In 2018, we witnessed a great battle of the giants – Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and many others, who fought for the dominance over the voice technology domain.
As Djuradj Caranovic, a voice strategy developer highlights: “For decades, we’ve been promised voice interactions with our machines […] and, until recently, science fiction is where real-world attempts at giving our machine the gift of gab have remained” – but not anymore.
With 2019 at its very beginning, competition certainly doesn’t seem to abate, and new wins and breakthroughs in the arena seem assured. How will these changes impact our personal lives and the way we do business? Let’s take a look at some of the developments.
Personal Voice Assistance In Our Homes
Back in 2016, there were around 5 million Amazon home automation devices on the market. That’s an impressive number, right? But what would you say if you knew that over the course of only two years that number became more than fivefold bigger, with 27 million devices sold by Amazon and Google together?
Predictions made by Juniper Research state that over 55% of U.S. homes will have a device like Amazon’s Echo or Google Home by 2022. What this means for businesses is that they will need to learn the basics of voice search and voice technology to be able to reach customers through their personal voice assistants.
Voice Technology And The Way We Search
One of the major changes can be seen in the way we conduct searches.
Namely, as Djuradj Caranovic puts it: “Audio and voice are by far the most natural interface for humans to interact. We like to speak and listen”, which is why we are seeing such rapid growth of voice search.
Now, even though the growth in the home device market is evident, people still mostly use their smartphones for voice interactions and searches. Users are starting to enjoy the ease of asking their phones a question instead of typing out words on their touchscreens. Soon, all mobile devices will enable us to search on the go, making the whole concept of voice interaction accessible and more convenient.
Everyday searches we conduct, like checking the weather, news headlines and traffic updates, asking for directions, finding a local business, looking up information about a brand, company or product, will be so much easier and faster while talking to a digital assistant – which is why Djuradj Caranovic often poses a question: “once you start a voice conversation, why would you go back to typing?”
A Consumer Report presented by Narvar in 2017 revealed that 29% of U.S. shoppers used a voice interface to do their online shopping. Another research from Salmat reported that when asked how they would use voice search to find and purchase products, 60% of Australian consumers said they would use it to search for the best price. The second most common reply showed that users would use voice search to find local products and services, or research a specific brand.
This is another indicator for companies and brands that they need to adapt to the new voice-search world if they want to continue to meet the demands of customers who are turning to the more convenient ways to search and shop. In the words of Djuradj Caranovic “With companies just beginning to bring their technological explorations to the market, keep voice interfaces at the forefront of your mind in order to stay ahead of the curb.”
Voice And AI For A Better Customer Experience
Voice technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are two inseparable notions nowadays. Home automation devices producers are working on improving AI and developing advanced and more predictive voice search capacities to provide an exceptional customer experience.
As virtual assistants will keep getting smarter, they’ll probably be able to learn more about our daily routines and shopping habits. This will eventually lead to our voice assistant suggesting that it might be the time to buy a new bag of our favorite coffee beans, or remind us to visit the local organic food store. Once our virtual assistants learn how we search, it will be easier to foresee what we might need and make our lives more simple. This development will help us get everyday tasks done more efficiently and allow us to work more on higher priority tasks.
New Marketing Strategies For Businesses
E-commerce is still focused on mobile/web, and voice skills should complement this activity. According to Heather Bellini from Goldman Sachs Research, voice search will facilitate and accelerate the migration from physical stores to e-commerce. With roughly 100 billion dollars of both desktop and mobile search today, the search market is estimated to expand to 150 billion dollars within the next few years.
Advertisers are starting to realize the importance of voice search and business are rethinking their marketing strategies. You’re probably wondering what are some basic steps businesses should take if they want to improve?
- First, provide information to your customers rather than sell them your product or service. Deliver content-like life hacks because that is something your potential customers will actually consume, leading to more conversions in the long run.
- Then, turn to long-tail keywords. When people speak to their devices, they use full sentences. That’s why long-tail keywords (e..g. phrases or questions) will work better for your brand’s visibility.
- Finally, think locally. Users are relying on voice search on-the-go, or while at home. This will increase the percentage of locally-focused queries and the emphasis Google and other search engines place on local results. So, optimizing for local queries will definitely make an impact on your local SEO rankings.
As voice technology is becoming an inseparable part of our lives and businesses, we should get ready for the changes the voice revolution is bringing. We will need to adopt new behaviors like talking to our devices, and business will have to follow the trends and invest in their voice strategy if they want to maintain or improve their presence in the new environment.
However, we have a long way to go until the assistants are perfected. According to Djuradj Caranovic, “the biggest challenges currently are real-time response, languages and accents and punctuation”. But we are getting there, as more and more experts predict that voice will slowly, but surely, replace digital.