headphones
The written word will always have its place in content marketing, but don't discount the power of audio and visual content PHOTO: Alphacolor 13

The radio may be a classic marketing platform, but audio marketing is making a comeback. While live video marketing is in the forefront of the content marketing scene, audio content is being consumed more and more in new and innovative ways. Statista forecasts that audio ad spend could grow from 28.4 billion to 31.7 billion U.S. dollars between 2010 and 2020.

As we enter 2018, here are six ways to add audio marketing content to your content strategy.

1. Podcasting

Podcasts aren’t new, but their popularity is growing steadily thanks primarily to their convenience factor. Plus, there are still so many niches and industries without relevant podcasts.

CMSWire spoke to Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of Marketing and Host of The Growth Show, HubSpot, to find out what lured the marketing software giant to the podcasting world,  "Marketing is about being where your prospective customers are, good marketing is about being there and adding something of value."

According to Anderson, her organization understood that more and more of their users were consuming audio content,"...we opted to fund a show as opposed to advertising on other shows because we had a unique and compelling story to tell,” says Anderson

2. Webinars

Webinars are powerful customer and prospect engagement mediums that deserve to be experimented with. You can think of a webinar as an online presentation or show which can be used to demonstrate products or services, host a Q&A or even have a roundtable discussion. “[With webinars], the user learns how to get more out of the tool, and, in return, we are getting a more active user. We don't sell anything during the session, as in, there is no conversion in a traditional sense. [Instead], the idea is to bring value to the spectator and solve his or her problem. We try to bring reputable experts [on to our webinars], not SEMrush friends, because the idea is to go further than brand awareness and take a one step further to brand loyalty," says Anton Shulke, Video Content Strategist at Feasterville Trevose, PA.-based SEMrush

He went on to describe the webinar formats SEMrush prefers, the first being sessions led by external experts on SEM, and the second involving SEMrush employees demonstrating the product.

While webinars are primarily visual mediums, audio-only webinars do exist, and audio content can easily be extracted and reused elsewhere.

3. Anchor App

Anchor is a growing iOS and Android app that is steadily attracting podcasters and radio station hosts. With it, you can record and manage a station with ethereal audio content that expires after twenty-four hours. You can also archive content before it expires, which turns it into a podcast with episodes that are always available to your audience. Anchor content — or “Waves” — can also be accessed via smart home assistants, or via in-vehicle interfaces.

Anchor also provides a service that enables you to set up a podcast on popular podcasting platforms like iTunes and Google Play using your archived Anchor content. Lifehacker have taken advantage of this service, launching their Anchor-native podcast.

4. Alexa Skills

As the popularity of Amazon’s line of Echo products increases, the nifty Alexa Skill needs less and less of an introduction. In essence, they’re apps that function through audio commands made to your Amazon Echo device.

CMSWire’s list of Alexa Skills for marketers is a great place to get inspiration for your brand’s Alexa Skill. But outside of marketing, Canada-based web development agency Hifyre recently launched an innovative customer service Alexa Skill.

“We built our clients a 'bat signal' to reach us for when they need our help. We built an Alexa Skill that allows our clients to reach us quickly and easily. All they have to do is say their name and their company to their Alexa-powered device and we get notified via Slack and get in touch right away,” says Robyn Edgar, Community Engagement and marketing manager at Hifyre.

It’s also worth noting that while Alexa Skills are currently the most popular smart home assistant apps, Google Home and Apple Homepod equivalents will also be big players in 2018 and beyond.

5. Audiograms

If your team isn’t quite ready for a full-fledged video campaign or long-form audio content, you could try audiograms. An audiogram is audio content overlaid on an image or simplistic audio-visual content (like an audio visualizer or subtitles on a pretty background, for instance). The aforementioned Anchor app makes audiogramming easy, as you can export your Anchor “waves” along with transcribed subtitles.

Audiograms make audio content easier to share across social media, and give some vibrancy to your content that would otherwise give listeners nothing to look at as they listen. WNYC, the radio and podcast station enjoys the use of audiograms, releasing their own audiogram generator which is free and accessible via Github. The station published a Medium post shortly after making their tool public, stating that their Twitter research shows that the average engagement level for an audiogram is “8x higher than a non-audiogram tweet.” On Facebook, they are seeing some audiograms outperform photos and links by 58 percent and 83 percent respectively.

6. Voice Search

According to Comscore, 50 percent of all web searches will be voice searches by 2020, and that’s again thanks in part to smart home assistants as well as smart virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana.  

Voice search optimization has thus emerged as a way for brands to ensure that, when consumers ask Siri about a question, it’s their web page that pops up with the best answer. The renowned SEO company Yoast has laid out some foundations for a voice search optimization, explaining that content writers should take into account the “Five Ws” when writing content intended for voice searches:

The five Ws encompass the five primary ways humans ask questions when it comes to searching with their voice; who, what, when, where, why and how. Examples of these five Ws in action include:

  • Who designed the Golden Gate Bridge?
  • What do I need for a BBQ?
  • When did Sesame Street air for the first time?
  • Where can I get the cheapest pizza in the Bronx?
  • Why do birds suddenly appear?
  • How did Google start?

How are you planning to add audio content to your content strategy in 2018?