Audio Content: How To Reach Your Busy Audience

Podcasts and Audio Content In Your Content Marketing Mix

Man Ear-Audio Content2016 is the year of the rise of audio content (including podcasts!)

Say “audio” to most mobile savvy, content marketers and they automatically think podcast. Yet the audio content offering extends beyond podcasting.

US adults (13+) spent 4:05 hours per day with audio content in 2014. That’s way more than drive time (The average US driving commute is about 21 minutes each way.)

US audio content consumption is 4:05 hours per day

Audio consumption is often a secondary activity, often to reduce boredom. As a result, increased audio content time translates to more information your audience can consume.

Audio content: the data marketers need

To help you use audio effectively in your content marketing plans, let’s look at the audio content research.

Audio increases content consumption

Audio content enables listeners to increase their content consumption contrary to Mark Schaefer’s Content Shock. They listen to content when they’d be doing non-content activity. (Check our 2016 Mobile Trends analysis complete with charts.)

How We Spend Our Time (Hint: It's more than 24 hours!)

(BTW, Schaefer and Edison Research’s Tom Webster host The Marketing Companion Podcast.)

Mark Schaefer and Tom Webster's Dynamic Duo Podcast

Exercise and drive time are established audio consumption times. Also, consider recreation, work and other categories. For example, my mother always listened to the radio while she cooked dinner.

Audio accompanies other activities

Audio revenue imbalance

Content marketers can tap into audiences without necessarily creating original content. Take advantage of underserved advertising markets and be creative in your deals.

A lot audio content has accompanying digital text where you can gain additional visibility.

Create an audio presence to support your 360° brand and visibility.

The US audio music market is $26 billion of which digital accounts for $4.5 billion.

US Audio Market By Digital Revenue Opportunity - Chart

Audio services are age specific

Older segments stick to older technologies.


What does this mean for marketers?

  • To reach your audience via audio, explain how and where to get your content. Then give them an incentive to do so.

Online music dominates audio content

3 services dominated online music

  • 53% of online music was YouTube (isolating music audio)
  • 32% of online music was Pandora
  • 12% of online music was Spotify

    US Digital Music Content- Chart

YIKES->More YouTube revenue was produced by user-generated music videos than by official music videos in 2014.YouTube Audio Usage-Edison Triton Research-2015 Chart

Pandora vs Spotify: Provide 2 different subscription options.

  • Pandora
    83 million users with 4 million subscriptions
    $920 million in revenue
  • Spotify
    75 million users with 20 million subscriptions
    $1.2 billion in revenue

Pandora VS Spotify

Installed streaming music subscription market is a barrier to entry and price.

  • 75% of people won’t change streaming music subscription services.
  • 64% of people would change streaming music services subscription at same price. YouTube music service has an opportunity.

Music Subscriber Loyalty and New Customer Potential - Chart

The label versus off-label music streaming battle continues:

  • YouTube has 120 million off-label music streams.
  • Soundcloud has 100 million off-label music streams.
  • Spotify has 30 million label music streams.
  • Apple Music has 30 million label music streams.
  • Pandora has 1.5 million label music streams.

Label vs offlabel music content-Activate

2/3 of listeners don’t share their music listening activity. This is a potential opportunity for social media platforms and new services. The challenge is copyright-intellectual property rights and established business methods.

Digital audio listeners don't share

Add smart curation to attract listeners. Use both human and algorithms to provide:

  • Social (what your friends own and listen to).
  • Search (what’s new and worth listening to that I’ll like).
  • Playlists (curated best content).

Digital music will grow to $10 billion in 2020 globally from $4 billion in 2008.

10% of US adults are willing to pay for a music subscription, a 2/3 increase (2015 data).digital music audio

Global digital music streaming will grow:

  • Ad supported listeners will grow to 260 million by 2020 and revenues will grow to $2 billion.
  • Subscription listeners will grow to 75 million by 2020 and revenues will grow to $3.5billion.

This makes sense. Advertising competition will drive prices down so more people will yield less sales. An installed subscriber base that requires action to stop regular fees has to overcome inertia.Global Digital Music Streaming Growth-users and revenue-Chart-Activate-2015

Audio beyond music: talk, audiobooks and sports

For most marketers, audio content consists of talk and audiobooks. Think like a talk radio show host. Provide content your audience wants to listen to as background to their primary activities.

Make your information attractive for your audience to listen to. Think driving, commuting, exercising and other mundane stuff. For example, many salespeople listen to motivational speakers during their commute.

Podcasting is estimated to reach 15 billion hours by 2020.

Podcast listening growth - Chart

Podcast listeners spend more time on average with audio content.

  • 1:31 hours listening to podcasts.
  • 4:19 hours listening to non-podcast audio.


5 Ways audio content reaches your busy audience

Reach your busy audience with audio content. Modify these 5 content marketing steps to meet audio content’s unique attributes.Man Ear-Audio Content

1. Determine your audio content goals

Integrate your audio content goals into your overall marketing plans. Align them with your content marketing and social media objectives.

Don’t create orphan content. (Orphan content is one-off content efforts outside of your overall content marketing strategy. While they may exist for good reasons, they should be limited in number and cost since they’re not efficient content creation.)

The top audio content goals include:

  • Build your audience. While most businesses don’t start with audio, it’s a good addition to your media offering. Copyblogger expanded their product offering to include Rainmaker.FM, with a complete suite for podcasting. They support it with podcasts.
  • Extend your brand. Audio content gets you space on other search entities like Stitcher. Tap into the power of Amazon with audio books.
  • Keep your brand top of mind. Target your audio content to create a 360° brand. Expand your name across platforms.
  • Humanize your brand. Give your brand a human voice to get your brand recognized. Include an audio logo.
  • Build relationships with influencers. Use your audio show to make others look good. For example, Social Media Examiner’s Mike Stelzner interviews the who’s who of social media on his Friday podcast.

    Audio content connects with influencers

    Social Media Examiner’s Mike Stelzner has a regular podcast

From a marketing perspective, what’s interesting about these goals?

  • They aren’t focused on driving sales directly. Instead build your reach and brand.

Your audio content can yield revenues with a call-to-action. But recognize that your audience may be busy while they’re listening to your content making it difficult to act or respond.

Actionable Audio Content Marketing Tip:

  • Document your audio content objectives. Ensure that they’re integrated into your overall content and marketing plans.

2. Know your audience’s audio habits to make your content contextually relevant

Understand how your audio audience differs from your general target market.


93% of podcasts have at least 1 social media profile, 20 percentage points higher than non-podcast listeners according to Edison and Triton Research (Check out the full report!)

Podcast Chart

Podcast Social Media Savvy

2/3 of respondents listen to 2+ podcasts per week according to Edison Research.

Podcast chart

58% of podcast listeners do so in their cars according to Edison.

Drive Time is Podcast Time - Edison Chart

Drive Time is Podcast Time – Edison Chart

Your audio must be contextually relevant to your audience.
It’s all about them. Use this 7 point audio audience checklist.

  1. When does your audience consume audio content?
  2. Where is your audience when they consume audio content?
  3. What else is happening when your audience consumes audio content?
  4. What type of device does your audience use to consume audio content?
  5. Where does your audience seek audio content?
  6. What needs is your audience seeking to meet with audio content?
  7. How will you get your target audience to take the next step in your process (from downloading the next episode to purchase)?

Actionable Audio Content Marketing Tip:

  • Understand your audience’s context to:
    • Appreciate the type of information they seek.
    • Know what your content is competing with for their attention.

3. Create your audio content editorial calendar

Integrate your audio with the rest of your content offering. This avoids duplicate effort.

Frequency. How often will you create audio?

  • Length. Average US commute is 21 minutes.
  • Publication frequency. Many podcasts are weekly. Build a habit with your audience so they expect your content on a regular schedule.

Format. Audio content is often defined by the way information is presented. Here are 5 options that reduce your content creation time because the format dictates the show content.

  1. The dynamic duo. (Yes like Batman and Robin!) Two people discuss a topic. Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose do this with their “This Old Marketing Podcast”. Leave it to Pulizzi and Rose to show us how to set up a podcast homepage. It gives an outline and multiple ways to get their audio.

    Audio Content - Dynamic Duo podcast

    Pulizzi & Rose Podcast homepage – Copy their format!

  2. Interview. Create audio content by talking to influencers about current trends. Mike Stelzner does this.
  3. Question of the week. Respond to listeners’ questions. Create an easy-to-remember email or Skype name so people can send their questions in. Ask for them during the show.
  4. Review of the week. Review products in your business’s category.
  5. Curate other people’s content. Talk about what’s important to your listeners. Don’t know? Ask for their input.

Actionable Audio Content Marketing Tips:

  • Create an audio content structure. Break your audio content into different elements including intros and outros.
  • Consider content creation alternatives. Assess how to tap into like-minded audiences using live-streaming. Include Google hangouts, Blabs and podcasts.
  • Test different audio personalities. For example, Copyblogger expanded their audio offering to give more of their team a voice.

    Audio content -podcasts from Copyblogger

    Copyblogger’s podcast network introduction

4. Promote your audio content to reach your maximum potential audience

Like any other form of content, you can’t assume people are waiting for you to get around to creating it. Even well-known television series and stars need to promote their latest work. (To help you, here is 37 content distribution option checklist.)

7 Point audio content promotion list

  1. Cross-promote audio content via your owned media channels. Include your email list, email signature files, and other content and advertising.
  2. Post audio content on your blog and YouTube. Expand your distribution via your blog and YouTube. Pat Flynn posts his Smart Passive Income on YouTube. (BTW-Flynn gets 25% of his email registrations from his podcast.)

  1. Use internal communications. If you work for a large organization, promote your audio content to your employees.
  2. Tap into your social media communities where appropriate. Consider the your audio content focus.
  3. Promote your audio content in your offline marketing. Mention your audio content on all of your offline marketing including print materials, business cards, receipts, and in-store signage.
  4. Use other people’s audiences. This works best when you’re interviewing influencers and experts. Ask them to share the show.
  5. Pay for advertising where appropriate. Budget for related promotion including social media.

Actionable Audio Content Marketing Tip:

  • Test different media placement and formats.

5. Measure you audio content’s impact

As with any marketing strategy, measure your results. Unfortunately, audio content is more difficult to track than other media formats.


  • Downloads
  • Time spent listening
  • Budget for audio creation (especially if you need outside resources.)
  • Advertising

Actionable Audio Content Marketing Tips:

  • Include a contextually relevant call-to-action in your audio content. Make it short and memorable. Remember listeners may not be able to change activities to respond. At least ask for email signups and questions to answer.
  • Add a call-to-action in related non-audio content. Get people who only link to your audio content to take action as well.

The bottom line is that audio can be a great way to extend your reach and stay top of mind. Make sure that your audio content supports your other marketing by planning to succeed.

What has your biggest success with audio content been?Ear

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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

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