August 2020

Understanding your podcast analytics: A case study

Here’s how one Anchor teammate is using our upgraded analytics to understand her listeners and grow her podcasts.

Hi! I’m Maya, and I run the Research & Development team at Anchor. We recently added some exciting new insights from Spotify to the platform: age and gender audience demographics and episode drop-off data. These analytics really clicked for me once I started applying them to my own podcasts, and I wanted to share some of the ways I’m using the stats to learn more about my listeners, strategize my marketing efforts, and make each episode better than the last.

Audience demographics

Now Anchor’s analytics include charts that show the aggregated age and gender of your Spotify listeners. These metrics are a useful approximation of your audience across all listening platforms, and they help you determine at a glance which audiences your podcast is reaching and who has yet to discover your show.

Here’s what the demographics look like for one of my podcasts, Blood On Their Hands, a show I host with my husband that follows the reality TV show Big Brother.

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In terms of gender demographics, Blood On Their Hands listeners are 54% female and 46% male. This information is immediately useful for making marketing decisions for my podcast and communicating with current and potential listeners.

Knowing that women are a little more likely to listen to my show, I can start promoting my show more intentionally with these listeners in mind and see if that increases my overall audience size. Depending on how this affects retention, I’ll balance this approach with episode segments and promotional content that are inclusive of all demographics, in order to keep my podcast broadly appealing.

One thing that surprised me about our audience demographics is that so many of our listeners — more than half — fall into the 29–34 range. We feature a lot of Voice Messages on our show, and the calls we receive are always from college-aged people. In fact, throughout all the years we’ve been doing our podcast, I don’t think we’ve received a single Voice Message from someone in their 30s. Digging into the data made me wonder: who are these 30-year-olds, and why are they more likely to listen but less likely to engage?

My cohost and I really value audience participation. It’s one of the main measures of success for our show, and we’d love to see more of it for Blood on Their Hands.

After looking at my audience demographics, I have some new ideas for marketing strategies that can increase this metric and grow our episode engagement.

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Your listeners can send you Voice Messages on Anchor that you can include in your podcast episodes.

Next season, I’m going to try featuring Voice Messages from some friends in their 30s on the podcast as a way of encouraging a wider range of listeners to call in. I’m also going to test a few social media posts targeted to older listeners and focus on the interactive element of my show, to see if this leads to greater audience participation in our episodes.

Episode drop-off

Anchor’s new episode drop-off data shows how many listeners are tuning into your episodes at any given second, so you can measure which segments are the most engaging and which ones might need improvement.

In my podcast Time Share, my cohost and I sit down with our friends to talk about our favorite book, the 600-page sci-fi epic Children of Time. A few minutes into each episode, we give a spoiler alert that encourages people to stop listening if they haven’t finished the book yet. As expected, this little warning leads to a fair amount of drop-off from listeners:

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Here’s a chart from a typical episode. There’s a pretty steep decline in listenership right around the beginning when we give the spoiler alert, and then engagement stays pretty steady through the end of the episode.

As I was comparing this chart across all my episodes, I noticed that this initial drop-off was a little steeper in some than in others:

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In this episode, more than half of the listeners dropped off before the first minute had passed, and the average listening time was only 10 seconds. Thinking about this anomaly, I wondered if there was something going in the intro of this episode that caused so many people to stop listening.

Sure enough, I went back and listened to this episode and the beginning is not so great. The sound quality is off, my cohost and I weren’t as prepared as usual, and we didn’t take the time to frame the podcast for new listeners. Lesson learned that our listeners appreciate a highly produced intro, and now I know to follow the template of my more successful episodes.

By spotting trends and anomalies in my episode drop-off data, I was able to uncover insights about my audience’s listening behavior and actionable next steps for how to keep them engaged.

Here’s another interesting example of drop-off data, from an episode of Blood On Their Hands:

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There’s a steep drop-off right at the beginning of the episode, and then retention goes up towards the end of the show. Looking at other episodes of Blood On Their Hands, this pattern is pretty consistent. But why?

Each episode of Blood On Their Hands follows the same basic format: a quick intro, then a long segment of live reactions to the latest episode of Big Brother, then my co-hosts and I speculate about castmates’ strategies and what’s going to happen next week.

This episode drop-off chart above shows me that listeners are skipping ahead right at the beginning, past the live reactions, straight to the part where we speculate and talk strategy. I always felt that this was the most interesting segment in our show, but I never realized just how much it resonates with listeners.

Understanding what my audience values is crucial for crafting my episodes, and it helps me balance my own creative preferences with material that keeps listeners engaged and attracts new followers and subscribers.

My takeaway from this episode drop-off data is that Blood On Their Hands might get better performance — and happier listeners — if we either reduce the live reactions or nix them from our format altogether and just focus on the aftershow. I’m planning to experiment with this for our next season. Then, I’ll keep an eye on these charts and ask our listeners for feedback so we can make sure they don’t miss the live reactions.

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I hope this is a helpful look at some of Anchor’s new analytics and that it gives you inspiration for ways that you can use data to hook your listeners! As you dive into the analytics for your own podcast, I bet the charts will confirm some hunches you’ve had about your content while pointing the way toward even more engaging episodes.

To explore your own podcast analytics, head over to your Anchor dashboard. Scroll down to see your age and gender charts, and click into an episode from your episode list to view your drop-off performance.

Learn more: Grow