A group of four young adults gather together to listen to and watch what is on their friend's cellphone. They're all laughing and looking like they're having a good time.

Why Online Publications are Enriching the User Experience with the Spoken Word

For years, brands have been encouraged to ‘think like publishers.’ This has meant that many companies have jumped into creating editorial calendars and opted into brand storytelling. However, the times are changing. Now, for those who wish to emulate a publisher’s approach to content creation, there’s another major component to account for: audio.

If you haven’t noticed audio players cropping up in online articles yet, just take a look at some of the world-respected publications, like The New York Times, The Atlantic and (in Canada) Maclean’s Magazine (Note: we’ve rounded up 5 Examples of Audio Blogs here).

And there’s a good reason as to why publications are enriching their content with the spoken word:  from an audience’s perspective, having an audio option is becoming the norm. More than ever, consumers want information and entertainment readily available to them, both in voice over format, as well as by vocal-request. This is thanks in part to the rapid adoption of devices like Google Home, and Amazon Alexa – as well as the growing success of podcasts, audiobooks and more.

For marketers, audio offers an engaging form of content, one that can help you truly stand out. Here, we’ll dive into why audio content is becoming a more popular form of media enrichment for some of the world’s best publications, and how your brand can take advantage.

Turn Your Blog Articles into Podcasts or Audio Blogs

Most brands that identify as storytellers will also have a company blog. Complementing your existing posts with a narrated audio file can offer a huge asset.

If you think about it from the audience’s perspective, many of us are reading while we’re working. Maybe we’re conducting industry research, or giving our brains a break by visiting our favorite blog. But, how much reading do you get through before you’re interrupted?

In most occupations, there are times throughout the day where we are a little distracted. Just look at how many tabs are open on your browser right now. How many of them did you abandon?

Chances are, a lot.

In fact, ‘open tab abandonment rate’ (or OTAR) is at an all-time high…

Granted, this is a metric and stat we just made up, but we’re pretty confident you’ll agree is still true.

With an audio player option on your site, the visitor can still listen to and absorb all of your entertaining and insightful writing, even if they’re drawn away to another task. And if you doubt audio’s power to hold attention, consider this: The Atlantic has reported that audio content can be addictive.

Here are a few other reasons why audio content is a great supplement to your overall content mix.

1. Audio Messages Can Be Delivered Directly to Multi-Taskers

Further to the point above, audio content is easy for audiences to throw on in the background while they work away at other tasks, like data entry, processing lines of code, driving their truck around the worksite and more.

Reading articles, on the other hand, is an activity that requires total focus. By incorporating an audio player into your blog post or website, you get the best of both worlds – a medium that multi-taskers can enjoy, as well as the ability to serve up your carefully crafted content in its entirety.

2. Audio Content Served up with Written Content Offers Greater Accessibility

When you start to crunch the numbers, you begin to see that offering audio content can help you to engage a much broader audience.

For instance, just some of the groups who would benefit include:

These people and many more still need and enjoy content – why not make yours accessible?

3. Audio Content Can Be Served Up as a Podcast, Offering You a New Way to Get Discovered

If you love re-purposing content, you know that the practice is one way to work smarter and not harder. The articles that you already have, on your blog or through your company publications are essentially scripts, that you can use to create an audio version.

After you’ve recorded your audio blog, not only can you embed the content on your website, you can also serve it up through other distribution channels as a podcast.

Think how much farther your content could go if it was syndicated and distributed through iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and even Spotify? By creating an audio version, you’re able to expose your content to new audiences and earn new fans.

4. Audio Offers a Richer, More Personal Experience with Your Content and Brand

Humans learn how to communicate verbally long before we ever learn to read. Listening to someone’s voice taps into something primal in us, and paints a picture that only the human voice can.

When you enrich the content experience with audio, you stand to draw audiences closer to your brand. Think of the last time you listened to someone tell you a great story, or the last time someone personally helped you by walking you through a challenge.

This is not to slight the written word, which is incredibly powerful, but vocal interactions are much more personal than a written article on it’s own, even if it covers the same subject matter, or holds the same entertaining or educational information.

With audio, you deliver the richness of tone, inflection, emotion, and personality, all of which aren’t as easily gleaned from words on a page.

Lastly, these audio files allow you to express your brand voice in a very literal way… And isn’t that just magical?

5. If You Make the Leap to Audio, You’ll Be Ahead of the Curve

At the time of publishing this article, locating an article that has a complementary audio option was easier said than done, meaning that the space is far from saturated. If you get in now, you’ll be on the leading edge.

Plus, even with all of the attention that audio content is garnering, as audiences around the world adopt smart speakers and engage with content with their voices, many marketers are lagging behind when it comes to both content and strategy. Voices.com’s annual trends report survey polled almost 2,000 creatives and found that only 20% were actioning a strategy to position their brand for voice search – meaning 80 percent weren’t taking any action at all.

Granted, this is a stat related to voice search and not audio content production, the gap is still clear: marketers know that audio is becoming increasingly important, but not many have a plan, or are taking action.

You have an opportunity to join an elite group of content leaders. The time to jump in, is now.

Note: Converting your company blog into an audio blog doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 5 Easy Steps to Converting Your Blog into an Audio Blog.

Thinking Like a Modern Brand Publisher Includes Audio

With all factors considered, it’s clear that audio offers advantages to brand marketers who are looking to carve out space in a saturated market. Not only are audiences open to audio content, they’re demanding it, as well as enabling their homes, cars, cell phones and more to distribute audio content, on demand.

Will you start producing audio versions of your content?

Comment below and share your creativity!

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