With the growth in Amazon Echo, Google Home and other voice-enabled devices, brands have moved quickly to build new voice-ready apps, or extend their existing digital experiences. In fact, a study by Gartner predicted that 30% of web browsing will be screenless by 2020, and while that figure may not be wholly accurate, there is certainly a growing conversation around voice assistants and how they’re impacting digital experiences — particularly around search.
That said, not every industry is experiencing dramatic demand for voice search. So, are voice-enabled experiences high on the marketing agenda for most brands, or are marketing leaders still waiting for the right platform to emerge before getting involved? We’ve turned to CMO, VPs and marketing leaders to see where they see this trend heading in 2020.
Is Voice Search a High Priority in 2020?
“Voice search is definitely emerging as high on the digital marketing agenda,” stated Natasa Djukanovic, CMO at Podgorica, Montenegro-based Domain.ME. She believes optimizing voice search will improve your overall SEO strategy as well. That’s because voice queries make it easier for companies to understand the intent and motivation behind customer searches, and give businesses better insight into their target audience. “While we haven't created a dedicated voice app yet,” Yaniv Masjedi, CMO at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Nextiva said, “we've been looking at finding ways to get our content into Google's featured snippet area, which is often what Google will read if you ask it a question using voice.” He believes targeting this snippet has more than one benefit because it’s a great place for both voice and traditional text searches.
“Consumers are going to be using conversational and natural language when they direct their questions to their smart speakers,” added Stuart Leung, VP of Marketing for Las Vegas-based Breazy, so it’s “crucial to optimize your site for it.” This can dramatically increase the exposure your site gets from organic search — both voice and text. “If your site is optimized for voice search,” he continued, “the chances of being the answer spoken back to consumers are much more likely.”
Alexander Kehoe, cofounder and operations director at Philadelphia-based Caveni Digital Solutions agreed, “The value of optimizing for voice from a search engine perspective should be strongly considered by anyone looking to increase their organic traffic.” He believes there’s no need to wait for a new library or platform before getting started. “There is currently enough of a market in voice,” Kehoe continued, “that any campaigns in the search engine realm are worthwhile.”
Not Everyone Is Ready To Jump On Board
Most marketing leaders are slowly getting involved with voice search, but not everyone believes 2020 will be the year the medium really takes hold. Marketing budgets only go so far, so many marketing teams will want to continue with what’s been working for them best and may not have the bandwidth to experiment with emerging technologies like voice.
“For us as a B2B company,” explained Dave McAnally, VP of Marketing at Chicago-based DialogTech, “Voice is not a concern from a demand generation perspective.” He said they’re always on the lookout for new paths to discovery — such as a B2B-focused voice app or library — but it’s not something they expect in 2020. That said, he does see the value in voice for broader brand awareness and customer support applications in the near future.
How Brands Can See Early Success with Voice
With the mixed responses from marketing leaders, it’s clear that voice is on the horizon but it’s still early yet. Djukanovic believes anyone can have voice search success, however, when they approach it strategically.
Optimize for keywords: More specifically, Djukanovic recommends website copy focuses around a key question and answers it in great depth. More importantly, however, she believes the text should include the question early on and give a brief answer at the start. “Create content centered around specific topics that target one specific keyword or small group of keywords,” she summarized. This is an overview of optimizing your website for voice search without much additional effort going forward.
Add FAQs to category pages: Leung suggests incorporating FAQs on category pages that relate to products. “That way,” he said, “users have the option to browse your products after being directed to your FAQs.” Either way, you still need to ensure you’re providing real value whether your targeting voice or text users. Supporting voice search shouldn’t be at the detriment to traditional searches from desktops, smartphones, or tablets. “As a CMO,” concluded Masjedi, “I can tell you that voice search is here whether we're ready for it or not.” It’s hard not to believe that it’s usage is only going to increase as more people get in-home voice devices, so it may be best for companies to start planning their approach to optimizing for voice in the near future. Voice marketing, therefore, is definitely something to look out for in 2020.