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The Growth of Audio Content and What It Means for Your Business

14 Min Read

There’s a growing trend in the digital content space that’s taking over and it’s worth diving into from a marketing perspective: the world of audio.

We’re not talking about the audio you use in your video content, which is an entirely separate topic, but rather audio-specific content marketing, which is an important and growing area for you to serve as part of your marketing plan going into 2020 and beyond.

That’s why today we’re going to review the top audio content types and how you can incorporate them into your own content marketing to augment your video efforts.

But first: what’s so great about audio content?

Audio content is different from video and text content because of how easy it is to interact with. It’s more passive than both video and written words because you don’t have to sit still to watch or read it. Instead, you can listen to audio content wherever you go, whether you’re at the gym, in the car, at home doing chores or out and about running errands.

At the same time, audio is engaging, and the fact that we can engage with it while we attend to other tasks makes it particularly appealing to consume throughout the day (as opposed to video and text, which require us to be planted in place with our full attention). Plus, with the rise of smart speakers and voice-automated searches, it’s never been easier to engage with audio content and incorporate it into our day-to-day routines.

Besides all that, big brands are already investing heavily in audio marketing dollars, with estimates reporting audio marketing spending to surpass $20 billion by 2020. With multiple avenues to advertise in, as well as branded podcast and audiobook content you can create yourself, there are a lot of opportunities to invest in audio content as part of your digital content marketing strategy in the months and years to come.

What type of audio content should you get into as a marketer?

Here’s the list of the top audio content types and how you can incorporate them into your marketing strategy.

 

Podcasts

Podcasts are one of the most popular audio content types. You probably already know this, since you’ve listened to Serial three times and have started your own podcast about your favorite Game of Thrones characters. Podcasts have only been growing in popularity since they started in 2004 and are projected to almost double to 112 million listeners by 2021.

Podcasts are incredibly popular, and some of the most popular ones have millions of listeners. And because there are so many different types of podcasts covering a wide range of topics, there’s also a wide range of people who tune in. Generally, podcast listeners are usually well-educated, affluent, and more likely to have Amazon Alexa or Google Home smart speakers, making them more open to audio content opportunities at home.

Creating a podcast specifically about your business isn’t a great strategy, unless you approach it with an angle different than just promoting your brand. You should think of creating and promoting a weekly podcast as a branded content initiative that’s different than traditional content marketing tactics like blogging.

Instead of creating a podcast about your company, try creating a podcast about a particular topic in your industry, or about some aspect of your business that both directly affects you and your prospective customers.

Podcast-style audio content about your company that would be a good idea are short, one- to five-minute episodes. If you think of a short podcast episode as a snackable piece of content you could publish on social media, aim to make episodes that are short and sweet, like you already do with your video marketing.

Short audio clips break up the monotony of simple text or video posts, and offer busy followers an opportunity to catch up on what your company is up to while they’re out and about with their AirPods in. You can even take audio snippets that you captured from a video interview and turn those into short audio clips to share weekly or biweekly.

 

Audiobooks

If you know about podcasts, then you definitely know about audiobooks, the cool new version of books-on-tape. Audiobooks have become a massively popular audio content format, and are even starting to rival traditional paperback books.

According to the Association of American Publishers, downloaded audio is the “fastest growing format, with 28.8 percent year-over-year growth… and 146.2 percent growth over the past five years.” If you were to imagine every audiobook listener as a kid at a storytime listening in, that would be a ton of kids.

While that’s all great news for George R. R. Martin, your company can benefit from the rise of audiobooks, as well. You may already know how creating ebooks can be a successful form of content marketing, and that re-purposing content from one format to another is a great way to capitalize and expand on your current content marketing strategy. So why not turn any existing ebooks you have into an audiobook? Or next time you set out to create an ebook or video about a subject, try recording it as an audiobook, as well.

 

Voice Search

Voice search optimization, or voice SEO, is the practice of tailoring ads to be searchable via voice search, usually from a smart speaker or virtual assistant device. When searching for something on one of these devices, instead of typing words out, users speak commands into voice-automated devices, which recognizes their words and searches on their behalf.

Optimizing for voice searches through Google or Amazon works the same way as optimizing for written searches –  you’ll essentially have to work with a keyword identifying tool on a platform like Adwords, WordStream, or SEMrush to test different ad copy. However, since you’re optimizing for search phrases that your prospective customers are actually saying out loud, your keywords should be altered to reflect how people actually speak.

For more information on voice search, check out this infographic about how the implementation of voice search has fared so far.

Bonus Tip: If you want to improve your video marketing results, you can also optimize your voice SEO efforts to promote and lead any voice driven traffic to your video content.

 

Audio Advertisements

Right now, audio-only advertisements are pretty limited to streaming radio services like Spotify or Pandora, or to product sponsorships and endorsements featured in podcasts. However, as more alternative listening platforms pop up, advertising is likely to be a key element. Smart speakers and virtual assistants like Alexa or Google Home are also likely to include an audio-advertising element, but haven’t done so yet. That will almost certainly be a part of their business model moving forward.

So are audio ads important for your business? Absolutely – depending on your audience. Advertising on Spotify or Pandora is a great way to reach young people, and as far as podcasts are concerned, there’s probably already eight podcasts on every subject under the sun, so finding ones with a listener demographic that’s similar to your target audience shouldn’t be too difficult. Plus, 65 percent of podcast listeners consider purchasing a product or service after it’s promoted on a podcast.

But keep in mind: Google found there’s a “stronger brand response when people are exposed to ads that are audible and viewable compared to when they’re exposed to ads that are viewable only or audible only.” Basically, use audio ads to augment your other advertising efforts, but don’t forget video is still the strongest advertising choice to get viewers to respond to your brand.

 

Alternative Audio Marketing Options

There are always new, up and coming marketing opportunities, or marketing opportunities that might seem small now, but could end up being huge later.

Alexa Skills

One of those is to create a voice-enabled skill through Alexa’s voice-enabled “Alexa Skills” program, which creates apps that complete a specific function via Alexa, usually within the context of a smart-home ecosystem of connected devices. So if your product fits within a smart-home context, creating an Alexa Skill to go with it could be very beneficial for your business.

For example, a great Alexa Skill for Netflix would be enabling the app to open when a user says “Alexa, Open Netflix.”

To build your own Skill, use the Alexa Skills Kit, a “collection of self-service APIs, tools, documentation, and code samples,” which puts the programming right your hands.

If that doesn’t sound like your jam work-wise, the right programmer could help.

Connected Cars

In classic tech-disruption fashion, we like to break things to rebuild new things in the old thing’s image. As an example, first we had television, then cable television, and then streaming services, and now with everyone creating their own streaming services, we’re about to go back to cable television – but on the internet this time!

Such is the case with internet-connected cars. First we had radio stations, then we had radio from a satellite, and soon we’ll have radio… but on the internet! Since connected cars are able to share data with outside devices, they can sync with voice-enabled smart speakers. This presents another opportunity to advertise to consumers as they drive by incorporating search history from their smart speaker searches.

However, podcasts may end up becoming the more popular content type here, which would emulate the long-form radio station as we know it now. Go figure.

Want to implement any of these audio content types? First, determine your goal.

Whether you’re attracting new leads or delighting current customers, determine a goal for your audio content before you implement it. You need to figure out how audio fits into your larger content efforts, so work it into your marketing strategy alongside any video and written content you create. Then, you can dive deeper into what type of audio content is right for your brand and how it can help you reach every goal at every stage of your marketing plan.

Don’t forget video!

Lastly, audio content is no replacement for video content, which has plenty of statistically impressive reasons to be incorporated into your content marketing strategy. If you’re looking for a high-quality and affordable video production partner, we know the perfect company for you. Reach out and schedule a call today.

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