graphic showing user searching results through his voice

Voice technology has arrived and the signs are all around. Who doesn’t like asking a question and being answered without having to get online and scroll through the answers. Convenience is what consumers want and expect. Voice technology delivers in a big way.

Voice Technology Defined

Voice technology has made a big splash with consumers and is also starting to be embraced by companies for marketing purposes. Siri, Google, and Alexa are examples of this type of technology that the average consumer has used. Luminary Labs reports that this new technology represents the intersection between AI services, IoT devices and UX interactions yielding a hands-free way to interface with technology. 

Uses of Voice Tech

With 60.5 million U.S. consumers using digital assistants already for search purposes and to place orders, Forbes reports that 87 percent of marketers participating in the survey predict that chat robots and virtual assistants are destined to play a significant role in the way businesses interact with consumers as early as 2021. These statistics are fueling the way businesses market. 

How Brands Utilize Voice Marketing

The use of voice technology is expansive, encompassing many industries and government agencies. Ford was an early convert. The car manufacturer launched Sync in 2007, adding this communications system to cars to let users make phone calls and music choices hands-free. Forbes predicts that 90 percent of vehicles being sold will have voice recognition technology by 2022. 

Healthcare has also invested in voice technology. WebMD got in on the voice technology game by creating an Alexa-type skill to answer health questions about treatments for common health problems and educating people on different drug side effects. 

Not to be left out, the city of Los Angeles is using Alexa technology to advertise information about upcoming public events. Currently, solutions are being sought related to making government services accessible using digital assistants. 

The hospitality industry is another industry already using voice technology. Wynn Las Vegas, Four Seasons and Marriott have all jumped on this bandwagon. Wynn Las Vegas has Echo for guests so that they can control lights, music and the temperature with voice commands. Four Seasons and Marriott have plans to use Siri and Alexa so hotel guests can use voice technology to ask for extra towels or to order food. 

The Sales Funnel and Voice Marketing

Campaign Monitor claims that brands will be forced to consider updating SEO practices to accommodate voice technology. Corporate websites must be established with voice ready features. Emails and other marketing tools should also be designed to be read by the new voice technology devices. 

Marketing funnels must evolve based on these changes. The linear funnel is no longer relevant and has been replaced by a loop or flipped funnel. In this new model, consumers enter the funnel at different stages of the buying process since prospects currently do a lot of their own research online. The new sales funnel demands that customers be treated as individuals instead of generic prospects. Buyers demand customized solutions. 

Assuming that technology will continue to change the way companies market, management teams need to build funnels that can quickly adapt to these ongoing changes. It is crucial to analyze and adapt to changes in voice search technology, artificial intelligence and mobile technology. Search Engine Journal reports that the first brands that revamp their websites to embrace voice search will reap the benefits, increasing digital commerce earnings by as much as 30 percent. 

How to Set Up Voice Marketing

Like any major change requirements, developing a workable strategy for accommodating and utilizing voice marketing is recommended for best results. Search Engine Journal claims that there are four things that must be considered when formulating a voice strategy. 

First, it is very important to treat voice as a piece of the puzzle that must fit logically into a larger marketing strategy. What this means is that the voice channels must align with the overall brand identity. The data retrieved from other marketing channels must be used for developing voice strategy. Consistency is key.

Secondly, marketing content must now be designed with a new focus on what the brand sounds like. This adds another important element into the branding process as marketers grapple with adding sound to visual elements in a consistent way to promote a positive brand identity. 

A third consideration relates to relevance. While relevance is always important for any brand hoping to compete, voice technology bears a greater burden than visual in some cases, leaving little room for error. Consumers are believed to be more sensitive to voice technology that is not on target. Since voice responses happen in real-time, relevancy is crucial. For example, a voice search for an Italian restaurant when driving should provide restaurants in the area. Otherwise the information provided is irrelevant. 

How to Optimize My Website for Voice SEO

Preparing for this new focus on voice technology means optimizing your website to make the most of this shift. Remember to keep the words you use conversational. Voice search is less formal and more like everyday conversation. Additionally, use longer-tail keywords to attract more traffic.

Another recommendation for leveraging your website to get more voice search traffic is to post and answer questions that are the most likely to be asked. Using question phrases will bring more visitors to your site. 

Since so many voice searches are conducted on mobile phones, your website must be mobile friendly. Be sure to get an expert to verify that your site loads quickly and shows up well on smaller screens. 

Voice Technology Challenges

The race is on to perfect the way AI voices like Siri sound. Context is critical. To perform well, voice technology must become more proficient at interpreting and reacting to context. Responses should differ depending on location, time of day and the device being used. Real-time metrics like these could conceivably change the answer provided. 

Understanding language ambiguity is another challenge faced by voice technology designers. Considering how ambiguity compromises conversations between two human beings, it is easy to recognize how difficult it is to design technology that knows how to process these subtle differences. 

Yet another area for improvement in voice devices is knowing how to decide when to start listening and stop listening. It is difficult to program voice technology to compute the pauses, stops and starts of normal speaking patterns. Essentially, AI voice assistants must become more in tune to the way humans speak.

Privacy issues have also posed some image problems for this industry, leaving many people skeptical. TechCrunch reports that 41 percent of consumers who use voice assistants reveal concern about privacy. Since all the data collected is reviewed by humans, it is easy to understand why privacy is a major downside for some consumers. 

Conclusion

The future looks bright for voice applications. Top companies know that they must adjust to the new way consumers obtain information. PullString reports that consumers prefer to use voice commands on all of their devices claiming that 63 percent of consumers use their smart speakers on a daily basis.

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