Can your potential audience, prospects and customers hear you?
Wonder why I’m asking this question?
Because if the people you want to reach and talk to can’t hear you, your business probably won’t enter into their consideration set.
Verizon Wireless got it right when their mobile ad asked:
“Can you hear me now?”
Their audience (and yours) identifies with this sentiment.
More importantly, this question concisely defines voice marketing. Specifically, by giving your brand or business a voice, people can discover and find you.
Further, voice creates a deep brand connection with your audience and potential customers.
To help your organization improve its ability to get heard, this article provides you with a voice marketing definition and the related data and approach for adding voice to your marketing mix.
Voice Marketing Definition: What Is Voice Marketing?
A useful Voice Marketing Definition is:
The use of marketing strategies and tactics to reach your target audience through the use of voice-enabled digital devices.
Voice-enabled devices include smartphones, smart speakers, smart televisions, other home devices, and cars. Consumer behavior related to their use continues to evolve as device usage increases and new use cases get adopted.
To meet listener needs and evolving expectations, adapt your marketing content and messages and other business information to be relevant based on the user’s context when they ask. To this end, understand and anticipate where, when and why your potential listener will use voice-first information. Understand your audience’s specific micro-moments to meet their needs at critical voice touch points during the customer journey.
Voice marketing helps your business to get discovered by prospects and ultimately purchased. Therefore, don’t silo your voice marketing tactics in one area of your organization. Also, ensure that your voice-first information, content and communications work across marketing channels (owned, social and third party) and your internal business processes.
To maximize measurable results, integrate your voice marketing strategies and tactics into your overall marketing plans to achieve your business goals. Further, they must make sense to your target audience in context. Otherwise, your business will go unnoticed!
Also, consider how your’s audience behavior has evolved as a result of using voice-first information availability:
- People are inherently lazy. They’d rather ask their voice assistant or phone to find information than look it up.
- People speak about 2.9 times faster than they write based on Stanford University Research. In addition, spoken queries have a lower error rate than typed ones.
- People of all ages use voice to find and get information from voice assistants and their smart devices.
Show Me The Data: Why Your Marketing Needs A Voice
Three key factors drive voice-enabled devices and voice marketing:
- Improved voice recognition software driven by natural language processing (aka: NLP), a form of artificial intelligence.
- Expanded consumer ownership of voice-enabled devices.
- Changed consumer behavior based on the integration of voice-enabled devices and their functionality into people’s daily lives.
Improved Voice Recognition Software Must Reach 99% Level of Accuracy
Since voice-enable devices respond to human queries through the use of voice recognition software.
To gain consumer acceptance, voice recognition software must reach a 99% level of accuracy to be a game-changer according to Baidu scientist Andrew Ng. Otherwise consumers feel “the machine doesn’t understand the words I am saying.”
This point gained visibility when Mary Meeker referenced it in her 2017 and 2018 Internet Trends Reports.
From a user perspective, there’s a significant difference between 95% and 99% voice recognition
Because according to Ray Kurtzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns technological change occurs at exponential rate.
When applied to voice recognition, the number of words recognized by a machine also grows in an exponential manner as forecast by Kurtzweil. (Note: The chart below shows exponential growth despite the straight line because the vertical scale is logarithmic.)
Voice-Enabled Device Ownership Reaches A Tipping Point
Before you pooh-pooh voice marketing as another flash-in-the-pan marketing channel, consider that roughly 7 out of 10 respondents had used a voice assistant (Microsoft 2019 Voice Report.)
Further, 3 out of 4 respondents will have at least one smart speaker in their home by 2020!
66.4 million US adults have access to a smart speaker based voice assistant as of the beginning of 2019. This translates to one out of four US adults and about 133 million smart speakers in use in the US in 2019 according to 2019 Voicebot Research.
Further digital assistant use may surprise you:
Consumers use Apple’s Siri (36%) and Google’s Assistant (36%) more than other options!
To put this data in perspective, let’s apply voice device ownership to the technology adoption life cycle curve. According to this model, 2.5% of users are innovators, 13.5% of users are early adopters, and 34% of users are the early majority.
Since 26.2% of US adults have smart speakers in 2019, we’re in the Early Majority Phase of this technology.
Consumer Behavior Changes With Voice-Enabled Device Availability And Functionality
Need data to prove that you should add voice to your marketing strategy?
- 72% of consumers use a smartphone for voice search.
- By contrast, 52% of consumers use a smart home speaker with voice skills.
From a marketing perspective, consumers use digital assistants for a variety of activities where content, search results and/or advertising can be served.
- 68% search for a quick fact.
- 65% ask for directions.
- 52% search for a product or service.
- 47% search for a business.
- 44% research a product or service.
But understand that customers still have trust issues regarding the use of digital assistants and other voice-enabled digital devices.
What To Consider When Adding Voice To Your Marketing Mix
Focus on micro-moments to better understand how, when, and where your audience turns to smart voice-enabled devices for specific information.
The top voice-related questions include: I want to know, I want to go, I want to buy, and I want to do. They roughly translate to the 5 Ws of journalism (who, what, when, where and why) plus how.
“Near Me” mobile searches show purchase intent. They contain a variation of “can I buy” or “to buy” and their use has grown over 500% over the last 2 years (Google 2018).
In addition, other similar phrases include:
- 150%+ growth for “___ near me now” mobile searches. Examples include food, gas stations, and delivery.
- 900%+ increase for “___ near me today or tonight” mobile searches. Examples apply to these options “open houses near me today,” “cheap hotels near me tonight,” or “movies playing near me today”.
- 200%+ growth for “Open” + “now” + “near me” mobile searches. Examples include “restaurants near me open now,” “stores open near me right now,” and “pharmacy near me open now”.
1. Determine the physical location of your prospect when they use voice.
Your prospect’s physical location translates to consumer context and gives you insights into the prospect’s specific needs.
The key to micro-moment success:
Anticipate when and where your target audience will seek your information.
2. Answer specific customer questions in your content
Follow the Marcus Sheridan approach:
“They ask, you answer.”
Provide relevant information that meets your listener’s specific need at that exact moment.
Even if you have content that can be discovered via voice-enabled devices, you need to promote its availability. (It’s like the early days of Internet when marketers need to promote their URLs.) Brands need to promote your voice opportunities.
3. Get your prospect the information fast
Since voice searches consist of questions with more words than typed searches this has implications for your website design’s metadata and information hierarchy.
Also transform your existing content into audio formats to provide for optimal consumption. When repurposing road tested content, consider offering audio options.
How Do I Add Voice To My Current Marketing Strategy And Plans
To include voice to your current marketing strategy, start small and focus on these 3 key listener-centric factors:
- Add a human voice to serve a function that makes sense to your audience. Have an “experimental mindset”.
- Use voice marketing to make people feel more connected with your business. By helping them solve a real problem where a voice approach makes sense to them.
- Focus on listener needs. Provide information, send alerts or entertain them. Also use a strong linear storyline to help them understand.
Among the other ways that a voice-first approach enhance your marketing mix include:
- Enhance your brand by literally giving it a voice. This helps humanize your business and builds its trustworthiness.
- Expands your potential audience. Voice-enabled devices allow you to reach people who don’t use text or don’t have a screen in front of them. As a result, your marketing reaches all age segments. Further, it helps people who are driving or doing something that involves their primary focus.
- Offers additional search opportunities. Even better, many of these options aren’t Google-based since 48.96% of Google search results yield no clicks and 6.01% of Google searches go to Google owned sites. (Sparktoro 2019)
- Provides expanded content marketing creation and distribution opportunities. Consider adding podcasts, audio books, and/or Alexa Briefings. Also transform your best performing content into audio. In addition to extending your audience, it provides different distribution options.
- Test the power of audio advertising. Seek new contextually relevant advertising. Sponsor relevant podcasts and streaming audio. Remember, teens are heavy music listeners. Further, you can target content based on age since most people like music that was popular when they were teenagers.
Conclusion: Why Your Marketing Needs A Voice
Voice marketing is defined as integrating the use of voice-enabled digital devices into your marketing strategies and tactics to reach listeners interested in your business.
Because the combination of these 3 factors create a tipping point for voice marketing:
- 99% accuracy of voice recognition software,
- Voice-enabled device ownership by over one quarter of the US population, and
- Changed consumer behavior based on voice-enabled device use.