Alexa, should we be using voice tech for marketing?

Voice technology is changing the way we communicate with our devices. You can text message hands-free, plan a vacation and even get personal wine recommendations based on what you’re eating. Amazon even recently introduced its voice-activated microwave; just speak and your device(s) will follow.

Voice is universal. It requires little effort for most and comes as easy to us as blinking. This intuitive practicality is probably why 62% of Brits are using or happy to use voice-operated devices to listen to music, search, check the news and shop, according to Mintel.

After just two years of existence, 18% of the US adult population (roughly 43 million) own a smart speaker. In fact, they are becoming so popular they are beginning to steal attention from other media and devices. A study by NPR and Edison Research has found that amongst smart speaker owners, 45% listen to less radio, 29% watch less TV and 38% use their smartphone less., a publication devoted to covering artificial intelligence through voice, found that 26.1% of smart speaker owners have made a purchase by voice, and this is only on the rise. The same study found that 1 in 5 consumers have shopped using voice. Not only is voice technology changing the way we discover, communicate and listen, it’s now filtering in to the way we shop. So, what does this mean for brands and their marketing strategy?

Voice technology changes the relationship between brand and consumer. It is becoming one of the most exciting ways to connect and according to Campaign, has “The potential to greatly impact human-computer interaction and it will be extremely powerful for removing friction.”

Brands have already begun to explore its capabilities. Dominoes allows its loyal customers to order pizza and chat to its AI-powered character, whilst Tide offers “Detailed, step-by-step voice instructions on how to remove over 200 types of stains”. Asos has also recently introduced Enki, its new voice shopping guide.

“This new form of contact makes it possible for your audience to interact with your service in a new way, all from the comfort of their own homes”

Voice technology is accessible to businesses of all sizes. Creating skills and apps for smart speakers, although different, doesn’t need to be daunting. Amazon invites brands to “Teach Alexa a new skill and reach millions of customers,” offering templates and advice to make this method of communication as seamless as possible.

Despite the immediate benefits of this form of communication, there is also the chance for cross-channel marketing. Ocado is currently promoting a seasonal ‘trick or treat’ campaign. Encouraging customers to download the Ocado skill to join in on the fun, they simply then have to say “Alexa, ask Ocado for a trick or treat”. Alexa will then choose one and put it straight in to their basket, ready for their next checkout. This new form of contact makes it possible for your audience to interact with your service in a new way, all from the comfort of their own homes. Easy for the business and easy for the customer.

With its growing popularity and casual, conversational nature, voice technology signals huge opportunities for consumer businesses. According to Market Week “Brands who have not yet given voice the consideration, investment and creative focus it deserves risk getting left behind.”