Marketers, Are You Ready For Voice Search?

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voice search

By Brooke B. Sellas, {grow} Contributing Columnist

One of my favorite things to do on the weekends is to yell at Alexa, “Alexa, play top dance music!” And then I turn the volume up ridiculously loud and cook my husband breakfast or commence with the weekly chores.

Other than dancing my way through the weekend, this little habit has got me thinking: Are marketers ready for this new type of search marketing? Are we even planning for voice search (and how DO we plan)?

The Rapid Growth Of Voice Search

Even if voice search isn’t on your radar, it’s garnering a lot of attention from many marketers.

Mary Meeker dedicated 23 slides to voice search in her Annual Internet Trends Report, most of which eluded to “explosive growth” … just look at the chart below from the same report outlining smartphone owners using voice assistants from 2013 to 2015 (35% growth!).

mary-meeker-voice-search

Furthermore, the report goes on to detail how consumers are using voice search.

  • Personal Assistant — Creating shopping lists; creating calendar events, appointment reminders or to-do lists; conducting phone calls; dictating, reading, and sending texts.
  • Fun and Entertainment — Listening to and buying music; interactive games; social media; searching and watching videos; accessing sports schedules and TV listings.
  • General Information — Web searches; recipes; news; banking and finance; travel.
  • Local Information – Local restaurants, shopping, directions, home services, weather, reviews, events, and traffic.

mary-meeker-voice-search-categories

In the not-to-distant future, the best customer experiences will come from a mix of voice-powered automation and human interaction.

From Typing To Yelling

To best understand consumer behavior and understand your customers are moving towards voice search instead of just typing inquiries into Google, consider the following …

We use voice search because

  • It’s helpful when our hands are otherwise occupied (like in the car)
  • The results are faster
  • Sometimes it can be difficult to type on devices (like a smaller mobile device)
  • It’s seen as “fun” or “cool”

The Mary Meeker report breaks down the above in the below graphic:

mary-meeker-reasons-voice-search

Additionally, back in 2014 Google surveyed both teens and adults asking, “What are you using voice search for?”

Here’s what they found:

Voice-search-google

The chief reason users are starting to gravitate towards AI to help with search is that systems like Alexa and Siri can take search to the next level.

LSA puts that in context with this brilliant example:

“For example, instead of flipping back and forth between Domino’s and Papa Johns’ websites to compare my pizza order and see what specials they have, I might soon be able to ask Siri to order me 2 medium 3-topping pizzas from the one that has the best deal.  She’ll ask me what toppings I want, finish the order and report back to me when the delivery will arrive.”

Four Ways To Prepare For Voice Search

Edison Research’s latest study covering consumer usage of media says “smart speakers” (such as Amazon Echo and Google Home) are on the rise.

“Today, 63% of Americans 12+ are aware of at least one device in this category, while 7%, an estimated 20 million Americans, live in households that have at least one smart speaker.”

And by 2020? 50% of all searches will be voice searches!

To prepare, marketers mainly need to work with their SEO department or person(s) to start researching and planning for a rise in voice searches.

Prep for voice search by:

  1. Monitoring current SEO efforts for how/if consumers are using voice search over type search for your brand
  2. Producing content that has keywords and keyword phrases in a “who, what, when, where, how” format
  3. Discovering, and answering, the most frequently asked questions/needs by your target audience somewhere on your website
  4. Updating your on-page SEO for conversational/natural language

Soon, clicks and swipes will be replaced with conversation – both with machines and humans. (How exciting!)

I’m curious, is voice search on your radar? And if so, how are you preparing for this growing consumer trend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Brooke Ballard for {grow}Brooke B. Sellas is an in-the-trenches digital marketer & Owner at B Squared Media, blossoming blogger, and a purveyor of psychographics. Her mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on Twitter.

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