30 Million households will have a voice-first, in-home device by the end of December! @thebuddygroup

@thebuddygroup is working to help product managers and marketers harness the connected consumer’s varied and evolving onramps to brand engagement.

According to a new report by Narvar, “Bots, Texts and Voice: What Cuts Through the Clutter,” describing how shoppers’ communications preferences are changing with the rise of smartphones, chatbots and voice devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Over two-thirds of shoppers have interacted with retailers using text, messenger apps, or voice devices, and 65% of shoppers who’ve knowingly used a chatbot, enjoy the experience.

Amit Sharma, CEO of Narvar, says “…technology innovation complicates what we already know… that customer communications are never one-size-fit-all… with this research, our mission is to equip retailers with the insights they need to navigate nuanced communications and ultimately create the best experiences possible…”

77% of American adults own a smartphone; every month, people exchange 2 billion messages with Facebook Messenger’s 100,000 active bots; and 30 million households will have a voice-first, in-home device such as Amazon Echo and Google Home by the end of 2017. These technology-driven communication channels are starting to change the way people want to interact with retailers. While more than 80% prefer to get messages from retailers via email, 38% now want to hear from retailers on multiple channels. According to the survey, 79% of shoppers have also used text messages, messenger apps or voice devices to connect with retailers.

Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail industry analyst who collaborated with Narvar on this study, says “… retail brands should seize the opportunity to learn from, and optimize consumer communications, through both existing and emerging channels. The first step is to understand how their customers want to communicate based on elements like urgency, type of message and specific channel… ”

While shoppers typically prefer to receive messages from retailers via email, they’re warming up to text messages and push notifications, says the report. This is especially true if a message is important and contains order confirmation or tracking information. They also want companies to communicate package delays or postponed delivery dates, quickly, and want more communication for high-value items.

  • 73% of shoppers consider messages containing order tracking information to be “very important,” while 46% say customer service messages are “very important”
  • 84% say more communication is critical if the purchase is an expensive one
  • 98% of shoppers say they feel better about a company if they are notified immediately when something goes wrong.

While email still reigns overall, communication preferences vary by age group, says the report. Millennials aged 21-29 prefer text messages and mobile push notifications from retailers more than any other generation, because they’re more likely to see these kinds of messages quickly.

  • 43% of millennials aged 21-29 prefer to receive order updates as text messages, compared with 39% of shoppers aged 30-44, 32% of shoppers aged 45-59, and 28% of those shoppers 60 or older
  • 33% of millennials aged 21-29 prefer to receive order updates as push notifications, compared with 22% of those aged 30-44, 12% of those aged 45-59, and just 4% of those 60 or older

Retailers are starting to integrate artificial intelligence and voice technology into communications with shoppers. While these channels are still new, the majority of shoppers have at least tried messenger apps, voice devices or live chat. The data underscores that shoppers anticipate using voice-powered devices more.

  • 79% of shoppers have used text, messenger apps, or voice devices, and 74% indicated they have used live chat when shopping. Of those who have used these new technologies, 38% could not identify if they were using artificial intelligence, and only 10% knew it was not human
  • 65% of shoppers who knew a non-human bot was responding generally liked it
  • 29% of voice device owners use it to shop, while 41% of voice device owners plan to shop with it in the future.

The majority of shoppers will try to resolve problems on their own, says the report. Those under 30 are most likely to prefer to fix problems themselves, using the retailer’s website or chat technology. In the future, retailers will need to adopt a hybrid model which applies technology to offer better self-service options, but escalates higher-level issues to humans.

  • 55% of millennials aged 21-29 prefer to talk to a person to resolve a problem, compared with 72% of shoppers aged 60 or older
  • 88% of under-30 millennials and 73% of shoppers aged 60 or older will try to find an answer to the problem themselves when they encounter an issue with a retailer

The complete report detailing the findings of the study is available online at Narvar.com

by  , Staff Writer @mp_research, Yesterday

martech sees 16% of budgets

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.

SpeedGolf in SoCal

About 7 years ago, I weighed about 270 lbs.

Today, I am closer to 200.

I attribute this loss to running. Running certainly helps to burn calories but for me it helps to clear my head and focus on food as fuel.

I have now done Ragnar relay 5 times and run several family fun runs with the kids.

Those who know me also know I love golf. Like business, I like the personal challenge golf presents.

Thanks to Garlin Smith , a friend from the media space, I tried Speed Golf a few weeks back.

I am hooked.

Your Speed Golf score is comprised of TIME + SCORE for 18 holes.

I will be running 18 holes once a week at the crack of dawn and welcome you to join me.

If you have any interest, please fill-out this form.

I will email out a schedule once I get a few folks together. Off to my home course Tuesday morning to try it out.

 

SPEEDGOLF VIDEO.JPGSPEEDGOLF.JPG

VOICE is the newest DRIVER of branded experiences

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

Voice is the future of search

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.