There is no doubt producing an original podcast for your brand can have positive results but how do you determine the return on investment for your podcast?
This article will clarify the topic by reviewing 9 ways to determine the return on investment (ROI) of your podcast.
First, let’s clarify a few things:
This information is completely dependent on your goal. If you are focused on brand awareness, you may want to pay attention to listener numbers, site traffic, and social engagement. If you are looking to grow your professional network, you’ll care a lot more about referrals and relationships.
What does ROI actually mean? You have two ways to define your return on investment according to Jenna Brandon’s article, The 10 Best Tools for Measuring Content Marketing ROI:
- Content ROI- The amount of money you made.
- Content Success- The amount of engagement, exposure, etc. you earned.
I recommend focusing on the latter. Podcasts have the potential to build long-term traction with your audience that pays dividends much greater than the short game of ad sponsorships.
The following methods of determining ROI/ content success were gathered from experience with our podcasts, our clients’ podcasts, and surveyed from 50+ podcast hosts.
1. Number of Listeners/ Downloads
This metric most frequently comes to mind for rating the success of your podcast. Higher listenership and downloads will positively affect ad revenue, reach, and the likelihood of engagement on your calls-to-action.
However, large numbers of listeners are not necessary to have a “1,000 true fans.” If your podcast is hyper-niched, you will likely have less, but more dedicated listeners engaging in your show.
The point: overall numbers are important but they are only one piece of the equation and are only relevant based on your goal(s).
2. Sponsorships and Ad Revenue
You may base the success of your podcast solely off of the revenue your sponsorships and ads generate. Your formula would probably look something like this:
Ad Revenue – Expenses = ROI
(Ad Revenue – Expenses)/ Production Time = ROI
However, I’m biased. Most people hate ads. I hate ads. Branded company podcasts are unique because they can produce the same goal as an ad in a way that people enjoy and want to share.
Most brands are in it for the long-haul. Ad revenue and sponsorships may be part of your strategy but it should not be the primary way you determine success.
3. Podcast Reviews
Social proof of brands plays a significant role in any business. The overall star rating, number of reviews, and quality of reviews on services like iTunes act as a mini case study of the success of your cast. It’s a nice hat tip to say, “Our podcast has X 5-star reviews!”
4. Site Traffic and Conversions
What are your site analytics doing in relation to your podcast? You can track a variety of metrics to better understand how your podcast is influencing your site traffic:
- What was your site traffic/conversions before launching your podcast compared to your traffic/conversions after launching?
- How much traffic are the individual podcast posts/pages receiving?
- How much traffic are specific URLs referenced in the podcast receiving (this could be ad-sponsored links or internally promoted links)?
If your site traffic and/or conversions are high, this metric may outweigh other metrics like total listeners.
5. Email Sign-Ups, Open-Rates, and Engagement
One of our clients use email engagements as one of their highest indicators of podcast success. For example, they are heavily tracking the open-rates and click-throughs on the newsletters that promote new podcast episodes.
It’s one way to see what your audience thinks is worth opening and if they value what you’re producing. Monitoring what your existing audience is responding to can inform what you produce for the future as well.
6. Networking and Referrals
This is where it starts to get fun. Hosting a podcast gives you an excuse to have conversations with people who may otherwise never talk to you.
Many things happen depending on who is guesting your show:
- Increase customer lifetime value: The first 3 seasons of One Stop Shop featured eCommerce shop owners and users of Conversio’s (the parent company’s) software. With 10 episodes per season, we featured 30 different users’ businesses. All of the guests expressed appreciation for being on the podcast and Conversio was able to build stronger relationships with its customers.
- Authority by Proximity: What is your company’s expertise? Start interviewing already established experts in that niche and your listeners will begin to view you as an authority in that space simply by who you associate with.
- Referral Engines: This could mean referrals in terms of people (I always ask in the interview follow-ups if the guest could recommend anyone) or it could be referrals in terms of product sales or onboarding new customers.
Even more than networking with the right people, podcasting helps build long-term relationships. I met Rich Mulholland, a presentation specialist and business owner from South Africa.
Our relationship started just as some social and email correspondence and has grown into much more over the past few years.
He currently acts as an advisor to our business, introduced me to my business coach, and has helped me grow a strong community of South African business people, all from the comfort of my home in Grand Rapids, MI.
8. Generating and Repurposing Content
Podcasting is a perfect avenue for repurposing or recycling meaningful content. For example, we’re currently producing a series where local business owners get to ask one question about the digital side of their business. Perks of the series include featuring each owner’s business, strengthening the business community of our city, and learning firsthand what questions/ pain points these owners have.
Here are a few ways we’re repurposing a single episode:
- Video- the episode is recorded as a video for a series featured on YouTube.
- Audio- the episode is recorded in a way that we’re able to easily pull out the audio and reuse it as a podcast episode.
- Blog Content- We typically have to research the owner’s question in preparation for the episode. Instead of keeping our findings private, we publish it as an article to our website.
- Social Media- The three above pieces of content plus the actual “quotables” from the episode gets used on our social media platforms.
- Cross-promotion- We’re able to cross-promote the video, podcast, and article in each because the content is incredibly similar.
The response and engagement with each topic inform us of what to provide for future topics as well.
9. Learning For All
Hosting a podcast is a way to learn. I used to be co-owner of a board game publishing company. When my partners and I first started, we didn’t know what it took to take a board game from design to store shelf. So we created a podcast about the business side of board games.
Topics we covered included game design, graphic design, art/illustration, legal, manufacturing, distribution, and marketing. We looked at every aspect of publishing a board game.
Anytime we had a question, we interviewed the relevant experts to get our answers. The ROI of that podcast was worth the time and costs invested based on what we learned and what we were able to share with our audience.
There are many ways to determine if your podcast is worth producing. ROI and content success are much more than download statistics or ad revenue.
How are you determining the ROI of your cast? Are you doing something other than I listed? If so, I’d love to hear. Please leave a comment below.
Do you need help starting or producing a podcast?
We can help! Come Alive Creative offers production and consulting options depending on your experience and goals. Contact us today for a free phone consultation.