How Alexa is helping boost brand engagement with voice

One of the most valuable sessions @Pausefest 2018 was listening in on Kath Blackham (VERSA, the first enterprise-level voice experience (VX) agency in Australia) and Jeff Gibb (Amazon) chatting about the next big platform, Voice. 

If you’re looking to get to grips with the voice marketing landscape in Australia and some quick tips on how (and why) innovative brands are getting ahead with voice, this article is for you:

  • Why now is the time to jump onboard with voice
  • How it works
  • Brands getting ahead with voice
  • Standing out from the crowd

Why now is the time to jump on board with voice:

The smart speaker market — think the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple’s upcoming Homepod — is set to explode into Australia and is fast becoming the next battleground for brands.

Virtual personal assistant (or VPA)-enabled speakers have changed the way we interact with online services. All over the world, we’re asking “Alexa” to check the weather, turn up the music or add milk to our shopping list. These devices didn’t even exist three years ago, yet a recent report says worldwide spending on virtual assistant technology could hit $3.5 billion by 2021.

  • Voice Experience (VX) will be key for connecting with customers over the next 5 years.
  • Global growth predictions estimate in less than two years, there will be 33 million voice-first devices in circulation.
  • Gartner has predicted 30 percent of browsing sessions will be done without a screen by 2020.

So how does it work?

Alexa’s Skills and Google’s Actions—essentially apps—are good ways for brands to dip a toe in the water of voice marketing. 

Whilst most brands are waiting for paid opportunities in search to be available via voice the smart ones are gaining a competitive advantage by jumping on board early and developing their voice offering.

Brands getting ahead with voice:

 

Domino’s pizza:

Domino’s Pizza is always streets ahead, leading the pizza delivery and digital ordering market globally

They’ve created a simple and convenient voice experience to make ordering your favourite pepperoni pizza even easier. Build a new order from scratch or place your regular Easy Order and track your pizza’s status every step of the way.

 

Starbucks:

The Starbucks experience is built on the personal connection between a barista and a customer, so it’s totally on-brand for them to embrace the voice trend.  The launch of “My Starbucks barista” helps customers to get their morning coffee fix even easier.  Order and pay for your “skinny, extra hot latte” just by speaking with Alexa or the mobile app, you can even check the estimated time it’ll be ready.  

When Starbucks face losing up to 15% of revenue if queues are too long it’s a no-brainer to remove the consumer friction by offering a super-efficient, voice option to “order my usual”.

 

Village Cinema’s:

Every month millions of customers hit the Village Cinema website and call centres for the latest movie info and perfect session times. So voice offered a natural channel to improve the customer experience whether your a detailed planner or last-minute cinema-goer.

Simply ask Alexa “what’s on tonight?” to get recommendations, movie times and an online link to complete your booking.

Ways to stand out:

The future of voice is exciting and done right, it’s a very natural way for brands to communicate and build more human relationships with their customers.

But, like anything, don’t be tempted to just to jump on the bandwagon. Voice experiences should add value and convenience to daily life. They’ve got to reduce friction and be engaging, sustainable or entertaining, not one-off gimmicks.

Like any good marketing, voice is less about directly driving sales and more about stickiness and getting people to engage with your brand.

So far, it’s early days and voice tech is still in its infancy, but it’s well worth coming up with ideas for how you could innovate and delight your customers through this channel. Just as the first smartphones weren’t what they are today we still clearly have a lot to learn about voice and it’s capabilities to connect. 

But when more than 50% of interactions with brands will conversational within 5 short years getting in early can only be a good thing!

How are you thinking about voice marketing for your brand? Jump into the comments and let me know.

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