It’s been a long time since Alexa, Bixby, Cortana, or Siri have opened their way into the comfort and privacy of our homes. Undoubtedly, voice technology has steadily evolved toward maturity, transforming voice-controlled devices into an integral and essential component of our everyday user experience.
From smartwatches, a variety of tiny home gadgets, TVs, all the way to voice-controlled cars, voice marketing practically knows no boundaries. And, what’s even better, it keeps pushing them continuously to the extent which is beyond anyone’s imagination!
More and more marketers use voice technology to interact with their customers and create a deeper brand connection by making their business heard! The audio revolution is already knocking at our door – shall we open and embrace it?
Before rushing to give a (positive) answer to this seemingly simple question, we need to ask ourselves the following – is it the big, bad wolf we are about to welcome to our homes and lives or perhaps a perfect formula for an unparalleled user experience? We will find out today! But we place our bets on the latter…
What Is Voice Marketing?
A basic definition of Voice Marketing would be this one: the use of marketing tactics and strategies that allow businesses and brands to reach their target audience by using voice-enabled digital devices such as smartwatches, smart TVs, cars, or home assistants. Therefore, for a voice marketing strategy to be efficient, it should take into consideration certain aspects such as customer behavioural changes and the context in which people prefer to use voice-first information.
What makes voice technology such a life-changer? Well, the fact that we are sluggish by nature- not for everything, but for the majority of everyday things in our lives. As the tempo of life is speeding up constantly, we simply cannot keep up the pace with it. Plus, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize that people speak faster than they write, which explains why the popularity of voice assistants exploded. It saves time, energy, your sight, and a lot of nerves!
Do consumers trust voice technology? Oh yes, they do! According to Microsoft’s 2019 Voice Report, 72% of the surveyed respondents had used voice search through a digital assistant in the previous 6 months. And that was almost 2 years ago. Do they trust it now? Even more.
The next question that comes to mind is – what do people use voice search for? Relying on the data from the same research, 68% of consumers search for quick facts, 65% look up directions, 52% search for services and products, while 31% compare services and products. You can find the whole research here.
What comes out strong from this research is the fact that voice search is already turning into a “must have” for business success. What’s even more, 57% of the enquired people expect that, by 2024, their favourite brands will have their own digital assistants. And nowadays, we really see some good examples of digital assistants.
A Couple of Examples of Voice Marketing Tools that Are Widely Used
Back in 2018, Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute released a report according to which, in three years, voice assistants will become a prominent mode of consumer interaction. If you are curious to take a closer look, you can download the full report here.
Three years went by in no time, and here we are, in 2021. How have VM tools evolved? In which way have they simplified our lives? Let’s take a look at a couple of interesting examples.
Starbucks’ voice-activated ordering system
People hate waiting in line- that’s a proven fact. And people love enjoying a good cup of coffee while driving. That’s another proven fact. So what did Starbucks do with these two well-known facts? Well, they developed a voice-operated app that allows their customers to order their coffee and pay for it in advance using Alexa or Bixby.
Does it work? It certainly looks like it does, at least based on the 2017 stats. As far as the figures from January that year say, this coffee giant has had 13 million Starbucks Rewards™ members in the US alone! You can find more information about My Starbucks® barista app here.
Kayak’s voice-operated booking system
Booking a hotel or working out your travel options can sometimes turn into a tedious process. Kayak thought of a hassle-free and time-saving method that allows people to easily and comfortably book a hotel room by using an Alexa skill.
Aside from giving you bookable options, Kayak can provide other valuable info, such as price of the tickets, upcoming flights or trips and so much more. If you want to find out more about Alexa’s lovely relationship with Kayak, click here.
Elinext’s Music Streaming App
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything,” used to say Plato. Well, the guys at Elinext dedicated all their efforts to developing a fully-functional app for Asteroid-range devices, striving to satisfy the needs of the most demanding clientele.
How can this app improve your user experience? By allowing you to voice-search artists, albums, and tracks, it leaves you more time to do what you love the most- listen to music. But there’s more to it: charts, new releases, playlists, and collection sections for easy viewing and managing of your favourite songs, altogether providing unparalleled experience. You can learn more about this app here.
BevMo!’s Voice-Enabled On-Shelf Shopping Assistant
At some point in our lives, we’ve all been there- reading label after label in a desperate search for a specific product. Well, BevMo! made whiskey lovers’ lives a lot easier! They developed a SmartAisle shopper platform that interacts with buyers by means of an intuitive voice interface. Getting product information and recommendations has turned into a breeze.
Regarding the time-saving aspect, the overall selection procedure and experience is designed to last no longer than two minutes. On top of that, repetition is minimized and the engagement factor is significantly leveled up, as the SmartAisle provides not only additional product information, but lots of interesting facts about whiskey and even shares some jokes. You can read more about this shopping assistant here.
What User Problems Does Voice Marketing Solve?
We have already mentioned customers’ innate sluggishness as one of the fields where these gadgets, to say so, save the day. With them, we can bid farewell to all those lengthy selection procedures which devour our precious time and energy.
But does virtual marketing address other consumer-related problems? It is clear that we have reached the point where technological advancements and customer preferences have converged, which indicates that further development and implementation of audio-based solutions and assistants could only add more simplicity to our busy, speedy lives.
Why do customers prefer voice experiences? For quite a simple reason we already mentioned- talking is easier than writing and saves valuable time.
On top of that, voice technology provides access to services and products to consumers whose special needs have been neglected. For instance, blind or illiterate people could deal with everyday challenges much easier with a voice assistant by their side. The voice-operated technology provides the user with a more human-like, natural-feeling immersive experience with almost instant results.
What current consumers are craving for are hands-free, optimized, and customized experiences. Just think of Alexa which is now able to differentiate between the voices of various users, and therefore able to guarantee a fully personalized experience to each one of them. It’s all about the user and personal experience.
As stated in the Voice Technology Trends in Marketing: Everything Digital Marketers Need to Know, a research conducted by Campaign Monitor, what consumers are mainly looking for is immediacy on the go. To get an idea of why and when do people make use of voice technology, just take a look at these charts:
How Can Big Enterprises Make the Most of Voice Marketing?
As we have already seen, the use of voice technology among consumers is on a rising tide, forcing businesses to revamp their digital marketing tactics and strategies.
Most businesses offer various types of customer support help: direct phone calls, e-mails, chatbots, etc. Let’s take for example the valuable data regular phone calls provide retailers with. According to the research led by BrightLocal in 2018, 28% of the people who make a local voice search end up calling the business, while 18% end up visiting the business. That makes a total of 47%.
After conducting a new Local Consumer Review Survey in 2019, results showed that 27% of the consumers decide to contact or visit a business after they read a positive review. 27% is much less than 47%, isn’t that so? It appears that increasing sales is possible if marketers understand the importance of search queries.
Often, consumers who use voice search to look for a business are not interested in a specific product or a price. They want to find the business’ phone number or location. It seems logical that, in order for consumers to be able to discover your business, your content must be tailored accordingly.
Yes, we are talking about VEO (voice engine optimization) and savvy content marketing! Phone conversations with customers are a valuable source of information that smart marketers can use to their benefit by identifying the questions customers ask (i.e. voice keywords) and implementing them in their marketing strategies.
Of course, phone conversations can be revised manually, but aren’t we living in the tech-driven era? Using AI can ease and speed up the whole process, so why not use the advantage of modern technologies, and add another layer of efficiency to the entire procedure!
Another possible solution would be for businesses to enter a partnership with a platform builder (e.g. Amazon) and pay the platform to recommend their products or services by voice assistants. This way, consumers would get what they want in a matter of minutes, and companies’ profits would continuously skyrocket.
To sum up
Using voice technology allows businesses to speak directly to their target audience and provide them with relevant, user-friendly, and customized experiences. Enhancing customer experience translates into increased website traffic and, ultimately, increased sales, making it a win-win situation for the both parties. It’s an instant solution for both customers and business owners.
As for the big bad wolf we mentioned in the beginning- people are always slightly sceptical towards innovations, and voice marketing is by no means an exception. While younger, tech-savvy people quickly grasp all the basics, the others, especially senior generations, are not always so intuitive, and need slightly more time to work out how all the innovative gadgets function.
That’s where education steps in. Entrepreneurs interested in incorporating voice marketing into their business should also focus on informing and educating their target groups and consumers on voice search environment and possibilities.
Finally, is it wise to invest in voice marketing? Absolutely yes! Research on trends, customer behaviour, and customer expectations demonstrate that savvy consumers are highly receptive to innovative marketing strategies. Once again, proper education of clients is a vital part of the acceptance procedure, as it will enable smoother transition to this innovative method of search.
So why not bring some peace to your prospective clients’ hectic lives? Adding voice marketing to your business is, without any doubt, a smart investment, which will undoubtedly pay off quickly.
Guest post courtesy of Alex Sysov