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  • Leslie Horna

Why Brands Should Use Audio Marketing

Covid-19 influenced the adoption of audio marketing. As people look for ways to connect and communicate without touch, audio has become the preferred method. Audio marketing refers to the production of audio content in the form of voice assistant communication, podcasts, radio, blogging and beyond. Audio is more accessible and more convenient than video. It also provides for short and long-form storytelling and allows the brand voice to connect directly with listeners.

Hands-free devices like Alexa, Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple's Siri have seen an uptick in usage as Americans hunkered down at home through the pandemic. These devices became a lifeline to news and entertainment as households asked their audio assistant to shop, measure, play music, and read the news for them. More consumers today are turning to these assistants multiple times a day, as well as using voice assistants across more activities/environments through a home smart speaker, phone, or in the car.

Voice assistants Alexa, Siri, Google Now, and Cortana are featured.

This growth influences brands to improve optimization on their website to better meet the demands of voice search. Consumers use audio assistants for everything – from playing music, to weather reports, news and sports reports, food delivery, building a grocery list, and beyond. Olgilvy Consulting’s 2019 Trends Report predicts that nearly every application will integrate some application of voice technology within the next five years. Brands should start now with optimizing their digital profile for voice search.

Consumers search conversationally with audio assistants, asking the device a complete question. Most commonly asked questions include [in order of popularity]: Who, How, When, Where, Why and What. We can learn a lot about customers based on what they ask their device. Discovery starts with what and whom, interest and engagement increases with how and why inquires; and questions about when and where indicate that the consumer is ready to take action.

Companies can identify consumer intent based on the types and sequence of questions asked. The quality of content on a company’s website is measured by how closely consumer interests and needs match with the content available on the website. Quality websites will earn more visitor traffic. When consumers search for, “coffee shop near me,” that’s a strong indicator that the consumer is making plans to have coffee very soon. To this point, companies also want to claim and maximize their Google My Business page to boost local search activities.

Google My Business functions offered include share accurate info, online presence, stand out on Google, be found across devices, get on the map and reviews.

Google My Business is a free listing on Google that displays basic company information: name, location, website, service description, hours of operation and other such details. As consumers query audio assistants for things “near me” or where to go to dinner that night, Google My Business offers this information quickly and succinctly for searchers.

Website optimization for voice search also includes having a responsive site design. More Internet search today is conducted on mobile and voice search is heavily used on mobile. Be sure to factor in priority positioning above the fold on the webpage to detail the answers to the questions searched. Page placement is important in guiding consumers to efficiently and easily find the information they need. Page speed, the time it takes for a webpage to load, is essential in today’s 24/7 culture where consumers will abandon an action if the page takes too long to load. This could mean your company loses potential customers!

Audio assistants also open up advertising opportunities. In Adobe’s State of Voice report, over one-third of consumers shared that advertising on smart speakers is ‘more engaging and less intrusive than online, print, TV, and social media ads.’ In a marketplace where consumers are opting into the messaging they want to receive, smart speakers provide brands with an opportunity to sell and market products and services.

microphone in a recording studio for podcasters

Companies may also want to consider an evolution to their brand to include its audio identity. If your company were a person, what would its voice sound like? What type of music describes your brand essence? What sounds are synonymous with your brand experience? This is described as sonic branding.

Think about jingles and why they're successful in strengthening a brand's relationships with consumers and attracting new customers. Nationwide insurance has done a great job executing this strategy with its, "Nationwide on your side" jingle.

There are ways to incorporate sonic branding to your corporate identity. A few ideas to consider:

- Design the company website to feature unique sounds that correspond to certain activities (i.e. buy now!) on the website.

- Add a playlist to your brand book and make this available for media and/or consumers

- For advertising, select voice over talent that embodies the tone and sentiment that defines your brand.

- Content Development

- Podcasting - book interviews and advertising on audio channels. Maybe host your own!

Content can take the form of audio clips; writing copy, headings and tags to communicate branding information via audio delivery; and audiograms. Audiograms are still visuals with an audio overlay. Many podcasting apps empower brands to create short audio blogs to publish on social media. Companies can also produce audio quotes from a spokesperson, testimonials from customers, or a short story/interview.

Audio brings a new and exciting dynamic to marketing. Earlier this year we saw these additional developments in the world of audio marketing:

- LinkedIn add audio recording for names

- Voice-activated commercials from Unilever, Target & NBC

As with anything new, there is also challenge and opportunity. What opportunities do you see for your company?

Ideation and innovation keeps companies relevant and thriving. C. Change Consulting helps purpose-driven brands in corporate, nonprofit, foundation, and government sectors with creative and strategic brand, marketing, and communication solutions for business challenges. Schedule your complimentary brand consultation today!

#audiomarketing #sonicbranding #2020marketingtrends

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