This week, it was announced that Yext has partnered with Amazon to integrate their location management technology services in to Alexa devices. This new collaboration between Yext and Amazon’s Alexa is a clear example of the understood importance of connecting and driving device users to in-store experiences for a seamless user-experience. People do not simply connect with either your website, your social assets or your brick and mortar store. They engage with content in a multitude of touchpoints and if they aren’t visible in even one touchpoint (as well as consistent and accurate), it could be detrimental to your brand performance holistically.
The Future of Voice and Purchase Behavior
Voice device usage today is still somewhat limited, with the full breadth of its possible capabilities untapped. Despite this, marketers, businesses and customers alike are already seeing opportunities.
Figure 1: Voice Actions/Support Utilization. Source: iProspect 2018
25% of all voice search queries currently demonstrate some level of purchase intent. While this varies across verticals, one thing is clear: businesses and users expect continued purchase expansion capabilities. Unlike the growth of mobile, use of Voice devices is agnostic to age, gender or demographic, putting the expansion possibilities in a totally different realm. So much so, that it’s expected that by 2022, Voice is expected to generate $40bn in sales (OC& C Strategy Consultants).
Finding a Store
From the perspective of purchase-intent voice utilization, finding Store Locations leads the way. This isn’t that surprising given that mobile leads from a voice usage perspective; voice similified the process of mobile users on-the-go find locations, whether walking or in their car. With store locations being the primary driver for purchase-based interactions with Voice, the Yext partnership certainly makes sense. Yext CEO, Howard Lerman made the point; “So you can ask Alexa ‘how many calories are in a Big Mac?’ and get an answer. More popular questions are about store hours, locations and phone numbers’”. By partnering with Yext, Alexa is therefore better placed to deliver users this type of information which more closely brings the consumer to a point of purchase, giving brands even more incentive to focus on Voice.
Purchasing Using Voice
Currently, most purchases made via voice relate to basic/repeat/re-order purchase of products with CPG being a prominent beneficiary. One of the big reasons for current limitations: the visual component supporting voice search isn’t mature enough yet to match the requirements and expectations for shopping behavior across differing verticals.
While consumers may be comfortable ordering ‘simple’ products that they’re very familiar with, like paper towels, dishwashing soap and even Domino’s pizza, the technology is not currently able to give users the option to visually browse products without having to connect multiple devices – which just adds to the process.
Researching what you want to buy
Figure 2: Mobile devices still lead the way in Voice, with users researching products more on mobile vs. home devices. Source: iProspect 2017
Today, Alexa users can easily find the cheapest version of a familiar product in order to re-purchase Amazon-sold items, but the ability to research on home devices is still somewhat limited. The Yext partnership for Alexa will now help “connect the dots” for users doing some research-based shopping. (For example, asking Alexa for the best reviewed and nearest type of Mexican restaurant.)
The Importance of Visual Connection and Content Optimization
Research is one of the key elements that will drastically increase user value alongside Voice technology. While the connectivity to visuals/screens is still in its infancy for home devices, it’s clearly where much of the future lies for Voice – not just for media consumption but for e-commerce. Users already expect great visual connectivity which is reflected in some of the disappointments users have expressed with new technologies.
It’s for this reason that brands must not only consider the way they provide ‘answers’ via Voice, but also the way they set up to deliver visual content experiences (imagery and video).
If you don’t apply appropriate focus to optimizing your assets for Search today, you’re not likely to perform in Voice Tomorrow.
Voice assistants use the same principles when returning results as search engines do when returning your digital assets (website, Pinterest, YouTube, Apps, Local page results and so on). If you’re not doing well from an SEO standpoint today, you’re not setting yourself up for success within Voice tomorrow.
Setting up and optimizing digital assets properly for your website and social platforms is not only important to rank on search engines, but imperative for connecting with consumers. As part of that, you must consider what people (your customers) are looking for, why they’re looking for it, and in which format the answer will be best delivered.
Key Takeaways Local Based Retailers and Brands Need to Examine