Have you Heard? Voice Search is the New Black!

“OK Google, how do I cook a medium rare steak?”

“Siri, who sang the female lead on Gimme Shelter?”

“Alexa, order more (achoo!) Kleenex.”

Weather it’s due to our need for speed or our general propensity to verbally request things we want in life, voice technology is popular. In 2019 alone, 147 million units of voice assistants were sold in the US. And in 2020 the usage of voice assistants has only increased with people all over the world cooped up at home.  This means you should probably start to consider how to implement voice into your marketing strategy.

Your voice strategy

The first thing to do is ask yourself how your customers are using voice now—and also how they could soon be using it—to engage with you. Knowing if and how customers use voice to engage with you—or if they don’t for some reason—is key to developing a strategy. Spend your time and resources where it will benefit you most.

First step: voice search optimization

One of the most significant things you can do is to optimize your online content for voice. This will help ensure you rank in a voice search and is the one thing almost every business should be doing. It’s vitally important because a voice search on a mobile phone yields only the top three results. And a voice search using a smart speaker often gives only one result. If you’re not ranking near the top, you’re out of the game.

How? This can get very involved, but basically you can begin by editing your content so that it reflects how people do a real-world voice search—often different than how they text search. (Per Google, 41% of people who own a voice activated speaker say it feels like talking to a friend. Awe!) Voice searches are more conversational and often posed in the form of a question. So, you need to find the natural keyword phrases or questions that your target audience is likely to use. Then, incorporate them into your content to more accurately answer these voice search queries.

Consider audio content and advertising

Audio content should be part of your broader voice strategy. Ads placed on streaming services like Pandora or over-the-top TV services such as Hulu are a good place to start. And podcasts are a growing vehicle to reach consumers when they’re away from a screen.

Other quick ways to optimize for voice …

  • Make sure your business listing—name, address, and phone—are used consistently.
  • Check that your Google My Business listing is complete and accurate.
  • Speed up your website—slow loading speeds impact your voice search rank.
  • Frequently change up your online content to stay relevant.
  • Programming wise … Check your markup language. (I.e., make sure questions are be marked up properly in <h2> headers.)
  • Run multiple tests with different people conducting voice searches on all kinds of speakers and devices.

Become a sonic brand

An audio logo or signature sound can be as important to a brand’s identity as its logo. Sonic branding (the new term for jingles or, more often, other signature sounds) means using a unique sound that will help consumers recognize your brand when they see your TV ad, stream your podcast, watch your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn video—or even when you come up as the result of a voice search. MGM did it with their lion’s roar almost 100 years ago. Old Spice uses a quick whistled snippet of their jingle that everyone recognizes by ear. And 88% of people can recall Intel’s chime sound unaided.

The future of voice—build your skills

Major brands are developing voice-connected apps—called skills—designed specifically for smart speakers like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Skills let users interact with a brand or content through voice commands alone—hands free!

The Alexa Skills Store has more than 100,000 voice apps. Capital One’s skill lets you check your credit card balance or make a payment securely. The skill even performs a security check and requires a password to sign in, then a four-digit code to confirm your identity before you can actually use the service. There is even a skill called Skill Finder which helps you … well, you know.

From search to skills, there is a LOT to unpack when it comes to voice. And the time to do it is now. “Alexa, what can you tell me about voice search?”

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