Everybody is talking about voice, so we’re breaking it down in a series of articles to help brands navigate a voice-first future.

The arrival of voice as a consumer engagement platform heralds an exciting yet daunting new era for marketers – a voice-first future.

Consumers and marketers alike love their screens, but the noise around voice is getting louder, for good reason:

  • Telsyte predicts that 3 million Australian households will have a smart speaker by 2022, equating to 30% household penetration
  • Projections are that worldwide 50% of ALL searches will be voice searches by 2020 (ComScore, 2017)
  • US/UK voice commerce will grow from $2 billion to $40 billion-plus by 2022 (OC&C Strategy Consultants, 2018)

With figures like that, it’s no surprise that brands are taking a keen interest in voice. A survey conducted by Digiday in April 2018 found that 43% of marketers are investing in voice technology. Curiously, only 26% stated that voice marketing is a priority.

How will your brand be heard?

Many marketers will recall ill-fated leaps into the creation of brand-led mobile apps,that quickly became so many digital tumbleweeds. It became clear that brand engagement was a by-product of utility and entertainment, often via native mobile apps, not brand-led platforms.

But it seems we may be in danger of repeating the mistakes of recent history. When a voice application acquires a user, there’s only a 3% chance that user will be active in the second week (Voicelabs 2017).

Creating ‘skills’, (the actions that serve as applications for smart speakers), is showing early wins for brands in the U.S. including Domino’s, Tide and Campbells. It’s not overly sexy yet, but ordering pizza and receiving useful tips for household chores (such as cleaning and cooking) have utility for consumers.

What should make brands sit up and take notice is that voice punches above its weight when it comes to recall and impact.

A major study published by Publicis Media in February 2018 found that voice lifts unaided brand recall by nearly two times (+96%) compared with TV, and is on par with native mobile.

It also showed a higher electrodermal (a fancy word for sweat) response among voice users. People are in a more active and alert state when interacting through voice and they rate it as more engaging, entertaining, enjoyable and useful.

Voice is the most human technology brands have ever seen.

Get voice right, and the future is yours. But beware, voice technology (such as smart speakers) holds an intimate place in people’s homes, and in an era of heightened sensitivity around privacy and data (mis)use, there will be plenty of brands and companies getting it wrong.

Brands need to learn from recent history, avoid clumsy brand-first forays into voice, and ultimately create valuable and highly customised experiences for consumers.

We’ll be releasing more articles around voice in the near future, to help brands understand what people really value in a voice-first future.

Toby Barbour

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