Brain trust: will voice marketing open a well of untapped consumer engagement?
For our Audio and Voice Brief, Marketing asks industry experts: ‘what new opportunities for consumer engagement does voice tech offer that previous new media did not?’
This article is part of Marketing’s special focus on audio and voice in marketing »
Patrick Guerrerra – founder and CEO, Re Brand Consultancy
Previous new media such as smartphones, apps and even smart watches have provided us with unrivalled access to information. At the touch of a button, you can find the day’s headlines or make a multitude of purchases from retail to services like Uber or Airtasker.
Voice takes this one step further. When done well, voice experiences deliver an emotional benefit rather than simply a useful experience. They have the power to move a brand past pure utility to find a place in the hearts of consumers.
For example, American ride sharing service Lyft offers an Alexa skill that knows exactly where you are when you call a car. It can tell you how long it’s going to take to get you to your destination, all without even having to lift a finger. For busy people on the go, that’s an unbeatable experience.
Another great example of how voice is taking us beyond utility is the Alexa skill Chompers which gamifies every parent’s nightmare – getting kids to brush their teeth. It’s essentially the Tooth Fairy talking to kids about how important it is to brush your teeth.
By turning it into a game, it makes bedtime a fun experience for kids and parents. More and more, brands are defined by the sum of the experiences people have with them. This isn’t about marketing anymore. It’s emotional. And voice experience is a critical new component in the media mix that has the ability to tap into this like no other medium.
Sharon Taylor – CEO, Omny Studio
Voice technology has the power to single-handedly change the relationships a company holds with its customers. The world is getting faster. As humans, we value time and convenience above almost everything else. Voice technology gives both of these precious commodities back to the individual while allowing consumers to search for, shop with and learn about products and companies in a form that is more natural to them than any previous method.
It’s a frictionless experience that only voice can provide. Conversational interfaces that feel completely normal to interact with can be used to increase consumer engagement in a number of ways – faster customer service and support, seamless online shopping and ordering, instant answers to questions about products and locations, booking appointments without needing to call and speak to a person during business hours… the list is endless.
By leveraging voice technology and the growing number of smart audio devices in market, brands now have the opportunity to actually speak to consumers and engage with them in a way that is more compelling than ever before.
The power of this technology, when combined with the human way of relating with the natural world around us, provides the ability to exceed customer expectations by injecting a personality into brand communications, providing a better customer experience and gaining a deeper understanding of who your customers are and what they need.
That increased engagement leads to stronger relationships, as customers feel they are communicating in a human way with the companies they interact with. We’re moving rapidly towards an audio-first world and brands that take advantage quickly will win the voice wars.
Lucio Ribeiro – MD, The Circle; founder, Habla
Voice assistants are colonising consumers’ homes. For the first time, marketers have the opportunity to place a branded butler inside every house. Through voice there’s projection. We build associations and salience. We create intimacy. Voice devices have the ability to extend this intimacy.
Gimmicky? Partly. Useful? Yes. The future of human-machine interaction? Undoubtedly.
Think about common situations where speaking makes perfect sense: when your hands are busy, when the user is disabled, when driving.
Voice presents both opportunities and challenges to brands. With a simple command a consumer will order a pizza from you. With another command they’ll top up the pantry. That’s a good thing right? But what if utility ends up trumping brand? I might prefer your brand, but your competitor’s product might be easier to order or preferred in some way by the voice platform I choose to use. And what of the visual brand cues you give me in the supermarket aisle? They’re gone! They simply don’t exist in a voice-only environment.
The opportunity for brands to evolve from talking ‘to’ consumers to talking ‘with’ consumers is exciting. It’s what social media promised marketers a decade ago, before it devolved into a customer service channel with bonus trolls and the ever-present risk of a public crisis. There’s a very real possibility that voice assistants will become the primary channel through which people not only seek and receive information, but transact based on unique salience and uncopyable association.
Will voice marketing just be another battle for attention? A keyword optimised, winner-take-all fight for brand supremacy? Or will everyone with a decent product find their audience? And what of consumer allegiance? Will they stick with the brands they know and love or will they trust their voice assistant to recommend and deliver the ‘best’ brand for them? Consumers are buying devices in droves but they’re working out which platforms are best. In this current moment in time, influencing the platforms’ algorithms is the key to winning customer engagement.’
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Image credit:Przemyslaw Marczynski