From the get-go, voice search felt like more than just a novelty. Having a device respond to the words you speak generates a sense of chemistry, a connection with technology that you don’t get when typing. The potential of this technology certainly didn’t go unnoticed at CES 2019, which showcased tonnes of products that support both Google and Alexa voice services.
However, with all of the clear advantages to consumers, there also comes an element of concern. It’s all to do with an issue that has infiltrated the tech industry so much recently, taking up headlines. The issue is trust.
Whilst interactive voice has indeed added a richer and more contextual layer to our digital lives, a recent piece of research revealed that consumer trust in voice search fell between 2017 to 2018. Cognisant of the fact that nearly half of all online searches will be carried out by voice by 2020, brands must consider how they can take advantage of this lucrative advertising medium at a time when trust is lacking. To succeed in this mission, there are five key things to consider.
Accuracy and convenience
If your brand is going to get the most out of voice data, it needs to come from a credible product – one that consumers can trust to perform well. Firstly, then, we need to understand the two interwoven features of voice search that help ensure this trust: accuracy and convenience.
Now, we have come a long way since Audrey – the first ever speech recognition system – which could accurately understand strings of numbers only if they were spoken very slowly by its inventor. Nonetheless, consumer trust in accuracy has recently dropped. In 2017, Alexa users believed the voice assistant was 93% accurate, whereas, in 2018, they believed it to be only 88% accurate.
Given technological advancements and the availability of an increasing number of user interactions to teach voice assistants, this statistic is quite puzzling. It’s likely that what consumers expect out of their voice assistant is growing, leading to the perception that accuracy is lessening – when in fact it is improving.
As a convenience tool, voice search must accurately understand human speech. Imagine your dreaded alarm goes off and Alexa can’t understand the word “snooze” - the alarm would just keep ringing and ringing until, eventually, you make use of the old-fashioned button. To be convenient, then, interactive voice needs to be accurate. And without both, voice products lose all credibility, meaning that consumers simply won’t engage with them.
If consumers don’t believe voice products are credible, marketers have lost a valuable source of data. Marketers should, therefore, look at integrating smart scripts and services only with those voice products that can meet growing consumer expectations. Just remember to ask: is it convenient and accurate enough for users to engage with? If not, look elsewhere.
Time to get personal
Even if a voice product meets these criteria, consumers may still question its credibility if it lacks a personal touch. Each time you search for something, a search engine learns more and more about your habits through machine learning, enormously improving the overall experience. In exactly the same way, voice assistants use machine learning to understand the user on a more personal level – and the better your voice assistant knows you, the more likely you are to trust in its ability to deliver a good experience.
For example, with access to location data and social media, a voice assistant could make the following recommendation: “You should go to this coffee shop because it’s quiet in the mornings, serves your favourite roast, and it’s two minutes away from the party you are going to later.” This means personalisation is yet another feature to consider when thinking about integrating your marketing strategy with voice products.
Now that you know which voice products are more likely to be trusted by consumers, you have some valuable sources of voice data. But the next question is how to use the data you gather. If used creatively, your brand will prove that voice marketing can be trusted.
The nascent field of voice marketing now has a new parameter to consider: location. For example, consumers can now be reached in their cars, where the most obvious opportunity is GPS services. It’s easy to envision someone driving home from work and the services that come in handy along the way. “OK Google: order a large fish and chips for collection in 15 minutes.” Or, “Hey, Alexa, where can I buy the cheapest petrol at the moment?” If your business is set up to capitalise on these daily moments, voice marketing will prove to be relevant and meaningful to consumers, boosting trust in the advertising medium.
Stay in the moment
Perhaps most critical of all, marketers must understand the environment in which voice search is being used. Even though location data can provide some of the best insights, marketers are wise to keep in mind that drivers are in a very different mindset than active shoppers. Understanding the consumer mindset in the moment will be critical to the success of voice marketing. Experimenting with the length and tone of an advert, as well as timing and calls to action, will make all the difference.
The possibilities are potentially endless and likely on the horizon. Voice assistants will soon appear everywhere, throughout the smart home, in the car and likely even in stores. It’s time to consider what the opportune moments might be in your audiences’ day, and how you can reach and engage them in the most helpful way possible. The more you help, the more they will trust in the idea of interactive voice.