Keep your Netflix, your Instagram and your blogs: Audio has always been Fatima Zaidi’s preferred medium.

She’s been a podcast fan since before the first season of Serial had everyone and their mom googling “What is a podcast?” 

Fatima remembers when the hit true crime series became a household name. She was working in brand development, and took note of the increasing number of companies expressing interest in audio content. 

This observation eventually inspired her to start Quill, an agency that creates branded podcasts.

As both a fan and industry insider, Fatima has been thrilled at the way podcasts have taken off in the last decade. As she explained in an episode of Between Two Mics, she gets very frustrated when people say podcasting is already saturated. (She’s not alone.)

Here’s Fatima’s advice on helpful metrics that you might be overlooking, why podcasting is so good for brands, and where podcasting is going next (literally.)

Brands are waking up to podcasts as a marketing tool

Fatima points out that one benefit of audio that trumps other mediums is that you can take it with you everywhere. 

“You can be driving to work and listening to a podcast — but you can’t be reading an article,” she says.

There are several benefits of this from a marketing perspective:

  1. If you can listen to podcasts anywhere, while doing other things, you can consume more of them. This means saturation is less of an issue (more on that later).
  2. Videos and articles are less impactful when the viewer’s or reader’s attention is divided. But podcasts are practically designed to be consumed at the same time as the listener is doing something else.

    If you can’t concentrate on a blog post, you’ll probably give up or just skim it. You miss out on the meat of the content.

    But when you listen to a podcast, you expect to be somewhat distracted by the other thing you’re doing. Knowing this, you’re less likely to give up halfway through, which increases the likelihood that you’ll pick up on the messaging.

  3. On a related note, people are more likely to finish an entire podcast episode than a whole video or article. Videos and articles require undivided attention, and who has time for more than five minutes of that? 

But podcasts are flexible. You can take them with you, so interruptions aren’t as big of a deal. Plus, are you really going to stop running/cleaning/making a five-cheese souffle to change the episode? Podcasts feel like less of a time investment, which ironically means people are more likely to engage for longer.

Podcasts are also multipurpose — you can turn them into other content. To get super meta, this blog post started as a podcast! 

“Take audio and repurpose that content: Transcribe it, turn it into blogs, format it for SEO, put the video on YouTube, convert it into bite-sized social content,” Fatima says. “You’re hitting every corner when it comes to creating really great content that reaches different audiences on different platforms.”

Dig deeper into your data with these KPIs 

One of the challenges of making creative content for brands is analyzing its impact. Fatima says that at Quill, she likes to dig into some less conventional key performance indicators (KPI) to make sure her clients are seeing the results they want. 

The team measures the standard metrics: number of downloads, audience growth, and how many unique listeners a podcast has. (As every new podcaster must grudgingly accept, having your mom listen to every episode 1,000 times is less impressive than 1,000 strangers listening once.)

On top of that, other metrics the Quill team tracks include:

Average consumption rate

The percentage of each episode people are listening to, on average. Are they making it all the way through to your carefully chosen credits music — or are they dropping off before the halfway mark? Spotify shows you a version of this metric in its episode performance section

Consumption rate gives you a more detailed understanding of how people are reacting to your show than, say, download rate. It can help you adapt your content or process, if necessary. 

For example, if a lot of people are dropping out 56% of the way through a particular episode, relisten to that section. There might be an audio issue; or maybe your audience was collectively turned off by that weird sidebar about sourdough recipes.

Repeat listeners

Watching your unique listener numbers go up week over week definitely creates a little dopamine hit. It’s at least as rewarding to know how many people liked what they heard so much that they came back for more. It’s the podcast equivalent of a second date — and hopefully the start of a relationship.

Your repeat listeners are the ones who will form your community. SquadCast’s community manager Ariettle Nissenblatt has lots of advice on how to do that: but it starts with your most loyal listeners. Once you know how many you have, you can tailor your approach to them, with Facebook Groups, live events, merch, etc. 

Episode-over-episode and season-over-season growth

Break your audience numbers down into different time periods. You might spot trends you missed when you were looking at the big picture. 

For example, maybe your episode about a celebrity pet piqued listeners’ interest. Maybe more people subscribed to your second season than your first, but there was a drop-off in the third, when you switched to hour-long episodes. This can help you work out the kind of content and format that most appeals to your audience.

The most important thing is to decide what you care about, and choose metrics that give you an accurate picture of your progress towards that goal.

No, there are not too many podcasts

Since you’re reading this, we have a feeling that you probably agree with Fatima and the SquadCast team that there is no such thing as too many podcasts. Both on your device and in the world in general.

“One of my biggest peeves is when people call podcasting a saturated market,” Fatima says. 

She points out that there are currently around 38 million active YouTube channels, compared to 2.4 million to 2.8 million podcasts, only around 440,000 of which are active, according to Listen Notes. Measuring how many podcasts exist right now isn’t an exact science: but the point is, there’s way more space in audio than video.

On top of that, despite those relatively low numbers, podcasts are a global phenomena. In particular, Fatima highlights Iran and South Korea as two increasingly podcast-obsessed nations.

Podcasting has come a long way since Fatima watched season one of Serial take over the world’s earbuds. And listeners, creators and brands are only starting to understand the true potential of this expansive, flexible, global medium. 

“It’s a very unique medium, and I feel like the industry doesn’t get enough credit — but hey, maybe I’m a little biased,” Fatima says. Us, too.

To hear more of Fatima Zaidi’s insights into branded podcasts and the podcasting industry as a whole, listen to this episode of Between Two Mics. Be sure tosubscribe to get future episodes directly in your preferred podcast player.