Feb. 8, 2022

How Do You Measure Success

How are you measuring success?

It’s a big question with no one perfect answer, but it is the big question that podcasters struggle with, especially after they get past the launch phase. So today, on the podcast, Mathew opens up where to look, how to read the data, and what decisions you can make from it. 

We measure growth in downloads for most podcasters, but it is a vanity metric that doesn’t give us details of where to grow, how to grow, and where we should be making changes. 


  • Podcast News: Rephonic (2:07)
  • Deep Dive: Why are IAB downloads important, How do we measure a show
  • Q and A: Creating trackable links for analytics

Thanks for Listening!

Be sure to subscribe on Apple, Google, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. And feel free to drop us a line at mathew@thepodcastconsultant.com.

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Speaker 1 (00:02)

Hello and welcome Podcast me anything and ask me anything for all things podcasting. I'm your host, Ben Clay, and I am joined here in the studio with Matthew Passy. The podcast control. Matthew and I wanted to move the conversation beyond the Podcasting 101 topics and move into the intermediate to advance podcasting strategy. To reach your goals, to interact with the show, submit your questions to be answered live, book a podcast audio with Matthew, or find the notes from today's show. Head on over to Podcastnaothing.com. Welcome back to another podcast. Meaning and just like always, we got Matthew Passy with us in the studio. We've got some really different questions that we haven't talked about. And there are some tools that we're also going to integrate with that are kind of brand new in the pod space. So welcome to Podcast again, Matthew.

Speaker 2 (00:46)

Thank you, Ben. Good to be here. How are you doing?

Speaker 1 (00:48)

I'm doing better than good, and better than good was a mindset that I used to have way back, like four or five years ago. And I've been really trying to incorporate those two words into my life back because I'm always better than good. But I stopped saying it after I lost my job. And I'm really trying to bring those two words back.

Speaker 2 (01:03)

It's a good attitude.

Speaker 1 (01:04)

It is. And it's often based on the gratitude moment of whether you believe this moment is better than good isn't necessarily as important. It's that you're optimistic that the future is better than good. So it kind of is a reminder to keep going. And I've often learned through the process random sidecar here that most people need to hear it more than I need to say it. And it usually jokes people because most people will say good and fine. And most people have never heard better than good. And I was at the airport once and the ticket lady was checking out bags, and I said it to her and she's like, oh, you sound like Dave Ramsey. And I was like, that's a good compliment. As you can get on the random airport.

Speaker 2 (01:40)

Especially as a podcaster. You want that accolade? Yeah. I mean, speaking of the word better, for a while there I was only saying to myself, better is always better. Better is better than nothing. So you don't have to make big improvements. You don't have to make massive improvements. They don't have to be the most groundbreaking things in the world. But if you're doing something a little bit better, well, it's better than yeah.

Speaker 1 (02:02)

I mean, even going to the gym, you're still better than anybody still sleeping in bed, even if your workouts at that time, that great. You're still outpacing everybody that decided to stay in bed. It's progress. That's a good said Wagon Podcast. Because as you start a podcast, the news that we're going to talk about today is a new tool called Rafonic. And this tool is trying to measure how much better you are in podcasting and how many people are attaching themselves in their podcast app to your podcast. So, Matthew, when you first saw this news, it hit Pod News last week. What was your mindset on this news and this tool that came about?

Speaker 2 (02:36)

Yeah, this is one of those things that was buried kind of on the bottom of the Pod News email at least Friday, the fourth little blurb that says, see how many subscribers and followers your podcast has on every app? I was like, what? That would be groundbreaking, huge news that should be leading the charge and across every headline in the podcasting space. So I click on it and check it out what it is. It's actually a feature that Refonic is making available to folks, because what Refonic does is they're a podcast guest booking service. So you would use them to find guests to be a guest. And the reason why this is important to them is because one thing that podcast guests are always asking is, well, how big is that podcast? How many subscribers do they have? And truthfully, nobody knows. It's not like YouTube, where you can go to the YouTube page, click on it and be like, oh, look at that, 5000 subscribers. Those numbers are private. Unless somebody shares them, you have no idea what their actual numbers are. And by the way, most of the people who share it, they take it with a grain of salt.

Speaker 2 (03:35)

But anyway, you click on this link, we'll put it here in the Show Notes. You can type in any show I'll put in ours, although I'm certain that the results will not be useful in this case. But you type in your show, a little drop down will pop up showing you what your show is, and then it'll take you to a screen and it will tell you the number of subscribers and followers you have on about seven different podcasting networks. Now, unfortunately, none of those are Apple, Google, Spotify, even Amazon. So we're not talking about massive platforms or things that are going to be super helpful to you. But Podcast Attic, Cast Box, Pod being tuned in the podcast app, Podcast Republic and Player. Fm. So it's a clever idea, and I wish it was more comprehensive. I don't blame Refinery for not being I don't think that information is readily available or public or well measured anywhere, but it is a clever idea. So if somebody says they've got hundreds of thousands of downloads and you pop in this little Refhonic link and you see they've got zero on a bunch of these apps or a handful on a bunch of these apps, you're probably going to want to say, I don't know about that.

Speaker 2 (04:50)

Whereas if you come over here and you see a couple of hundred or a couple of thousand, you can be like, okay, if these platforms that usually represent less than 1% of someone's market share are showing hundreds of thousands of downloads. That's a pretty good indication. Okay, this show is pretty big and it's got a following if you've got the spillover audience over here. So that's kind of how I would use it.

Speaker 1 (05:13)

And when you were telling me about it, my brain went to a lot of these third party apps have the ability to sponsor content and get your podcast paid to be seen on these apps as well. So it's an interesting way to just track your progress if one of these apps has an advert running. Because again, you're talking about the blindness of podcasting. We only get downloads, and even that is still very ambiguous. And you don't really know how many people are staying around. I think Apple now tells you how many people stay on listening to your podcast episode after episode. Like, do they fade after a few? But still, it's so nuanced to try to figure out and move the needle on this.

Speaker 2 (05:58)

Yeah. I mean, it's true that the download metric is a frustrating metric because every single play is a download. If you go to someone's website, they've got an embedded player, you hit play. That episode is being downloaded in order to play. And if you go to itunes or podcast or for Apple, Google Podcast, any of those places, you hit play without downloading the episode that content has to download in order to play. So every play is definitely a download. That said, not every download is a play. I can speak from experience that I subscribe to a show. We had coven in the house of my habits and my routine got very messed up. And this one show, I've downloaded a bunch of episodes that I have never had a chance to play. It's a little bit more of a topical podcast, so I probably won't get to them. But all those downloads counts even though they were plays. Now, study suggests that most of our downloads do get played maybe somewhere in the 70 to Mark. And the truth is, it's an apples to apples comparison. If you saw downloads to downloads, the downloads from show to show to show.

Speaker 2 (07:08)

But you have to take all this with a grain of salt. But your downloads are not always being played. So it is a little frustrating. But like I said, there are ways to kind of measure actual performance of your show. And by the way, it's important that you start to do that.

Speaker 1 (07:23)

Maybe this is a good moment to dive into the I believe it's IAB statistics, right?

Speaker 2 (07:30)

Yeah. Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Speaker 1 (07:32)

Yeah. So maybe we could segue into this deep dive because how do we measure our podcast? This is a buzzword that's on a lot of different platforms. And if you're new to podcasting or you're really trying to punch it and figure it out, this word can kind of be confusing because in the early days on my old podcast platform, there is a switch that would go regular downloads and IAB downloads, and it would be completely different. So maybe dive into what is it that we need to know about IAB and how is that related to measuring our podcast?

Speaker 2 (08:00)

Basically, the IAB, this Interactive Advertising Bureau, is an organization that helps to standardize digital measurements across the Internet. They don't just do podcasts, although podcast is the one that we're talking about. So that's what we're going to focus on. And it was probably about maybe three or four years ago that the IAB standard for podcast came out and what you had was hosting to adopt them. So IAB basically came up with this standard for how your hosting company should measure your podcast downloads in order to have a standard measure across the spectrum. Because like you said, you go to your hosting platform and it might show you 1000 downloads, and then you click the IAB button. All of a sudden it's like 600,000 downloads. The reason why that's happening is because every time your hosting servers pinged, it might be registering a download. Now, those downloads could be legitimate downloads. They could be people streaming it, they could be bots, they could be people downloading it repeatedly. So IAB put into place all these different, let's call them regulations, standards, whatever you want to call it, so that everybody was measuring traffic the exact same way.

Speaker 2 (09:13)

And so typically when you go to look at your IAB statistics, you're going to see that number drop because it is filtering out a lot of repetitive downloads or mechanical downloads or spam downloads. Truthfully. So that's really going to be your most accurate number is what you get. So that's why we always recommend that whatever hosting you look at, try and choose hosting that is IAB certified, especially because more and more advertisers, they are going to want those kinds of numbers. They already know how to deal with the IAB and other places, and they're going to want to deal with that here with your podcast.

Speaker 1 (09:48)

As we dive deeper into how we measure our show, it's also a can of worms in measuring our show because we just talk. There's now a new tool that allows you to talk about the followers. There is Apple podcast analytics. There's your hosting platforms, analytics, Spotify analytics, Google Play analytics. Oftentimes all of those could be telling you a bunch of different stories. And you're like, which one should I believe you've got charitable, which is also a different flavor that kind of integrates all of those together, so many different ways to tell these stories, which then as a podcaster, just makes it really confusing to measure progress on your show. So when you have clients come to you that are either frustrated, stuck, or maybe they've been like, we've been podcasting for a year. How are we even measuring that this thing is working and that we're actually moving the needle? Other than this, downloads because in some cases you're talking to an empty Mike for maybe one to two years without much feedback. How do people get through measuring that progress on a podcast?

Speaker 2 (10:43)

Well, whether you are responsible for your podcast yourself or you are working with some sort of third party podcast producer, editor, company, whatever that looks like, you need to have access to your number so that you have the full story. So one, you should be able to access your hosting company first and foremost. Truthfully, I think you should own your account on your hosting platform and then grant your producer, your production company, your editor access to it. God forbid something happens, you are in charge. It is your content. You don't want to lose that to anybody else. So I like hosting companies that allow the client to sign up and then share access. And when you do that, when you go to Captivate lives in Blueberry. Most of these podcasting platforms are going to give you a pretty standard look at your analytics, which is like we said, it's the download number. How many downloads are you getting? Typically, what kind of devices are they coming from? A mobile, a PC, desktop, whatever. What platforms are they coming from? Apple, Google, Spotify? There's going to be a host of different listening agents that are going to show up on the list.

Speaker 2 (11:49)

Most of them you've never even heard of, but they mean something and they'll kind of give you a sense. And like I said, if they're IAB, they're all being kind of measured and labeled standard. They should be able to do things like break out. Where are your downloads coming from? So most of them, if not all of them, should be able to tell you at the very least, what country all your downloads are coming from. But then when you click into your countries, you should be able to get in the US especially, you should be able to get like a state by state breakdown. Some of them are getting a little bit more granular, and they'll give you some of the major media markets. So if you're getting a lot of downloads out of New York or Philly or La, that should be somewhat obvious on better hosting platforms. But that's really it. Some of them are starting to introduce a little bit more in terms of what you can get. Like, Captivate is now doing performance comparison, but a lot of that is based on their embedded player. They can't Captivate can't go into Apple and be like, Let me take that data from you.

Speaker 2 (12:45)

They have no idea, but they'll give you some stuff. So then what should you do beyond that? Right. That big download number that you get from your hosting company, that's obviously the main number you're focusing on. And while it's really fun to talk about your total downloads. Right, we talked about this one. Transferring host. I've got a million total downloads. Well, if you put out ten episodes, a million downloads is super impressive. If you've got a million downloads and you've put out 100,000 episodes, you're not doing so great. So just having a total download number doesn't really tell any piece of the story. The story that you're obviously looking for is that per episode download typically what an episode gets within 30 days of release. And you want to see that number creep up more and more and more. Now, before you go into Apple, Google, Spotify, all these different platforms individually, what you're going to basically look at is that number. Every time you drop an episode, you should see a pretty big spike. The day that that episode drops, those are most likely your subscribers, especially if that's a pretty consistent right growing number, 200, 300, 400.

Speaker 2 (13:52)

That will kind of tell you that's roughly the people who are subscribed automatically getting your episode the minute it drops. It's not an accurate subscriber count. It's a guesstimate at best. But I think that can kind of give you a sense of whether your regular listenership is growing if you see that day of download number continue to climb as you go along. But so what should you do beyond that? You should be going to Podcastsconnect Apple.com. You should be going to Podcastsmanager Google.com. And if you're going to podcasters Spotify.com, Amazon is going to roll out one of these soon. Stitcher has one of them soon. Stitcher already has one, but those are the three right now that I would say the most important. Apple, because anywhere from 50% to 70% of most people's downloads are coming from Apple. So when you get into your Apple Podcast Connect directory, you will be able to see what shows you have in there, changes to the settings of your RSS feed, and right at the top you'll have analytics. Right click on analytics. Go check it out. What can you see in your analytics? How many listeners you have?

Speaker 2 (15:00)

The listeners are just the unique number of devices that have played more than 0 second of an episode. Okay, so basically anybody that has access to your content, what are engaged listeners? People who have played more than 20 minutes or 40% of your episodes. These are really committed listeners. And if that number is way down right, if that only represents five to 10% of your total listeners, you have a content problem because people aren't sticking around to listen to what you're doing. And then they'll give you a total plays, which is just the number of plays that have happened on unique devices. So plays is somewhat equal to your downloads. Listeners is like the number of plays divided by how many people listened. It will give you a sense of how many people have checked out your content. And then engaged listeners are the people who are really paying attention. You can also find things like how long people are listening for average duration. You can look at episode specific performance. So those are some good numbers to kind of tell you, is our content working? Are people listening? Are more people coming through or are people dropping off?

Speaker 2 (16:10)

Right. Are people getting five minutes into every episode and being like, I'm out of here, you've got a problem in five minutes, then if you're seeing that kind of number now, again, this doesn't represent every single person that listens to your content, but this is the best sample you're going to get because most likely Apple is your highest performer. But going back to what I was saying earlier, another thing you're going to find at the top of Apple Podcast Connect is a tab that says Account and under account, you have the option for people if you did not submit the show to Apple yourself. If a producer accompany an individual did that for you and you don't have this access to your Apple statistics, they should be able to give them to you. If they are not willing to give them to you, something is fishy. They're probably lying to you about your numbers. Be careful. It's not that difficult. I can just add a person right now and give them access to just their show manager and analyst and it's super easy and it's important that you do it. So another place to go to podcast manager, Google.com very similar to Apple.

Speaker 2 (17:18)

They're going to tell you how many plays your episode is getting, how many plays in the first 30 days. They're going to tell you how long people were playing it for. So 52%, 70% roughly. You should be seeing about 70% of your episode being played on average. Not everyone is going to finish an episode. We just run out of time. Something comes up, maybe we come back to it later. But truth is, if you're seeing numbers well below 70% for average plays on your episode, you have a content problem and you need to figure out why people aren't listening all the way through. They'll give you a device breakdown. The most interesting thing, though that Google can give you, and I wish the sample size you got from them was larger because that would make the status so much more powerful is the type of search terms that led people to your content. They literally have a thing that says top search terms last 28 days by impression buy clicks and by click through rate. And that is going to tell you what are people searching for that is leading them to find your content.

Speaker 2 (18:22)

And so for all of you folks who are thinking about SEO and searchability, this is going to be some really powerful data because Google is the King of search on the Internet. So they know what's getting people to go to your show, you know where to strengthen your marketing, your SEO, and all those different things to get more people there. Again, it only helps if you have substantial listeners on Google, which frankly, most people don't right now. But that's why I'd say make a bigger push to get at least your Android users using Google, but maybe even some other folks using Google to check you out. Also with Google, by the way, the same thing. If you go you're looking at your show, there's a little gear icon permissions. Anybody can have access to their show on Google. So again, if you don't have this data, if you're not the one who submitted it to Google, your editor, producer company, whoever you're working with to produce your podcast, they should be able to add you. And if they haven't, it's easy enough to claim your show. Drop your RSS feed. They're going to send an email to whatever email address is listed in the show feed settings with a code that basically says, do you own the show?

Speaker 2 (19:27)

Prove it. Here's the code. And while you can get access, you can even claim the show if somebody else already has it. But if you're working with somebody else, just kind of make sure you're all on the same page. But you absolutely should have access to your back end analytics through Google Podcast. Full stop.

Speaker 1 (19:45)

Let's take a three degree course correction if you want to avoid the stats. Where do you bring in call to action measurement? Because to me, this is where the rubber hits the road and why you started a podcast. Unless you're just talking. Because you love talking, by all means, just keep measuring your downloads. But most of us want people to go somewhere. Most of us want that listener to take some type of action, to do something, whether it be a product, to buy something, a sponsor. Where does it come into play when you focus on call to action?

Speaker 2 (20:16)

Good question. Let me Spotify, and then I'm going to get right into that question because it's a really good one. So the last one to focus on is Podcasters Spotify.com. Same thing. Anybody can claim their show. You can't give access to multiple people. So if you want to own your show, go submit your feed, claim it, enter the stuff you're good to go. The interesting thing about the analytics that Spotify gives you starts streams listeners, followers. Right. Similar to a subscriber count. But because the platform of Spotify requires users to log in to use it, you also get some demographic data, the gender, the age of your typical users. Now, again, Spotify usually accounts for about 10% to maybe 30% of your audience. So it's not truly everybody. But if you're seeing a trend like, oh, we're 98% male and 99% 35 to 45, my guess is most of your audience are men, 35 to 44. So like, that will kind of give you a sense of what your audience looks like. So again, I just think it's good to have access to your Apple Analytics, your Google Analytics, your Spotify Analytics, as well as what your overall download analytics are, just to give you a sense of our people listening, is that audience growing to your question, Ben, how do you know if what you're doing is effective could be a very different story.

Speaker 2 (21:39)

And that depends on why are you doing this podcast? Right. Are you doing this podcast to grow your business? Okay. Are you seeing more calls? Are you seeing more emails or you see more people sign up for the email list? Are people clicking on your sales funnel? It depends on what your overall metrics are like. It depends what your KPIs are most important to you. But you have to make sure that those are all measurable and that you're keeping track of them, that you're knowing that people who are going into those different pieces are coming from the podcast. So how do you do a couple of different ways to do that. One, you create podcast specific landing pages. So if we want anybody listening to this to go check military veteran dad dad. But we want to know just how many of those people came from here. Maybe it's the military veteran dad.com, right. You tell them a different site to go to. So, you know, only people who are landing on that site were people who heard it on the podcast. Similarly, in your Show Notes, you're going to put links and information to yourself and all these different things that you want people to access your phone number, your email, your sales funnel, your website, whatever you want it to be.

Speaker 2 (22:53)

All of those should be having UTM codes or trackable links so that, you know, yes, 1000 people went and checked out our services page, but of those, only 20 came from our podcast, Show Notes. So that would kind of tell you, okay, we got new listeners, but if only 20 of them are coming from the podcast, maybe this isn't quite the effective tool that we thought it was going to be.

Speaker 1 (23:21)

We had a different question in store. But I want to dive into more of this because you just mentioned a keyword that just rabbit hold me down another angle that most people don't know. And I only know this because I was a marketer designing MailChimp campaigns and that you mentioned UTM. Now, UTM is tied to campaigns and a lot of back end marketing Tags. But there's also a lot of technology with Google to tag a link to actually tell Google Analytics that may be monitoring your site exactly where a lead came from. So whether you do likeword or something like special, you can create if you ever click any link in an email and you go up in the top of the title bar, there's a bunch of stuff on the end that usually includes like UTM email or something along that line or UTM newsletter. Have you incorporated or done anything like that with your clients where they are including like Google Analytics type links designed with UTM stuff. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (24:13)

I mean, for the most part, if they are doing that kind of measurement, that's really coming more from their website and less from us. So I certainly suggest it. I certainly encourage it. We're not the ones who are necessarily creating that kind of stuff. But yeah, that's definitely a good idea. The one thing that becomes tricky is it doesn't really work the other way. It's hard for people to I can put a link on my website to my podcast, and I can put a UTM code on there so that Google can track it and kind of tell me what's going on. Like, oh, 400 people clicked on this Apple podcast link off your website. So a lot of people are finding the podcast from there. The only thing is from there, I don't know if they actually subscribed or ever did anything with it. That's a really difficult tracking piece. Charitable has some technology that helps with that. They've got these smart links that basically will tell you like, okay, 100 people clicked on this link. Of those 100 people, 50 of them wound up downloading an episode. Now, we don't know how. We don't know if they hit subscribe.

Speaker 2 (25:14)

We don't know if it's not like there's still a lot of the equation that we don't understand. But if 50 of the people who clicked on this wound up downloading an episode, that's encouraging as opposed to one out of 100, right, then it's like, oh, well, they clicked, but they didn't want to check it out or whatever that might be the reason for. So you should definitely be using your UTM codes as best as possible within your podcast so that you know how effective it is going in other places. But it's a little harder to use that stuff to know how many people are going into your podcast from external sources.

Speaker 1 (25:51)

This could be a whole nother deep dive, so we won't go too far down the rabbit hole. But you also inspire something that I've learned in my podcast journey that sometimes the first feedback that you'll get isn't on your own podcast. It's when you've theoretically refined your message, what you're speaking about, your ability to articulate words and sound coherent on a podcast, and you do that on other people's podcasts, when you create a magnetic message in someone else's audience and they come into your ecosystem. That to me, is one of those where you're saying the right things and you just need to keep going. And it's a great litmus test that I've learned to find out, am I saying the right words that are resonating with a fresh audience that is probably already primed? They're already hooked on this guy that you went on the show or her and focusing on that message. And I can tell you, interesting enough, it was probably like 30 different podcast shows before my message resonated on one where I had someone reach out and said, hey, I heard you on X podcast and I wanted to connect. And I was like, man, that just speaks to how many times you have to keep saying your message before you put the right connect word together, which you mentioned.

Speaker 1 (26:55)

It content issues can be shown in podcast analytics where you may be like, I don't think I'm saying the right words yet. Testing it out on other people's podcasts is a great way to test like the pressure of what you're saying, is it good enough yet?

Speaker 2 (27:07)

I think that's a fairly solid idea. I mean, keep testing your strategy. The truth is, it's hard to know what is going to be a success for you, right? It's hard to know if you have a super niche audience, if you don't know what the totality of that audience is. You can't look at somebody else who's getting 2 million downloads and be like, but I'm not getting 2 million downloads. There might not be too many people to listen to your stuff. And even if there are at best 50% of them listen to podcasts and at best 10% are going to listen to your podcast, right? So you can't just compare yourself to everybody else. You have to basically compare yourself to yourself. Am I getting better? Are my clicks going up? Are my click throughs going up? Are my downloads going up on the number of followers I'm getting going up? Don't worry about comparing yourself to external sources. Compare yourself to your own performance. That is going to be a better way to know if what you're doing is working.

Speaker 1 (28:03)

I absolutely love we kind of succinctly brought that whole conversation to a close with a nice bow on it of understanding are the words you're putting together, moving the needle, and it's a big giant ball of questions and solutions out there. But at the end of the day are people reaching out and saying, hey, what you said really made an impact on me or keep going or even just podcast advertising. And it's so interesting, the random things that people will click on. I've put in so many short URLs in my podcast over the years. Most of them did nothing. And recently last year there was a survey for military families that I sponsored with. They asked me to put a link. I had like 150 people click that link and I was like, why are people clicking on links for me? And so oftentimes you just have to experiment on what people will click and finding different partner solutions. Easy affiliate solutions, like an easy one that people often do like in the travel or an easy affiliate is like Hotels.com or finding these companies that are great products. They don't really have any requirements on the front end to get to be an affiliate and just try and see what different stuff sticks.

Speaker 1 (29:09)

Because when people take action, that means they trust you and whether that can come in a lot of different ways. And it's an important part, like you said, to measure progress. But then also, I think a key takeaway that I'm taking away from this is going back to how we started this podcast. Are you better than yesterday? If you're better, you're winning.

Speaker 2 (29:28)

Better is always better.

Speaker 1 (29:29)

Exactly what a great way to close out the podcast today. Well, Matthew, thank you for another great podcast. Me anything and stay tuned for next week.