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In a recent study published by Uberall, over 60 percent of SMB marketers have indicated they are using voice technology in their marketing campaigns, with 26 percent of them reportedly saying they are expecting the technology to be very valuable in the future. Furthermore, 48 percent say Amazon Alexa has the “best marketing potential” compared to other voice assistant devices.

So what exactly are SMBs doing with voice technologies?

1. Getting in Early on Voice Search

Patrick Delehanty, marketing manager of Marcel Digital, said SMBs are driving the growth of voice for two main reasons, mobile and local search. He referenced a study by BrightLocal indicating that 58 percent of consumers have used voice search to find local businesses in the last year, and an article by Distilled CEO Will Critchow highlighting that 75 to 80 percent of mobile searches are designed to “carry out” an action.

“More [consumers] are using their phones to [voice] search than ever before,” said Delehanty. “If you're a small business and local, you can capitalize on voice search by using Schema markup on your website, optimizing your website and branded profiles for local SEO, give your website an SEO audit — especially for mobile — and make sure that your profiles and local listings [have the] relevant descriptions and are categorically correct.”

2. Leveraging Natural Language Processing (NLP)

According to Market Research Future, the global natural language processing (NLP) market is projected to rise 24 percent CAGR by 2023. NLP is an area where artificial intelligence (AI) technology is utilized to understand and process the natural human language, which includes delivering the appropriate response based on the emotional tone of the user’s voice.

Writing in Oracle SMB Blog, SmallBizDaily.com founder Rieva Lesonsky shared that NLP can be used to respond to consumer queries and searches as well as assist salespeople in pulling up customer records, set reminders and retrieve daily calendar information through conversational voice commands. “NLP is a growing white-hot field that all major business intelligence (BI) companies are looking at. The idea is with the rise of NLP, computers can do smart tasks with voice commands that traditionally used to be done by analysts,” said Michael Bolls from Mu Sigma.

Related Article: 9 Voice Datasets You Should Know About

3. Providing Better Customer Support at Lower Costs

As a significant benefit of delivering automation through voice, brands can provide better customer support at a lower cost. Alan Majer, CEO at Good Robot, said voice bots can be put in place to resolve commonly occurring questions in an efficient manner. “Whether it's the status of an order, store hours or simple how-to instructions related to a product or service offering. Many of these queries are performed far more easily and cost-effectively via voice than they are with other mediums. Voice is a direct and convenient way to access information by your customers [while saving] money.”

“Voice bots can boost the speed of responses where it matters most. If all your human operators are busy handling customer queries, you have the option to decide if a voice assistant taking that call immediately is a better service response overall [or vice versa],” said Majer.

4. Gaining In-Depth Data Insights

By incorporating NLP, voice technology can enable your brand to gain in-depth data insight about your consumers. “Voice Assistants [provide] the best possible window into customer experiences and their needs. The freedom of voice responses lets customers specify exactly what they want, in their own terms,” said Majer. “These customer [voice] queries offer an incredibly powerful learning opportunity to provide information and services to customers on their own terms.”

Related Article: The Problem With Voice Datasets

Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant?

According to the Uberall report, the high expectations regarding Alexa are mainly due to Amazon’s high market share in the US. However, according to Bret Kinsella writing for VoiceBot.ai, Alexa actually “underperforms in terms of marketer expectations of impact and Google [Assistant] slightly overperforms when looking just at smart speakers.”

“For what it's worth I find Google Assistant more capable than Alexa. Query handling is a little smarter and the built-in availability on Android phones is a huge asset. Amazon has been early to market and garnered huge visibility, but for the long run, I'm picking Google Assistant as the winner,” said Majer.