It seems eons ago that we actually had to type something on a computer to search for something, add something to a shopping list by hand, or turn on a radio to hear music. But these tasks — and many more — can now be done using voice technology thanks to smartphones and smart devices.
The History of Voice Technology
While it may seem that voice technology sprang onto the scene fairly recently, its actual history dates as far back as 1961, when IBM introduced the first digital speech recognition tool. It recognized a paltry 16 words, which is hard to imagine in an era where Amazon Echo and Google Home can not only recognize thousands of words (in multiple languages) but also respond to an increasing number of commands.
In the 1990s, Dragon Dictate became the first voice recognition tool for consumers, though it was clunky. Today, Google Documents has a savvier (and free) voice to text tool built into it.
In 2011, Apple unveiled Siri, and, not to be outdone, Google followed the next year with Google Now. Microsoft’s Cortana joined the crew in 2013.
The smart speakers that are now found in 20% of U.S. households launched in 2014, and have gotten smarter and added an increasing number of features since.
And just recently in September 2018, Amazon announced its next line of Echo products, including a smart microwave and an in-car device.
How Are Consumers Using Voice Technology?
There are plenty of ways to use voice...but how are consumers actually using it? First of all, it’s been estimated that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be conducted using voice. It’s faster and more convenient for mobile phone users to simply speak their request or question than type it out.
Local businesses are winning hugely when it comes to voice search: 58% of consumers have voice searched a local business in the past year.
When it comes to smart speakers, 91% of consumers have asked the speaker a question, while 33% do so daily. They are also:
Listening to streaming music services
Checking the weather or traffic
Setting a timer
Listening to news
Finding a recipe
Accessing a calendar
Making a purchase
As voice recognition software creates more opportunities for consumers, so too do the number of opportunities for brands to leverage voice marketing increase.
So What About Voice Marketing?
Because voice technology helps brands establish a genuine connection with their customers, you can expect to see more brands embracing voice marketing in the near future.
Already, brands like Target are partnering with smart speakers to allow shoppers to place orders for products delivered to their homes. Other brands like Best Buy let users get information on deals and products, as well as order status.
Consider partnering with an existing smart speaker brand or developing a skill so that speaker owners can interact with — or even buy from — your brand using voice.
Additionally, voice search is an important area to focus on for businesses, local and national. How you set up your website’s SEO should factor in how people speak questions and requests. Whereas someone typing on a desktop might search “thrift store 92116,” using voice search on her phone, she might ask, “where is the nearest thrift store?”
Including natural phrases and questions like these will increase traffic to your mobile site through voice search.
While voice marketing can be hugely successful, you may need to educate your audience about the features you offer. A mobile, social, and email campaign can inform them that, for example, they can check order status or find out their loyalty program balance via the speaker or their phone.
Voice marketing via mobile and smart devices isn’t going anywhere. Rather than waiting until it’s mainstream as a marketing tool, jump on board now to establish your foothold in this new space.