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What’s the deal with voice search?

Robin Emiliani  /  Jul 08, 2021

What’s your voice search strategy?

If your answer is a shrug or a grimace, time to add it to the list for your next strategic planning meeting. Because voice search is on the upswing—and fast. And marketers who aren’t paying attention are going to get left in the dust.

In fact, more than 27% of searches in the Google app are done by voice, and 41% of adults use voice search daily. By 2024, the smart speaker market is set to top $30 billion.

So, the question isn’t “should we think about voice search?” It’s “how can we best take advantage of this new medium?”

As usual, we think the answer starts with understanding how customers use this technology.

A study from Adobe tells us that the most common voice searches are for music and the weather forecast. But not far behind, we’ve got some searches that represent interesting marketing opportunities. 47% of people say they use voice to do online searches, 46% to check in on the news, and 35% for research.

What this data tells us is that the first step to taking advantage of voice search is this:

Making sure your content is optimized not only for text and image searches but also for voice.

The good news is that Google is getting ever smarter and building context into its search via AI. If someone says, “show me the menu,” Google uses location data to pin down where they are and show them the menu at the restaurant they’re sitting in. If they ask how far the Grand Hotel is from the restaurant, Google will assume they’re talking about the restaurant where they’re sitting.

Google’s also smart enough to know that a text search of “Austin weather” is the same as a voice search of “what’s the weather in Austin?”

So, is there anything we specifically need to do to optimize our pages? The answer is yes. Because the two types of searchers are typically looking for two types of information. And our content needs to take that into account.

A text searcher typing their search in on a computer or tablet may be looking for more in-depth info, complete with links and citations. A voice searcher is probably looking for the simplest, most boiled-down answer.

This means if you want your pages to appeal to both types of searchers, opening with a conversational headline and a brief answer/definition before diving into more in-depth info might be the way to bridge the gap.

And if you want to take voice search even farther than content optimization (and you know how we love pushing marketing boundaries), we suggest taking a note from companies like Patrón Tequila, Domino’s, and PayPal—who’ve asked themselves how this medium can increase engagement or simply make the lives of their users easier.

Patrón Tequila’s strategy is to offer personalized cocktail recipes via voice search—a perfect approach since most people whipping up cocktails in the evening don’t want to pause to type in a search.

Domino’s Pizza took another smart route, building a virtual ordering assistant that lets pizza-lovers order without typing a word. Now, voice ordering is more common, but Domino’s was one of the first to offer it to customers.

PayPal has gone similarly hands-free, letting users send money via Siri. Then there’s Nestlé and Campbell’s. In the same strategic mindset as Patrón, they’ll give you voice instructions as you cook (no washing your hands constantly to scroll down a recipe).

In every one of those cases, the brand asked itself what it could do with voice search to make customers’ lives easier and drive business goals. And the bottom line is that’s what we should all be doing.

So, here’s the question of the hour:

What can you do with voice search to improve things for your users and/or make it easier for them to do the things your business wants them to do (schedule a call, make a purchase, join a newsletter, etc.)?

If you need help figuring it out? We’d love to help you strategize (and execute on your strategy). Reach out anytime.


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