A Voice Era?

Voice marketing is edging nearer. Can you hear it?

Last week, a reader of this blog sent me an email.

We ended up talking about marketing; more specifically about marketing technology.

And about what we believed would take off next.

Actually, the conversation started a little differently.

I was asked why some of my posts seem to dismiss a lot of technology or question their effectiveness.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against technology: I work in the digital/technology sector.

So I’m all for new technologies and innovations.*

*Providing that the technology or innovation actually does something useful, solves a common problem or enhances an experience.

I’m always sceptical about new innovations and those who jump on those bandwagons because we’ve seen so many come and go.

At the turn of 2017, I wrote a post detailing five marketing technology opportunities.

Some on that list have developed a little more than others.

Some have featured more in marketing campaigns than others.

But when the question presented itself to me last week, there was one clear winner.

(Which, perhaps not surprisingly, wasn’t on that 2017 list.)

I answered because of two reasons:

1. There are immense possibilities for it if the technology is developed enough. In other words, it’s core function has a real use if that functionality is there.

It can help people complete tasks more efficiently on a personal and professional level.

2. The concept has already been accepted – and more importantly, adopted – by people worldwide.

People are buying and people are already using it.

I’m talking about voice-enabled technology:

Voice search via search engines and conversational interactions via digital assistants.

Half of children aged 9 to 16 already access voice recognition technology – Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant – at home.

Mainly to search for information.

What’s interesting is that younger children are more comfortable with the technology than older children.

Probably because they’re growing up with such technology and feel more accustomed to it.

If this trend continues, we’ll see an entire generation grow up using voice-enabled technology.

A Globant study also suggests that nearly half surveyed use voice technology daily in their professional lives.

That’s why I’m saying there’s a real appetite, and therefore, a market for this.

47 million Americans already own a smart speaker!

Okay… here comes the inevitable scepticism.

Yes, voice-based devices are currently being used to discover and inform.

The whole pull for voice-based devices is that speaking your search query is faster than typing it.

Anyone using voice-based devices over a long enough period will know this isn’t the case right now – even though we’re still doing it.

UX problems such as misspeak and slang and problems with natural languages also come to mind.

Voice commerce isn’t there either.

Once voice technology can actually make searching easier, which includes presenting multiple search queries, as well as make purchasing easier, can the real marketing begin.

It seems we’re only scratching the surface with voice because what it currently offers is limited.

Probably only the initial aspect of any given task.

So it’s early days where there are more questions than answers. But it could well be coming.

Which takes me back to that email conversation…

And another question posed to me: “What do you suggest we do to prepare?”

Unless you have an R&D budget to spend on voice-enabled digital devices and assistants, you can only focus on your website for search:

  • Optimise your site for mobile SEO.
  • Try to get a featured snipped for your website.
  • Develop a Q&A section.
  • Explore structured data and voice mapping possibilities.
  • Use simple English for all written content.
  • Get started with Google Assistant.
  • Experiment with voice search.

A Search Engine People study in 2016 confirmed that 20% of mobile searches on Google are done by voice.

That percentage has surely increased by now and will keep doing so.

Here’s another trend:


So I think voice-enabled searching (and therefore voice marketing) is going to open up.

Okay… I could be wrong.

This could be another one of those predictions that will soon get brushed under the carpet. If that happens, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

But, maybe, it won’t.

Maybe the voice era is upon us.

And conversational interactions and voice search will change the way people complete tasks forever.

What do you think?

What technology or innovation will take off next?

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24 thoughts on “A Voice Era?

  1. There’s also another problem when it comes to search/voice marketing.

    Google is the front-runner in the voice recognition arena.

    It also makes most of its revenue from its search and advertising capability. And of course, it wants the keep it like that.

    Voice-based devices could eventually decrease this revenue from marketers and advertisers as it would minimise the choices it can offer those who are searching.

    Minimising competition in the process as it tries to narrow down search results for voice.

    Which means less revenue which then is a threat which then might slow down its technical development.

    There’s another issue present – which sort of contradicts the Google issue – in the smart speaker market, with Amazon leading the way.

    Because, of course, Amazon will only allow you to purchase products off Amazon…

  2. They are always advertising Alex et al. on TV but I am on of those people who does not want to talk to their computer or have it talk to me – way too creepy. Maybe it’s a result of Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey, or maybe it’s because Facebook sold everyone’s details to Cambridge Analytica et al, I don’t trust them not to listen in to what I am saying.

    1. I can see that some would find it creepy! I think that regardless of how you request information, be it via voice or type or platform, there’s always a real chance of someone listening/watching!

      Thanks for reading, Emma. I hope all is well over in sunny Swansea!

  3. Hi Gareth, this was a fine review on the voice search or voice marketing tech coming forward nowadays.
    I agree that there is a lot of improvement needed for this tech to be efficient and to be ‘the future’ of marketing. I had been working closely with SEO and Google AdWords tech, so I still feel those are still the ‘it’ for online marketing currently.

    1. Hi Alisha. Thank you and thanks for reading. At present, even though the whole voice thing looks promising, there is nothing else we can do other than work on search.

      What (other) innovative technology do you think will emerge over the next few years?

      1. I still feel there is now so much more outreach through social media. People basically go to YouTube now-a-days to do or look for everything they have in mind. I would say Google did a good job by buying probably the most viewed video sharing- advertising-platform for entrepreneurs website. Marketing done over that is escalating way quicker than it does in SEO sometimes.

  4. When reading your article, I got the nostalgia of my years in sales. I had not advanced so much in sales technology and now I find new trends fascinating. You have a blog because digitization covers everything today.

  5. Gareth, with the rapid growth of technology it will be no surprise if we move towards devices being able to read our thoughts or pick up the signals of our thoughts and use it in a search query. With predictive typing our thoughts are next, don’t you think?

    1. Yes, Gabriel. I think we might see mind-reading tech emerge as the technology to support it, such as AI, also develops. I’d guess for commercial products and search it’s a little behind voice.

      It’s a creepy idea but certainly one that the developers and tech companies will be working on. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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