In this opinion piece, Melotti Media founder Christopher Melotti (pictured below) explores how voice-activated virtual assistants will significantly change the landscape of marketing, content creation and copywriting.
The next revolution in technology and marketing is voice. The age of voice-activated virtual assistants and vocal command technology is upon us – Apple’s Siri, Google’s Home, Amazon’s Alexa, Samsung’s Bixby, Microsoft’s Cortana, Ozlo, X.ai, just to name a few.
History shows that the businesses who embrace new opportunities like this are the ones to reap to rewards, while those who lag behind become quickly ignored by customers.
My message to brands: don’t get left behind. It’s time to adopt voice as the growing way your customers will interact with you.
How does voice affect your marketing, content and copywriting so you can take full advantage?
The voice of technology
Picture this: you are craving spaghetti bolognese for lunch.
Right now, you’d be using your smartphone or tablet to look up the recipe, making a list and then heading out to the shops to pick up everything you need. However, the voice-activated virtual assistant era is upon us, and very soon this scenario will have you behaving very differently.
You’d say: “Okay, Google. I want spaghetti bolognese for lunch. Can you read me out the ingredients and check my fridge?”
“Absolutely,” the Google Assistant replies. “You have all of the ingredients, except you are missing 500 grams of mince meat, pork and veal.”
In the near future, you’ll simply ask your voice-activated virtual assistant to buy you a packet of the meat and have it delivered right to your home.
With organisations like Amazon and Google striving towards a reality where groceries can be ordered through Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant, and delivered to you by drone, this is becoming a real possibility.
Now, this may sound like crazy futuristic talk, but how many times has humanity said that in the past? We always think high tech is very far off, until it arrives and becomes commonplace. This cycle seems to get faster and faster each time.
The future potential of voice-activated virtual assistant devices is coming ever closer, and this will significantly change the landscape of marketing, content creation and copywriting.
Where are we now with voice AI?
Voice-activated virtual assistants (VAs) are not exactly new, having been in the market for a couple of years. However, we are only beginning to uncover their true potential through the addition of smart technologies and artificial intelligence (AI), which has ushered in a new era of popular in-home devices.
Right now, people globally are using voice-activated VAs in their homes to undertake more simplistic duties, all through simple vocal commands. This includes setting alarms, lowering the lights, managing a calendar, creating a shopping list, searching the internet, playing music, and so on.
As AI continues to improve, so will natural language processing and voice recognition technology, resulting in a wider scope of complex tasks being table to be completed, just by asking for it. Who knows how far this will go?
As this all becomes more adopted, it will vastly change how consumers behave; and this must be understood by businesses if they want to truly embrace the potential opportunities which lay ahead.
How will your business adapt?
It’s only a matter of time before voice activation becomes popular in Australia. It already has a significant uptake and exponential growth in both the United States and the UK, so it makes sense that it will do the same here.
Going by the trends overseas, consumer behaviour in response to voice technology will be completely different to what most businesses are used to at the moment, leaving many unprepared.
In the digital and highly connected world we live in today, consumers have proven themselves to be empowered and highly educated, which means that if your strategy ignores this vocal trend, you’ll be mute when a person tries to engage with your brand.
People today make purchase decisions based on their own convenience and preferences, which means if your marketing and content is not personalised to meet their needs in this way, they will move on to a competitor who does. The vocal command era is no different.
Just like many others have ignored these significant trends in the past (to their detriment), such as the rise of social media, cryptocurrency or even the internet itself, this new vocal AI trend is coming fast, and needs to be embraced.
Voice’s impact on copywriting and marketing
It is anticipated that there will be a rapid adoption of in-home smart speaker device across Australia in the space of a little over a year. As a result, businesses’ marketing and content creation will have to accommodate this paradigm shift.
Savvy organisations, such as FitBit, Uber and Purina, are already investigating what opportunities voice-activated VAs could potentially create for them. As part of their overall strategy, they are experimenting with customer voice experience for their own brands, to explore how their products can integrate with smart speaker devices, to take advantage.
For example, LG’s newer fridge range can integrate with Amazon’s Alexa to be able to monitor power usage, groceries stock takes and reorders.
Philips’ Hue Lights range is compatible with Google Assistant, to that they can dim and adjust light settings in all different rooms by simple voice commands.
Purina is doing an excellent job with content marketing by providing Alexa with scripted answers to most dog-related questions, which she is able to read out the moment someone asks.
It’s all about customer experience
The essential part of executing voice activation successfully lies in the basic rule of using the technology to create an enjoyable customer experience (CX). Right now, there’s a lot of marketing buzz about how innovative and ground-breaking the Voice AI space is, but it comes back to ensuring a favourable user experience.
While vocal command is a very different form of communication to other more traditional methods, voice is still another way for consumers to interact and engage with brands to create an enjoyable exchange. This means that your copywriting and marketing content needs to focus more on answering customers’ questions in full phrases, to replicate how they would ask their smart speaker VA, rather than just focusing on keywords and statements. The different language has to be adapted to take full advantage.
For example, for a ‘how to’ blog or video, the copywriting would be along the lines of: “How to order an Uber”. However, to facilitate voice activation technology, it would be more like: “Alexa, order me an Uber.”
When it comes to marketing and content creation, businesses need to consider how they approach this technology from a practical perspective. For example, promotional advertising and call-to-action pieces within voice-activated VAs will have to be carefully managed to avoid frustrating customers.
For example, you don’t want your Google Home to answer your question about turning on your home alarm system, and then finish with, “This is done. Don’t forget that Domino’s Pizza has a three for two special on deliveries this weekend.”
Or is this the unavoidable future?
We all baulked when advertising started appearing on our favourite pastimes, such as YouTube and Facebook. Are random paid-for adverts an inevitable reality in the future of voice, too?
What is certain is that marketing strategy will have to be a lot smarter in this kind of environment, and businesses will have to apply it wisely, using customer interest as a touchstone. To have cut through via a voice-activated VA, marketing messages and copy written content will need to be more organic and genuinely helpful (like the Purina example above), as opposed to forceful sales scripts, to ensure that the executions are not intrusive.
Where to start with voice?
The best way for a business to use marketing and copywriting to their full advantage during this new trend is to begin with ‘speech solutions’ – this means creatively catering your content and brand positioning to voice commands to improve voice experience for customers.
By experimenting in this area, businesses will be able to create a memorable, user-friendly interaction that will make the most of the intuitive nature of a voice-activated VAs, to deliver brand messaging in a whole new and unique way.