You’re washing dishes after dinner, scrubbing away at a dirty pot, when you realize you just used your last couple drops of dish soap. With both hands submerged in the sudsy water, you’re unable to write ‘dish soap’ on your shopping list for your next trip to the store. You could always order a bottle online before you forget, but that seems like a lot of effort at the moment. Or, if you’re one of the 47.3 million smart speaker owners in the US, you could simply say, “Alexa, order more dish soap” and have it delivered directly to your front door.

The growing adoption of voice technology is bringing a new meaning to what it means to market to the moment.

Our dream as marketers is to find the right audience and be there with a relevant message in the moment of greatest impact. At DEG, we call this marketing to the moment. The growing adoption of voice technology is changing what it means to market to the moment. We now have a new way to be there for our customers at times when historically they might have been unable to interact with our brands—for example, when they’re standing at their kitchen sink with their hands covered in soapy water. Instead of waiting for our customers to log onto their laptop or open an app on their phone, we now have a way to be available with just the words ‘Alexa,’ ‘Siri,’ or ‘Ok, Google.”

Current estimates predict that more than 50% of all search will be completed via voice by 2020. As users begin to familiarize themselves with how to best leverage voice search, marketers will have to adjust their strategies if they want to continue to meet customers in the moment.

Current estimates predict that more than 50 percent of all search will be completed via voice by 2020.

voice search

Brands are beginning to invest in voice apps in hopes of connecting with customers in new and relevant ways. Voice apps, or skills, are custom-made apps built specifically to work with smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home. The ownership of these voice-activated speakers in homes is expected to grow—by 2020, Gartner predicts 75% of households will have a smart speaker.

voice search

While this presents a huge opportunity for brands, the reality is that today, most skills and apps are only used for the first two weeks after they’re downloaded. This is largely because most brands haven’t figured out how to best position themselves for voice search and interaction. However, there are a few tips marketers can follow to create a voice app their customers will love—and use.

Be useful

Most voice apps are only used for the first two weeks after they’re downloaded.

The best voice apps are ones that are created with an understanding of where customers are when they’re activating their smart speakers and why they’re choosing to use voice search. Think of the person in the middle of doing dishes—if they’re among the 41% of smart speaker owners who keeps their speaker in the kitchen, they can quickly add an item to their shopping list without stopping what they’re doing.

voice search

Identify ways that people might shop, research, or interact with your products via voice.

  • Are there products your customers repeatedly buy?
  • Are there any commonly asked questions that could be answered via voice?
  • Are your customers preoccupied when they need something from your brand?

Be easy

Currently, people most commonly use smart speakers to perform simple tasks, like asking the weather, playing music, or setting alarms. Customers have found these reliable, repeatable requests improve their lives by making these tasks easier. Unlike your website or mobile app experience, voice can be difficult if you have a multi-step process to get the result you want.

  • What are things that you can accomplish within a few steps?
  • Are there preferences someone can set up in their account that can then simplify the request?

Keep it simple and functional

The most frustrating phrase Alexa can say is, “Hmm. I don’t know that.” When building your voice app, you’ll need to think through all the practical ways that customers will be interacting with your app. This means investing in UX to develop intents to be ready with responses to the ways that your customers will be using your app.

  • What are the ways that your customers currently ask questions about your products?
  • What responses will make sense to customers?
  • How will your responses sound coming from the voice of the Smart Speaker?

Convenience is a critical aspect of creating a voice app. Brands must offer customers a process for solving problems with smart speakers that’s more convenient than alternative solutions to their problems.

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