We all get Alexa to play our favorite song or Hey, Google our way into pizza for dinner, but what happens when we need our computer to read text to us? Does your business easily offer this service for the visually or physically impaired? If you don’t already include text to speech features in your digital marketing plan, take a look at Amazon Polly.

What is Amazon Polly?

Amazon Polly is a text to speech service that gives voice to not only written words but also pictures, charts, and other graphics on your website. Far from the computer-generated robo voices delivered in a 1970s science fiction movie, Amazon Polly voices are diverse, with 29 languages for the most natural-sounding speech. Amazon Polly recognizes slang, acronyms, and more nuanced speech that other text to voice programs may struggle with, so even the most casual of website text can be converted to speech and understood.

Once your website text converts to speech, it is permanently accessible in real-time, with no charge for replays on either end.

The output (speech) format can be easily optimized for both desktop and mobile devices, a big plus with the ever-increasing number of people accessing the internet on their smartphones (an estimated 75% of us by 2025!).

Amazon offers step-by-step guides that can help you get started with this service, and great customer support system. One of the benefits of the service is how easy it is to implement. But there’s more.

Amazon Polly benefits for digital marketing

Amazon Polly benefits your digital marketing efforts by adding another layer to your content. Whether your customers need assistance reading your website or they like to do more than one thing at a time (e.g., have the recipe read to them as they make dinner or listen to your content more like a podcast), this service makes it easier for customers and clients to get the information they need.

This technology is still new, but the benefits are stacking up.

1. Greater accessibility

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) laid out new guidelines for accessibility required for public-facing websites for companies doing business in the European Union, Canada, and other countries around the globe.

These Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are written so that content developers and website designers create internet platforms that are, at a minimum:

  1. Perceivable: Content, both text and graphics, have tools embedded to make them accessible to all users
  2. Operable: Users have options when it comes to navigating a site
  3. Understandable: Anyone can access and understand all website content
  4. Robust: Able to work with current and future tools

In the U.S., there is no such level of requirements beyond Section 508 of the American Disabilities Act that requires all governmental websites to be accessible.

Beyond the law, using Amazon Polly text to speech functions brings your website to more people. Consider the number of potential customers or clients Amazon Polly could help. In the U.S., approximately 3% of the population is blind. Over three and a half million children are receiving additional services for reading disabilities. Almost 45 million adults are living with dyslexia. Regardless of legal requirements, this is a significant portion of the U.S. who could benefit from Amazon Polly.

Plus, as lawsuits regarding accessibility slowly make their way through the court system, when it does become a legal requirement, your business will be way ahead of the game.

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2. Reaches a different audience

Text to speech systems may have been began as a way to make web content more accessible for visually or manually impaired users, but the potential audience is much wider than that (as we find with most inclusion initiatives).

As mentioned above, text to voice functions can guide users through a difficult construction project, a complicated recipe, or a 900-page novel. Book Riot is a prime example of a larger website that has taken full advantage of Amazon Polly. Most posts feature a “Listen to this post” button that reads the entire post. This feature also helps people who struggle with reading comprehension but are able to still follow visual text (and supports those who are just learning to read!).

These same types of content can be repackaged as podcasts, complete with an opportunity to subscribe to your website and – you guessed it – build up your email list.

3. May increase time on page

Amazon Polly use can also boost time spent on your website. This can occur as customers listen to the steps for a project or listen to a magazine article. Since text to voice can also include step-by-step guidance on the ordering or appointment setting process, users don’t need to navigate away or pick up the phone to get what they need.

This is another level of service for your customers and keeps them on your site for longer.

And that increased page time? Time spent on a page is one of the major metrics that Google uses to rank your website when it delivers organic search results. More time spent on the page means a better Google ranking for you.

It’s a win-win.

4. It lives on the cloud

Because Amazon Polly uses cloud-based storage, it won’t use the power and resources an on-device text to speech system uses.

This also makes it easier for less experienced developers to easily implement.

5. Easy to use and affordable

The Amazon Polly pricing levels make this an affordable option to boost accessibility to your website and attract new clients and customers. The free tier of AWS (Amazon web service) tools, including Amazon Polly, allows you to synthesize five million characters a month for the first twelve months.

In plainspeak, those five million characters goes a long way. The average email is around 3,000 characters and a 500-word blog post clocks in at 5,000 characters. Setting up your current website with Amazon Polly could start with static, evergreen content. This is relevant content that doesn’t usually change, like your address and major service areas. Then go from there.

When your 12 months are up, Amazon uses a pay-as-you go pricing model, with up to one million characters for just four bucks a month. This is a small price to pay to make your website (and your business) more accessible to all potential clients and customers.

If you have more questions about Amazon Polly, Amazon Polly benefits, and how to get started, Boost can help. We do the legwork so you don’t have to. Let’s get started on making your website more accessible today!