Sound Check: Stay on Course with Audio Marketing

Think audio marketing is a thing of the past? Think again. These powerful marketing channels will liven up your portfolio and drive up your sales

Adam Fout
February 06 2018

Audio marketing is the use of audio content to market your business — traditionally, this included both podcasts and radio, but today, with the explosion of the internet of things and voice search, audio marketing is making a huge comeback. The reason why is simple — people are busy, and audio is easy. Think about it — when you’re going for a long run, what form of content is going to be easiest to consume? When you’re driving long distances, what kind of content is best suited to keeping you company on the lonely highway? When your neck and eyes are exhausted from staring at screens all day, what kind of content allows you to crane your neck back, close your eyes, and unwind from the day? You know the answer.

Audio Marketing Works Best as Content Marketing

The term “Audio Marketing” is broad, and it most certainly includes advertising. In fact, one huge rise in the use of audio marketing started years ago with the advent (and explosion) of streaming audio services. These services were (and remain) fantastic places to place ads, but not all audio marketing is meant to sell. For the savvy marketer, approaching audio marketing as a form of content marketing — that is, as a piece of useful, valuable content that your audience wants to access because of the value they see in it — is the smart way to get your brand in front of the people you want to ultimately sell to. Podcasts are perfect for this. Any type of business can make a podcast about something they understand, and someone will listen. Now that we have a smartphone in every pocket and an incredible variety of devices infiltrating people’s homes (like Echo) that can also play podcasts (and audiobooks for that matter), now, more than ever, is the time to invest in audio marketing.

(Just as an FYI, yes, radio counts as audio marketing, but, for the most part, it’s only fit to be an advertising vehicle and doesn’t really work as a place to disseminate valuable content).

Here’s the thing I really want you to focus on — more and more devices connecting to the internet, more and more devices have audio and video capabilities, and yet, most businesses are still mostly creating text-based pieces of content marketing, both for lead/traffic generation and for customer retention. The businesses that get in front of these trends and start pouring cash into video (and especially) audio content will be rewarded in a world where fewer and fewer people are bothering to read content. Here are a few ways to start.

#1 Create Audio Versions of Your Most Important Pieces of Documentation

Here’s where things get fun.

One of the most profoundly annoying aspects of customer services failures is usually the lack of well written documentation. As a recovered technical writer, I feel the pain of every bad document I’m forced to slog through to find an answer that some fool didn’t put in there. But documentation doesn’t have to be written — it just often is. This is the cheap way to do it, and most companies are cheaper than heckfire when it comes to documentation. Now I’m not about to advocate creating audio versions of all your documentation, but here’s what I would suggest — take the most important pieces of documentation that you have, the ones that get accessed the most, the ones your customers need the most, and turn them into quality audio files.

Imagine this scenario — your customer is at home, is using your product, and can’t figure out how to make it work. They have a very common problem, one of the most common problems, in fact, that users experience with that product, and they need a solution. So they ask Alexa for help. You’ve optimized your website for conversational keyword phrases related to your product, you’ve included audio files of explanations of how to get around several common problems (including this one), and when your customer asks Alexa for help, she pulls up your audio file and plays it…And instead of your customer getting angry and calling your customer service line, they solve the problem, learn the product, love the product, and come back for more. That’s the future — get ahead of the curve.

#2 Podcasts Exclusively for Customers

This, I think, is one of the most powerful potential uses of audio marketing that no one seems to be taking advantage of — podcasts that are exclusively available to customers. Most folks are using podcasts to generate traffic and leads, and that’s just dandy, but what about your existing customers? Depending on the product or service you sell, a podcast could do a variety of things to increase customer retention rates:

  • Dive deep into a product or service and help customers learn to master the product/service
  • Discuss, in depth, industry news and what it means for your customers
  • Discuss other products/services that may help your customer to get the most out of what you offer
  • Promote new offerings with exclusive deals just for customers

Here’s what that might look like in practice:

  • A podcast by a hotel chain that discusses a variety of topics frequent travelers would be interested in, like how to get the best deals on airfare and transportation and how to always get the best deal when booking a hotel room, or what to do if your cruise goes awry
  • A podcast by a computer manufacturer that discusses a variety of topics owners of their gaming PC products might enjoy, like how to expand the power and performance of your computer without breaking it, or what kind of performance you’ll need to get the most out of the latest game, or whether you should invest in a VR headset

All of this serves to reinforce the purchase decision and keep your customers coming back for more. Now imagine these pieces of content being played by smartphones while your customers are driving or in the gym. Imagine they’re listening to them on their smart TV or Amazon Echo. Imagine that you’re the only marketer doing this, and imagine that your brand is reaping the benefits. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Audio Marketing Is Making a Crazy Comeback — Are You Prepared?

At the end of the day, the marketers and retention experts who invest in audio are going to thrive in a world where every house has an Echo or Google Home or HomePod. Documentation and podcasting are just the tip of the iceberg — the savvy marketer is going to find more, and more complex, methods of creating audio content that current customers devour. But voice search is only one trend on the rise — the stupendous Sam Hurley sees 7 mighty customer experience trends coming just over the horizon.

Find out what they are.

Adam Fout

Adam Fout, resident content and brand sorcerer at BlueSteelSolutions, guides brands through the mystical process of creating website and blog content that enchants customers and entices leads. He also writes fiction in his free time at My Website

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