In this month's installment of the CMO series, Allen Ginsberg is contributing his thoughts on the state of “Voice.” Is voice the next frontier for marketers? Given the rapid growth of the industry, it’s hard to argue. Some have said it’s just another consumer interface, but voice may be more important than social in the near future. New to the series? Start from the beginning here!
In the U.S., over 300 million voice-activated devices have been sold to date, and growth continues to be strong. With even more new devices being introduced, the upcoming holiday season should significantly accelerate the number of homes with devices as well as the number of homes with multiple devices. In 2017, 13% of all households in the U.S. owned a smart speaker, per OC&C Strategy Consultants. That number is predicted to rise to 55% by 2022.
In addition, every smartphone sold is capable of voice engagement, and almost every new vehicle built today has voice activation as part of its DNA. Apple Car Play and auto manufacturers have built voice instruction into our daily driving, from maps to audio to phone calls and texting.
Growth continues to be driven by Alexa (Amazon) and Google devices, but there have been a number of new entrants this year. Many high-end audio manufacturers, such as Bose and Sonos, entered the market with devices capable of both voice communication and excellent sound quality, which may interest a significant number of new consumers. Apple, however, has not upgraded their smart speaker device since its inception, and it remains quite expensive.
Since all these devices are built using the Bluetooth platform, consumers are not constrained by wires or installation to add them to any or every room in the home. In fact, 52% of people keep their voice-activated speakers in their living rooms, per Google; 25% keep them in their bedrooms; and 22% keep them in their kitchens.
Consumers are catching on quickly. In an eMarketer survey, 35.6 million Americans said they used a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month, which was an increase of 128.9% from the previous year.
Consumers are also getting adjusted to their new devices in easy ways. Asking for music, what the weather is, and other simple questions have formed the basis of early use.
(Image Source: Adobe Analytics)
And that includes buying online using voice. Amazon made it easy to order in their marketplace with Alexa, but other companies have stepped up recently:
- Dominos: voice-activated pizza ordering
- Starbucks: voice-activated ordering
- Argos (Europe): voice search for checking product availability
- Whirlpool: voice activation built into appliances
- PayPal: voice-activated payment transactions
- Johnny Walker: has a skill on Alexa to help you enjoy the product
- Cleveland Clinic: has daily tips on Google devices and Alexa
- McDonalds: testing voice activation drive-thru ordering
There is no question that search will be an important part of the growth of voice technology as well.
- 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, per comScore.
- About 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020, per Gartner.
- In January 2018, it was estimated that there were 1 billion voice searches per month by Alpine.AI.
- One in four shoppers used voice assistants in their holiday shopping during the 2017 season, per CTA.
- 72% of people who own voice-activated speakers say that their speakers are part of their daily routines, per Google.
- Mobile voice-related searches are three times more likely to be local-based than text-related searches, per Search Engine Watch.
- 22% of U.S. smart-speaker owners have purchased products using their devices, per Edison Research.
In 2018, Backlinko conducted some of the most compelling voice-search research to date, and they revealed some key factors that influence Google Home rankings specifically:
- Page speed: The average voice SERP loads in 4.6 seconds, which is 52% faster than the average page.
- Security: More than 70% of Google Home pages are secured with HTTPS, compared to only about 50% of desktop results.
- Conciseness: The typical voice-search result is only 29 words. People want quick answers, not books on tape.
- Simplicity: The average voice search result is written at a ninth-grade reading level because verbal answers need be digestible enough to understand at a first pass.
- Featured snippets: More than 40% of all voice-search answers were pulled from featured snippets.
As new technology is emerging, video is being added with audio for a more compete form of communication. New and upgraded devices such as Google Nest Hub or Amazon Echo Show are engaging consumers with a hybrid of voice and visual. Some marketers see this as a great opportunity for help with hobbies, repairs, cooking and, of course, video calls.
So, how will your brand hold up in the Voice Age? Right now, no one has all the answers, but as always, testing is the key. Set the parameters on what is most important for your brand, and work through the best way to approach the voice marketplace. It’s here, and it’s not going away.