Voice assistants have been part of life since Apple introduced Siri on the iPhone. From there, Amazon gave us Amazon Echo and Alexa smart speakers followed by Google Assistant. There is also Samsung Bixby and Microsoft Cortana.
According to eMarketer, 2019 saw 111.8 million people in the US using voice assistants at least once a month. Statista has projected that 2021 will see 132 million people using voice assistants at least once a month in the US.
With so many people expressing an obvious interest in them, voice assistants provide an opportunity for marketers to better reach, engage, and understand customers and prospects.
Let’s start with the advantages they can give digital marketers.
By marketing through a virtual assistant on mobile phones or smart speaker devices, you have a greater chance of reaching your target audience. It gives you an option of doing so besides the Internet and mobile. According to Voicebot.ai, 87.7 million U.S. adults now use smart speakers as of January 2020, which is 32 percent more than in January 2019 and is 85 percent greater than January 2018.
Voice assistants are a chance for marketers to begin conversations in a much more personalized way than ever before. Users generally share exactly what they want and what they are thinking with voice assistants. Thus, the channel allows marketers to answer back with what they need and then continue reaching out for a personalized customer experience.
Voice assistants give marketers access to multiple users in a single household. These consumers all make unique purchase decisions because they have their own brand preferences, product interests, and music playlists. Marketers can achieve greater results through one voice assistant, as it is a hub to collect more insights and sell through one segmented campaign.
Another advantage is that voice assistants are becoming more popular outside of our homes and cell phones. They are popping up in our cars, in smart TVs, wearable devices, and home appliances. These provide new opportunities to reach even more targets as well as provide additional value for existing customers.
Through voice assistants, marketers can reach customers at a point in the shopping journey where they are ready to buy. To entice customers that have used their voice assistants to ask about a particular product or service, marketers can deliver promotional campaigns like instant digital coupons. Instead of having to locate coupon codes, the discount ready for the customer to redeem, potentially pushing the customer to complete the purchase.
Now that we’ve covered the advantages of leveraging voice assistant channels in your marketing campaigns, we should cover the disadvantages:
Although consumers are using voice assistants more often, there is still great concern over the data these devices collect and the companies behind the apps on those devices. Consumers are wary of how the data is stored, who looks at it, and what happens to that information. Marketers will have to address those data and privacy concerns, or they will not get access to these prospects and their information.
Another disadvantage is that voice assistants as a channel provide less enriching interactions than other platforms. The options are voice content only, which typically involves repurposing existing content, versus visual interactions. This may diminish some of the more meaningful engagements that marketers can have elsewhere.
As a marketer, you are at the mercy of device makers, such as smart speaker brands, wearable device companies, vehicle manufacturers, and smart appliance producers. That means carefully researching which device makers you want to work with for sustainable results before jumping in.
It can be costly for a marketing budget to develop the voice app to use for this channel. Participating in this channel may also be time intensive in terms of building an internal skill set geared toward the nuances of voice assistants. Therefore, it’s important to assess the benefits and costs involved in participating in voice assistant channels.
Curious about integrating voice assistant channels into your marketing strategy? One of the first places to start with voice marketing is to try Voice Engine Optimization (VEO), which is the process of optimizing content so that it turns up in voice searches. It can help you gain a position on these devices by focusing on the most voiced keywords, which tends to involve longer keywords and questions versus statements.
If you’re ready to dive in, it’s important to create a voice marketing plan. It should include the voice marketing potential among your targeted audience segments. From this research, you can develop a short-term and long-term set of marketing strategies, including investment in a voice app and strategic partnerships with voice assistant devices and channels.
And don’t give up. You may find that you need to experiment for some time to better understand what works for your brand and to acknowledge the ongoing evolution of voice assistant devices, technology advancements like artificial intelligence, applications, and user segments.
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