The next voice you hear will be from Google. Or Amazon. Or Apple.
How we interface with our computers is taking another leap-frog move beyond 24/7 mobile connectivity and sharper images on small screens. Now, voice-enabled interfaces to “digital assistants” are the rapidly growing new normal for consumers who appreciate the ease, speed, and convenience of simply asking your device and getting an answer or responsive action. No hands required. Ask a question. Conduct a search. Activate your apps, and increasingly, control your household appliances, lights, locks, and soon, your new car.
The majority of voice assistant usage currently occurs on smartphones (Siri on your iPhone), but a variety of voice-enable speakers (Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, Apple HomePod) are flooding eager American homes.
Nearly 25 million voice-enabled speakers are expected to ship in the US this year and 60% of smart speaker purchases in the US were made in the past six months, according to eMarketer. The number of voice-enabled digital assistant users in the US will swell to 69 million this year and 75.5 million in 2019 (nearly one-third of US internet users), according to eMarketer.com. Amazon holds the largest share of the voice-enabled speaker market.
Why is this trend important to marketers?
Humans can speak four times faster than they can type. Voice search is a top activity because it feeds our desire for fast and easy. This faster interaction leads to greater consumer engagement and retention (when results are accurate) and sales. A survey by Capgemini of internet users in the US, UK, France, and Germany found that more than a third (35%) of respondents had purchased a consumer product or retail item using a voice assistant, and a significant number had purchased some type of service (34% ordered a meal).
Currently, twenty percent of Google mobile search queries are made via voice. Twenty-five percent of all Bing searches are voice searches. Andrew Eng, formerly of Baidu, one of the world’s largest internet companies headquartered in China predicted, “50% of all searches will be completed by voice or image search by 2020.” This shift is fast, pervasive, disruptive, and significant. Billions of dollars in sales revenue will be impacted.
As voice searches continue to increase and respond with the best ONE verbal answer, how will this impact your search marketing strategies? Being ranked #3 or #5 on a visual page of search results will not help you here. As of yet, voice assistant providers are not serving audio ads or sponsored content, so how do you prepare your brand and marketing messages for this evolution in search?
Up to now, search has been a competition for businesses trying to gain top ranking on select keywords. While this is still important, marketers must now up their search marketing strategies to include CONTEXT.
CONTEXT is King and Technology is Queen in this fast-evolving, voice-searched world
This offers new opportunities and more ways to connect your content and brand to consumers.
But now, you must manage your content better, internally and publicly, continuously updating consistently across your website, apps, videos, social networks, external search engines and the sites they search for answers.
Having a mobile-friendly website matters, as most voice searches are still done on smartphones. Responsive websites with clean code and a robots.txt file result in new voice search answers that highlight your brand.
Your website and digital assets should leverage technology and a modern content strategy to ensure proper association of your content with categories that the engines understand and elevate in answers and results sought by searches. USDM Digital® helps your website and other digital assets speak the language of intelligent services so they can understand, categorize, and structure the information about your brand.
Staying relevant in this new environment requires a more disciplined approach. Staff training and software and technologies can provide valuable efficiencies and insights, but must be led by an overarching strategy, process and management. Consistent, updated, distributed content management, response data, and proper coding all contribute to better outcomes.
All of this means that, more than ever, you need to have a continually updated strategic plan and a close, working relationship between your staff and your qualified external digital marketing consultant and technology solutions vendors.
It’s a lot to do, but the rewards and returns on investment – and the risks — can be quite significant. If you need any help, have any questions, or want an assessment of your digital assets and current search marketing strategies, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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