Speak when they’re listening.
These 28 characters ought to be engraved in titanium and hung over the desk of anyone who writes ‘marketer’ in their LinkedIn bio.
The next 5 years that are about to start (2021–2025) will be remembered as the ‘age of audio’.
In the next 5 minutes of your reading time, I will tell you everything I’ve known, tried, researched about audio marketing.
Audio — The cult, marketers need to care about
The resurgence of audio isn’t the story of a novelty. Nor is it the story of a comeback of a medium riding on nostalgia.
The numbers tell a story that should motivate, scare and excite brands.
A 2019 survey revealed that 23% of Americans go to church every week. Interesting. Because almost an equal percentage of Americans (68 million, from a 328 million population, that’s 21%) listen to a podcast each week. The latest numbers suggest that these listeners spend 6–7 hours a week listening to podcasts. One would wonder how many churchgoers stick around in their pews till the last song is played!
I could dump down lists of numbers on you. That’s not the point. You need to look around you to sense the energy and attention that audio content creates.
The ONE reason why audio content is the best thing that happened to marketing
We never knew this. Text and video content are marred by an innate handicap. They hold the eye of the viewer hostage.
Try running in a straight line for 5 seconds, your eyes squeezed shut. Within 3 seconds, every atom in your body will shout at your brain — CEASE THIS STUPIDITY.
Reason — your vision is your GPS for the world. When you’re busy viewing something, your reality has no space for any other experience. That explains how your coffee goes cold under your nose while you’re hammering away at a keyboard, eyes glued to a screen.
Humans, the pompous incorrigible two-legged animals that we are, still try to make the most of our time. We’ve evolved to adore anything that promises leverage.
Audio lets us do that. It gives back your time.
I listen to podcasts, radio, YouTube lectures, MOOCs (Udemy, Coursera, edX), and Spotify while running, cooking, driving, walking from the office to the parking lot, and sometimes, bathing. I’m not alone, everyone I know does something similar.
This alone is the game-changer for audio marketing. Your audience is in a state of reception while the sound waves from their speakers enter their ears and activate the synapses in their brains.
Audio is your bridge to a receptive audience — something brands aren’t used to. You better be, now.
Audio: Richer than text. Cheaper than video.
To sell it well, be ready to tell it well. And crafty, gilt-edged messages demand that you draw your wallet out.
When your marketing message is hidden towards the end of a 1500-word text content post, you’re hoping your reader concentrates hard enough to meet your message. The competition is cruel for text content marketers.
When your marketing message is in print or on digital media ad, you will need to spend on production for the right visual impact.
Life in the audio marketing universe is easier. 3 reasons.
- You can develop more audio content than you would for a video marketing campaign, at less cost.
- Audio messages heighten the value of a message. That’s even more so when your producer knows how to make accent, timbre, voice inflections, ambient sounds work together for your audio content.
- The hardware matters. Here again, audio is at an advantage, because your listener will consume the message via earphones, headphones, soundbars, car speakers, and smart speakers. While text doesn’t let you benefit from the hardware side of the message-delivery, video is always hostage to the screen quality, Internet bandwidth, and brightness settings of the device it’s played on.
Components of an audio marketing strategy
In the last 3 years, I’ve found myself in riveting conversations around audio marketing with entrepreneurs, clients, my team of digital marketers at Neuronimbus, and strangers on the web.
After distilling my notes and memories, I can recommend a 2-way audio marketing strategy.
Engagement by voice
Begin by identifying podcasts that speak to the markets you’re keen on. Before you entertain the thought of producing a full-blown podcast for your brand, think about participating as a guest speaker on an existing podcast.
If your YouTube channel enjoys traction, branch off into content your viewers can listen to without being compelled to view it.
Responding to voice
How many smart speakers do you reckon sold in 2020 already? I didn’t know, so I Googled it.
That says a lot. And, I hope you don’t even need numbers to believe that the future of Google search is not ‘search on my desktop browser.’ It’s more on the lines of ‘search on my mobile’ and ‘search by saying.’
While music-listening is still the most prominent use-case, inquiries and shopping are catching up.
Working with clients who believe in the future of voice search, I’ll admit, is the most rewarding part of my work. Neuronimbus has crafted and implemented voice search campaigns for brands in the automobile, retail, and manufacturing space already. Most of the principles translate well across industry segments.
Message me for a conversation on how we can take your brand’s digital content from a state of text-search optimization to voice-search optimization.
Note: Audio ads are a low-effort and high-cost route to listeners. While I was researching for this blog, I learned that the global audio ad-spend for 2020 is expected to be $31.7 billion. Careful fact-checking revealed that the number was an extrapolation based on real data collected between 2011 and 2015. I won’t be surprised if the real numbers are even higher.
Strike now, before listeners organize themselves into exclusive micro-cults
Audio content is showing it has the energy that binds people into cults. And to broadcast marketing messages to millions, when their minds are uncluttered with visual content — that’s utopia.
Until next time…!