There’s an exciting conversation happening about digital audio marketing. I read an article on Medium this week about Clubhouse. The social audio platform appears to be breaking all records for viral popularity. People have downloaded the app in countries where it’s not even available. (See our previous article about Clubhouse.) The author, Fab Giovanetti, concluded her article by saying,
“audio marketing will be influencing massively the way we are marketing in the future.”
Does this mean that you need to be doing digital audio marketing?
When you’re a small business, startup, or running solo, you need to streamline your marketing strategy. You can’t be everywhere at once. On the other hand, you have to be operating in the digital space today. It’s critical to your success. If you’re not present in the online world, you’ll face severe challenges growing your brand. So how do you prioritize?
You establish your marketing goals, identify your target audience and go where they are.
Digital audio marketing may be a powerful tool in your arsenal, but only if it reaches your audience. As brands try to stay one step ahead of changing algorithms, especially on Facebook and Google, new platforms become attractive. But just like organizations need to be careful about mission creep, you also need to remain focused on your key goals.
So, let’s dive in and see if the ROI on digital audio is worth your effort.
- What is Digital Audio Marketing?
- Is Audio Marketing Here to Stay?
- How Can You Use Digital Audio to Boost Your Brand Visibility?
What is Digital Audio Marketing?
Simply put, digital audio marketing is the process of creating and delivering brand messaging in the form of audio content rather than written or video. It’s not new. There have always been radio ads. What’s new is the explosion of interest in listening to audio platforms, such as Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music, podcasts, and social audio apps.
Is Audio Marketing Here to Stay?
More than three-quarters of American internet users listened to streaming music, podcasts, online radio, and other audio digital channels in 2019. With the introduction of new social audio platforms, that number has grown exponentially.
Researchers have found that after a year-long pandemic induced remote work lifestyle, filled with Zoom meetings, people are ready for screenless interaction. Simply put, we’ve grown tired of staring at each other on the screen. But we still want human interaction.
The Competition is Heating Up
But the best way to assess the shelflife of digital audio is to look at the actions of Clubhouse’s competition.
“Audio as a medium just allows for longer-form discussions and exploring ideas. You can get into topics that frankly are a lot harder to with other mediums. And audio, I think, is just a lot more accessible because you can multitask while listening.” (Mark Zuckerberg)
In mid-April 2021, Facebook announced that it would start testing a Live Audio Room feature, signaling that it’s ready to take on Clubhouse. The concept calls for public figures to host a room while fans can listen in. Facebook intends to pilot the feature initially in FB Groups before expanding to Messenger. Executives hope to have the feature operational by the summer of 2021.
Never satisfied to be a step behind, Facebook also announced that it would partner with Spotify to integrate podcasts into its main app sometime over the next several months. The platform hopes to help podcasters broaden their outreach, connect with new listeners, and monetize their content directly through the Facebook page.
(Another reason to start turning all those great articles on your website or blog into podcasts.)
Facebook also announced that they’re developing another audio project called Soundbites, which would be short-form audio clips. Listeners will be able to share inspirational quotes, jokes, and anecdotes.
Reddit came out with Reddit Talk, a live chat room that will host lectures, Q&A sessions, and discussions among the various subreddit communities. The medium is in experimental form for now.
Spotify acquired Betty Labs, creators of the live audio app Locker Room. According to Spotify execs, the acquisition will help them move more quickly into the live audio space that Clubhouse currently dominates. Leading the industry in terms of music, podcasts, and other audio experiences, Spotify now stands to catapult itself to the top of the digital audio world. Spotify will begin by expanding Locker Room to enable real-time discussions, debates, and Q&A sessions.
By all indicators, tech leaders believe the digital audio space is the place to be. You might want to think the same way.
How Can You Use Digital Audio to Boost Your Brand Visibility?
Digital audio offers several opportunities to boost brand visibility.
- Virtual events
- Branded chats
- Thought leadership
- Influencer marketing
What’s most critical is to go slowly, strategically, be willing to experiment, and keep a close eye on what’s happening in the social audio space.
Digital audio marketing comes with a unique set of challenges too.
- Scant metrics
- Inadequate moderation
- Lack of brand safety protections
No matter which digital audio space you decide to enter, you’ll want to practice at least these three precepts:
- Create an engaging, authentic, and comfortable on-air personality that will keep your consumers coming back for more.
- Be sensitive and aware of all of the current issues that might be concerning your target audience.
- Offer your consumers something of value.
Let’s dive into a couple of digital audio spaces.
As mentioned previously, Clubhouse is the latest big story in the digital audio vertical. Within less than a year, the platform grew from 600,000 to 10 million active users. The feeding frenzy might be due to its “invitation-only” protocol, giving it the flavor of an exclusive club.
Clubhouse operates under an ad-free model. Users come to learn, be entertained, and engage with a global community. They’ll be turned off by dialogue that sounds like product promotion. At the same time, there’s no denying that its popularity provides an exceptional opportunity for you to increase your exposure.
Here are a few ideas:
- Create a Q&A room. Invite industry influencers to join you while you serve as moderator, and invite the audience to ask questions
- Sponsor a room. Each time the moderator reintroduces the room, he or she names the sponsor. You’ll gain exposure to all the listeners. Additionally, room sponsors show up on the menu users use to scan which rooms they want to join.
- Participate. While you won’t have an opportunity to endorse your brand as a participant, you will be able to promote your experience and successes in your industry. Other listeners will come to recognize you for your expertise and follow your brand.
Podcast downloads have skyrocketed. The most popular podcast programs focus on spirituality, self-improvement, health and fitness, meditation, technology, and motivation.
Even if you have a small marketing budget, you can use podcasting to expand brand visibility.
Start a podcast program. It’s easy to turn your blog posts into a podcast. Setting up a small podcasting studio requires very little financial investment.
- Use SEO keywords
- Provide an intro about your brand
- Share your podcast with your social media channels.
Sponsor a podcast. It costs virtually nothing to prepare a script for a podcaster to read. At the same time, depending on the podcast program, you could be reaching thousands of potential consumers.
Optimize your website and blog articles for voice search. It won’t take a bite out of your marketing budget. Voice search requests are more extended than text search because the person doesn’t have to type. On average, a voice search request is between four to eight words. Therefore, you’ll want to include longtail keywords in your articles.
Think about how a person might vocally search for the kind of information you hope will bring them to your website. And even though your grammar app might tell you to take out filler words, voice inquiries include a lot of them, such as “to,” “the,” “for,” and “on the.”
Non-channel specific paid marketing strategies include:
- Run recorded ads across select digital audio platforms. Your ads can include a linked visual for digital screen users.
- Branded channel or playlist on music streaming apps.
Is it Worth it to Include Digital Audio in your Marketing Strategy?
Yes. In terms of ROI, it’s one of the best tactics to employ.
According to eMarketer, one-fifth of all U.S. ad dollars will be spent on podcasts, surpassing $1 billion for the first time.
Keep in mind, just as consumers are bombarded with brand promotions across the online world, the social audio world is getting to be crowded and noisy.
Create a brand message that stands out, inspires, and arouses the listener to learn more about you.
Should you include digital audio in your marketing strategy?
The final decision rests on where you’re most likely to find your customers. Knowing everything about your consumer base is critical to deciding how and where to spend your marketing budget. Perhaps they’re more likely to be hanging out on Facebook and Instagram. You might want to stick with these platforms for now.
The metrics certainly tell us that millions of your customers could be hanging out on Clubhouse. Your Facebook fans will quickly join the platform’s new social audio features. Be flexible, willing to experiment, able to pivot quickly, and have fun.
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