Why Content Marketers should embrace voice-activated tech
As you already know, we’ve seen a massive uptick in the usage of voice-activated technology over the past few years. Today, 65% of 25-49-year-olds use voice search at least once per day and by 2023 8 billion voice assistants will be in use, up from the mere 2 billion in use by the end of 2018.
Now, these trends have not gone unnoticed by organisations who are looking for new and innovative ways to generate more brand exposure. Case in point? According to a Deloitte report, marketers’ ad spending on voice-activated assistants is likely to reach approximately $19 billion over the next four years.
The bottom line? Voice-activated technology is quickly changing the (content) marketing landscape and communicators need to adapt to these changes and evolve the way they promote their brands. In this guide, we walk you through the essentials of what you need to know about voice-activated content and discuss how voice-driven communication strategies fit within the marketing mix.
Voice-activated content: A quick overview
If you’re not 100% sure what voice-activated content entails, this simply refers to auditory content that’s delivered via smart speakers, smartphone assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Siri and other devices.
Think of voice content as a small subset of audio content. More specifically, audio content is a bigger overarching category that includes organic voice searches, podcasting, voice shopping and audiograms (audio that overlays a still image).
Voice content marketing, on the other hand, is pretty self-explanatory – it refers to content marketing that specifically uses voice-activated technologies. Intrinsically tied to this is the concept of Voice Search Optimisation (VSO) where organisations optimise their content to rank in voice searches. According to statistics, there are over 1 billion voice searches conducted every month and by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice-based. Michael Brenner, CEO of the Marketing Insider Group, adds that “the way people search for information online is changing and users who speak are looking for different types of content – often quick answers rather than detailed articles – than those who type searches. Marketers must consider different methods of content delivery such as chatbots“.
Voice-activated content to beat the “content shock“
Mark Schaefer sees our decade as the one of the “content shock” which is the phenomenon where increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it. Brands experiencing this often grapple with low views and clickthrough rates, high bounce rates and fewer conversions. When this happens, producing standard content formats (blog posts, etc.) will no longer work.
And that’s where IoT and voice-activated content come in. The way we see it, the combination of these technologies offer communicators a great set of tools to fight off the “content shock”. More specifically, with auditory content being relatively new, communicators could find themselves ahead of the curve if they get on board now. Bearing this in mind, they could also drive more traffic and conversions using voice content in tandem with their traditional content marketing efforts. As for IoT, it has multiplied the moments and ways content can be consumed – and interacted with – since wearables and hearables enable us to access content at any moment.
Here, voice branding also comes into play. As Sarah Salter, Head of Innovation at media agency Wavemaker, says, a brand’s voice will become as recognisable as its logo and voice branding will be an “essential tool” for brand owners to stand out from the competition. That’s why we can expect marketers to develop more rigorous guidelines about audio and voice content in the near future. As of today, only 17% of brands have audio guidelines (versus 86% who have visual ones).
Voice-activated tech brings new content-consumer interactions
Voice content, which is a type of interactive content, has recently expanded to the world of advertising. Instreamatic, an ad management platform serving voice-activated ads up to 10 seconds long, has started a partnership with music streaming and recommendation Internet radio service Pandora. Soon, the company will launch interactive ads allowing users to talk back to the ad itself, for example, to ask for more information, skip the ad and more. Pandora’s VP of product engagement, Eric Picard, notes that voice interactivity has already changed the way consumers interact with brands on smart speakers.
We’re extremely excited to announce that @pandoramusic is going to leverage Instreamatic technology to launch short, skippable and interactive voice-enabled ads later this year https://t.co/Krw4VHncFF
— Instreamatic (@instreamatic) April 1, 2019
Another organisation that started working with Instreamatic technology comes from radio company Global. Matt Cutair, CEO of DAX in the USA, says that “the reason that we’re launching this partnership now is we are very focused on getting engagement and attribution right in the digital audio space. This allows us to provide [brands] with better campaign metrics and reporting as to what happens when they ran an ad“.
Why brands should work with voice-activated tech
There are some key benefits that voice-driven strategies bring to the table, including the opportunity to stand out from the competition, increased selling opportunities, the ability to grow the number of phone calls to a business and improved SEO performance:
Opportunity to stand out from the competition
When we do a Google search, we see 10 listings on the first results page. Even if you manage to rank on that first page, this doesn’t give you a guaranteed conversion – you’re still in competition with all other listings.
Voice searches, however, currently only pull up one single result – or what’s called Position Zero. If you do manage to get to that position, this means that you dominate the search term and successfully got a leg up on your competitors.
Increased selling opportunities
Research shows that consumers are open to receiving content from brands when they conduct voice searches. More specifically, 52% of smart speaker users want access to deals and promotions. Forty-eight percent want personalised information and 42% would like data about upcoming events. In other words: utilising voice-activated strategies, you’re essentially tapping into a customer segment that might be easier to convert.
Grow the number of phone calls to a business
Statistics show that 28% of people end up calling the business they voice-searched for. How does this benefit organisations? Phone calls convert into 10-15x more revenues than web leads and callers also convert 30% faster.
Voice-activated technology has some in parts surprisingly productivity-enhancing applications such as an improved search engine efficiency. Founder & CSO of AI search engine Bioz, Dr. Karin Lachmi, says that “using voice-activation software, scientists can speak complex search terms into the product search engine, resulting in quicker and more efficient searching. When it comes to complex product names, speaking the search terms is more accurate than typing them“.
Brands successfully implementing voice content
Organisations can utilise voice-activated technology to market their brands and create added value for customers in several ways. These include:
- Developing voice capabilities within their owned assets and products;
- Conducting voice search optimisation to ensure that brand content can be surfaced by an assistant query;
- Develop and implement new ways to improve customer service via phone;
- Building voice assistant apps, e.g. Alexa skills or Google Actions. These could also be applied company-internally to, for example, schedule meetings or to set important reminders.
Here are a few examples of how brands have successfully implemented voice tech:
Salesforce recently launched Einstein Voice, a conversational CRM that is to improve productivity. Among other things, Einstein Voice is able to transcribe meetings and automatically log them into Salesforce. Einstein Voice is compatible with both, Alexa and Google Assistant.
Gabby Nizri, CEO of Ayehu, explains that “voice-activated technology in the workplace, when integrated with automation, is exciting because it keeps productivity up by automating day-to-day tasks with voice commands, it finds information and it helps make resolutions faster”.
SAP: Business ByDesign
SAP’s Business ByDesign solution is now voice-enabled and looks to streamline workflows and reduce inefficiencies. Rather than manually searching for numbers, for instance, companies can request specific figures and have Alexa recite them out loud.
Disney’s voice-activated content
Disney is partnering with Google Home and has produced voice-activated bedtime stories and games targeting children through Google Actions.
Alexa Skill: Vistaprint’s Small Business Tips
Estée Lauder: Ask Liv
Beauty brand Estée Lauder created a Google Action providing users with voice-activated beauty tips, product recommendations and reminders to be consistent with their skin-care routines.
Trust, privacy and passive listening – risks of voice-tech
According to a Microsoft report, 41% of voice assistant users worry about trust, privacy and passive listening – and rightly so. Apple, Amazon and Google all said that smart speakers’ voice recordings are occasionally listened to by staff to improve voice recognition technology.
But, despite these privacy concerns, statistics show that people still prefer to perform tasks through their voice rather than keyboards or touch screens with 57% of them saying that they would rather speak to a digital assistant. On top of that, 80% said they were “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with their digital assistants.
Why digital communicators should embrace voice tech
Whichever way you look at it, voice-activated technology is set to take centre stage and organisations will do well to start integrating it into their marketing mix. Adobe’s Group Product Marketing Manager Heidi Besik gets to the heart of it saying that “voice penetration from both the consumer adoption standpoint as well as brand adoption is on a very similar path as mobile was circa 2007, quickly moving into the mainstream. We’re reaching a tipping point as more and more consumers use voice services consistently and brands begin to recognise the opportunity”.