The podcasting industry may have spent the past few years exploding in popularity, but in many ways, it's still an underdeveloped and unrefined marketing tool. The lack of good analytics is particularly troubling for marketers and creators alike. 

That's not to say that podcasts lack data. There is often plenty of user data out there, scattered across a variety of podcasting tools and directories. 

What podcasters really need, though, is centralized and organized information. That's where analytics comes into the picture. Analytics takes unprocessed data and turns it into actionable information.

Here are five metrics that are uniquely insightful when building a sustainable podcast.

1. ROI

If your podcast isn't making money, then it's costing you money. Understanding your ROI (return on investment) is one of the most important metrics you can track. It puts a statistical number on your efforts that can provide further insight into how you should invest in your show in the future.

Podcasting growth and analytics platform CoHost suggests measuring ROI by tracking awareness, sales, paid advertising, and engagement. Prioritize your ROI podcast metrics to judge how effectively you're reaching your audience.

2. Unique Listeners

If you create quality content, there's a good chance people will listen to it more than once. When that's the case, the classic "downloads" measurement can be misleading. 

An episode might get 1,000 downloads, but half of those are instances of relistening. That dramatically reduces your audience to 500 listeners.

Instead, focus on unique listeners. This statistic shows you how many different devices are downloading your content.

3. Ratings and Reviews

Ratings and reviews are critical for multiple reasons. First, a large number of high ratings and glowing reviews can establish authority and value in the mind of prospective listeners.

Even if you don't have the quantity, though, you can still mine this information for myriad uses.  

For instance, you can use reviews to better inform the parts of your show that are resonating with listeners. You can also look for criticism that you can use to improve in the future.

4. Consumption Rate

Consumption rate is another stat that is more insightful than downloads. Average consumption rate is the amount of time and attention listeners give to each of your episodes. 

Consumption rate is similar to bounce rate on a website. If someone clicks on your website link but leaves your site within a few seconds, it's considered bad. If they click through and then stay on your site for several minutes, that is a much healthier metric.

This is a good indicator of how well your content is or is not engaging your audience. If your average consumption is high, you know that your audience is enjoying your content and is more likely to come back for more.

5. Leads

Leads are one of the most important metrics of them all -- especially for business and marketing podcasts. They show that your podcast isn't just helping with things like brand awareness. It is also generating tangible leads that can become sales.

Leads are difficult to track but not impossible. For instance, you can track leads by directing listeners to specific landing pages or using a promo code.

While these five metrics are important, they aren't the only ones. The most important thing is that podcasters begin to recognize the critical nature of using analytics to enhance their creative offerings. It may be a cold and calculated activity. Nevertheless, using data to create actionable insights is one of the best ways to ensure that your creative efforts are serving both your listeners and your own interests at all times.