Podcast Listenership: 5 Key Metrics You Should Be Watching

Podcast Listenership: 5 Key Metrics You Should Be Watching

As with any content, podcasters want to make sure they are getting something in return for all the time, effort, and resources they’ve invested in their podcasts. It is for this reason that podcasters take time out to check their podcast listenership.

Simply put, listenership refers not only to the number of people listening to your podcast but also the type of people tuning in. Podcasters need to make sure the people they are targeting are actually listening to them. This is especially necessary if they’re using their podcast as part of their content marketing strategy.

Whether you’ve been podcasting for some time or a complete newbie, here are 5 important metrics you need to monitor to gauge your listenership.

5 Key Podcast Listening Metrics

1. Subscriptions

According to podcaster Daniel J. Lewis:

“Subscriptions are how many people are subscribed to your RSS feed and will automatically receive updates from your site, including new episodes.”

A high subscription rate is a good indicator of your listenership. When someone chooses to subscribe to your podcast, it tells you that they found your episodes valuable and they want more from you.


“It's kind of a misnomer, in my opinion, to track listenership for podcasts. We should start to call it downloadership.” –The Station Wagon Podcast

Downloads, in the context of podcasting, refers to the number of times an episode was listened to.

Keeping track of episodes with the highest number of downloads is important for several reasons.

First, it can help you gauge the effectiveness of your podcast's episode title. According to Copyblogger, only 20% of visitors will read a blog post based on the title. The same principle applies to podcasting. No matter how valuable the information you are sharing on your podcast is, people won't download and listen to it if the title is not interesting enough to capture their attention.

Second, the number of downloads tells you which topics your audience finds most appealing. While many listen to podcasts for entertainment, majority of listeners tune in to get solutions in a format they can consume more easily. When you are able to pinpoint which episodes has the highest downloads, you’ll be able to streamline your future episodes. It also makes it easier to develop new content.

Finally, you can also learn more about your audience. Platforms like Libsyn can tell you the age bracket of your listeners, where they’re from, what device they’re using, and the time your episodes got the most downloads. All these data will not only help you to develop the right content but also when to publish your episodes to maximize reach.

3. Backlinks

“There’s no getting around it. Backlinks are important.” –Josh Staskus, B2B Growth Expert

Whether you’re hosting your podcast on your website or a third-party platform, it’s important to monitor the number and type of backlinks your podcast gets. Even if you’re getting a lot of backlinks, if the anchor texts of these backlinks are from sites discouraging people to listen to your podcast, these can hurt your listenership.

Podcast listenership

4. Social sharing

“. . . see how many likes, shares, retweets etc. you get. Then you're measuring the effectiveness of your content, not just the number of downloads.” -Simon Dunant, Podcaster and Entrepreneur

Every podcast episode you produce has the potential to generate lots of social posts from listeners who find your episodes useful and helpful. At the same time, it gives you the opportunity to reach out and engage with your audience, build your brand, expand your reach, and come up with ideas for your next episode.

While you can use Google Analytics and Ahrefs for this, Dunant recommends using Clammr or Podable since it gives you more insights such as likes, shares, and retweets.

5. Conversion rates

Determining this last key metric can be quite tricky because your listeners won’t click anything on your episode.

According to Josh Staskus, a B2B growth expert, one way you can measure this is through the people you invite as guest on your show:

“With a podcast, you can engage with people that you would’ve otherwise never been able to get a meeting with . . . by simply inviting them to be a guest on your podcast. This builds a variety of strategic relationships including relationships with ideal clients, referral partners, and industry influencers.”

Simply put, when you can easily get people--particularly those you consider as influencers in your niche--to appear on your show, it means you have managed to build up your listenership to a point where others are starting to take notice.

Tracking Listenership is a must

Tracking your podcast listenership should be an integral part of your podcasting routine. Given that you are able to track the abovementioned key metrics closely, you'll get a crystal clear idea if you are getting a return on the time, effort, and resources you have invested.

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