Marketing technology (aka martech) is now a massive industry – and London-based WARC has some numbers on the subject. The market intelligence firm surveyed more than 500 North American and UK brand marketers, finding that the martech marketplace currently sits at about $34.3 billion in annual expenditures for marketers. In other words, marketers are now spending an average of 16% of their marketing budgets on martech, according to WARC’s survey. The firm found that marketers are most likely to use martech tools for email marketing – indeed, about 85% of them are currently doing just that. A majority of respondents also said that they use martech tools for social media, and for managing CRM (customer relationship management) programs.
As new platforms go, voice is making itself heard. Loudly. Voice-enabled units are projected to be in 45 million homes by end of 2017. So the question for brands now, is: if you’re not speaking for your brand, who is?
For brands in the entertainment space and beyond, having a voice strategy and the content to feed it must be a top marketing priority. Voice, like other emerging platforms — Snap, VR, etc. — is itself an entertainment platform that plays the music we want to hear, catches us up on celebrity news, and lets us listen to interviews, podcasts, audio books, etc.
As entertainment properties seek to develop and evolve their voice platforms, it is helpful to keep in mind how best to build your brand’s voice. Here’s a few ideas specific to the Amazon Alexa Voice Assistant platform:
Voice is a Utility
The voice platform offers studios and networks a variety of new ways to support their brand by building an offering that adds a meaningful service to the consumer.
Voice connected to your home entertainment system will replace the remote control — and with it the complexity for many to actually being able to find what they want to watch. Voice will quickly become the new interface, enabling a much easier way to search, discover and get detailed information on your choice of entertainment. Where is your movie playing? What is the Rotten Tomatoes score? Who is the title actor? You get the idea.
When it comes to the Alexa family of devices, entertainment brands have the benefit of information feeds from IMDb and Wikipedia. But those search tools are only as useful as the data they get.
Tip 1: For all brands in the voice-enabled age it’s important that their Wikipedia pages have up-to-the-minute information. For entertainment brands, it’s never been more important that both their Wikipedia and IMDb pages speak for them. * Extra points if you’re a property who’s promoting the enabling of your Alexa skill via your Wikipedia page!Voice is the Future
Each time your Alexa Skill is enabled and accessed in a consumer’s home, you are connecting and tracking an incredibly personal and organic form of communication.
One could say it’s the purest form of A/B testing your brand could receive, because its the consumer who starts the engagement and is in control of asking, requesting and wanting to direct the conversation.
This brings us to Tip 2: Your brand voice motto, like the Boy Scouts, needs to always be prepared. No matter what you build as a utility or entertainment proposition, your brand voice should always be listening and able to answer any number of possible queries the consumer has, as they are the ones in control.
As voice continues to grow in consumer adoption and brands continue to adapt and refresh their voice skills, casting a wider net of possible requests to both answer and track will give you better guidance on what and how you refresh next.
The Promotional Marketing Opportunities are Endless
Voice is about starting a conversation. Consumers are looking to engage with brands in the voice space but the style of engagement is very different than visually based communications. With voice, they are listening to what you have to say as they search for answers. This leads to many different ways to share and expand your content.
Jeopardy gives consumers a mini-game to play daily. Alexa will tell you a joke if you ask.
Tip 3: Don’t forget to leverage your most important assets; the voices of your stars and talent can support and promote a new film or series with a more personal and connected advantage over brands who do not already have a “voice.”
Gartner predicts that by 2020, voice will represent 30% of web-browsing activity. It’s time for all brands to find theirs.
As seen on Medipost https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/305478/why-voice-will-make-your-brand-heard.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=readmore&utm_campaign=104592&hashid=GDUskglhnvDLb35PkVj_E8-yz3s
Both Google and Bing have stated that the majority of search queries they receive take place via voice on mobile. It stands to reason that, given the hands-free capabilities of handsets and mobile phones, voice would eventually take precedence over text-based search. With the vast improvement in the quality of digital voice assistants like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana, it was only a matter of time people discovered the immense convenience of voice search and rely on it for their queries.
But what does this mean for a small business, and how should you change your digital marketing strategy given this trend? Let’s look at some ways in which businesses can make their content voice search-friendly.
1. Focus on Phrases and Longtail Keywords
The search focus has shifted from terse, awkward keywords to long-tail phrases, or even entire sentences. That’s because voice searches make use of natural language. The way we talk is decidedly different than the way we type. The phrases and keywords that we use while speaking to digital assistants would therefore be different than those we use when entering text in Google search.
“What is the weather like in Miami today?” is an example of a conversational/natural language query more likely to be spoken to a digital assistant, as opposed to “weather miami,” which we would type into a search bar. Content optimized for voice SEO would therefore need to focus on this very important aspect of the nature of voice search.
2. Anticipate Specific Questions Asked in a Conversational Manner
Voice search might use entire sentences, but it’s also specific in nature. People do not ramble on when speaking to a digital assistant, possibly because a more specific question leads to a more accurate answer.
A query such as, “Find an Italian restaurant near me,” with the user’s location enabled can return precise results for users. Business owners would therefore want to optimize their websites and content for intuitive but specific queries. This can be accomplished via a detailed FAQ page or a blog containing authority content created around longtail keywords and conversational but specific questions. This would require you to research the kind of questions your target audience most frequently poses to digital assistants and produce content around those queries. It’s a good idea to take each of those questions and flesh out the answers in the form of quality blog posts.
As long as your content answers customer queries in the best and most useful manner possible, expect Google to take notice of it and rank the website/mobile site accordingly.
3. Optimize Your Website for Local SEO
Research has found that voice search is three times more likely to be local in nature. With this in mind, businesses should keep their profiles and contact information up to date, since this is what Google will pull for queries such as, “Where can I get the best coffee in Seattle?”
For a coffee shop owner, this would mean including accurate opening hours in their profile, including the precise location of the shop, and optimizing the content on the website to be found via keywords such as “best coffee” or something more specific, such as “best spiced chai latte.”
Find out the kind of questions your target audience is most likely to pose to a digital voice assistant, and create content that provides specific answers to these queries.
4. Make Sure Your Website Is Ready for Voice Search
According to Google, micro moments (moments during which users need immediate, relevant, and ready-to-use information) are key to capitalizing on any kind of search, especially voice search. Since our smartphones are our constant companions, it is natural that with internet at our fingertips, they are going to be our first source of information. Google has therefore been encouraging businesses to be cognizant of the increasing use of mobile in internet search and accordingly optimize their sites for mobile.
We now have mobile and voice search to pay attention to. Businesses that take advantage of these micro moments stand a good chance of racing ahead of the competition:
- Anticipate at which stage(s) a user is most likely to need the services your business provides.
- Anticipate the nature of information they need to make a decision.
- Provide users with the relevant information at that stage in order to help them make a decision, or leave them with clear further guidance.
For this to happen, businesses must ensure their websites are optimized for mobile, for local SEO, and for voice search. In order for a mobile site to be of use to someone during a micro moment, it needs to load quickly, be user-friendly, contain relevant information (local SEO), and produce the right answers in response to a voice search query. Taken together, this maximizes the chances of a user choosing your service.
Making the Leap
The nature of search and the evolution in search algorithms, based on changing technology and shifting consumer habits, require businesses to move in tandem with newer trends. That is the way for businesses to stay relevant and competitive.
The number of Internet connected devices that people have is going up, especially in North America.
There will be four networked devices and connections per person globally by 2021, according to the latest annual visual networking index forecast by Cisco.
However, in North America, there will be 13 networked devices and connections per person, up from eight last year.
The means that beyond smartphones and connected TVs, North American consumers will be adopting many more connected gadgets.
North America is well above the average by region when it comes to getting connected. For example, here are the projected number of networked devices and connection per person by region by 2021:
- 13 – North America
- 9 – Western Europe
- 4 – Central and Eastern Europe
- 3 – Latin America
- 3 – Asia Pacific
- 1 – Middle East and Africa
The end result is that all those connected devices will be creating new and massive data streams, much of which will be used to mine for new consumer insights.
During the same timeframe as the mass connected device adoption, broadband speeds will nearly double. Some of those speeds are already being delivered in the U.S. today by Verizon.
The speed and additional connections don’t necessarily mean that consumers will do things faster.
However, it does mean that consumer access to information and content, especially streaming video, will be accessible more quickly via more devices.
Over time, consumers are likely to lean more on their smart devices to automate tasks for them.
Today, this can be as simple as asking Amazon’s Alexa to order a coffee from Starbucks.
Tomorrow, this could involve the connected technology, powered by artificial intelligence, to know, in advance, when to order that coffee. And from where. And have it delivered via any number of means now in trial.
Marketing is getting smarter.
2. Customer journeys are discovered, not created.
3. Content is your best tool for hitting trust touchpoints.
A year ago, Google location searches exploded – “closest,” “nearby,” and “near me” searches were performed 35 more times than they did in 2011.
People demand instant, accurate, and helpful information on Google. Because of this, it likely comes as no surprise that Google has had to make many complex updates to its algorithm to keep up. Gone are the days of “cookie-cutter” search results. Google now strives to deliver the most customized, local search results possible. A Brooklyn pet owner, for example, searching for “veterinarians nearby” will get totally different results than a pet owner in the Bronx searching the same keyword phrase – all thanks to Google’s local-search result algorithms.
Amazing Local Search Stats to Consider
Here are some specific local search trends that are good to be aware of if you are trying to put together a local marketing strategy for your client or business:
- “Near Me” keyword searches doubled last year, and continue to rise.
- People perform “near me” searches across all devices – they are looking for business hours, address (directions), and info about available products and services.
- People are increasingly searching on their phones – it is projected that by 2018, use of mobile devices will supersede use of all other devices… combined.
- 90% of consumers say they base their buying decisions on online reviews – this is important for “local search engine optimization,” as review ratings show up on Google map listings and even in organic results.
How to Rank for “Near Me” Searches on Google
It’s one thing to understand the latest local search trends, but It’s another thing to know what to do about them. Here are some specific tactics that veterinary practices (and other local businesses) can use to improve their rankings for high-volume, high-value “near me” keywords:
- Keep your Google Map listing up to date. Make sure your Google map listing is claimed, and has accurate information about your clinic, including address, hours, services offered, and website URL. After you’ve set up your map listing, you’ll need to maintain it and keep it updated ongoing.
- Get those reviews! These days, pets are considered family members. Location matters, but what matters even more is quality medical care, which is something that can be gleamed easily by reading online reviews. Small businesses that have many reviews, and a high star rating to go with, will benefit from higher rankings, and thus more exposure on Google.
- Include information on your website about the locations you serve. Instead of targeting broad locations, focus on less competitive areas and neighborhoods.
- Focus on your mobile site. If your website is not mobile-friendly, it needs to be! People are increasingly searching on their mobile devices, so your website must be (a) mobile-friendly and (b) deliver a great user experience. This will play a big role in your SEO efforts.
“Near me” searches are not slowing down, but the real takeaway is that we live in a mobile age, wherein we demand instant answers to all our questions.