Lauren Bates

Reaching audiences can be uniquely challenging because, as you know, not all audiences are created equal. To be sure, this doesn’t mean that one audience is “better” than the other. But, you do need to understand which audiences matter to your brand. This article is here to help you with that.

Know your audiences and specifically speak to each of them uniquely. In this post, I am going to focus on the power of audio and how it is used and integrated into our everyday lives and how brands are retailers can capitalize on this technology.

Audio can go where visual media cannot.

You see, the acceleration of technology and smartphones has made audio extremely relevant in our digital-first world. As we move closer and closer to a screenless world, audio and how we interact with these devices becomes increasingly important (thank you, Siri, Alexa and the like). The thing is, we are accessing audio across all our devices; from smartphones to connected home devices and everything in between.

Enter Voice-search

Voice isn’t just the future, it is now.

Over the last couple of decades, we have trained ourselves to express our needs to search engines as succinctly as possible. But voice-search changes all that. Spoken language connects people to their query with a convenience and intimacy in a way that traditional search cannot compete with. And AI, by design, learns. The artificial intelligence that powers voice-search enabled devices develop an understanding of the user’s intent after each interaction becoming more conversational in nature was it receives input.

Who runs the world? Apparently, voice-search enabled digital assistants. Ok, maybe they don’t run the world, but could they? I mean, think of how often you use digital assistants. Voice-search enabled digital assistants of today go beyond voice input. Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google’s Home are quickly, dare I say, evolving, to better understand user intent.

Que doomsday theories…but let’s move on, shall we?

According to Mary Meeker’s annual internet trends report, 20% of mobile searches in 2016 were voice searches and ComScore projects that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be done by voice. That’s kind of a big deal. So much so that retailers and tech companies have taken notice.

Voice-search is mobile, and like it or not, it is a part of everyday life. Because of this, voice-search has an undeniable local element to it, how many times has a dialogue box popped up on your phone asking for the permission to access your location while in the app? Exactly.

We can’t really talk about digital assistants without talking about machine listening.

In 2016, 80 million connected home devices were sold in 2016, a 64% increase over 2015. Arguably, they make are lives easier and as the adoption of these devices grows, they will become more affordable and accessible to a larger number of people.

So, there is a huge opportunity to be a part of the conversation, literally. Brands that can hone their voice-search strategy will be able to get the most out of contextual relevancy.

For example, Marriot is rolling out Alexa For Hospitality. Alexa for Hospitality uses the Amazon Echo in guests’ hotel rooms to enhance their experience through voice-based queries. Things like asking for hotel information, contacting the hotel for guest services, playing music, asking about the weather, etc, will be a part of the experience. This initiative comes with the promise of featuring AI powered digital assistants in each room.

Naturally, this comes with some apprehensions and while Marriot should be applauded for their forward-thinking integration of digital assistants, guests will undoubtedly have privacy concerns. The most crucial factor for Marriot (and brands that will follow in their footsteps) is transparency. Brands will need to be upfront about what data they are collecting and how it will benefit customers. Especially since they will be essentially inviting themselves into people’s homes, or in Marriott’s case, their hotel rooms.

By now, most people have heard of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and for those in the EU, this means an added layer of protection. According to the GDPR, international companies cannot sell customer data, which will undoubtedly give consumers more peace of mind which could translate into a willingness to participate.

The influence of audio is irrefutable. By leveraging spoken language over search queries, this medium has the unique ability to create context around the user’s intent which has the potential to create an entirely personal experience.

Before I go, here are some quick tips to capitalize on audio and the power of voice-search:

  • Write copy in a conversational manner
  • It is all about context and understanding user intent
  • Long-tailed keywords are key
  • Leverage your data
  • Talk to an SEO to make sure that search engines are able to crawl your site efficiently

It is likely that customers that are interacting with your brand via voice-search are a completely different audience in and of themselves. Improve segmentation by understanding who your top performing audiences are, where they are, and what they care about. Especially when it comes to your brand and their preferences for a category or product.

Gain deep insights into who is talking about your brand, how that relates to your owned channels and how that compares to your competitors.