How do I increase my downloads? The number one question I’m asked or is posted in Facebook groups that I’m a part of on a daily basis - right after - how do I start a podcast?
Every podcaster at one point or another wants to know ‘‘what's normal in terms of episode downloads’’ so that they can compare their show against others which is likely only going to take you down a road you will regret.
The truth is, there is no normal. No two podcasts are the same. There are just too many variables involved and it’s not an even playing field. Comparing your show to others is like comparing apples to oranges to mangoes to bananas and all the other fruit on the planet.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS EPISODE:
- What is a podcast download
- The difference between downloads and plays
- The two types of podcast downloads (and the one you should avoid)
- What you should focus on instead of podcast downloads and how to measure success
TUNE IN TO THE EPISODE
First, let’s talk about what a podcast download actually is. What does it mean?
A download generally means three things.
- Someone is subscribed to your podcast in their podcast player app and when a new episode goes live, the episode auto downloads. The fact is they might never even listen to the episode.
- Someone downloads the episode manually but never actually hits play.
- Someone plays an episode but doesn't listen to the entire episode if anything at all.
In a nutshell, all plays are downloads but not all downloads are plays. And I know this to be true because I’m guilty of all three. I follow a lot of shows and every week, fortnight whatever, new episodes appear in my app. And then sometimes I might come across a new show and download an episode to listen to when I’m driving (which is when I listen to most podcasts) but if don't get around to listening it still shows in the host’s download numbers. Even though I haven’t listened to it at all!
Maybe you’ve been wondering what average numbers look like. Well, here are some stats that you may find surprising but I hope gives you some encouragement as well.
According to Buzzsprout in August 2022:
- You're in the top 50% of podcasts if you have 29 downloads in the first seven days of release
- You’re in the top 25% if you have 99 downloads in the first seven days of release
- Top 10% if you have 373 downloads
- Top 5% if you have 910 downloads
- Top 1% if you have a whopping 4082 downloads
Are download numbers important? Absolutely they are. Your downloads are important in terms of knowing how your show is performing overall but they should be used to determine whether your show is a success (or not).
The two types of podcast downloads.
According to Libsyn, a unique download refers to a set of metrics that are specifically developed by Libsyn. The metrics differentiate between raw requests for downloads and download requests from single users based on IP address and user agent information. If a request or group of requests (such as in a progressive download) comes from a single IP address using the same user agent during a rolling 24-hour window, it is counted as a single Unique download.
IAB or Interactive Advertising Bureau” downloads have different metrics than a unique download. I’ll include the link to this article so you can read it in full but in summary downloads from bots and other automated sources are removed and an episode has to be played or downloaded for at least one minute.
This means that IAB download numbers will be lower than unique downloads. You may be tempted to go with the higher number because well - let’s be honest- ego - but the IAB number will be more accurate. Especially if you’re looking to work with sponsors. You don’t want to give them data that is grossly inflated.
So what should you focus on instead of downloads?
I want to start with one question - what does podcasting success look like to you? Grab a notebook and journal about this because success will look different for you, for me and for every other podcaster.
Your podcasting success is dependent on the goals you’ve set for your show. If you haven’t set goals for your show yet, it’s not too late. Go back and listen to episode 34 where I talk about what makes up your podcast strategy. HINT: Goals are a big part of your strategy!
Some of the things you may measure your podcasting success by are:
- Increased brand awareness. So people reaching out with collab opportunities
- Growing your network. By interviewing guests on your show you’ve expanded your network and continue to grow those relationships.
- More leads. More sales. Direct from your podcast? Via your website?
- Growing your email list so you can nurture your listeners outside of your show
- Having a resource for your community that allows you to connect with them on a deeper level
- Audience engagement. This is reviews, ratings, comments on your posts and stories, reshares etc
Maybe some or all of these apply to you. Maybe you have others that aren’t on this list. That’s okay. But the point I really want to make here is to forget about downloads and come at it from a ‘what does success look like for me’ point of view.
As a new podcaster, it is so easy to look at the big names and compare yourself to them. The problem is though that the podcaster you’re admiring has probably been doing this for a few years and has put in the time and hard work to cultivate the show they have today. Plus, you don’t know if their numbers are inflated: whether it’s purposefully inflated or they’re sharing unique download numbers as we talked about earlier. Also, at their stage of podcasting, there’s a high likelihood that they have a big budget for marketing and production or they could be a part of a podcast network. You just don’t know right? So focus on your own journey. Compare your numbers to your own numbers.
Downloads are just one of the metrics that I track for my clients. I’ll be sharing exactly what those are in next week’s episode but the idea behind tracking this data is so you can see what content your audience is resonating with most so you can keep your existing listeners around and attract new ones.
So to recap, when you’ve launched your podcast, high download numbers can be a great indication of whether your audience is loving the show and let’s be honest…it’s a good feeling, isn’t it? It validates that you did the right thing starting your podcast, especially when you might have thought that no one would listen.
But a podcast download occurs any time someone accesses at least part of your episode, whether that be the beginning, middle or end. It doesn't matter if they only listen for ten seconds- if they've interacted with your content in some way, it counts as a download. This is an important distinction because most podcasters track their downloads and use them as a measure of success...but this can be misleading.
Your download numbers are just a small piece of the podcasting pie for growth. Put your focus instead on identifying your own success metrics and don’t get caught up by what everyone else is doing.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Connect with Rosemarie
Are you subscribed to the podcast? I hope so but if not, why not head on over to your favourite podcast listening app and hit that follow button so you don’t miss out on any future podcast episodes? Click here to follow the show on Apple Podcasts.
And if you’re loving the podcast, I would love it if you could leave a rating and/or review on Apple Podcasts. I personally read every review and will even give you a shoutout on the next episode.
And it's super easy! Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to leave a rating and select “write a Review.” And that’s it! Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!