Optimizing for voice is all the rage in marketing circles right now.
And for good reason.
Many marketers expect voice device use to grow by leaps and bounds in the years to come.
But voice marketing is more than the future.
It’s also the present.
With the existing popularity of voice devices in the home, at work and in the car, chances are your audience is already using voice.
Which means that the time to develop a voice marketing strategy is now.
Here’s how you can take the first steps towards developing a strategy for engaging your audience using voice.
What is voice marketing
Voice marketing is a set of tactics and strategies designed for reaching audiences who are using voice devices.
The idea is to adopt marketing tactics that seek to take advantage of the growth in people using voice-controlled devices on a regular basis.
How is my audience using voice-controlled devices on a regular basis?
How can I augment my marketing strategy to better connect with audiences who are using voice?
What does my audience want out of voice that it can’t get anywhere else?
These are the sorts of questions brands need to ask themselves as more and more action takes place using voice devices.
Why you need a voice marketing strategy
You need a voice marketing strategy because chances are your audience is using voice on a somewhat regular basis in their lives.
As of January 2018, 16 per cent of Americans – or around 39 million people – owned a smart speaker in their home.
And if they aren’t already, they’ll likely start sometime in the future.
About 50 per cent of all searches will be done through voice by 2020, according to comScore.
The number of smart speakers is also expected to grow radically.
Canalys expects there will be 225 million smart speakers in use by 2020, up from under 50 million at the end of 2017.
How voice marketing is different
Brands that expect a voice marketing strategy to be “business as usual” are in for a rude awakening.
Voice is changing more than just the devices audiences choose to use.
It’s changing how, when and where they interact with brands.
Take, for example, the kitchen.
Searching for information in the kitchen used to be difficult. You’d have to clean your hands of whatever it was you were using to cook and then pull out a phone or cook book.
With voice, that’s no longer necessary.
Users can now conduct searches seamlessly using their voice.
Or consider the car.
Audiences can now quickly use a voice search to learn where the nearest gas station is or find out how late the grocery store is open.
The end result? Voice is making the exchange of information almost ubiquitous in the lives of users.
Audiences can gather and input information from places that were previously outside of marketers’ reach.
It’s also made voice an ever-present part of our lives. People can search effortlessly and quickly.
The question then becomes: How can marketers use this to better connect with audiences?
How you can build a voice marketing strategy
Voice marketing is so new that the possibilities are (nearly) endless.
But, in the meantime, here are some questions that can help guide you as you seek to develop a voice marketing strategy.
Think about where your audience will use voice the most
A huge advantage of using voice is the new opportunities it presents.
With voice activated devices you can now reach audiences in places, such as the kitchen or car, that were previously off-limits.
How can your brand be useful in places where people might be using a voice-activated device?
A voice search in the kitchen could be an opportunity to provide a user with a recipe.
A question in the car could provide an offer of free gasoline.
Logging into a detergent app could be an opportunity to provide a “coupon” the next time someone is asking about doing laundry.
A good place to start with your voice marketing strategy is with this question: What can we offer to our audience using voice that they can’t get anywhere else?
An example of a search for detergent that could be useful from a voice marketing strategy perspective.
Consider how voice can deepen your relationship with existing audiences
A big part of voice optimization is better serving audiences who have already engaged with your brand.
For example: Someone who has just bought a piece of furniture.
They might be in the midst of a struggle to assemble it (we’ve all been there) and are now questioning how to proceed next.
Or maybe they are driving to your event and need to be reminded where it is.
By developing a voice marketing strategy, you can better serve these audiences.
Figure out how to insert your brand
So much of on-screen marketing involves the use of images, logos and other designs to insert your brand into audiences’ minds.
With voice that opportunity is gone.
Not only that, voice is all about the rapid exchange of information.
That means it could quickly follow Google’s lead in pilfering information from websites and providing it to users directly on the search results page.
No clickthrough – and thus no brand engagement – necessary.
For brands the result is that audiences get the information for which they’re looking without ever engaging with the brand, such as with a website clickthrough, in any tangible way.
It’s a challenge voice marketers will likely face as well.
Think about how to best design your website
Voice’s impact on website and content design is going to be profound.
For example: Research shows that voice searchers are more likely to use longer phrases to uncover what they’re looking for.
On first glance, that would suggest two big changes to how content is produced:
- The design of specific pages optimized for quickly answering individual questions
- The creation of more pages designed to answer any questions your audience might have about you and your brand
But that’s just speculation.
The future of the “voice-optimized website” is still unclear.
The rise of voice activation is still (relatively) new.
As a result much of voice marketing’s future remains cloudy.
But this much is clear: A voice marketing strategy is something brands can no longer ignore.