What Reports Do You Need For Your Podcast?

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For some, podcasting is a creative outlet. It provides a way for them to build an audience and create relationships and connections with other like minded people. For the creative types that do this for fun, having reports to show them how many listeners they are getting is nice. They get to see how many people they are potentially influencing, and it may help to drive them to do more or do better.

For others, though, podcasting is more than just a hobby or an outlet. It’s a way of creating income, of sustaining themselves or their family. For these podcaster, reports are critical. They need to see how many downloads an individual episode has. They need to see trends on what episodes are most effective. They need to report these numbers to sponsors and potential sponsors, so they can continue to bring in the income they need.

With two very distinct audiences to serve, a report system for a podcast can become overwhelming or underwhelming quickly. A podcaster looking for simple reports may not care about having everything. A podcaster that needs everything may get frustrated at not having enough. Targeting different levels of reprots at these two different audiences becomes important. But just having this split doesn’t answer the one fundamental question:

What reports do you need?

SignalLeaf’s Current Reports

I’m currently offering two different plans in SignalLeaf, to differentiate between the two different types of reports that people will need. This boils down to basic reports and advanced reports, with the goal of serving the two identified audience groups from above.

The Basic Reports

The cheapest plan offers a few very basic reports. At the podcast, it will give you a total count of plays broken down by type (rss, downloaded and SignalLeaf player). It will also show you the total RSS subscriber count.

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At the episode level, this plan offers episode totals, broken down by the same categories of RSS, downloads and use of the SignalLeaf player.

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The Advanced Reports

At the mid level and advanced plans, you’ll get a bit more information and breakdown in both the podcast and episode reports. You’ll get the same basic information, of course, but the advanced reports add a little more.

The podcast level report offers a 30 day subscriber history, so you can see the most recent trend of your subscriber count. You will hopefully be seeing growth over time, but you will likely see the numbers bouncing up and down on any individual day. Not everyone has their podcast player open every day, which means they are not always checking for new episodes.

Additionally, the advanced report will show you current trends for episodes at a weekly and monthly level. You’ll be able to see which episodes are getting the most plays for these two time periods.

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At the episode level, you’ll get teh same episode totals, but you’ll also see weekly and monthly counts for the episode.

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Totals: A Breakdown By Listen Type

One of the advantages that SignalLeaf’s reports have over others, is the breakdown of listens by type: RSS, Download and use of the SignalLeaf player.

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This gives you a more accurate picture of how people are finding and listening to your podcast and episodes. Getting this breakdown does require you to take advantage of all of SignalLeaf’s features, though. If you’re hosting your own RSS feed and providing your own media player for blog posts through PowerPress, for example, you won’t be able to get this kind of breakdown. SignalLeaf’s RSS, player and direct download links all contain a tag that tells me what type of listen is being used. This allows me to capture all of the information I need for this report, but it means you have to use the RSS and media player provided by SignalLeaf to take advantage of it.

Why Would You Want To?

A while back, Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income went through a major redesign of the site. In the process of doing this, the first version of his redesign caused a more than 50% drop in his listens!

(Image from Pat’s blog post) 

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Clearly, this is not what he wanted. And clearly, it would have been nice to prevent this. But Pat did the right thing, and fixed the site design so that podcast episodes were easier to find and play. He quickly reacted, fixed the problem and got his plays back up to where they should be.

Here’s the important lesson, though: if Pat had been using a report setup like SignalLeaf provides, he would have known that his audience was largely finding and listening to episodes through his website, before going through this redesign! Having this information could have helped him make better decisions up front, instead of having to see this massive drop in plays, after the first release of the website.

Now that’s not to say it would have prevent the drop. You make decisions based on the information you have, and you adjust from there. But having this information up front may have helped. Knowing where the majority of your audience listens to your episodes will help you to optimize that experience. Knowing, not guessing or assuming, is important.

Building Reports Based On Needs

Here’s the thing: I understand that these reports are not nearly as “complete” as some other services out there. This is somewhat intentional. Honestly, I have a lot more data availabe than what I’m currently showing. But throwing more data at you, just for the sake of having more reports is not the answer.

The reports that I have in place, and the breakdown of listens are here because I saw the need for this based on customer feedback. This is the key and critical part of the reports that I’m building – they are based on your neeeds, not just tossing more information out there in the hopes that I get soemthing right and provide some value.

I want to know what reports you need. I want to know what information you need to see, and why. I want to know that the reports you are getting are serving you the way you need them to serve you. And I want to build new and better reports based on your needs that are not yet being met.

So drop a comment here. Send me an email. Get in touch over twitter or Google+ and let me know:

What reports do you want and need for your podcast?