For so many years, we watched movies in which spies were able to speak into their watches and use high-tech devices to capture the bad guy.
What’s pretty cool is we now live in a time when real people can have the same luxury (well, without the violence and high-speed chases anyway).
Speech recognition, voice-enabled devices, and conversational interfaces… These are all relatively new terms that have come to life through the use of voice-activated AI (artificial intelligence).
It sounds highly technical and foreign, but that doesn’t make it any less important (and the good news is it’s much simpler than it seems). To quote AdWeek, “Brands that want to remain relevant should invest in understanding the technical aspects of voice search as well as developing a holistic voice that encapsulates their brand, no matter the platform.”
New data from Salesforce shows that 29% of companies have now adopted AI into their marketing strategy. And while almost 40 million people now own a voice-enabled smart speaker, Medici predicts that 1.83 billion consumers will use voice assistants by 2021. This is big, and it’s only getting bigger.
If you don’t own a Google Home or Amazon Echo, or if you aren’t already interacting with Siri or Cortana, you will be soon enough, as will everyone else.
Because voice-activated AI offers so many benefits to the consumer:
- It provides a more intuitive option for online searches.
- It gives users real-time information.
- It is easily accessible no matter what a person is doing and is a hands-free search mechanism, making it extremely convenient.
- It is simple and easy to use.
- Plus, let’s face it—it’s high-tech, and people love that.
And those are just the benefits for consumers. Briefly put, some of the huge benefits of voice-activated AI for marketers include the following:
- More foot traffic
- More internet traffic
- Leadership and authority
- Increased sales and revenue
(We go into more depth about these in this article about voice search.)
Now, let’s take a deeper dive into voice-activated AI and how this technology allows brands to get closer to their target audience than ever before.
How Voice-Activated AI Connects You with Your Customers
1) It Makes You More Available.
This one isn’t rocket science, and obviously if you’re using a new channel to reach your customers, you are increasing your availability, but it still needs to be said. And what’s important to add is that by getting in on this technology now, you keep yourself ahead of a large portion of your competition.
You could wait until it’s a more saturated market, but why would you do that? The early adopters gain from it now; plus, they gain from it later—when others are still trying to figure it out, whereas they’ve already moved on to more advanced tactics. Getting in now gives you the edge.
2) It Makes Your Marketing More Personalized.
Customers want a more personalized experience, and they expect it. Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer study revealed that 53% of customers now expect offers to be personalized, and 62% expect that companies will anticipate their needs.
AI is one of the best ways to extract the data that is necessary for scaled personalization. As people use voice-activated devices as personal assistants in their lives, the device learns more and more about them. It knows what music they like, what types of food they like, what products they order, what kinds of questions they want the answers to, and more. Some devices can even distinguish between different voices.
As Adweek points out, if done with the right balance so as not to be too creepy about how personalized they get, brands can build stronger brand loyalty through the use of AI.
3) It is Changing Consumer Behavior.
Voice-activated AI is changing the behavior of consumers, and if you can learn to adapt, you can connect with your target audience in exciting ways. According to OC&C Strategy Consultants, voice shopping will move from $2 billion today to $40 billion in 2022. That’s a massive takeover! No marketer would want to leave that opportunity behind—are we right?
If your target market is millennials, you need to know that voice-activated AI is where it’s at. According to data from CouponFollow’s Millennial Shopping Report 2019, 45% of millennials now use voice assistants when they are shopping. Plus, eMarketer found that almost 40% of voice search users are millennials.
4) It Is Changing Content Marketing, Giving You More Ways to Connect with Your Audience.
Voice search often starts the search process. Many people start there to see what quick answers they can get, and then they move to a desktop computer to do more in-depth research. Plus, right now, voice searches are often based upon on-the-go topics—things that require a fast and concise response.
For these 2 reasons, short-form content is where it’s at for voice search optimization. This is a complete contradiction to the typical advice we would give you for general SEO. Shorter content is certainly easier to create, so marketers everywhere are cheering. But you can’t leave your regular SEO on the table. So, here’s the solution:
- Create long-form content for the topics that deserve a detailed write-up, and include the elements we mentioned in our voice search optimization article (include H2 headings with questions, include rich snippets, know what your customers are asking, etc.)
- Then, also create short-form content that offers quick and to-the-point answers in more of an FAQ-type format.
5) It Enhances Your Brand Voice.
Text can’t compare to voice. After all, when we speak, we imply a certain tone, and we gain a deeper understanding of what is being said. These sounds and tones create a stronger emotional response than merely reading words on a page.
By tweaking your brand voice to include more than just words on a page, you can connect with your audience in a new and deeper way.
Most of what companies have developed with regard to their brand identity is meaningless when it comes to voice-activated search. Now, you have to start thinking about how your brand sounds. You need to choose an actual voice, a tone, a sense of humor, etc., that will encourage more engagement.
How to Optimize for Voice Search
We’ve already written an article about how to optimize for voice search here, so we aren’t going to go into a lot of detail, but we do have some additional tips to add.
Plan Out an Approach That Makes Sense for Voice-Activated AI
Overall, you want to be sure you have an understanding of how your customers are using voice-activated search and then think of ways to offer them the answers they seek. For example, voice-activated devices are typically located in shared spaces, people often use them while in the kitchen, and most importantly, they are using them to search for something immediate and specific.
Also, remember to plan out a content marketing strategy that includes a combination of long-form and short-form content so that you are ranking well no matter what type of search method is being used.
Consider Creating a Custom Alexa Skill
Alexa Skills are basically apps that only work through audio, and they are essentially the way to advertise on voice search. A landscaping company might advertise by creating a skill about “how to design the perfect flower bed.” Then, when people perform a voice search, the skill is suggested as the answer.
Of course, this only works on the Amazon Echo, but it’s still well worth it. Here’s Amazon’s developer information for building Alexa Skills.
Right now, voice search is all about early adoption, and marketers are taking a “test and learn” approach. We highly suggest getting in on it now so that you can sit back and benefit in a huge way as the rise happens.
Follow the steps outlined in this article and in our previous voice search articles to begin optimizing your website for voice-activated AI. Start connecting with current and potential customers in a whole new way!