A few weeks ago, I read an interesting interview with David Isbitski, chief evangelist for Alexa and Echo devices at Amazon. He’s one of those guys that shoot for the bullseye with his remarks, and he hit a dead center with this one: voice is the new HTML.
Despite my close connections with voice tech, I’ve never really taken a step back and looked at it from that angle. The primary idea is always to improve the user experience. We take HTML for granted. You know – it’s there, almost like it’s been there all the time and not just for the past 26 years. Even though it’s only one underlying part of the WWW equation, we uniformly relate to it as the doors to the online world. Quite literally, it is the fundamental building block of virtually every website out there. It would be hard to imagine the web without it.
So have we really come to a point where voice is that seamless and omnipresent? If you have the habit of following my online footprints, you’ll notice I like to call the ongoing movements in the audio world as the audio revolution. I think of it as a subset of the digital revolution, aka. the Third Industrial Revolution. Does that make the audio revolution 3.1? Maybe.
Also a worthy revolution.
The fact remains that a combination of voice and content technology has created an audio-first environment where users have set certain demands. They expect to interact with devices via their voice. They expect to receive their content in an audio form. The way we consume content has changed thanks to contech (content technology), resulting in audio consumption booming in various formats. This behavior creates enormous opportunities for publishers and businesses not only looking to improve user experience but build stronger and long-lasting relationships with their readers and audience.
Digital audio is on a huge upswing in virtually all facets. Amazon’s Alexa-based smart speaker strategy continues to pay off, podcasting is gaining new ground each day, and a whole new batch of voice-first devices is on the rise. Generally speaking, time spent listening to online audio is increasing on a year-by-year basis, which perhaps best shows the current trend in consumer usage of media and technology.
For those looking on the inside out, it’s about bringing the audience into this audio era. This is a multi-stage process for which I’ve created quick step-by-step guidelines so you can understand it easily.
Step 1: availability
In order to leverage audio, you need to make it available. So, the first step is to give your readers the ability to listen to an article. We at Trinity do it by default – see the player beneath the title? It’s unobtrusive yet an extremely worthy addition as it provides a native experience of the content in question. This small piece of code can be easily embedded in your articles to match your site’s look and feel in an effort to make the existing content easier to use.
Engage readers wherever they have already become listeners (in the gym, on the commute, at their office desk, etc), at their own terms (modify text to human speech by choosing a language, voice, playback speed, and so on) and add a new way to monetize website or monetize your blog. It’s content consumption in a more natural and intuitive way, as simple as that.
Step 2: enhance the experience
Once you turn your readers into listeners, it’s onto improving the experience by providing greater convenience. That falls under the jurisdiction of content discovery and recommendation so make sure you recommend more audio content articles to listen to enhance the overall user experience. Whether it’s flash briefs, trending audio articles, podcasts or radio shows, these can be easily suggested based on user behavior, contextual analysis, popularity, and more. Built-in players and units continuously learn your listeners’ behavior so that they can spend more time on your website, exploring more content and ultimately generating more revenue.
Step 3: expand
Part of improving user experience is adding more value, and that’s best reflected through convenience. Some people use digital music services, others shift from digital radio to on-demand services. All this highlights the need to provide options to consume your audio through additional channels. That means adding Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, Amazon Music, and a whole bunch of other services to your repertoire. Being there is all part of the perfect listening experience.
Step 4: smart speakers
Smart speakers continue to gain in popularity because modern users want voice tech in their lives. As such, smart speakers present a unique way to reach customers and facilitate voice-based experiences. Voice-first flawlessly mimics the motions and patterns of modern users today, where multitasking is more of a need than anything else. Much of the actions are performed on the go, and the convenience factor is high.
So you need to release your content to be consumed on smart speakers. Whether it’s through Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant (as the two leading voice assistants for smart speakers), or some other option is totally up to you – one will make more sense than the other. The focus is to deliver your content on smart speakers with your own customized set of voice-first skills. And it’s not hard at all. For instance, the Trinity player will automatically create a set of smart speaker skills from your content once implemented on site.
But… I don’t have “downstairs”.
Step 5: voice capabilities
From there on, it’s about letting your users discover, interact, and engage with your audio content using voice commands. Businesses across industries are leveraging audio as the focal point of their business strategies. Combined with voice tech, it’s an increasingly popular way to improve user experience capture listeners’ attention, keep them engaged, and finally – drive them to take action.
Audio for all, all for audio
Those would be the five pro hacks critical to audio-oriented success. Typically, important developments came from the largest tech companies at a price but that’s not the case with contech. Starting the audio revolution of your own by converting articles to audio isn’t a technically challenging, arduous, and expensive process. The speed at which you are able to implement your vision of a more personalized experience for your readers is measured in mere minutes.
Sometimes it amazes me to see how far the voice technology and audio have come. What makes the grin on my face even bigger is the fact that this is just the beginning. Truly amazing things await us so stick around for the ride.
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