For marketers, it’s important to avoid developing a one-track mind. Content in any form can be great, sure, and your strategy needs consistency. But concentrating too much on any one medium could cause you to miss out on other opportunities to engage your audiences and take advantage of trends in the content industry.
Like most things in life, though, this is easier said than done. It’s easy to get comfortable with one tactic, especially if you’ve found some success with it, and using resources to test out something else that you’re unsure about can be a tough sell.
Still, diversifying your content is critical. There are so many ways you can reach your audience members and connect with them through the medium they prefer, and for the past few years, video has been all the rage. But another form has recently made its way into the marketing mix of some big brands: audio content.
No, I’m not talking about radio commercials, web ads that play catchy jingles, or even podcasts, really. I’m talking about digital assistants. You’ve probably asked for help from Siri, Alexa, or Google before. But did you know that the same digital assistant that reads you weather updates can also share targeted content directly with your audience? Here are three things to know if you’re going to adjust your strategy:
1. Be prepared for the rise of voice search.
You work hard to increase the visibility of your content via SEO, but what have you done to optimize content for voice search?
When you search for something on Google, you probably type out a few keywords to get your desired result, like “good pizza New York.” If I were to ask a digital assistant instead, you’d hear me say: “Hey Siri, can you recommend a good pizza place in New York City?” Interactions with digital assistants are much more conversational, which means that you’ve got to adjust your SEO strategy to better fit the questions customers are asking.
Some analysts estimate that up to 50 percent of all internet searches will be done through voice search by 2020. In only two short years, just as many people will be saying “OK, Google” as will be typing their keywords into a search bar. Optimizing for individual keywords just won’t capture as many eyes (or ears) as it does today. Instead, focus on optimizing for long-tailed keywords by writing in a conversational tone that digital assistants can use to answer “where,” “what,” and “how” questions.
2. Help Alexa help your customer.
Beyond voice search, Amazon’s Alexa is providing a great platform for distributing audio content. Owners of Alexa-enabled devices can install “skills” to their digital assistant, expanding Alexa’s capabilities to include a wide variety of functions. These skills can be simple, like asking Alexa to give traffic updates, but many brands have found creative ways to utilize these skills to create connections with new customers.
For example, insurance provider Cigna offers a skill that enables users to ask Alexa to explain confusing insurance terms. Another great example is the travel guidebook company Lonely Planet. It offers a skill that helps users plan their next vacation. Users can ask Alexa about a possible destination, and it tells users what landmarks they should see and what time of year is best to visit. It will even email the user photos of the location.
These skills don’t have to be complicated. Cigna’s doesn’t allow users to purchase insurance, and Lonely Planet’s won’t reserve you a spot on a historic walking tour, but these skills are still valuable to consumers. Skills like these allow Alexa to interact with potential customers on your behalf, so creating content for it is a great way to get your brand out there.
3. Remember Alexa is an assistant, not your spokesperson.
One thing to note about the Cigna and Lonely Planet skills: Neither of them directly promotes Cigna or Lonely Planet. Users will say “Alexa, ask Cigna” or “Alexa, ask Lonely Planet” to prompt the skills, but Alexa doesn’t respond with insurance plans, book offers, or other promotional content. These skills simply aim to establish the Cigna and Lonely Planet brands as the go-to place for consumers when it comes to their insurance or travel information needs. That’s the connection you want to create.
Users don’t want to be sold to; they want to be served. This is true of any content you produce: Audiences are turned off by promotion, and 79 percent of publication editors say the biggest problem with guest-contributed content is that it’s too promotional.
It’s important that your audio content not be created with the sole purpose of promoting your products. If your content is overly branded and promotes you more than it provides value to your audience, you won’t win any hearts.
Digital assistants are changing the way we use the internet. They can help us find the answer to almost any question, and in an easier way than opening up a search engine and typing a query. You have an opportunity to provide answers to those questions for your customers with audio content. Take advantage of that opportunity by optimizing your content for voice search and by creating audio content that helps customers connect with your company through their digital assistant.