Voice Assistants and the Future of Advertising

If someone is going to ask us to imagine the future two scenarios jump into our minds. The first one is a Mad Max’s style land where we will fight each other for the last fresh tomato while wearing spikes and driving hybrid cars that spit flames. The second one is an era where flying cars and sentient technology have made our lives more comfortable, and we can activate everything or discover everything just using our voice. Putting aside the first hypothesis — we have a taste of the technological future nowadays.

We’re speaking of the Vocal Assistants, of course, that bunch of voices that pop us from our devices from time to time: Siri, Cortana, Alexa, all the assistants which various businesses are building exclusively for their clients.

Naturally, the future where our life we’ll be automated isn’t exactly behind the corner, both in terms of costs and practical application, but ignoring the increased popularity that the vocal assistants have gained is impossible. Maybe we don’t have — yet! — a house that knows when to turn on the oven, but at least once we all have dialogued with the voice in our smartphones. Recent research showed that the large — scale users of vocal assistants at the moment are the Asian markets, led by India and China. The European audience seems to have a lukewarm reaction towards vocal assistants, with just a quarter of the population using them on a daily basis.

Voice Shopping is predicted to reach 40 Billions by 2022. Consumers are more likely to use digital-assistant technology to inform a buying decision (47%), add items to a shopping list (43%), or compare product prices (32%) than to rely on purchasing-via-speaker as their primary digital shopping technique.

We can see the world moving towards this direction right now due to a few factors such as:

  • The deal Amazon recently launched during Black Friday and Holidays season: to promote the spread of their device, Amazon Echo, Amazon gave its customers the opportunity to buy the device at a hugely discounted price. Their plan worked well and even if not all the buyers have Alexa linked to an electrical appliance, vocal researches increased in the last months.
  • The ease of use of these devices: it’s no coincidence that the majority of users consult their assistants while driving, cooking or walking. The answers are easy to obtain and it’s a quick system to find out where the best sushi restaurant is or when the postal office closes. Another big pro is that the results are geolocalized. There is no need to specify where we want to find a particular product or service if we don’t want to because the system assumes we’re interested in something that is close to us — both physically or theoretically linked to our most recent researches.

Why digital marketers should pay attention to Voice Assistants?

Promoting something always means you have to compete against others with a similar offer. However, doing so while having a voice introducing your offer to potential customers? You need to know how algorithms work to select the best results and make sure you are the one to be kindly presented by the voice assistant!

  • Focus on the ranking — the position that your ad will occupy in the list of results — becomes essential. You want your business to appear in the first place the vocal assistant is going to read out loud to a potential customer. To achieve this goal, do so you must have SEO written content and good content marketing — you can learn more here.
  • Create content easy to read and understand — focusing on the best qualities of your product and maybe offering interaction between itself and the customers. For example, various beauty brands provide the possibility to have a beauty consultation based on the result of your research: did you search a hydrating cream for your skin? The brand’s assistant will tell you what other products you could use to solve your problem or what tricks you could try. Another example? Disney created some themed games children can play dialoguing with the voice assistant. The American television network HBO created the so-called skills, an application that allows you to reach your favorite tv shows or to start to play them on your tv.

According to research launched by Google, 52% of the Voice Assistants’ users wants information about sales, deals, and offers. Even if at the moment having Ads it’s not possible on Echo or Google assistant — meaning you won’t have a random voice interrupting your question with a commercial offer — the time for them is coming. Marketers are answering preparing content marketing useful to answer direct questions such as “Where is the best Chinese restaurant?” or “Tell me where I can find a good car dealer in my town.”. They’re starting to write content which can be found easily by a search engine and offered via Voice Assistant. Even if at the moment both Google Home and Amazon Echo are still an experimental battlefield for marketers, professionals know it’s just a matter of time before vocal researches will explode. Businesses have already begun to experiment with how they can make potential buyers interact with them via a vocal assistant. The rules are more or less the same: focus on the product while showing why it’s the best in its category.

Marketers have also started experimenting with the possibilities of an interaction between the potential customer and the product via Assistant. Having someone searching via voice means the results will be more customisable, hence the need to think of digital marketing able to push content marketing that the potential customers don’t perceive as a simple advertisement but as an interaction.

This opens all a new world of possibilities where creativity can be mixed with a more practical approach:

The first question must be thinking about the Assistant itself. These are mere examples, but a marketing approach could ask: what Vocal Assistant we want to target? How does the audience perceive it? What is the typical user of this Assistant? Do they think the Assistant should be friendly or formal in its answers?

Then, digital marketers study how to approach the content. What sentences are most used to ask Assistant information about a specific product? What are the keywords? For how long customers are willing to listen to the Voice Assistant reading a result?

All these questions don’t have a general series of answers. As it always happens in marketing, every brand or product is unique and needs to collect data about users in order to build in the future an effective voice-driven marketing campaign.

However, how can the Vocal Assistants help digital marketers in converting users into customers?

Customers generally do the researches before buying something, and they use different devices for this. Since the Vocal Assistants are a new branch, the market is still studying how they’re mostly used when it comes to researches for a product. Right now, it seems that Cortana, Alexa, and all the other Assistants are used for quick inquiries such as Give me directions for the library or to find a business like Where can I buy a new laptop? As you can see, these questions require short, direct answers.

Then again, the importance of an SEO correctly written content comes to light. To index your business, so it will appear in the list that Voice Assistant is going to propose to a potential client, you must use the right keywords and think sentences that can be easily read. Always keep in mind that the significant part of the users is doing another activity which is competing against you in terms of attention. The result returned must contain all the information the user needs and nothing more. In creating the content for a Vocal Assistant, you can be as creative as you want, but when trying to push your product, you must focus on, well, the product itself. Moreover, yet, you must avoid being perceived as an invading advertisement. Tricky, right?

Voice-Activate Your Marketing.

It’s vital to keep in mind that an interaction between a Vocal Assistant and customers is a different dimension than an advertisement found or proposed when a person is searching for a product online using their smartphone or computer. When “talking” to an Assistant the exchange becomes more private. Personal. The space between the person and the Assistant is closer than when they use another device: they’re driving, or they’re in their homes interacting with this specific device while talking to it. The last thing a buyer should want is to be a nuisance for a potential customer. It appears that customers want to feel valued as a person first, so when they ask Cortana for a product, they want to know the critical information and some interaction, but not a cold advertisement that pushes towards other products as well.

Voice assistants are capable of performing quite an impressive number of tasks: offering you music, control any device connected to a smart home automation hub, reading an ebook or a recipe. In changing the way customers interact with them for marketers means the necessity to place high attention on keywords and focus on natural language. Alexa or Siri’s users don’t want just information, but a conversation as well.

No Direct Advertising for now, but big perspectives.

Since the producers of the Vocal Assistants have forbidden for now direct marketing, marketers are turning creative offering an experience. What does this mean? It’s not possible to launch a standard advertisement due to the forenamed rules that forbid the practice. It’s possible, however, creating content that interacts with the user while talking to them about a product. The interaction is nothing poetic: the Assistant answers to direct questions. However, this doesn’t have to be a sterile conversation. All it depends on how the content the Voice Assistant is reading has been written. It can provide information without sounding cold or distant, and it can convince the user to visit the website of that company, when not order the product directly.

We have seen how the advertisement via Voice Assistant is slowly starting to gain popularity. Ignoring this new branch of the marketing isn’t a real option for businesses and entrepreneurs that want to promote their products in the next years. Since the possibilities are still developing we can only imagine how big of an impact this is going to be for the world of digital advertising. For us marketers, this is good news! We are going to find a new, engaging way to communicate with our prospects.

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