 20 downloads. In month two, you got to have more than 20 downloads. You might be looking for 25 downloads monthly, or you might be looking for 45 downloads monthly. Then let’s say in the next month, now you might be looking for 65 downloads monthly or 70. Or maybe you do a huge push and a bunch of ads and now you’ve got 100 downloads because you have that many more people. Well now, if you keep doing that for an entire year, you’re looking at a major increase of downloads because of what’s working, you’re going to keep increasing it.

Now, let’s say that you’ve got a huge, massive list, and in your first month you send out to that massive list of 30,000 or 70,000 people, you send a big push, and you get even 10% of those people, get 3,000 people on your month one for you might look a little bit better because you’ve got more marketing power behind how many people are coming to your show.

You still want to increase that month over month. And there are lots of ways that you can do that, but the goal is that you still want new people coming to your show every single month. It’s not enough to just get that big push in the first month because then in month two you may have kind of the same because those same amount of listeners are coming back to listen to your show. You’re looking for that to increase. You want it to always increase and more and more people to be finding your show. That is the initial idea of downloads. We’re looking at how many downloads that you’re getting.

The second KPI that you want to be looking for is your ratings. 

You want to keep high ratings. Now we keep higher ratings by having excellent quality content and consistency. 

Once your audience gets used to your show being done in a certain way, that’s what they’re going to be expecting. So if you change something up on them, they might get like, “Oh, this changes all the time.” Now they’re going to give you a bad rating.

To keep high quality ratings you’ve got to keep a high quality show. And usually we want to increase your show’s quality over the course of time. Maybe you improve your audio. Maybe you improve the way that you’re distributing it. Maybe you even improve the way that you are producing it or marketing it, how you’re getting it out there. All those things, those will be improved over time. But what I’m talking about is your actual ratings, what people rate your show.

Now here’s the thing. Podcast ratings are not like Yelp ratings. People love to say their experiences on restaurants and things like that, their experiences that they’ve had on Yelp. But podcasting, it’s a little bit more difficult to get people to actually rate and review your show. So you’ve got to ask for that. When you are listening to podcasts, it’s likely you’ll hear people say, “Hey, go rate my show,” because it’s gold in the podcasting industry, because not a lot of people do it. You want positive ratings on your show.

Now ratings are how many stars you’re getting. Lots of different distributors will have different ways of rating shows. iTunes or now Apple Podcasts, that’s the gold standard really. You want to ask people to go to Apple Podcasts and leave you a five star rating. Now it should be an honest five star rating, and that’s what we tell our listeners is, “Please go to leave me a five star, an honest five star rating and review.” Ratings are very important. You can track ratings by simply going into iTunes or into whatever distributor that you’re distributing with and see the ratings there.

They’re not going to be cumulative. So if you’re hosting on, let’s say Libsyn, but you’re distributing on many different sites, many different distributors like Apple Podcasts or Stitcher Radio or Google or things like that, their rating systems are all going to be a little bit differently. For our clients we track iTunes because that’s the one, that’s like the gold standard. So we track Apple Podcasts. Right now there’s a transition of what we’re calling it, but it’s kind of interchangeable. Apple Podcasts, those ratings are very important. That’s what we track every month. We track where are our ratings for our clients shows and for our show.

We want to know. Did we get more people to leave us a rating and a review? You want to keep up with five star ratings. But sometimes four stars, four and a half stars. Sometimes people don’t know if one is the best or five is the best. Some people just don’t know. It defaults to one or they accidentally click it and then they don’t know how to change it. All those things do happen. So you want to tell people, “Leave me an honest five star rating.” That’s the second thing you want to track.

Now, here’s the third thing that you want to track, and this is your reviews. 

You want to have honest, positive reviews. 

Positive reviews go a long way. Right now it seems that it’s okay if it’s a short review and it’s a longer review. It seems like it doesn’t matter as much how much information they’re really leaving. It’s not like they’re really tracking keywords. So if someone just hops on and writes something quick like great show, then that sort of is similar to someone actually writing out a big long thing about what they love about your show.

But, people who are actually reading those are going to actually read it. So great show means nothing to them. We want to actually have an honest and positive review so that people are actually saying what they love. Maybe they’re even mentioning an episode that they are particularly interested in because those things are going to go a long way. 

When someone’s new to your show and they’re wondering if this is the show for them, they look at your ratings. They look at some of your reviews. They’re going to see, is this something I want to invest my time into actually listening to or downloading an episode onto my phone or whatever. 

That precious phone space.

So five star ratings, positive reviews, of course all honest, we don’t want people just clicking to say that they left a review or whatever. So those are the three things that we track for our clients. What you are wanting to look for is downloads that are increasing month over month, but in the actual launch period you want to have downloads. You’re kind of creating a baseline of where are downloads sitting out in our launch month.

Now, just to prepare you, it is possible that in month two after your podcast launch, once you go to your weekly episodes, it is likely that there will be a slight decrease in your downloads because in the first month, your monthly downloads, you might have 10 or 12 episodes in your first month.

Let’s just say that you get one person to subscribe to your show or download, listen to all of your episodes. That subscriber, if they are listening to all 12 of those episodes in that first month, then you’re going to have 12 downloads in month one. They’ve already downloaded them. So now in month two let’s say that you go to a weekly show and you only have four episodes that week. Now let’s say that that one subscriber listens to all four, and that month you now only have four downloads.

But if you get one new person that comes, they’re listening to all four of those and they’re probably going to listen to all 12 of the last episodes. So now it’s accumulative. In this second month of your launch, you’re getting 12 plus four from the new subscriber, and you’re getting four from last person’s subscription. So now we’ve got 20. That’s why we’re doing month over month. That’s why we’re looking at, we’re expecting that each month we’ll have an increase because if you can just get one new subscriber that will go back and listen to some old episodes too and that new month, we’re tracking all of their old stats too, then you can look at the episode downloads.

So if you are, let’s say that you had your podcast for four months, but in month two you had really a good episode. So now every time someone follows your show, they might listen to a few in that current month. But then they keep going back and they keep finding that one episode from month two that was just so good. Those downloads are going to be tracking from the current month. But that episode downloads we’re also going to be able to track. Now we know that one episode was so good. So now we want to build content around that one episode, all right.

What we track in our podcast stats is we track downloads per month for that specific month, whatever month we’re in, we track the high downloads, what episodes were the highest in this month, what did people search the most for, that’s going to be important for us. Usually we do the top two so that we can see the gap and comparison. If one episode got 12,000 downloads and another episode got 11,000 downloads or one episode got 12,000 downloads and the next got 900, that’s a huge difference. There’s something different about that episode. So it’s going to allow us to dig into, based on those KPIs, we’re going to be able to dig in to say, “Hmm, what happened? Or what was the day?” We even track the day, high day of downloads.

Maybe you did an email blast, or you spoke at an event, and so that day you got a ton of new episodes. Maybe you hit New and Noteworthy. So that one day you’re able to get a ton of new episodes. When you track your stats, you’re going to be able to get insights and information about your marketing and about the actual show itself so that you’ll know what do my viewers want to see more of. 

Even your ratings and your reviews, those are going to tell you more about what people are looking for in a review. If someone says, “Oh, my favorite topic is when this person talks about these three topics.” Well now you know, “Okay, I got to talk more on those topics because that’s what they’re really looking for.” All right.

Stats, so drastically important. 

We do them every month for our clients. We do them on a nice, neat little PDF so that we can track them month over month. So when it’s time to launch a new product, we can go back to those stats and say what are people really loving, like what do they think is the best about the show.

So KPIs, that’s what you know you can track, and that’s how you know they’re gonna love you.