The secret to growing an audience with voice assistants from Sarah Andrew Wilson, Chief Content Officer of Matchbox.io

A question frequently asked by agencies and brands is “How do we acquire users for our voice experience?” Attracting users to a brand new voice application is one of the biggest challenges faced by the industry today. Once a voice experience is launched on Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, as an Alexa Skill or Action for Google Assistant, attracting users and growing your voice community can become a major challenge. The problem is so big, that lack of knowledge and experience is keeping many brands back from leveraging voice assistants to engage with their consumers and fans.

Sarah Andrew Wilson, Chief Content Officer of Matcbox.io, connected with True Reply CEO and co-founder Jose Cotto on the Beyond Voice podcast. Sarah has helped Matchbox.io reach 12 million users and in 2020, Sarah was named an Alexa Champion by Amazon, a Top 12 Leader in Voice AI by Voicebot.ai, and a Top 40 Voice AI Influencer by SoundHound. She has been integral in the development of some of the most popular voice apps on Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Samsung Bixby. She was instrumental in creating some of the most popular voice apps today, including Question of the Day, Find My Phone, Kids Quiz, and Guess My Name.

On this episode of Beyond Voice, which you can listen to right now, Sarah shared her secret to growing your voice experience, attracting more users, and increasing your monthly active users.

Matchbox.io manages 20 voice experiences in their portfolio on Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Samsung Bixby. Sarah pointed out that the most important thing to remember when designing voice experiences and gathering an audience is that some aspects of designing for voice are very similar to other channels like social media and websites; while at the same time some channels are unique to a voice experience. According to Sarah, “You want to make your content helpful, or fun, or ideally a combination of both of those.”

Sarah recounted one of her earlier experiences with a voice experience they created called Daily Poll, where they would poll people daily on a certain topic for the day. The measurement results showed that it was neither fun nor helpful to be polled on your opinion about daily news items. Sarah pointed out that people did not want to return to the poll the next day, and she believed the reason for this was the fact it didn’t add to their current day’s experience in a positive way. This real-life scenario illustrated to Sarah the importance of having a fun and helpful voice experience. 

Sarah added, “Another way that voice is very similar to other channels is that you want to offer something that is very new to return to every day.” Where this parallels other experiences is when we look at some of the most successful social media accounts, they continuously provide new content for their followers to return to on a daily basis. This strategy not only helps grow their followers but also helps build a loyal following. 

There are a few aspects of building a voice experience that differ from other platforms and need to be kept in mind during design. “The biggest mistake I see when people are creating content for voice experiences ,” Sarah continued, “is not realizing that we speak differently than we write. When we write we often have longer sentences, we use bigger words when we write. If you think about when you speak, we actually speak in much shorter sentences and we use simpler words.” She emphasized that when creating content for voice experiences or a smart speaker it is important to ensure that you are not copying and pasting content from another channel and placing it in your voice experiences. Your voice experience must sound natural and similar to how we speak.

Two important questions to keep in mind when creating a voice experience is “Does my voice experience need to be a voice experience? Am I creating a voice experience because I feel like I need to have it?” If you are creating a voice experience just for the sake of creating one, it is the wrong reason to be creating a voice experience. Sarah noted that the voice experience should be a natural way for people to interact with your brand and if you cannot figure out a way to make this possible, a voice experience is not necessary. 

It is also important to note that, if you are launching your voice experience in different languages and countries, you must understand the culture of the region you are intending to enter. For example in the US what a baby wears is called a “diaper” while in England it is called a “nappy.” The same item or action may not have the same name in different English-speaking countries across the world. It also remains the same when translating for different languages in different regions across the world. People who speak Spanish in the US, Mexico, and Spain may have three different pronunciations for the same word or speak with three different accents. What works really well for Spanish-speaking individuals living in America may not work just as well for Spanish-speaking individuals living in Spain. It is important to get someone on your team who understands these differences.

In order to continuously grow your voice experience, it must be relevant and useful to the individuals you are trying to serve. It must feel natural, just as if you are having a conversation with another person, and it is very important to understand the culture and needs of the person who will be interacting with your voice experience.


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