I recently read an article on Adweek about the topic and as part of my job to simplify digital by crafting marketing and platform strategies that help solve business challenges, it prompted me to respond with some insight and immediate take-a-ways.
Welcome to a future where your voice is the main signal for the elaborate data grid known as your life, the article starts with. I absolutely love the perspective, because it’s true. Everything we do, every thought we have, every decision we make are all little data points that influence something, whether large or small. But back to the topic of voice AI.
- 67 million voice-assisted devices like Amazon Echo or my personal favorite, Google Home will be in use in the U.S. by 2019, according to eMarketer
- comScore data forecasts that 50 percent of all search will be via voice tech by 2020
Just, wow. It wasn’t all that long ago, a couple years, maybe, where forecasts predicted 50 percent of all searches would be via a mobile device over a desktop computer. I’m sorry to say, but if you’re just now thinking about adding mobile to your marketing strategy, you’re behind.
A WHOLE NEW MINDSET
Brand marketers are coming to grips with a consumer landscape where touch points are mutating into listening points. As a literal translation, voice is replacing fingertips. Touchscreen interactions and experiences are becoming old technology. You’ve probably already experienced this with that annoying friend who refuses to actually type a text message and instead opts for the voice command feature even though half the time the messages end up being indecipherable. That friend, someone you know, is no longer using physical touch to communicate written word. That friend is using sound. Therefore as marketers, we need to harness this whirlwind and begin thinking about developing user experiences where people speak versus touch. And with this, search is ground zero right now when it comes to brands.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Brands — which are accustomed to being relatively satisfied when showing up in the top five query results on desktops and phones — should brace for a new search reality where they may have to worry about being in either the first or second voice slot or else risk not being heard at all. Jared Belsky, president of 360i, warns that “there’s going to be a battle for shelf space, and each slot should theoretically be more expensive. It’s the same amount of interest funneling into a smaller landscape.”
- There still is a lot of imperfection in voice AI right now; it can be clunky. Therefore, being able to control the desired Brand experience remains a challenge.
- As in-home, voice-controlled AI technology becomes even more prevalent and evolves in terms of substance — more capable of offering real answers to real questions — marketers will need to be increasingly careful to properly follow FTC disclosure and advertising guidelines.
TOP QUESTIONS MARKETING EXECUTIVES HAVE ABOUT VOICE AI
Belsky also reports that every CMO, every VP of marketing and, especially, every ecommerce client is asking about this subject first and foremost. And while there aren’t obvious answers yet, as he states, I have personally taken a stab at how I would respond to those questions:
- ‘What should I do to prepare for when voice is the driver of ecommerce?
- How I would answer: Like any other channel in your marketing mix — First, identify your business goals. Secondly, determine your audience needs and what value your brand can create with voice AI. And lastly, evaluate relevant platforms and devices.
- ‘What content do I have to think about to increase my chances to be the preferred answer with these devices?’
- How I would answer: It might sound like a funny response, but my best advice is to focus on people, not devices. Begin really listening to your brand’s clients and/or customers — they’re telling you what they want, you just may not know it yet. The goal is to create a personalized user experience that can answer questions, manage tasks, help get things done and also have some fun with music and more. In short, create or curate content experiences that makes your audience’s lives easier. Then set aside some budget to test and learn from new opportunities.
- ‘Will all my search budget one day migrate onto these devices?’
- How I would answer: It depends. A guiding principle is to keep the consumer at the center of everything you do. What you spend in this space is less important than how it helps to strengthen the consumer connection. Continue to monitor analytics from your digital products, and data points will inform what percentage of your budget should be dedicated to voice AI.
THE TAKE-A-WAYS: WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN MOVING FORWARD?
- Us marketers can further position ourselves as strategic business partners in helping our clients integrate voice AI to help solve business challenges. Companies like GE are integrating technology into their jet engines that will automatically call someone and place a service order when an issue is detected. We can help introduce ideas like this!
- HTML microdata, alt tags, schema markup, etc. for websites are going to become increasingly important for search engine marketing efforts.
- It’s more important than ever to pay attention to a) search results that are driving visitors to our websites and b) what they’re searching for when they get there — they’re telling us EXACTLY what they’re interested in from our business.
- Unanswered questions present brands with an opportunity to become the search result with targeted, voice-minded digital content. Start tracking now! These questions and topics can come from sales reps, customer service departments, social channel conversations, or website analytics.
If you’d like to read the full article, Here’s What You Need to Know About Voice AI, the Next Frontier of Brand Marketing on Adweek.com, feel free. If you’d like to talk voice AI strategy for your business, email me.