More and more people are comfortable interacting with devices using their voice. How does that change the world of marketing?
In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Mark Traphagen shares key insights from Google on how voice assistance is changing our world.
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Eric: Mark, usually I’m the one talking about the rise of digital personal assistants and voice interactions with devices, but you had the opportunity to cover a keynote session on this topic at SMX West. Share with us what you learned.
Mark: We heard from Marco Lenoci, who’s the head of Google Product Partnership for the Google Assistant product, and he not only shared with us what Google Assistant can do now and what they’re working on for the future, but also the implications of the rise of voice assistance for search marketers.
Eric: I think one of the important things for people watching this show to be clear on is where we are with the volume of voice interactions with devices, which I call it rather than voice search, by the way, because it’s not all really search.
We’re not at the point where voice has taken over the world yet, and it’s important to understand that, but by 2020, it should be a significant percentage, which might be 5% or 10% of interactions with devices. That’s enough to matter to a lot of brands, and if you’re going to be ready for that, you have to get going on it now.
With that context, why don’t you go over some of the implications?
Mark: Okay, the things Marco shared with us. So, he gave us five key insights at the end of his talk, and that’s what I want to concentrate on.
I think one of the most important things is that we’re seeing that voice is about action. You said it before, it’s not all search, and that’s true.
In fact, Google data shows that there’s 40 times more action-oriented interactions in voice than in search. So, people using voice with devices are about doing things, getting things done. It’s not about finding the coffee, which is what you would be looking for on search, but ordering the coffee and expecting it to be ready when you arrive at the coffee shop. So, start to think about the actions your customers want to take: less passive discovery, more action to completion.
People also expect more conversations with their devices. In fact, Google data shows 200 times more conversations going on in voice assistance and voice-assisted devices than in search. So, this means we’re moving from keywords to something more dynamic. Keywords are still important, search is still so important, but in this world… Well, let me give you an example.
Doing a traditional search, you’d be searching for something like ‘weather’, and then your zip code, right? But now, we’d ask things to a voice-assisted device or a digital personal assistant like, “Do I need an umbrella today?”
We expect that device to understand, when we say, “Do I need an umbrella today?”, I’m asking a question about the weather. There’s also an expectation that the location is understood. Your device knows where you are, so the assistant should know where you are, and what time of day it is, and as I said, that ‘an umbrella’ implies, “Is it going to rain today?”
Marco told us that there are actually 5,000 ways users can ask for an alarm to be set on Google Assistant, just as an example.
Also, he told us that smart screens are changing everything, and by smart screens, we mean devices that interact by voice but still have a display of some type. Google says that nearly half of the people who are using voice also use touch input on a screen together with it.
So some things still need to be seen. We still live in a multi-modal world. That’s the way we interact as humans. That’s the way we expect these devices to interact.
The fourth insight is that daily routines matter. These devices are becoming more and more able to know things like the time of day, where I am, this is what I’d usually be doing that time of day. For example, this is the time I usually drive home, so do I want to hear my favorite podcast?
Developers need to be thinking in terms of day and time to be there when users need them most. The concept of micro-moments in marketing takes on a whole new context in this.
The fifth and final insight is that voice is universal. We already know how to do it. Keyboards and tapping are still not totally natural for humans. Voice is.
Eric: Yes, that’s really interesting, and some of the research that I dug up in my investigations into voice shows just how universal voice is. People don’t realize, for example, that a baby in a mother’s womb can recognize the mother’s voice as distinct from other voices. So, it’s actually something that’s innate.
Anyway, cool insights overall. What practical actions should we be taking as digital marketers?
Mark: Lenoci shared three takeaways.
The first is, show up. Be there. Be involved with this. Make sure your content, services, and apps are available on Google and across its various services, including developing things for Google Assistant, like we’ve been doing at Perficient Digital, and Amazon Alexa, and all these different things that we’re working with now.
The second is, speed up. Don’t just create experiences. Think about the micro-moments where you can assist. So, “I want to know, I want to play, I want to buy this, I want to go here,” being present at those moments. How can you make that easier and faster for your customers and prospects?
And the third takeaway is, wise up. Take advantage of the info coming out from Google and others who are involved in this marketplace about how to build for that world.
Eric: Thanks, Mark. And your suggestion about the focus on helping people in the moment, right now, is a really important one. That’s how these technologies get adapted by people or adopted by people, really, is when the technology makes it so much easier than the alternatives.