Voice Experiences, like those delivered as Alexa Skills on Amazon Alexa and Google Actions via Google Assistant, are the next evolutionary step for computing interfaces and, in turn, consumer engagement.
13 years ago, with the introduction of the first iPhone, a shift began away from keyboard and mouse as the primary computing input experience to the touch-first interface that dominates life today. The next shift is happening as we speak.
Like the early years of the iPhone, we’re in the early years of voice-based, voice-first computing. Marketers must embrace the fact that consumer engagement is moving towards a more voice-first (and audio-first) experience so they can be better positioned to leverage voice to grow consumer relationships, grow brands, and grow revenue.
What is challenging for marketers to agree on is where does the Voice Experience “exist?” Who “owns” the Voice Experience Strategy? Is voice an extension of our Content Strategy? Or is voice about branding? Is it an extension of our Branding Strategy?
Before we answer these questions, let’s lay a foundational narrative for our Content Strategy and our Brand Strategy.
WHAT IS CONTENT STRATEGY?
The overall goal of our content strategy is to drive awareness and to put “butts in the seats.” Your Content Strategy is basically you asking “what content should we be creating, sharing, and amplifying that will drive a specific business outcome - or set of outcomes.”
Your Content Strategy may be designed to drive lead generation for the sales team. Or your Content Strategy may be designed to establish authority in a particular industry or niche. Your Content Strategy will vary based on your desired outcome goals but the process involves the same key elements.
For your Content Strategy to be effective you establish guidelines around topical content generation, strategic content distribution, and content leveraging or your Content Funnel.
Today’s Content Strategies rely heavily on web content (e.g. blog post, short-form posts, video, etc.) and may also involve audio in the form of podcasts. More sophisticated marketers have extended their Content Strategies to included short-form audio as part of their social media posts or as flash briefings via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant’s “News.”
WHAT IS BRAND STRATEGY?
I like to think of “Brand” as the thing people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s how people remember you, your company, and you make them feel. It’s the “why” not the “how” behind your company.
Think of your Brand Strategy as how you strategically convey your Brand across all company touch points, from social media to voicemail messages. From your email signature to the first words heard by a client or customer when someone on your team answers a call. It’s all encompassing and only works if it’s consistent across all channels, across all touch points.
Your Brand Strategy is not about your product, your service, your website, or your logo. Your Brand Strategy is about the more intangible results of someone being exposed to your company in any and all mediums and at any and all levels.
Developing a Brand Strategy today is as much science as it is art. It’s the psychological journey from the founders vision to the consumers subconscious. A properly executed Brand Strategy establishes one of the most valuable and powerful assets any company can have - their brand.
WHERE DO VOICE EXPERIENCES FIT?
Just like websites and mobile apps, voice experiences can vary greatly. A voice experience can be as simple as a Voice Survey, question answer type stuff, full audio-based gaming, or experiences that integrate with data systems and provide users with information about and control over their digital and physical world.
Voice Experiences offer marketers a new canvas for creativity and a new, visceral medium to connect with consumers.
As a content channel, Voice Experiences offer the opportunity to close the loop on consumer engagement; to consume but also engage. Voice Experience introduce the opportunity to empower consumers to easily, and in a frictionless way, engage with their content in a way the feels natural and drives deeper and more meaningful connections.
It’s not “click here to let us know what you think,” it’s more “Here it is, what do you think?” The point of experience gap from consumption to engagement is zero. And in that zero gap is found endless opportunity.
As an extension of your brand, Voice Experiences give us an organic way to connect with consumers; to convey our values to consumers.
Voice Experiences are an opportunity to be part of a users every day life, not an interruption to it. Consumers can engage your brand while cooking dinner as opposed to being interrupted by it. With Voice Experiences, brands have the opportunity to become a valuable, constructive part of the every day life of their consumers. Brands can deliver on their promises well beyond the confines of 6” screens.
So, are Voice Experiences part of your Content Strategy or your Brand Strategy? I will argue that they can and should be part of both. Much like all the digital experiences that have preceded it, Voice Experiences are both - a channel for content distribution (and engagement) and a channel to build your brand.
Incorporating your Voice Experiences into your Content Strategy creates an opportunity for personal engagement at scale that actually feels personal.
Accounting for Voice Experiences as part of your Brand Strategy can become your brands super power. Just think of the sonic branding behind brands like McDonalds, Maytag, and Xbox and you can appreciate the power that bringing your brand into the ears of consumers can have.
For companies, your Content Strategy and your Brand Strategy have a new team mate - Voice Experiences. The timing of when you take Voice Experiences off the bench and get it into the game will have a huge impact on consumer engagement for the foreseeable future.