Voice search has steadily been putting a new customer-facing channel on the map for marketers

As voice-enabled devices start seamlessly combining digital and physical realities we are already seeing a distinct shift in how we interact online. 

It wasn’t that long ago text and images dominated digital media’s landscape, these have been supplanted by video and now voice is re-shaping the way we search and discover information.

This is making room for truly contextual interactions with consumers and it is worth deep diving into this to get a better sense of where marketers’ focus needs to be next.

Where text and images made sense, voice is far more intuitive, it naturally fits into our busy lifestyles. The average human can speak 150 words per minute, but only type 40 words during that time. Voice conveys emotion, tone, and subtleties that text is unable to capture and it allows users a hands-free, eyes-free experience. 

From a marketer’s perspective, voice enables consumers to re-frame their searches, make them more granular and readily share more context around their query. So, instead of typing in ‘local builder’, for instance,  a similar voice query normally goes into more detail, such as; ‘Where can I find a local builder who can repair a leaking roof?’

As voice search continues to gain traction on traditional text queries we are seeing the boundaries between social media, entertainment, communication and marketing increasingly blur.

Just think of voice ads, which, unlike their static text or image versions, will enable actualconversations (albeit limited). This approach to advertising is interactive, engaging, and highly effective for brands. It could become the epitome of personalisation, literally taking customer interactions to the one-on-one level. Ordering a pizza on a live TV sports night or finding a local builder to fix a sudden emergency may become a marketer’s dream of bringing those sought after micro-moments to reality.

So, as voice starts to gain traction, the key question is, what is the next potential future scenario marketers should be preparing for? Facebook’s new range of devices, Portal, mesh social media with Alexa’s personal assistant capabilities that can control smart home devices, run routines and load any of Alexa’s tens of thousands of Skills. 

Let’s imagine asking Alexa for a recipe for Beef Wellington. As you stand in the kitchen a hologram of the ingredients required emerges. You start pulling these together as Nigel Slater talks you through the preparations.  

The technology already exists to create seemingly identical, life-sized holograms and Microsoft has developed neural text-to-speech technology to create personalised voice signature.

Granted that to achieve this experience we would need to wear one of Microsoft’s HoloLens devices, but there is already talk of mixed reality contact lenses that may result in a seamless 3D visual to illustrate a voice search.  

This scenario can be taken further into the future. UltraHaptics,  developed by Bristol University’s Department of Computer Science, can pick up ultrasound waves present in the air and condense them to create a pressure difference that gives the illusion of a touchable 3D object floating in thin air. 

Whilst touching a holographic object is reaching some distance into the future, holographic storytelling is the perfect partner to voice as it delivers a totally hands free holistic experience that brands can harness to ramp up engagement levels.

Back to where we currently are with voice, and given that 62 percent of US voice-enabled speaker owners are using them to make a purchase, adding a voice interface option to the customer journey makes sense. It should enhance the way marketers can accurately target audiences and, as a consequence, reduce media wastage. 

Connecting consumers with the brands they already love and helping them find new ones to engage with is about ensuring a brand’s voice is clear, concise and always listening. There is no doubt that voice is set to become integral in more complex, multi-step activities. Voice search queries typically fall into four categories;30 percent general information, 27 percent personal assistant, 22 percent local information, and 21 percent fun and entertainment. 

To make the most of this marketers need to consider the user experience across the entire journey. This means being at least one step ahead of the consumer, anticipating their on-the-go scenarios to adapt their messages to fit in with what the consumer really wants. A new era of flexible, agile marketing is already emerging to keep step with these consumers.

As technology continues to break down the barriers between brands and consumers, voice is one of the most impactful ways to date of closing the gap. It does mean that marketers need to continually re-purpose the way they want to engage with consumers and keep looking to the future to prepare for the next probable scenario. It won’t be too long before holographic stories and ultra haptics will be the new marketing trend.

About the Author

Joel Davis is CEO and founder at Mighty Social. We are Europe’s fastest growing social ad company, delivering impressive ROI to world leading brands. Our superior patent pending ad technology, the ATOM, builds and creates real time audience segments.

Featured image: ©PixieMe

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