Blink and you’ll miss it. The usage of voice assistants has reached the fine line between utility and ubiquity. With over 3.5 billion users worldwide, half the world population, speaking to their smart phones, smart speakers, appliances, personal electronics, and automobiles every month - the only question you should be asking yourself as it relates to your brand is “How do I get them to listen to us?”
Throughout this post, I’ll refer to “brands” but really it’s interchangeable with “Solopreneur,” “Small Business,” “Startup,” and “Enterprise.” We also use the terms “voice application” and “voice experience” interchangeably throughout.
Why Voice Assistants?
What makes voice assistants so compelling? Because of the advancements in AI-driven “intelligence” - in the form of automated speech recognition (knowing what you said), natural language processing (knowing how you said it) and natural language understanding (knowing why you said it) - voice assistants are becoming more and more helpful every day.
When Netflix first integrated their service with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, it felt like magic. No longer did users have to go through endless navigation menus and screens just to continue their binge of the Queens Gambit. The audience could now simply ask their voice assistant to continue Queens Gambit and, poof, as if by magic, the series is continued from where the viewer left off. This type of time saving and convenience is the very reason voice assistants are here to stay. If you haven’t tried this yet and have a supporting TV, go - try it right now. It’s that cool! You’ll never watch Netflix the same way again.
Why should brands care about Voice Assistants now?
In the U.S alone, over 34% of U.S households have a voice-first device like a smart speaker. Much harder to quantify are the millions of devices that are voice assistant enabled - headphones, wearables, appliances, automobiles. Worldwide, it is estimated that there are over 2 billion voice-enabled devices. This includes devices powered by Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby and Siri. Go beyond the big names and there are hundreds of smaller voice assistant providers. But it’s not just the number of supporting devices that validate a brands usage of voice assistants, it’s also the present state of consumers.
Brands today are facing an audience eager to participate via voice due to an intersecting set of circumstances: improved technology, improved availability of the technology, and a global pandemic that has led to digital screen exhaustion & hunger for new experiences. While voice search is the leading use of voice assistants today, many experts understand this is because, by comparison, the actual number of available voice experiences created by brands and products people love is limited.
How are Voice Assistants used by brands?
All voice assistants support a way to create custom voice applications and voice experiences. For Amazon Alexa, you’re creating Skills. For Google Assistant, a voice application is called an Action. Capsules are voice applications for Samsung Bixby. Regardless, brands should think of voice applications along the same lines of how you might think of a mobile app for a smart phone. The biggest difference, of course, is one is a touch-first interface and the other is voice first.
Whether you’re creating an audio game, a customer support channel, or an e-commerce channel, what you’re doing is launching a voice application to one or all of these voice assistants.
How should brands approach Voice Assistants?
Voice experiences are different in key areas and its these key areas that create challenges for brands when trying to successfully leverage voice assistants.
First, brands are not use to thinking or prioritizing audio. While the impact sonic branding can have on consumer acceptance and customer recollection of a brand is largely accepted, most brands don’t prioritize it in their brand development strategies. Voice Assistants amplify the importance of sonic branding exponentially.
The secret to successful sonic branding is no secret at all. It’s about consistency in representation. A process that involves identifying your brands personality and how it wants consumers to feel. Once you establish a voice for your brand, deploying it consistently across every brand touch point is essential. From the first thing customers hear when they call you through to your video content, your podcast, and, yes, your voice applications. Working with an agency that specializes in sonic branding, like AudioBrain, will help bring a voice to your brand and a consistency to its deployment that will drive deeper relationships with customers and fans.
Second key area is execution. Brands overthink how to use voice and under appreciate how impactful voice (and audio) can be for them. Wasting too much time on the “what” keeps you from diving in and learning what works for your brand and for your audience. Take something as simple as frequently asked questions about your brand or product, for example, and combine it with solid and consistent sonic branding. How customers, fans, and prospects perceive your brand will instantly be improved and it’s a great starting point to bigger and more engaging voice experiences.
Finally, don’t silo your voice strategy. Your voice experience should launch as part of a holistic campaign that makes the voice experience part of a larger consumer engagement and brand growth effort. You want to use your voice experience to amplify your relationships and as such you want to be strategic about how you intend to drive awareness, reward engagement, and improve or iterate your voice experience over time to keep users engaging - with you voice experience and your brand.
How should brands get started?
We have a few resources for marketers and brands seeking to bring voice experiences into their consumer engagement strategies:
- Top 3 Must Haves For Voice Applications in 2021
- 5 Strategies For Leveraging Voice Assistants To Increase Brand Awareness
- A Crash Course on Voice Assistants Today for Marketers & Researchers, a 3 part series
Ready to execute your voice strategy but want to skip the engineering time, costs, and headaches? Contact us today and we’ll schedule an exploratory call with one of our Experience Specialists.