• 01-10-2020

  • 7 min read

  • Julia Ryzh

Why Do Brands Need Voice Strategy?




Originally published on Voice UI.

With voice tech gaining momentum, the growing popularity of branded voice skills, and Nike’s voice sale campaign snatching an award in Cannes, more companies are looking to embrace voice as a communication channel. To better understand how brands should integrate voice into their growth strategy, we addressed our questions to Keri Roberts, Brand, and Content Strategist & Co-Host of the Inside VOICE Podcast.


Why is voice getting so popular anyway?


“Saying something is much faster than typing something, Keri Roberts says, adding that speaking and asking for things is a very natural way that most people communicate and have always done since they were young. There’s a very little learning curve with technology when all you have to do is speak versus understanding how to use a new platform.”

And there are statistics to prove that: almost one-third of 3.5 billion searches performed on Google every day are voice searches and next year, 50% of Internet searches are expected to be done using voice. Besides, PwC Research says, 61% of 25–64-year-olds and 57% of 18–24-year-olds say they’ll use voice search more actively in the future.

But that would not be possible without the huge leap that voice technology has taken in recent years, as voice assistants and smart speakers have become part of our daily lives.

According to Google, “72% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say that their devices are often used as part of their daily routine.” This trend is definitely going to continue, as 55% of households will own smart speaker devices by 2022.

But voice technology is not reduced to our living rooms, or cars, or even omnipresent smartphones. In 2019, tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Apple launched (or announced their plans to do so) a range of wearable devices powered by voice assistants — from smart glasses and a smart ring to a smart oven and a doorbell. With 60.5 million people in the U.S. using digital assistants to conduct searches and place orders, 87% of B2C marketers think virtual assistants will play an integral role in consumer interaction by 2021.

As more voice-powered wearables and hearables appear, the voice will transcend across devices, becoming every human’s companion.

What voice-first means for brands?


The year 2020 is nearing, so companies should be prepared for the 30% of web browsing to be screenless, as Gartner predicted. No wonder, Spotify and Apple both heavily invested in audio and services, even their 2019’s earnings reports mostly relate to the world of audio, voice, and hearables. It looks like we really are living in what Dave Kemp of Oaktree Products calls the aural attention economy. But what does it mean for brands?

Keri Roberts believes that “there is a shift in the attention from using our eyes to see things, into using our ears to hear things. This means that brands need to be thinking about how they sound and how they are going to interact with their potential clients or current clients in their homes, in the car, at the gym, in a way where people can listen and interact with their voice without seeing visuals in many cases.”

In 2019, we saw more brands turning their attention to audio branding and more media outlets discussing the subject, with big brands like Target and Mastercard being in the spotlight. Keri Roberts thinks it’s not so much about sonic branding making a comeback but rather about us “going into a more audio and voice-based world it will be more necessary than it has before. A sonic brand is what will differentiate one brand from the next.”

So, who needs to embrace voice and how?


“A lot of industries think the voice is a separate entity but it, in fact, it works with the infrastructure you already have, Keri says. Voice is just one way to interact with your users but it’s also a tool to get them to your website or to your social page. I think any industry can embrace voice. It really has to do with do they have an interest and a curiosity about voice technology and can they create a usable and useful skill. Voice is just like anything else if you don’t start with research and strategy and understand why or how it would be helpful, nothing else matters.”

According to Keri, there are a lot of people already creating niches within the voice space: Ethan Richardson who is creating a voice experience called CarSay which helps car dealerships create a better experience for potential clients and increase sales, Gordon Collier with his skill My Career Fit which is a faster and easier way to get a new job. Keri is also very eager to see the events industry getting into Voice: “if there’s an easier way to ask a device where an event is, when it will be held, who you can connect with etc. it’s faster, it’s easier, it’s more user-friendly and I don’t have to do as much research on my phone when looking for things to do in my area.”


So where should brands start their voice journey?


Keri suggests that the question brands need to ask themselves both internally or externally is “where could we create a more efficient process?… When you can find a way to be more efficient, then you can start to explore how it could be efficient by using a voice interface. Once a company has that answered, they can move to define the goal for this experience for both the user and the brand.”

Do you want to create awareness, do you want to sell products, do you want to be a resource, we’re always looking at what does your brand stand for and who do you want to attract.

Best voice strategy examples to follow?


Among the best examples of brands doing voice well Keri names Disney with their Google Assistant voice skill called Frozen Stories, which they did when the Frozen 2 movie came out.

“It was a perfect example of an extension of what you’re already doing. So the movie was out, there were obviously products on the shelves for people to buy, there were commercials on TV and now the Voice skill made it interactive. Then from there Disney also had a lot of PR and advertisements on Instagram showcasing people wearing Frozen outfits while interacting with the skill. You can ask Google assistant to tell you a Frozen Story and then you can choose which character you want to tell the story.”

It was one of Disney’s ongoing experiments with voice technology, including working with Google Assistant to have that voice assistant add sound effects and music as an accompaniment to some Disney children’s books.

Disney has also collaborated with Amazon several times: Alexa provided a special behind-the-scenes peek for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” ahead of the movie’s release last month and introduces Disney Mickey Mouse Edition of the Echo Wall Clock, adding a classic clock look to the Alexa voice assistant accessory.

Can market leaders encourage voice adoption by brands?


It’s still the dawn of the Voice First era and this is evolving at an unprecedented speed. Still, both major players and niche startups have a long way to go before voice becomes a commodity. Thus, Keri states that” right now Amazon, Google, and Samsung are leading the way with Voice with Apple and Microsoft coming in after those top three. Amazon gives a lot of great tutorials on how to develop a skill and Samsung is really big on creativity with developers while Google Assistant integrates a lot with the services we already use.”

In order to foster further voice adoption, the likes of Amazon and Google need to improve skill and content discovery — Google with its podcast search is apparently onto something. Also, devices like smart displays offer a treasure trove of opportunities for voice-enabled services, pairing voice-control with rich visuals. So, here brands are free to create more artistic content with better interactivity options — right now both Google and Amazon use culinary shows as a promotion strategy for smart displays.

  1. Ask yourself whether your target audience comprises FOMO-driven early voice tech adopters and smart-home enthusiasts? If the answer is yes, you are good to go.
  2. Make sure your content is voice-search optimized, including shorter-form content offerings and those that provide quick, consistent answers.
  3. Building a voice-enabled chatbot that’s capable of delivering relevant information and helpful content in response to customers’ spoken inquiries.
  4. Voice assistants are becoming ubiquitous, so as not to miss out on that trend, you may want to design a custom branded skill. Whether it’s helpful, entertaining or both is utterly yours to decide.
  5. You may also feel mature enough to launch a voice assistant of your own, that will guide your customers or employees or both through an ecosystem of your products, services, and business processes.

So, good luck with your voice journey! Whatever strategy you decide to choose, Just AI has solutions and products to cater to your needs!

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