Losing “The Internet Chill”

    July 25, 2003

Do you run a website? Send email? Is the site an inviting, personable place? Do your emails ooze with your charisma and charm?

If not don’t worry, almost all online communication suffers from

“The Internet Chill”

Because we are so accustomed to verbal communication, when we are exposed to too much text, we naturally feel a sense of ‘coldness’ or distance between ourselves and the author. This doesn’t mean there is some sort of bad blood, just that the sense of closeness is lacking.

Here are a few things to think about and try:

*** Count how many words you hear in a day (well ok..at least some of them) and compare that with how many you read. You hear hundreds of times more words.

*** Count how many words you speak in a day and compare that with how many you write. You speak hundreds of times more words.

*** How many times have you ‘fallen in love’ with someone because of what they wrote. What they said?

*** Where is it easier to put your passion and emotion so that it is unmistakeable and powerful? In writing, or in your voice?

I’m sure you can see that the power of the voice is much more available and accessible, and far more a part of our daily lives than text.

Unlike literature, where we get attached to the story and the characters, websites are mostly information driven. They don’t have ‘stories’ or characters to capture our attention and interest.

With audio (and in particular voice), that coldness and impersonality disappears, a character and even a story emerges, that can capture a visitor’s mind in ways that informational text simply can’t.

Benefits of audio

*** Add personality and your own ‘charm’ to a site in ways just not possible with text only.

*** People remember audio stimulus much more than information they read.

*** You can get people to do things that are simply impossible with text.

*** Believability factor is MUCH higher with audio than text. A testimonial in a person’s own voice is 100x more powerful than a simple text message.

*** Linguists have shown that as much as 60% of our understanding in communication comes from verbal cues such as intonation, voice speed, volume, and ‘flow’. All of these are impossible to duplicate with text.

But, there are (or were) a number of problems with audio on the internet that simply couldn’t be ignored. The reality of the internet is that if your visitors don’t get some benefit from a technology or gizmo, then isn’t worth the effort. Even more if the technology takes away benefits or makes their experience worse, then you should run away from it as fast as you can.

This has traditionally been the case with audio on the internet. As a supplement to a site (e.g. a sample .mp3 on a musicians website) audio has been very useful. However as the MAIN MODE of content delivery, audio has until now been completely impractical.

Problems with audio being used on websites, ebooks, email etc.

*** Bulky on your website – Even mp3s are big and take up space on your server, and require a lot of bandwidth when users actively download the files to listen to them.

*** Slow to download. Even streaming audio requires lots of download time for people to even hear it. Static audio files are much worse.

*** Complicated to make and use. – Creating audio for your site required quality recording equipment, and expensive software to create the audio files, and a fair bit of technical know-how that the average web site manager simply does not have the time (or money) to invest in.

*** Require additional software to play – Most often the audio requires additional software (real player, winamp etc.) to be installed on the users computer in order to hear the music. This forces them to go some where else get the software, come back to your site and listen to your audio….not likely…and certainly not a good way to keep visitors on your site.

*** Chintzy metallic sounding ‘cartoon’ music – of course there is always the option of .midi music….ahh…no perhaps not!

Its easy to see why until now audio has been pretty much useless as far as being a primary source of site content. It does work well as a secondary element of some websites.

JUMPING TO THE NEW WORLD….the audio generation

I have always wanted to add audio to my site as a complement to my sales messages but because of everything I talked about above, I never did. Recently a new play on demand audio system was released, it seemed to eliminate all of the challenges posed by traditional audio ‘solutions’, so I was eager to test it out.

What caught my attention is that unlike the audio products of the past which were not well suited for use as immediate content (.mp3, .midi, .wav etc), this is specifically intended for use as PRIMARY website content, instantly, on user demand with no added software or download times.

So, I thought I had best test it out and see how it worked.

Well what I can say is that I was pretty much astounded.

I had my first audio clip up on my site in less than 10 minutes, and it worked like a dream. I simply clicked the ‘play’ button and presto, I could here the message I had recorded by phone 5 minutes earlier.

But I am pretty much a sceptic at heart, so I called my father, who knows nearly nothing about computers, and runs an old (ancient) p133 laptop with a 28.8 modem and asked him to test the audio.

He phoned back 10 minutes later and said: “Yep..I could hear you no problem…I already have a copy of your book, but thanks for the offer”. Sigh…that’s my dad for you.

Well armed with that positive experience, I thought I would run a test to see if adding the audio actually made a difference to the performance of my sales message. Here are some of my results based on simply adding an audio message to my opt-in landing page:

I ran a split test using two versions of a nearly identical opt-in landing page. The only difference between the two was that one had my a nice play on demand audio clip welcoming my visitors and encouraging them to sign-up.

On one site, that sells a garage sale product the audio version captured 50% more email addresses than the version without the audio clip.

On the second site, my marketing for newbies site, the audio version gathered 64% more subscribers than the non-audio version.

Now I don’t know about you, buy I buy a lot of my traffic (especially when I want to test something quickly), and a jump in opt-in rate like those provides a seriously increased ROI. Hey, once they reach the page, I’ve already paid the money, so the more I can get to register for my email course, the better.

Now my only job is to try out different flavours of my welcome message until I get one that really smokes!

Of course not all sites are about making sales. That shouldn’t worry you. Audio of this kind can be used in many ways that will provide positive benefits for your site’s visitors.

Here are a couple of ways that it could be used (just off the top of my head, I’ve written a complete ebook about how to take advantage of audio – see the end for how to download it at no cost):

*** On an artist’s site: The artist can add a short audio clip about the ‘soul’ of each of her paintings found on the site.

*** On a family site: Short messages from each family member (updated once a month) for all other family members to access.

*** CrunchyApple.com site: The wholesome C~R~U~N~C~H of your favourite apple! (There is no such site, a waiting opportunity?)

Since this is as simple as making a phone call (literally), any of the examples above is very easy to do.

Remember, not all audio is the same. Do it incorrectly, and it WILL be a NEGATIVE on your site by killing the speed of your website, making content inaccessible, and forcing your visitors to jump through hoops just to visit your site.

BAD idea.

Get it right (and this is very easy now), and you will have added a very powerful and versatile tool to your website and email campaigns.

If you are interested in learning more about instant audio (that plays on user demand), I’ve written a free ebook outlining just how you can go about it, and 20+ ways that you can integrate audio into your online presence within minutes.

You can download the book here: http://www.newbie-guides.com/cgi-bin/t.cgi?agenbook

Good luck, and have fun with it.

Eric Koshinsky created the layman’s guide to antivirus and PC
protection after helping too many people deal with simple PC
problems. Find out exactly how to protect your computer from
harmful internet attacks at http://www.antivirus-report.com. The
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