Last year, iProspect surveyed more than 1,100 UK consumers and found that one in seven (15%) was using voice technology. Anticipating a significant shift in search , not just in the UK but across the world, our experts expanded the 2018 survey to include France and Germany. Like the UK, a quarter of the German population is now using voice to interact with devices. This is slightly less than France, where a third (32%) of people claim to use voice.
To address the increase in adoption of voice technology and the impact it continues to have, iProspect hosted a Voice Search roundtable on 26 September where we launched our latest whitepaper, Turning Up the Volume on Voice Search. We invited key agency, client and partner stakeholders to discuss the implications of this technology now and in 2019.
Voice search is evolving brand communication
With around four in ten (43%) people in the UK using voice to purchase a product in the last three months, voice search is not only here to stay; it’s also drastically changing brand communication. “Brands need to think differently about the type of content they’re producing and how it is structured to answer detailed queries, not just one-word searches,” commented Reynolds. “Queries are becoming even more conversational. Whether it’s paid or organic, it’s first about aligning that search strategy with the right content onsite.”
Libby Darley, who co-authored the research, expanded on this. “Long-form content, such as recipes, is coming back and winning at voice now,” said Darley. “Search engines see this as conversational content. Featured snippets are also imperative to guarantee rich content is surfaced. However, in addition to content, site also plays a key role in ensuring your brand is discoverable for voice.”
Brands are leaving money on the table due to poor UX
This is certainly the case when it comes to mobile. In April, iProspect released its whitepaper on Performance UX and revealed that most of the UK’s top digital spenders are losing traffic due to slow loading of mobile pages. Sites that don’t load quickly will struggle to rank well in the SERPs and this will have a direct effect on the likelihood that the site will be used for voice search.
Consumers want voice assistants to be helpful, smart and friendly
Reynolds provided additional insight around how technology will offer new types of brand experiences. “In the UK, 8% of people who use voice have used a skill or action from a brand. It’s important that we are thinking about the personality that we are injecting into the content that is going to pull through in search. There is also this ongoing pressure for brands to win in the voice space. This is where marketers should the most important queries and potential consumer questions.”
Adrian Cutler, Director, Global Agency at Microsoft, agreed. “In Bing and iProspect’s joint research, ‘Differentiating Your Brand with EQ’, we found that there are three words that consumers use to describe the character trains of a digital assistant: helpful (60%), smart (57%) and friendly (44%),” explained Cutler. “Brands that are winning at voice are tapping into the emotional side of voice. Whether it’s a skill or a bot, consumers want the experience to be very and friendly before factional responses are even given.”
Mobile v digital assistants
While mobile remains the UK’s preferred device for voice – six in ten (60%) said this, brands should not ignore the growing number of people who are using digital assistants. In fact, of those who use voice, 27% do so with a Smart Speaker, Amazon Echo or Google Home. Therefore, it’s no wonder that advertising for these assistants is on devices that have a natural place in the home.
“What’s interesting right now is the sweet spot for brands and voice assistants,” commented Simon , Google’s Senior Product Manager. “This technology removes all the friction from an interaction and builds on the existing relationship that brands have with customers.”
Opportunities for brands should start with data
To echo this, Darley outlined three opportunities for brands looking to dominate in the voice space: data, content and utility. “Data should always be the starting point and whilst it isn’t possible to get data from Google Ads or other analytics packages, there are sources, such as FAQ pages, where brands should be focusing voice efforts,” confirmed Darley. “It’s no surprise that these common questions will be asked through smart speakers as they become more prevalent.”
As the UK’s leading performance marketing agency, iProspect strives to ensure all clients are voice-ready and benefit from the opportunities that this shift in brand communications present. According to our research, we can expect e-commerce opportunities that use voice to grow in the next 12 months. That’s why it’s important for brands to today.
For more guidance on Voice Search, download the whitepaper here.