Insights

New Decade, New Priorities: Aligning Brands & Voice Strategy in 2020

12.09.2019 by

Voice strategy—or planning branded content and experiences for use with voice-powered technology—has confused some organizations because it’s relatively new and lacks precedent across all industries.

That confusion is fair, and frankly, to be expected. New technology will always have its spectrum of early adopters, late majorities, and laggards. The early adopters, unable to tame their immediate need to be in the know, will end up taking a few lumps for the rest.

The fact is, there’s no universal playbook for planning voice strategy in your industry. But there are some emerging trends and signals that can help you get started. Pair those items with some common-sense thinking around customer experience and the way your target audience searches for information, and you’re probably closer to having something in place than you realize.

Is voice-powered tech fad or for real?

When the subject of voice tech, digital assistants, voice skills, and other related jargon comes up, you may be asking whether it’s just another digi-fad that will wear off over time. As always, there’s data to help frame the story.

To start, voice technology has experienced the fastest rate of product adoption since the smartphone, and we all know how that turned out.

Around 46% of the world’s online adults are using voice technology in their everyday lives for tasks like basic search queries, locating businesses and services, and purchase decisions. Most important for brands, more than a third of those users report using voice tech for finding products or services. It’s estimated that by 2020, over 50% of all internet searches will be voice-based.1

Add to these statistics the fact that the majority of voice devices and information ecosystems are developed by some of the biggest names in global commerce—Amazon, Apple, and Google, to name a few—and it’s clear that voice usage and applications will continue to grow and become more refined.

Voice strategy is simply one more way to elevate your overall customer experience as people’s digital habits evolve.

It’s OK to be uncertain, just don’t be too late

We are on the verge of a new decade, a fact that’s been strangely underplayed and undervalued leading up to the turn of the new 20s. More disruption is bound to occur in this latest tale of 10. By all accounts, the idea of “voice strategy” is about five to six years old. So if you’re not actively testing voice and don’t have a game plan, you’re a little late. But not too late.

After all, there are a few things missing in the world of voice that many pundits and analysts assumed would have happened faster. The most obvious is monetization. It’s been a trickier play for Amazon and Google to introduce paid search advertising to voice tech. You can appreciate their restraint, considering they could have made the play earlier to promote products and recommendations. But monetization seems to be less a question of if than when. Studies suggest that consumers would be open to ads via voice assistant, assuming they have some control over the ad experience. Still, with the rise in adoption of online ad blockers and heightened consumer privacy concerns, the question of whether people will be open to promotional messages via voice assistants still looms large.

In some ways, making the jump to voice is not all that different than the early days of mobile web and app development. It took time for brands to get it right, and to understand what kind of experience was valuable versus vanity. In the world of voice, jumping head first into branded skills or actions might be less important than simply gaining an understanding of how your highest-value customers use search and what they might want from you. Understanding has to come first. Action can be taken when the time is right.

Start building your use case

Thinking about voice strategy is not much different from the discovery work you might do for other marketing or tech initiatives. It starts with researching the big players in the space, understanding what your competitors are doing, and knowing the ways your primary audiences are using voice technology—or might use it in the future.

Understanding your audience’s needs and habits will reveal clues for how to deliver the best personalized voice experiences, whether you deploy the tools and devices of big players like Amazon and Google or develop custom applications.

The latter has been in vogue for brands over the last 18 months, especially in the financial services industry, where Bank of America and Capital One have rolled out their own, branded digital assistants with names like Erica and Eno.

Once you have your plan together, other decisions will pop up. Will you build a team to support voice-specific work? Or will you rely on a partner agency for voice strategy and execution? There are many facets to the work, from creating content and developing technology to managing performance and optimization. You’ll need a cross-section of expertise to bring your plan to life.

With the new decade just days away, it’s the perfect time to build your voice strategy. The team at Trellist can help, so don’t hesitate to contact us.


1Statistics sourced from https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Presentations-and-Whitepapers/2017/The-Future-of-Voice-From-Smartphones-to-Smart-Speakers-to-Smart-Homes | https://quoracreative.com/article/voice-search-statistics-trends | https://www.comscore.com/layout/set/popup/Request/Presentations/2017/Future-of-Voice

Neil Dougherty
A strategic consultant with 15 years of experience in politics and financial services, Neil currently leads Social Business at Trellist, architecting service offerings and solutions that help clients harness the power of social networks in their business strategy.