Audio Content Marketing: How To Reach Your Busy Audience [Research]

When my sister, who battles Los Angeles traffic for over an hour each way to get to work, mentioned she listens to podcasts I realized their power.

Podcasting and other audio content marketing is no longer a sideshow to video and other trendy content format.

Rather it’s a media format tailored to the needs of people looking to enhance otherwise boring, routine activities. Unlike second screeners, podcast listeners must focus on their primary activity such as driving.

Beyond informing and entertaining, podcasts and audio provide a soothing and friendly human voice.

Further audio, including podcasts and audio books, remains a marketing opportunity which can become part of your target audience’s regular content consumption.

Podcast and Audio content marketing opportunity [Research]

Where audio and podcasting fit in US content consumption

Unlike text and video content, podcasting and other audio can be consumed during non-media hours such as work, gym and commuting.

Average Daily Activities – US

Interestingly, audio is second to video content.

US Daily Media Consumption By Content Type-Chart

Audio listening is projected to remain flat at roughly 2 hours per day between 2017 and 2021. From a marketing perspective, anticipate that listeners will come from other audio options and super users. There’s additional potential for growth from smart speakers and connected cars.

Daily Media Hours By Type: 2017 vs 2021-Chart

Podcast market opportunity: The data

In 2017 podcast content is estimated to reach 67 million people and 8 billion hours of content. By 2021, podcasting is projected to almost double to 112 million people and 15 billion hours of content. (Source: Activiate Tech & Media Outlook 2018)

Expanded content offerings, more listeners and increased daily usage will fuel podcast content growth.

Further between 2017 and 2021, the number of podcasts will increase exponentially while the topics covered with expand.

The average podcast listener subscribes to 6 podcasts! (Edison Research 2017)

Average number of podcast subscriptions – Chart-Edison Research

Competitive need for podcast and audio

From a marketing perspective, podcast and audio content are critical to remain competitive. Specifically, content and tech companies continue to expand their footprint in the audio space.

Specifically, media entities are expanding their offerings with audio.

Strong audio audiences result in expansion into video and other content.

Audio consumption increase

Audio listeners can increase content consumption. The caveat is that this content consumption isn’t always focused. 

Smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa and connected cars improve listeners’ access to podcasts and audio information. It’s 1.6 times more likely people will listen to short form content in the form of curated news summaries. Interestingly, this is a lot like some traditional radio formats.

While daily commutation is an established audio consumption time, at home consumption has increased. For example, my mother always listened to the radio while she cooked dinner even though there was a television in her kitchen.

Podcast listening can be significantly expanded with better discovery and download options to make the content more user-friendly.

Podcast Advertising Market

2017 Podcast advertising revenue of $237 million is a small portion of linear radio’s $1.5 billion market. In large part this is attributable to the difficulty measuring podcast usage as well as discovering and listening to podcasts. This revenue is anticipated to almost triple to $642 million in 2021 according to Activate.

To put this advertising in perspective, podcast advertising isn’t highly trusted according to MarketingSperpa.

Consumer Trust in Advertising – MarketingSherpa 2016 Chart

When considering adding podcasts, think beyond direct revenues that tend to go to the top podcasts (solopreneurs and media entities). Assess how podcasting can improve your reach and branding.

5 Ways to integrate audio content into your content marketing strategy to reach your busy audience

Reach your busy audience by adding these 5 tactics that leverage audio content’s unique attributes.Man Ear-Audio Content

Determine audio content goals as part of your content marketing strategy

Align audio content goals with your content marketing and social media objectives. Create audio content as part of major and cyclical content efforts to reach new audiences who like to listen to information.

Top audio content goals focus on branding and reach not direct revenue and lead generation.

  • Humanize your brand. Adds a recognizable human voice to your brand that appeals to listeners. Makes audience feel like they’re not alone. Also include an audio logo.
  • Broaden content distribution by using different platforms. Audio content taps into other search entities like Stitcher, iTunes, smart speakers and connected cars.
  • Build relationships with influencers. Use audio content to connect with influencers and make them look good. For example, Social Media Examiner’s Mike Stelzner interviews the who’s who of social media on his podcast and Doug Burnett interviews marketing authors on his podcast.

Actionable Audio Content Marketing Tip:

  • Document audio content objectives. Write audio content goals down and distribute them. Integrate them into your overall content and marketing plans.

Understand your target audience’s audio habits and listening context

Find out how your audience consumes audio content and how their audio content habits differ from text, video and visual content.

Understand how your audio audience differs from your general target market. Here are demographics.


Your podcast and audio must be contextually relevant to your audience.
It’s all about them.

7 Questions to better understand your audio audience:

  1. When does your audience consume podcasts and audio content? While drive time is audio content time, don’t overlook other options like exercise and work. Thisinfluences the information they seek.
  2. Where is your audience when they consume podcasts and audio content? Has an impact on audio content findability and topic.
  3. What else is happening when your audience consumes audio content? Remember most audio content is used as background so listeners may not fully focus on your information.
  4. What type of device does your audience use to consume audio content? Provide discovery and listening options.
  5. Where does your audience seek audio content? Podcasts and other audio content often require listeners to find the information and move it to another device for consumption. For example, Social Media Examiner provides different listening options.Audio content connects with influencers
  6. Why is your audience seeking audio content? Know what type of information they want so you can fulfill their needs.
  7. How will you get your target audience to take the next step in your process? This includes downloading the next podcast episode to purchase.

Integrate audio content into your content marketing editorial calendar

Integrate your audio into your content marketing offering to maximize resource utilization, avoid duplicate effort, and fill your editorial calendar.

Audio and podcasts, support  the 5 core content types.

Foundational content establishes thought leadership:

  • Offer audio book versions of long form content. Or drip content out over time (See Crowd Pleaser Content below).
  • Create audio versions of live events. Extend reach to virtual audiences, either free or paid.

FAQ content to provide customer information:

  • Answer customer questions. Get customer service agents involved. Alternatively use a call-in format.
  • Provide education. Supplement “How To” content with an audio option.
  • Reviews. Offer third party product reviews

Cyclical content to keep your content top of mind consistently (generally weekly) to build content consumption habit:

  • Talk show often featuring a dynamic duo. This is a page straight out of traditional radio where there’s a host and sidekick. Mark Schaefer and Tom Webster do this with the Marketing Companion.Mark Schaefer and Tom Webster's Dynamic Duo Podcast
  • Interview. Create audio content by talking to influencers about current trends.
  • News and Commentary. Take a page from cable news stations: curate it and add commentary.
  • Listener Call-In. Let your community call in with questions or comments. Pre-record this type of  show to control content.

Crowd Pleaser Content to attract new listeners.

  • Audio Roundups. Gather sound bites when creating text roundups to extend life of this popular content.
  • Tell episodic stories. Think big and offer regular servings complete with cliffhangers to get people back.
  • Expand existing content offerings. Big media entities do this with franchises like Harry Potter.

Long Playing Content to extend the life of existing content.

  • Add audio content once content has proven its value.  Social Media Examiner does.
  • Use podcasts to supplement other content formats. Existing content is improved with audio. Add audience participation to get community involvement.

Actionable Audio Content Marketing Tips:

  • Create audio content structure. Facilitate creation and audience expectations with a set format.
  • Bring in new audio personalities. Expand reach and offering like Convince and Convert’s “Experience This” podcast with Joey Coleman and Dan Gingiss.
    Podcast audio content

    Podcast Audio Content adds new voices

 Optimize audio content to appeal to 5 core audiences

To not only reach your maximum potential audience but also get your audio content consumed, optimize it for the 5 core audiences, listeners, social media, search, influencers and your business.

Optimize Content for 5 Audiences

For audio content this means making your content easy-to-find and listen to.

To this end, offer listeners a variety of options, both to listen on your website, transfer content from an email or on a third party media entity including iTunes, Amazon, social media and others.

With increased use of smart speakers and connected cars, ensure that your content can be found with voice search.

Actionable Audio Content Marketing Tips:

  • Create a podcast homepage on your blog or website to help listeners. Take a page from Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose’s This Old Marketing Podcast. It gives an outline and multiple ways to get their audio.

Audio Content - Dynamic Duo podcast

 Distribute audio content to maximize audience reach

Use a combination of content amplification and distribution tactics to maximize your audio content including podcasts reach over time.

Focus on content amplification during the first 3 days after publication to grow your potential audience. This includes communities, influencers and paid promotion.

Content Amplification

3 Ways to amplify content marketing

For longer term distribution, organize your audio content promotion by:

  • Owned media. Use all of your content and communications to promote your audio content. Put it on your home page! Smart Passive Income’s Pat Flynn gets 25% of his email registrations from his podcast.
  • Social media. Use your blog, YouTube and Slideshare to expand your audio content distribution.
  • Third party media. Includes other people’s podcasts!

3 Audio Content Marketing Opportunities:

  • Voice search. Ensure that your content is easy-to-find via voice search using a smart speaker or connected car.
  • Influencers. Leverage other people’s broader audiences, especially other podcasters. Test the waters with a guest interview.
  • New media options. Audio expands listing opportunities that your other content marketing can’t use notably Amazon Audio books and iTunes.

Bonus Measure audio content impact

As with any content marketing strategy, measure your audio content results. Unfortunately, audio content is difficult to track. Among your options are:

  • Downloads or onsite listening.
  • Audio creation costs. Since you need different skills, often outside your skill set.
  • Search and social media reach. Do your audio content and podcasts reach new audiences and/or get additional findability?
  • Influencer. Can you improve your positioning by helping influencers?
  • Advertising. Like Jay Baer and Mark Schaefer focus on sponsorship since specific listening metrics are difficult.

Actionable Audio Content Marketing Tips:

  • Include a contextually relevant call-to-action in audio content. Make it short and memorable. Remember listeners may not be able to  respond while they’re consuming the content.
  • Add a call-to-action for podcasts and audio in related non-audio content. Get people who only link to your audio content to take action as well.

Audio Content Marketing Conclusion

Audio content marketing is a great way to extend your reach and build your brand.

While many content and social media marketers are focused on video, there’s still an opportunity for nimble marketers seeking a less crowded playing field. After all, Social Media Examiner’s Mike Stelzner had an established weekly podcast before he started using video. (And he’s a leader to follow!)

Further, podcasting and audio content are poised to grow over the next 4 years. 

Why not start small?

Extend the reach of your best content and/or high investment content by selecting test audio content. You’ll learn what’s involved while experiencing the power of additional findability options like Amazon, smart speakers and iTunes.

What’s holding you back???

Ear

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

Note: This post was originally published in January, 2016. It has been extensively updated with new research.

Photo Credit: https://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/209535

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