Many of our blog readers have asked us about the “Listen to This Article” widget at the top of (almost) every post on our site.
To answer both your and our content marketing consulting team’s questions about this new functionality, my colleague Anthony Helmstetter interviewed me to find out more about our audio article widget and how it helped us increase time on site from 4 minutes to over 9 minutes for listeners.
Let’s dive in:
Anthony Helmstetter: Why did you decide to put the “Listen to this Article” on the Convince & Convert blog pages? Obviously, now you can go to the blog, and you can read the post OR listen to it — it doesn’t make a difference. Do people take advantage of it? What was the original impetus to do this and where did the idea come from?
Megan Leap: Audio content and voice-activated content has been top of mind for Jay Baer (our fearless leader) for a while. Last summer, he attended the VOICE Summit in New Jersey and saw an impressive case study session from Alex Eremia at Bingewith. He immediately introduced me to Alex via email and told me to setup a demo with her to see if Bingewith would make sense for our site.
I got a demo and was pretty much sold. Since we were new to AI-gernerated audio content (but not audio in general), we decided to do a quick test and add the “Listen to this Article” widget to four of the most popular articles on our site and see whether the functionality increased time on site.
Anthony Helmstetter: Okay, so what was the expected outcome? Was there a thesis?
Megan Leap: Yes, we would see an increased time on site for the people who chose to listen to the article. Alex explained that when people choose to listen to the article, they are more likely to stay on the site because some people prefer to listen rather than read.
Anthony Helmstetter: So time on site increases because people have been actually listening longer instead of reading a paragraph or two and leaving. That would ultimately increase other more meaningful metrics, like total engagement or conversions.
Megan Leap: Yes, exactly. Increased time would lead to better engagement and more interactions and conversions overall.
Anthony Helmstetter: Did you consider other tools before you decided to pilot this program?
Megan Leap: Now that’s a great question. Normally, I would suggest evaluating more solutions, but we liked Bingewith, and it’s ease-of-use and decided to go with it without looking around.
Anthony Helmstetter: What was the setup like?
Megan Leap: So like I explained, instead of rolling this out to the entire site, we picked a few of our top articles and added the Bingewith plugin to those pages, and we let it run for about 4 weeks, and the results were amazing. Our time on site doubled for the people who listened instead of only reading. So we decided to continue rolling out Bingewith on our blog articles.
Anthony Helmstetter: So you did a test within the pilot program so to speak, but it’s not on the entire site. Now is that intentional?
Megan Leap: Bingewith continues to add audio players to more articles every month. The player is on about 600 articles on our site. Not all of our pages get that much traffic. Some vintage, un-optimized posts only get 1 or 2 visits a month or less (another thing with are tackling — that’s for another post), so the widget isn’t on every single post. I wish all 2400 articles on our site got significant traffic! We’re focused on putting Bingewith on the pages that get the most traffic.
Anthony Helmstetter: That’s the 80/20 rule, probably for any site with any substantial content into it. Clarify for us whether Bingewith decides which pages to voice enable or do you decide that?
Megan Leap: Initially, I decided. But they’ve taken that over. But I’m sure you know, if we wanted to put it on certain pages, we could. It’s very easy. We can put it on any page on our site we’d like.
Anthony Helmstetter: What’s their business model? What’s their success metric?
Megan Leap: Bingewith has a monthly subscription.
Anthony Helmstetter: Does the subscriber / publisher, in this case, Convince and Convert, pay based on the number of audio articles? Or articles listened?
Megan Leap: I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where they eventually go with it, but right now, it’s really affordable. And it’s $19.95 a month for our site. I wouldn’t be surprised if the model or price eventually increases. It’s an amazing solution!
Anthony Helmstetter: So right now, in our case as a publisher, we pay a flat monthly fee of 20 bucks to have a meaningful portion of our existing content audio enabled with this? Is that right?
Megan Leap: It’s amazing. Yeah!
Anthony Helmstetter: Why would not any content site test this for 20 bucks a month?
Megan Leap: I think they just don’t know about it.
I’m sure it’s hard to sell to some people because it’s not a completely perfect solution. Obviously, the audio is AI generated. A robot voice on say, Vogue.com, could be hard to sell to Anna Wintour. But we are a techie company, so it’s all good.
We occasionally have people contact us and complain that it sounds like a robot is reading the article. Out of our hundreds of thousands of readers, maybe three people have replied to our newsletter or emailed us to vent about the “robot”. But that’s how AI works. It is a robot. And we wouldn’t be able to have any audio functionality without our robot friends. Jay actually tested recording himself reading articles back in the day. It was extremely resource intensive, and that initiative didn’t last very long. This is a much more reasonable solution that requires literally no work on our end.
They also may be able to improve the “voice” of the robot at some point and be able to replicate Jay’s voice, or my voice, or your voice. Amazing, right?
Anthony Helmstetter: Okay, let’s let’s delve into that. Because so far we’ve talked about how this works from our perspective as the publisher. You mentioned feedback from users and visitors to the site. Your data and metrics say that time on site increases, which is a proxy for engagement and interest.
What kind of anecdotal feedback have you received from readers, aside from it sounding like a robot?
Megan Leap: I’ve asked for feedback many times in our newsletter, but no one has given us any. We could do a survey of people and ask them or some sort of pop up on our site and ask them, but we haven’t done that. We’re continuing to use it based on the results.
Anthony Helmstetter: What’s the next step in the voice plan for this particular content site that you help oversee?
Megan Leap: There are two things I’d like to do in the future:
1) Since we’re a site educates marketers on, I want to explain what the audio listening widget is within/around the widget — so readers understand why we have that the audio widget on our articles and how it’s helpful.
2) I’d also like to see if Bingewith can replicate Jay’s voice so the robot sounds more like Jay. That’s something I believe they’re working on.
Anthony Helmstetter: Is there a timeframe for that? I mean, I’ve heard rumors that they’re working on the ability to create an AI voice synthesizer for a particular personality such as Jay Baer. Have you heard of a timeframe that could occur within?
Megan Leap: I know they’re working on it (or were)… Jay’s all for it so we can definitely be a guinea pig and try it out.
Anthony Helmstetter: The robotic AI voice translator now could actually take on a sort of an Alexa type personality for specific individual, a celebrity, or a subject matter expert.
Megan Leap: Yes, exactly!
Anthony Helmstetter: Last question: are we being compensated in any way to promote this tool?
Megan Leap: Nope, not at all! Just big fans and excited to explain to our clients and readers how they can leverage audio functionality within their content, too.
If you have any questions, or would like to request a consultation with a content strategist on our team, just fill out the form below. We’d love to chat with you about audio-enabled content and your own content marketing strategy.