Digital + Social Media Content Marketing Employee Communications

The Audio Boom: How B2B Marketers Should Plug In

By Hannah Harley

Prefer audio? Hit play to listen.

Let’s talk about the world of audio marketing.

It’s certainly not a new medium. Companies have been buying radio spots since the 1920s, and ever since the iPod was released in the early 2000s, podcasting has been steadily growing in popularity. Still, audio has been getting even more time in the spotlight recently. According to a report from NPR and Edison research, consumers are spending 30% more time listening to spoken word audio than they did in 2014. Now, tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have plans to launch audio features in the near future, rivaling new audio-centric social platforms like Clubhouse.

There’s likely a combination of factors causing this uptick in listening. People are spending more time at home (living and working), and the Zoom fatigue is real, so they’re looking for a break from their screens. But as consumer preferences and listening behaviors shift, it also opens the door for B2B marketers to bring audio into the mix. Unlike video, audio doesn’t put pressure on your spokespeople to be perfect on camera. And for B2B companies, where content tends to stay buttoned up, audio is a way to connect authentically and conversationally.

Get More Flexibility and Accessibility
with Pre-Recorded Audio

There are two main types of audio content for brands to choose from – real-time and pre-recorded audio – that are each beneficial in unique ways and specific situations. Real-time audio might be stealing headlines lately, with excitement around Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces at an all-time high, but we’re seeing a lot of growth in the recorded space too. Spotify recently announced plans to monetize its investments in podcasts through the Spotify Audience Network, and Swell – an asynchronous voice-based platform that pushes for posts that contain up to five minutes of audio, links, and photos – launched at SXSW.

For brands creating audio content, going the pre-recorded route gives the internal team time to prepare and perfect the material. Much like a traditional editorial calendar, planning audio segments ahead of time allows you to ideate on topics, research and define the value of each piece, record on your own time, and make as many edits as necessary to ensure you’re delivering a quality segment.

This process and runway to publishing is longer and more involved than real-time audio. But it comes with an air of expertise, professionalism, and high-quality content (not to mention more consistency for both you and your listeners since you can plan in advance).

From a user standpoint, pre-recorded audio offers the flexibility to listen when and where they want, on the device of their choosing. Audiences have increasingly emphasized the importance of convenience when engaging with brands, and offering content that’s consumable across all devices whether they’re at the grocery store, in the car, in a home office, or on a run is not only flexible — it takes “meeting audiences where they are” to a whole new level.

Strengthen Brand Authenticity
with Real-Time Audio

Everyone – including your customers and employees – is overwhelmed with content these days. Feeds are flooded, and standing out means producing material your audience will find relatable, enjoyable, and genuine. This is especially true for audio.

Real-time audio is receiving a lot of praise for its authenticity, as it’s recorded live and in-the-moment without editing. For example, this year’s SXSW conference used Clubhouse – which hosts real-time panel discussions – as a networking tool, allowing guests to converse and mingle via audio and without the video element.

Real-time audio formats make it easier for brands and individuals to quickly connect and share their point of view on trending topics before the moment passes. Compared to typical event presentations and keynote speeches, a real-time interactive platform like Clubhouse encourages the audience to participate in a more meaningful way. Everyone has an equal opportunity to raise their hand, make their voice heard, and provide value. The line between creators and listeners is blurred, and instead, a diverse group of voices and opinions can have an organic conversation, creating content in real time. Just be sure to provide spokespeople with key talking points and media training prior to a live session, so they’re prepared for and comfortable with the format.

For B2B brands, real-time audio also allows you to communicate your brand values and company culture in a more personable way and can help to humanize and succinctly explain complex topics. When you strip away the marketing or technical jargon, you can have more natural conversations that resonate with audiences on a deeper level.

Adapt to the Preferences of Your Internal and External Audiences

In the same way people have different learning styles, they also have different preferences for consuming information from your brand. While some may love to read blog posts or newsletters, others might prefer to watch TED Talks, attend webinars — or listen to podcasts. By adding audio to your marketing mix, you ensure you aren’t missing valuable opportunities to meet your audiences where they are.

This includes your employees, too. Companies like uStudio are offering brands a way to engage with employees through audio-based communication, including onboarding, learning and development opportunities, sales training functions, and internal podcasting networks. Through audio, executive leaders can literally use their voices to lead and facilitate a more conversational rapport with their teams. And the immediacy and convenience of audio means every employee has access to the most up-to-date company information whenever they want, regardless of whether they’re in front of their laptops.

Effective internal communication is a crucial piece of the broader marketing puzzle, and for all the same reasons that external audiences are consuming more audio content, it’s important to remember that employees are also enjoying this format. And if done well, audio content can feel more like a consumer experience.

Give Your Brand a Voice

For B2B companies, creating a brand voice that strikes a chord with target audiences is no easy feat. But with audio content, you can tie real voices – of your executives, thought leaders, and subject matter experts – to your brand, bringing in a human element that can’t be achieved through written words alone.

So whether you begin to explore pre-recorded, real-time, internal, or external audio marketing, keep in mind that content should always feel authentic to your brand and personal to your listener.