How Do You Know If Your Podcast Is Successful? (Metrics That Matter)

Podcasting is a great way to connect with your audience. It also has a broad yet growing audience. Podcast Insights report that 50% of homes are ‘podcast fans,’ with more than 60 million listening to podcasts weekly. 

At the same time, running a podcast is by no means for the faint of heart. You need to have the right content, equipment, audio, and marketing to get some traction. Even then, your podcast listens, and downloads aren’t guaranteed. 

Of the 1.5 million podcasts, the competition for attention is pretty high. An average of 1000 podcast downloads per month will get you in the top 20% of all podcasts! But do the numbers really mean success? A detailed review by Pacific Content revealed some interesting statistics:

  • 12% of podcasts have only one episode.
  • Half of all podcasts (yes, 750,000 +) have 14 episodes or fewer.

That means only a chosen few are receiving most of the traffic. 

These stats beg the question:

How, then, do you know if your podcast is successful? 

If you’ve had a podcast for some time, you would probably believe that getting to the top of iTunes or Spotify’s charts is the pinnacle of success. Or maybe it meant tens of thousands of downloads. It is these unrealistic expectations that cause most podcasts to fail. New podcasters start filled with excitement and motivation, then fizzle out soon after. 

The numbers don’t lie. 

Here are some things you should consider to know if your podcast has been successful.

Why are you starting a podcast in the first place?

It’s a problem with 90% of podcasts out there. Most podcasters never sat down to truly explore why they are starting a podcast, to begin with. Of course, podcasters know what they don’t want: low subscribers, downloads, social shares, and no sponsorships. 

But what do you want in the first place? 

Ask yourself; what about starting a podcast is important to me or my business?

Why do we need a podcast? 

If you get crystal clear on why you’re starting your podcast, then you can easily work through the lean times. 

You’ll be fine with ten listens during your first five episodes. 

You won’t worry if you aren’t getting calls for sponsorship. 

You’ll be doing it for a deeper purpose, which will make your content and process more intentional. More importantly, you’ll be working from a place of purpose. If you’re working from this headspace, you’ll reach ‘success’ that much faster.

Understand Podcasting Is More Than Numbers.

Podcasting, like the internet, democratized radio. Now, anyone can start a ‘radio’ show. If you were trying to get on the airwaves, you don’t have a barrier to entry anymore. You can find your tribe and start creating content. 

But podcasting serves another purpose. It’s one part of Content Marketing. Content Marketing is often hard to explain.

In simple terms, Content Marketing is creating valuable material, usually online, to stimulate interest in your product or service. The content could be blogs, videos, social media posts, and yes, podcasts. 

So instead of harping over the numbers, you can use your podcast to bring you business. It can help you sell your courses, land coaching clients, or sell your merchandise. 

The thing is, Content Marketing is also a long game. 

It’s establishing trust and relationships, which takes time. Six months later, someone may remember you and come to you for help, all because of your podcast. 

So your numbers mean nothing if you aren’t reaching your ideal customer. 

For example, at the start of my Brutally Honest podcast, it brought me tens of thousands of dollars in business and several qualified leads. All this with a few hundred downloads a month. 

That’s because I was crystal clear with my metrics. My podcast is a Content Marketing tool to draw a specific number of qualified leads via interviews and listens. As long as I am hitting this objective, the other vanity metrics did not matter. 

So What Does Success Mean To You?

Making tens of thousands of dollars in sponsorship sounds successful. Having tens of thousands of downloads and topping the charts sounds successful. But that does not happen overnight. So it’s essential podcasters establish what success means to them before starting. 

Establishing a WHY helps with a podcaster’s mindset and the type of value they will provide. Setting metrics that matter allows podcasters to work towards something tangible. That way, they aren’t discouraged or distracted by impressive numbers from persons in their niche. It also helps them with longevity. 

To determine success at the start, it helps to set some SMART goals. SMART goals have been around for decades. And people bring them up frequently because they work. Smart goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Set specific goals in the short, medium-term, and long-term. By establishing these goals, you can feel great with the progress you’re making and take actions to hit those goals.

Suggested Measures To Determine Success

So what exactly should these goals be? If your podcast will be part of your business marketing or sell other products, this has to be top of mind. Other podcast metrics are secondary. If you’re trying to be the next Joe Rogan, the rank may change slightly. However, you should consider the first two measurements just as much as the last two.

Here are 4 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you should measure to know if your podcast is genuinely successful: 

1. New Leads/Subscribers Generated

Your podcast should be at the top of your funnel to get listeners and guests to work with you or purchase your products. Set up a way to gather these leads, either through email, links in podcast notes, or landing pages. Track this number over a 3, 6, and 12 month period. 

2. Revenue Generated/ROI

Of course, you’ll need to know how much your podcast is generating in terms of revenue. How many of those leads became buying customers? This should be compared to the time and money spent podcasting so that you can see the ROI - the Return on Investment - of your podcast.

3. Subscriptions

Lower down the list is subscriptions. These listeners have subscribed to your RSS feed and will get updates on your content. That means your viewership is growing, and you can make more content to get them to become buyers potentially. Subscribers can be tricky as they tend to be measured differently by different channels. But it can still give you a gauge of performance.


Remember, podcasts need to be downloaded to the device to consume them. So tracking your downloads is a stable metric but makes it way down the list in terms of priority. You can also track Unique Downloads, which can help you determine your actual podcast size. Most podcast hosting plans have statistics that will show you Unique Downloads. 

Success is up to you.

You can’t compare your podcast to someone who has been in the game for years. You need to set clear goals that are specific to your objectives. That way, you won’t go chasing fads or become frustrated with metrics. If you need help with starting or growing your podcast, connect with me for content, courses, and strategies for increasing your digital presence.




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