In 1961, William C. Dersch of IBM developed a computer that could calculate mathematical functions through speech recognition. It was called IBM Shoebox. It understood 16 spoken words in mathematics and the numbers 0 to 9. Now 50 years later, you can book a table at your favorite restaurant by giving a simple command to your voice-enabled device.
Voice tech has made brands more approachable and future-ready than ever before. What makes voice so unique, and why are brands looking to adopt this emerging technology?
A report published on Statista states the voice recognition market will increase up to approximately 12.87 billion USD by 2025 in valuation, from 11 billion USD in 2019.
One of the primary reasons for this strong growth trajectory of the sector is smartphones. They have played a crucial role in helping people adopt voice technology. Today, one can conveniently command their smartphone to schedule a meeting or an alarm without unlocking it.
According to datadab.com, smartphone users in the US use voice assistants the most while driving, relaxing at home, cooking, or doing household chores. While these are some essential functions, many brands have identified their true potential.
Brands are now leveraging this consumer trend and creating some unique propositions for themselves with the help of voice technology.
Digital technology has changed the dynamics of marketing. From the hassle-free shopping experience on an e-commerce website to engaging with your favorite brand on social media, digital media has paved the path for a sophisticated and more humane way of marketing.
Moreover, it addresses a vital element that a consumer looks at while making a purchase decision – convenience. It’s a major driving force for consumers to select brand A over brand B. On most occasions, brands with robust digital marketing setup will have the upper hand. It is because the brand understands the customer’s pain points better. Tesla, for example, is developing electric cars to address air pollution. It identified a very emotional touchpoint in humans and provided a solution. Now, they are at the forefront of revolutionary change in the vehicle industry.
Similarly, brands willing to embrace voice technology are in a solid position to win over consumers who love to use voice technology.
In a recent Adobe report, in which they surveyed 400 business decision-makers, 91% agreed that they are already investing heavily in voice technology. In addition, 66% predicted that voice technology would help drive traffic and conversion in the future.
According to an article published on techtimes.com, Spotify is testing a voice-based technology that will allow the app to identify a user’s emotional state, gender, mood, age, and accent to suggest the right song.
Spotify filed for the patented technology back in 2018 and received a green light in January 2021 to develop the feature. The main advantage of this feature for the users is that they don’t have to follow the painful process of answering a survey to get a tailored playlist.
The new voice feature may also use speech recognition to identify if the user is sad, happy, or neutral. According to their mood, the users will get a curated playlist. Spotify could have sent an email survey and asked their customers to fill it up. Instead, they broke the formal barrier and tried to build an emotional relationship with them.
Salesforce is a B2B customer relationship management platform headquartered in San Francisco, California. It allows companies to unite their marketing, sales, IT, and service team from anywhere through an integrated platform called Customer 360, ensuring smooth functioning across all verticals.
They wanted to make life easier for their customers who deal with a large amount of data in real-time. This was the reason for them to develop a voice assistant called Einstein Voice.
Image Source – voicebot.ai
The voice assistant enables a salesperson to log his/her data in the Salesforce software without texting or using email. They can simply input the data verbally while the assistant uses AI to identify buzzwords and relevant records to update the datasheets. This allows the salesperson to share the data with the voice from anywhere. Also, since the assistant integrates with the Salesforce software, its predictions will be accurate and more intelligent. Although they retired the system due to other priorities, it is a great example of how to use voice tech for the purposes of a B2B company.
Rothy’s – a women’s shoe brand, wanted to explore voice assistants to upgrade its business and reach a tech-savvy audience. They partnered with BluTag – a SaaS-based platform enabling retail brands to develop voice AI without coding.
The voice assistant integrates with Rothy’s Shopify store. Thus, using voice commands, customers can browse through the product catalog. Once they find the right fit, they can add it to the cart and even make the payment with their voice. AmazonPay Seller ID enables the payment step.
The above examples are just a glimpse into the dynamic opportunities voice technology presents. Innovative brands will identify areas where they can intervene with voice tech. To do that, they must also observe how people are using voice technology.
According to datadab.com, smartphone users in the US use voice assistants the most while driving, relaxing at home, cooking, or doing household chores. The reason is that a voice assistant allows users to complete a task without opening their smartphone. Another research conducted by Statista about voice assistant usage in the US as of 2021 confirms that 33% of the respondents use their phones to access their voice assistants.
Image Source – datadab.com
While smartphones are certainly the flag bearer, smart speakers are now penetrating people’s lifestyles. In 2018, 1 out of 4 US citizens used a voice-enabled speaker. Only three years later, it is expected to achieve 50% market penetration by the end of 2021. Furthermore, according to voiceboit.ai, 72% of marketers considered smart speakers as an essential tool to interact with consumers.
Scheduling a meeting, a reminder, calling someone, or playing music are essential voice assistant functions. However, users also rely on their assistants to search.
As per Google, the worldwide mobile voice search user base stands at 27%.
That brings us to the next key topic, Voice SEO – an essential element of voice marketing that brands need to consider.
Voice SEO improves your brand’s ranking in voice search results with the help of keywords, phrases, and metadata. Most importantly, it focuses on natural language search.
The below points make a strong case for marketers to invest in voice SEO:
Just like your traditional SEO, voice SEO needs a disciplined approach to progress. According to Search Engine Watch, you can follow these best practices to optimize your voice SEO game plan.
A well-strategized and executed voice SEO plan will rank your brand higher in organic voice searches. So even if you aren’t looking to develop an expensive voice assistant for your brand, this method will definitely help you stand out.
At this point in the article, you may be already convinced that voice is going to get big, but how to begin your journey in designing a sustainable voice strategy? These key steps will help you start the process:
1. Identify a problem
Start by identifying a problem that can be solved with the help of a voice tech solution. Once you do that, it will be easier for you to develop a plan to develop your voice marketing strategy. If your brand objective doesn’t ask for an expensive voice bot, you can focus on your voice SEO.
2. Put your customers first
Will my customers save time if using this voice bot? Ask this question before you start developing any solution. Is it helping your customers in a way that they can focus on critical work? Will it allow them to cut down on their screen time?
3. Stick to your brand persona
You must stay true to your brand persona. It should always be there and reflect in the conversation that takes place between your customer and the voice assistant.
4. Have a strong communication plan
Once you develop a voice assistant for your brand, make sure that you spread the message to all of your potential and existing customers. You need to educate them about all features in detail. This will reduce the follow-up support requests to your customer care team.
These points are further explained by Wally Brill – Head of Conversation Design Outreach; Education at Google, in one of the episodes of VOICE Talks, an award-winning talk show presented by Google Assistant, featuring leaders and influencers from across the voice tech industry.
In conclusion, voice tech is fast becoming an essential interface for consumers where they can actively participate. Understanding their behavior will be crucial for brands to adopt the technology. As marketing evolves into a dynamic industry, technology like voice assistants will prove to be an essential factor in customer purchase decisions. Customers will choose brands that reduce their efforts and time while addressing the humane element. Voice technology will enable brands to be omnipresent and quickly adapt to the ever-evolving consumer behavior.