Should Audio be Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy?

Audio - Content Marketing Strategy

In terms of content marketing channels, lagging far behind blogging, video marketing and social media marketing is audio marketing.

Should marketers consider adding audio to their marketing mix? For many types of organizations, the answer is “yes”.

While there are a number of caveats associated with the customer and prospect communication channel and while it’s early in the game on several levels, there are a number of reasons to at minimum test the use of audio content for marketing purposes.

Types of Business Audio Content

Audio content can be divided into two broad areas — episodic and non-episodic.

Episodic Audio Content

The primary type of episodic content is an iTunes show, better known as a podcast.

The word “episode” implies committing to a schedule. If you launch a business podcast and then veer off course from a regular publication schedule, you will do so at the peril of losing hard-earned listeners.

Before starting a podcast, be prepared to commit to publishing a new episode weekly or monthly. You can, of course, record several episodes in one sitting and then stagger the publication dates. With many marketing priorities, a regular commitment to recording and producing audio content can have its challenges.

Many podcasters host their shows on Libsyn. They then either submit their show to iTunes using the Libsyn RSS feed, or they first flow Libsyn’s RSS feed through Google Feedburner and then submit the Feedburner feed to iTunes.

Non-Episodic Audio Content

SoundCloud is perhaps the best platform for hosting non-episodic content. SoundCloud can be considered the YouTube of audio. While it’s best to publish content on a schedule, it’s not as important with SoundCloud. Many podcasters do, however, double down and supplement their iTunes feed with SoundCloud posts.

Non-episodic content can have a lot of different formats, including a brief verbal welcome to a website page, which SoundCloud uses on several of its pages. In other words, SoundCloud is a much better testing ground than a podcast show.

A big benefit to SoundCloud is that the audio player can be embedded within a website in several different formats. Since each SoundCloud post can have its own image, the square embed code can be used to replace an image file on on your website with an image file that doubles as an audio player. Here are examples of the three types of embed code currently offered by SoundCloud (I just submitted a feature request to SoundCloud suggesting that they leverage more of the width of embedded players to support longer post titles):

Formats For Business Audio Content

Below are three examples of formats for audio content. These formats are not mutually exclusive, even within a single episode or post.

1. The Monologue

One form of podcast is the monologue, in which one person speaks continuously into a microphone for the entire episode or post (“dead air” is a killer with audio). Not everyone can pull this off, because the gift of gab, deep subject matter expertise and extensive preparation are all prerequisites.

In the business podcast realm, Michael Stelzner pulls off the monologue very effectively in his Social Media Marketing podcast.

An extreme example of the monologue is Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast. Alone in a room (not counting his fictional producer “Ben”) Dan speaks into the microphone seemly without pause for over four hours — although he must take a break or two during the recordings.

2. The Internal Conversation

This is the principal format that Sam Biardo and Steve Chipman decided on for their CRM Talk podcast.

This format is a dialog between two employees or two colleagues who discuss industry topics that is relevant to a segment of their business audience. Since the co-hosts by definition know one another well, this format presents the opportunity to inject a bit of levity into the dialog to counteract the dryness the afflicts much business audio content.

3. The Interview

Another form of podcast is an interview with someone from outside your organization, such as with an industry thought leader. Interviews can make for excellent content, but this format does require a fair amount of effort, as booking guests is time consuming. Being an effective interviewer requires practice. The more interviews you do, the better you’ll get.

Here’s the aforementioned Michael Stelzner interviewing author and marketing thought leader extraordinaire, Seth Godin:

Calls to Action in Audio Content

What types of calls to action are effective for audio content? Verbal CTAs should be brief, relevant to the listener and memorable (literally). Here are some approaches used in business audio content.

  • Include a short intro ad at the beginning of the podcast episode or SoundCloud post
  • Mention your website’s URL and what your website is about
  • Promote an upcoming event at least once during the episode
  • Discuss a recent blog post you wrote and verbally expand on the content
  • Subtly mention a product or service that your company offers by making reference to it during the ebb and flow of the dialog

Since content is communicated differently via audio than with other formats, calls to action need to take on specialized forms. When thinking about whether to test out audio content as part of your marketing content mix, visualize all those people who will, in a few short years, be driving cars that give them the ability to access audio content with a simple voice command or button tap.