What is audio marketing? 6 tips for building a killer strategy

what is audio marketing

The internet overflows with visual content, but audio marketing cuts through the noise (no pun intended). Now, audio marketing isn’t just about corny jingles or deep-voiced announcers. It’s a strategic approach to audience engagement, brand growth, and revenue. 

It doesn’t matter if it's podcasts, radio, or voice search optimization — audio marketing speaks directly to listeners, which creates an intimate, immersive experience that visuals alone can hardly achieve. 

This guide unpacks the layers of audio marketing, from its definition to its many benefits for businesses. We’ll cover everything from the nuts and bolts of strategy to finding inspiration for a unique and memorable campaign.

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What is audio marketing?

Audio marketing is the process of including audio content in marketing campaigns to influence a target audience. This includes formats like podcasts, smart speakers, music streaming apps, and traditional radio. 

The power of audio advertising lies in its ability to reach listeners across many different platforms — whether they’re tuning into their favorite podcast episode, asking Alexa for a playlist on Amazon, or using voice search on their smartphones during their commute.

The statistics also highlight its growing dominance: digital audio’s daily engagement time has eclipsed traditional radio, with an average user spending over an hour and a half daily consuming digital audio content, including streaming platforms like Spotify and audiobooks from Apple​. By early 2023, 75% of Americans were listening to online audio content, with 70% tuning in weekly—showcasing record numbers.

3 benefits of audio advertising

Three of the biggest benefits of audio advertising are all about precision, storytelling, and the “earworm effect.” Here’s a closer look at each one. 

Soundscaping storytelling

Think about how traditional radio has captivated audiences for decades. Today, digital audio platforms have amplified this effect. Studies show that compared to video, audio facilitates revelation and the expression of deep emotion. Audio’s subtle nature creates a “partner between imagination and memory” that produces a personal response in each listener.

The best way to evoke emotion in your target audience is to craft an audio experience that uses music, voice, and even silence. By telling stories through audio channels, your target audience isn’t just hearing, but feeling, which leads to higher conversions and stronger emotional connections.

Pinpoint precision

Platforms like Spotify and Amazon have changed the game with programmatic audio ads, which let brands target their audience with laser precision.

Data-driven insights help you tailor your audio marketing strategy to target specific demographics, interests, and behaviors. This is where the use of smart speakers and voice search data comes into play, helping you create targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with your audience's preferences.

For example, when a user asks their Google Home or Alexa-enabled device to play a playlist, your audio ad can be the gateway, reaching the user based on their past listening habits and search queries. 

Earworm effect

With audio advertising, you can create catchy jingles or phrases that will stick in the listener's mind for a long time. Remember ‘the snack that smiles back, Goldfish!’ or ‘Nationwide is on your side’? These repetitive jingles, heard across many different platforms and audio formats, stick with you… forever. 

When a consumer thinks about a product or a service, the associated jingle or tagline comes to mind, which can influence their buying decisions. 

💰Monetize your show: The podcast advertising rates guide for 2023 

How to create an audio marketing strategy

  1. Define your target audience
  2. Choose the right audio channels
  3. Craft compelling audio content
  4. Optimize and refine
  5. Build brand consistency
  6. Implement and monitor campaigns 

1. Define your target audience

Before you start creating audio for your digital marketing strategy, start by identifying who your audio ads are for. Who is your ideal customer profile? What type of audio content do they want from the brands they engage with?

It helps to look at demographic and behavioral data like: 

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Fan bases
  • Related interests
  • Device usage
  • Preferred genre
  • Income
  • Listening habits and preferences

Podcast listeners, for example, might skew younger and be more tech-savvy, whereas traditional radio might appeal to an older demographic that prefers familiar content. 

Use data from sources like Edison Research, Google Trends, or Apple Podcast Charts to understand your audience's behavior. Supplement what you find with metrics from social media and streaming platforms to paint a complete 360-degree picture of your ideal listener. This research will inform the tone, content, and placement of your audio marketing strategy. 

2. Choose the right audio channels

Once you know who you’re targeting, select audio channels that align with your audience’s preferences. Ideally, you want to prioritize platforms where you can use programmatic ads for precision and efficiency.

For example: Say you're targeting commuters. Consider digital audio platforms like Spotify or audiobook apps like Amazon's Audible, where you can insert podcast ads. Traditional radio still holds strong for certain demographics and gives you a broader, less defined audience. Plus, smartphones have apps for almost all audio formats, making them a key touchpoint for audio marketing strategies. 

3. Craft compelling audio content

Regardless of where you’re distributing your audio ads, they must grab your audience’s attention. Create content that tells a story and aligns with your brand's voice. One of the best ways to do this successfully is to invest in high-quality production tools that won’t break the bank. 

Compelling audio experiences are not just about what is said, but how it's delivered. Invest in a professional audio editor like Descript, which provides a variety of purpose-built tools for audio marketers: 

  • AI Voices: Create a digital voice profile for yourself that you can clone for future projects or more in-depth audio editing. 
  • Filler Word Removal: Remove “ums,” “uhs,” “you knows,” and other filler words with one click.
  • Studio Sound: Refine your audio quality and remove unwanted background noise without investing in an expensive microphone. 

4. Optimize and refine

The power of audio marketing lies in its ability to evolve and adapt. The latest evolution lies in voice search and smart speaker compatibility. Using search engine optimization (SEO) strategies for voice search ensures your audio content is discoverable when people use devices like Google Home or Alexa to search for topics related to your brand. 

  • Voice search optimization: Voice searches are typically conversational and question-based. To reach the 21% of people who conduct voice searches every week, include natural language that aligns with potential voice queries related to your brand or product. Think about the common questions your target audience might ask and weave answers into your audio content where relevant. 
  • Use keywords in descriptions: While your audio content is key, don't neglect the text that’ll go with it. Descriptions for podcasts, audiobooks, or audio ads should include keywords relevant to your target audience to boost their discoverability on platforms like Google, Amazon, and Apple Music.
  • Optimize for smart speakers: To reach users interacting through devices like Alexa or Google Home, ensure your content is compatible with common commands and questions users might have for their smart speakers.

As you experiment with your audio efforts, analyze performance metrics to refine your strategy. Tactics like A/B testing different versions of your audio can help determine which messaging drives the best conversions.

5. Build brand consistency

Your brand’s audio identity should be recognizable whether a listener is tuning into a traditional radio station, streaming a podcast episode on their smartphone, or engaging with your content on a smart speaker. This unified approach strengthens brand recall and builds trust with your audience.

Regardless of what you’re creating, be consistent with your: 

  • Voice and tone: This could mean employing the same voice talent across different platforms, or maintaining a consistent style in the way your brand communicates.
  • Audio quality: Poor audio quality can distract from your message and harm your brand's perception, regardless of the platform. High-quality audio should be a staple across all your channels.
  • Style: The music, pacing, and overall sound design of your audio marketing materials should reflect your brand’s personality, whether it’s upbeat and energetic or calm and informative. Tools like multi-track editing by Descript make audio synchronization easy. 
Collage of images showing multitrack video and audio editing with Descript 

6. Implement and monitor campaigns

Once you’ve created consistent audio content to distribute, launch your audio marketing campaigns across your chosen channels and monitor their performance closely. 

Keep an eye on key performance indicators like:

  • Listener reach: Total number of listeners who have heard your audio ad or content.
  • Engagement rate: The percentage of people who listen to your content and interact with it through likes, shares, comments, or mentions on social media.
  • Conversion rate: The percentage of listeners who take a specific action after hearing your audio content, like visiting a website or making a purchase.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of listeners who click on a link within the audio ad description.
  • Brand lift: Change in audience perception and awareness of your brand as a result of your audio marketing efforts.
  • Episode downloads: For podcast marketing, the number of times each podcast episode is downloaded.
  • Listener retention rate: How long listeners stick around to engage with your audio content.
  • Ad recall: The rate at which listeners can recall your audio ad after a certain period.
  • Skip rate: The frequency with which listeners skip your audio ads.
  • Bounce rate for audio-driven traffic: For listeners directed to a website, how quickly they leave the site.

Streaming audio services often provide real-time metrics to track campaign success. Adjust your ad spend based on what's working and pivot accordingly to maximize your return on investment. 

4 example audio ads to inspire yours

These audio marketing examples not only show the diversity of effective strategies, but also illustrate how brands can connect with audiences through sound. 

Pizza Hut and Pepsi’s soccer offer

Pizza Hut and Pepsi partnered up in 2010 to create an audio ad still covered in script writing classes today. The ad announced that customers who bought two medium pizzas would receive a free soccer ball and four cans of Pepsi. The voiceover is pretty hilarious and captures the excitement of the World Cup in a 30 second ad placement. 

Coca-Cola's "Hilltop"

Coca-Cola’s "Hilltop" ad, although older, remains a timeless example of effective audio advertising. The jingle “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke'' resonated globally. In the process, it tied the brand to a message of peace and unity. 

IKEA “Morning Face” radio spot

IKEA, known for its innovative and funny ads, nailed this audio ad, which won the 2009 Dead Radio Contest. 

The ad opens with a brief overview of what “morning face” is (it’s when you don’t get enough sleep the night before). It follows with a story of a woman, Linda, entering the office with a morning face, only to scare the crap out of her co-workers. IKEA wraps the ad up with a 20% promo on its mattress line so you can get more beauty sleep than Linda. 

Tide's Super Bowl radio ad

Tide's Super Bowl ad is yet another example of what happens when brands use a major event to create a memorable audio experience. The ad cleverly played with the Super Bowl context, using familiar voices and sounds from the game to draw in listeners. 

Create great audio ads in Descript

As you dive into the world of audio advertising, the right tools can make all the difference in crafting ads that resonate with your audience. 

Descript isn't just another tool in your audio marketing toolkit. It stands out for its intuitive sound and video editor, plus advanced features perfect for both beginners and seasoned marketers. 

With Descript, you can:

  • Record sound from a microphone or your computer directly within the audio editor
  • Edit audio like you’d edit text — no special skills required 
  • Create audio ads with crisp, clear, and professional sound
  • Collaborate with your marketing team using built-in commenting features
  • Remove filler words like “um” and “you know” in one click 

Thousands of brands are already using Descript to create world-class audio ads. Dive into the world of high-impact audio advertising with Descript today. 

Audio marketing FAQs

What is audio advertising?

Audio advertising the use of sound in marketing in order to help brands connect with their target audience on platforms they’re already interacting with. Audio ads can appear in radio shows, podcasts, or music. 

How effective is audio marketing?

Audio marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience. Podcast statistics show that 58% of marketers think this audio channel is more effective in driving purchase intent from potential customers than other forms of media.

What is the future of audio marketing?

Podcasts are the future of audio marketing. Downloads are up across the board, and because it’s easy to start a new podcast, there are shows in almost every industry at every advertising budget. 

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