Like we digital marketers need another thing on our plate, right?
But, the concept of adding an audio content strategy to your work isn’t as crazy as it might have seemed just a few short years ago.
For starters, consider just a few stats:
- 28% of the U.S. 12+ population are now weekly podcast listeners, a 17% increase over 2020
- 33% of Americans 12+ now own a smart speaker.
- 62% of the U.S. 12+ population are now weekly online audio listeners, an all-time high for this category.
Clearly, audio is a serious player as a channel when it comes to reaching audiences in 2021. So the question remains: Do you need to do something about that and create an audio content strategy?
Of course, the answer to that question is complicated and requires a lot of analysis and thought. But, let’s just attempt to answer a few key questions that I think will guide us down the right path.
Question #1: Is part of your existing content strategy based on thought leadership?
If yes, a podcast may make sense to explore. And I don’t just say that in a consultant-way (“Hey, have you thought about a time-consuming podcast that only I can help you produce?”). I say that with stats and analysis to back it up.
First, the stat above–more than one quarter of Americans 12+ are WEEKLY podcast listeners. Now, to be completely fair, many of those people are listening to uber-popular podcasts like Armchair Expert and one of NPR’s many successful podcasts. But, that’s still a ton of people. After all, we use certain popular channels right to target less people! Take Twitter for example. If you’re targeting a U.S. audience on Twitter right now, you’re effectively targeting 73M users. Not to be overly repetitive, but podcasts are attracting 80M users a week!
And, if you dig into your specific industry, I’d be willing to bet you won’t find a competitor with a podcast that’s lasted longer than a year. Go ahead, research it. I’ll wait. I’ve done this exact exercise with a few clients recently and it’s proven to be true each time. So, competition for those valuable ears is thin–if not non-existent!
So, you have a sizable audience listening to podcasts. And, you most likely have little to no competition in your industry. That’s not a bad “back of the napkin” SWOT analysis! So, what’s holding you back? Cost? Resources? With the tools and online resources available, podcasts are easier to produce than ever. Even if you need to outsource them, they’re just not as expensive as you might think. And, the upsides can be tremendous from an awareness POV. But, that’s a post for a different day…
Question #2: How much do you care about search?
Again, I want to lead with the stat above: 33% of Americans 12+ now own a smart speaker. And, the number of speakers a household owns is growing. In 2018, the average household had 1.7 smart speakers–in 2021, it’s up to 2.3 already. So, we know smart speaker usage is growing. Duh, right? But, more people are searching via voice, too, via devices like Alexa, Google Home and Siri.
How are you showing up in those voice search results? Are you considering conversational questions when developing your content strategy? Are you thinking about the way people search via voice vs. via typing? To me, without getting into all the uber-geeky back-end of voice SEO, that’s a big step in the right direction.
So, how much do you care about these voice search results? There’s certainly a lot of opportunity there. Are you OK ignoring that? Or, should you get to work in making your content more “voice-friendly?”
Question #3: Do you know what your brand “sounds like?”
So we know 62% of the U.S. 12+ population are now weekly online audio listeners. Most people are listening on platforms like Pandora, Spotify or iHeartRadio. And it’s not just young people either–72% of 35-54 year-olds listened to online audio in the last week.
And, we also know if you’re using one of those services you’re probably listening to ads. And, in many ways, ads are part of your “brand content.” So, when listening to your ads on one of these audio-streaming services, does your brand’s ad stand out? Does it have a differentiating sound? Think McDonalds. Think NBC’s chimes. Just like the fact that your brand needs a differentiating visual style, increasingly, it also needs a differentiating audio style, too.