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Technology To Grow On
by Bruce Judson

Boost Sales with Custom Audio Productions

Bruce Judson may be able to help. Submit your small business technology or online service questions to Bruce Judson and each month he'll select questions and provide answers that will be posted on Hoover's Online.

As the author of NetMarketing, I am frequently asked how businesses can create more effective Web sites. In this case, "effective" is usually a synonym for "revenue generating."

My general experience is that the best way to build Web site sales is to look at successful retailers in the brick-and-mortar world, to understand what makes them successful. How these reasons for success might translate into an online information gathering or shopping experience.

With this approach in mind, I am a strong believer in what I call the "Bloomingdale’s" theory of shopping for online retailers and manufacturers providing online product information. This means:

  1. the entire process of online shopping, from the gathering of information to sorting through options, should be an enjoyable experience; and

  2. online merchants should not be afraid to highlight or recommend specific items -- just as Bloomingdale’s showcases certain products as you walk through its stores.
With this in mind, I have come to believe that fun, professionally created audio messages -- with voice and music -- have the potential to significantly lift sales at online sites. A well-designed audio message that starts playing when a visitor arrives at a site can instantly capture the visitor’s attention, potentially put the visitor in the right shopping frame of mind, and direct visitors to items of particular interest.

A common fear among site operators is that adding audio to sites will slow the download of Web pages. Now, technology that employs compressed, on-demand streaming media should radically diminish, or even eliminate, this concern.

One firm that specializes in audio production for the Web, which I find particularly appealing is Audio Web Pro. This Company's approach to creating useful, captivating work reflects the marriage of a long-standing audio production capability, including a Grammy award winning production team, with a sophisticated, Web-oriented capability.

A visit to the new AudioWebPro site is an easy way to see how well orchestrated words and music can have a tremendous impact on the user’s experience. I find that each time I visit the site, its words and melodies catch my attention and actually lift my spirits. If your site can have this same impact on each visitor, it's likely to play a more effective role in creating sales, building your brand image and building the memory of specific product details among site visitors.

Audio Web Pro offers:

  • custom production, which includes up to one minute of voice talent
  • music that is licensed for unlimited Web use
  • professional custom copy
Prices start at $275 per production and discounts are available for multiple productions. The audio message can be added to your Web site and be set to play automatically when the page loads or when a user clicks play. The streaming audio uses a java applet that is compressed at a ratio of 200 to one. This means that it downloads quickly (an audio file that would otherwise take five minutes now takes seconds) And, according to Audio Web Pro, has a minimal effect on the download time for your site. (I recommend, however, that before making any purchases you determine exactly what this effect will be and whether it causes you any concerns.) All visitors that have today’s popular browsers, Netscape version 3.0 or higher and Internet Explorer version 3.0 or higher, will be able to listen to your audio message. No special software or plug-in is required for listeners.

Although charges for custom audio productions can quickly build, I encourage you to think hard about experimenting with this capability. Most online businesses spend significant resources to drive traffic to their sites. If audio has an impact on sales once visitors arrive at the site, it will more than pay for itself. It will also make additional investments in increasing traffic even more worthwhile.

Copyright 2001 The Judson Group Inc. All rights reserved. Grow Your Profits is a trademark of The Judson Group Inc.