One of the things a lot of podcasters ask is what makes for good podcast download numbers.

From questions in podcaster groups on Facebook, to Google searches and more, podcasters can spend a lot of time worrying about their numbers, especially if they’re looking to attract advertisers and sponsors.

In this video, I want to show you why you should maybe stop thinking about hard downloads, and instead look at what really makes for good podcast download numbers – growth and engagement.

Why Good Podcast Numbers Are Subjective

I get it – download numbers are one of the things that every podcaster wants to be as high as they can be.

After all, it’s – arguably – one of the main reasons podcasters keep going, and something to be shared in Facebook groups and with your peers.

The problem is, as I mention in the video, not all podcast numbers are good.

  • A download isn’t necessarily a listen (apps that auto-download, for example)
  • Unless your podcast host offers IAB V2 Certified Analytics (my podcast host, Captivate, does), then bots and scripts can skew the numbers
  • High downloads aren’t a sign of a highly engaged audience

Additionally, a lot of podcasters worry about not having downloads in the high thousands per episode, as this is seen as the only way to get advertisers and sponsors.

While this can be the case to a degree, the best advertisers and sponsors won’t just be looking for high downloads, they’ll be looking for metrics beyond that.

Grow an Engaged Podcast Audience Instead of Just Downloads

In a previous life, I was a marketer in the B2B space, and worked on many influence marketing programs for clients.

Humblebrag alert – I also co-wrote a book on influence marketing that was recognized as one of the top 100 business books in America.

So, I’m very used to what brands are looking for when it comes to advertising with your platform, or offering sponsorship.

As someone who also works in the podcasting space, I get to see daily what kind of metrics are attractive to these brands.

And, yes, while high downloads are great, they’re just one piece of the bigger sponsorship pie.

  • Consistency of numbers, and not just occasional spikes
  • Engagement of listeners
  • Retention rate of listeners over an episode (especially useful when it comes to dynamic content insertion)
  • How likely listeners are to act on a call to action

These metrics, and more like them, are far more attractive to a brand, since it shows your listeners trust you and are more likely to act on something you recommend.

Which, for a brand looking to sell a product or service, is a much more attractive proposition than someone who gets 10,000 downloads but very little engagement or traction after the play button is engaged.

Define What Makes Your Podcast Download Numbers Good

While it may be nice to look at numbers being shared by other podcasters, and use them as a springboard for your own goals, it’s important to measure what’s right for you.

You might have a really niche podcast, where 100 active and engaged listeners are the equivalent of 1,000 non-engaged downloads on someone else’s podcast.

That’s why it’s key to keep things in perspective when setting targets, and asking yourself what makes good download numbers for your podcast.

  • Set yourself a growth goal – month on month, quarter on quarter, etc
  • Define what means more to you – downloads or unique listeners
  • Compare growth based on any changes to your format (changing from episodic to seasons, changing length of episode, etc)
  • Compare listeners to newsletter subscribers, and how your podcast helps that grow

There’s a whole bunch of ways to measure your podcast, and how “successful” it is. Sure, high downloads can talk to that success – but they don’t tell the full picture.

We all want good download numbers for our podcast – let’s just make sure we’re measuring the ones that really count for our goals.

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