Sparking Conversations, Tracking Results

Voice Is The New Playground For Brands

“Ok Google, talk to…” is a voice app prompt you’ve heard of or used if you’re an early adopter of voice technology. Voice technology is on track to show the fastest adoption of new technology in history. Compared to the next closest technology adoption in the U.S. market, the smart phone at eight years, voice is on track to cut that in half at a four-year pace from its introduction to market to 90%+ market saturation. This means by fall of 2020, voice will be mainstream.

Voice is the New Playground for Brands, one of the first sessions of Twin Cities Startup Week 2018 (#TCSW18), featured stats, smart speaker market share (Google, Amazon, Apple) and differentiators, how people and brands are using voice, and real-time examples of current voice apps.

Chad Gilhoi, a developer focused in the voice app space since mid-2017, led the session and shared lessons learned while creating Google Home based voice apps. He live demo’d some large national brand voice apps like Starbucks, Target (featuring Bullseye, the iconic dog that barks) and Progressive and went more into detail on a voice app he developed and launched April 2018 called National Day Update. Here are some of the highlights of the lessons learned:

The User Experience

As with any brand interaction, consider the unique user experiences you can create with voice. Explore content that is out of your brand comfort zone or obvious choices, especially if your product or service is not suitable for an immediate transaction or no-risk answer. Whatever you select, define when/ where you anticipate people will find you and what questions will they have? What value do they seek? Number one rule: avoid long, overly complex dialogues.

Implicit Discovery

It’s not a build it and they will come situation. In other words, it’s not a mobile app scenario where you invest heavily to build your app and launch it into the world, only to have it sit in the store where very few can discover it unless they specifically seek it or arrive there from another paid for media channel message. Implicit discovery, Google Home’s model, takes any user’s question and serves up voice apps based on keywords and phrases that align with each app’s answers. With Alexa, for example, users still need to specifically request voice apps by name.

Voice Dialog

Many know Siri as the original voice persona. Siri, Apple’s version of voice, was integrated into the iphone 4S and released October 2011. After many failed queries and crossed wires, our family mainly used Siri for entertainment as in seeing what the silliest response would be. Seven years later, voice has come a long way and if you’re using it via your smart home speaker, mobile device, or in your vehicle, you’ve probably noticed this. For brands, voice is the space where you can create a persona that delivers your brand in a highly connected way that feels really personal. Enter in the smart and savvy female voice of Progressive’s voice app, which we heard in the session.

Learning Opportunity

Voice can be a place for play and to learn. It’s a platform where you can gather exact user questions. Compare this to websites, for example, that assume the top questions people have then make them work to navigate to find their answer. Brands can use this data to inform any part of their sales and marketing. It can reveal trends, correlations and point you in the direction of your brand’s voice app sweet spot.

After a larger-picture overview of voice, its capabilities, the opportunities for connectivity among all of an individual’s devices and preferences and some ideas about how brands might approach the space, Gilhoi touched on National Day Update’s concept. He curates content that highlights a national day every day, served up through Google’s implicit discovery or through push notifications that returning users opt in to receive.

Brand assets created by Megan Junius, president and creative director at Peter Hill Design, and social media strategies created by Jen Gilhoi, SparkTrack Consulting, give the brand a professional look, visual assets and a focus for content delivery via Google Assistant, and @natldayupdate on Twitter and Instagram. It’s a reminder that although voice for brands can choose to be hyper-specific, as with any marketing channel, it should be integrated into the overall brand strategy.

At the macro level, a general polling of the audience suggested an affinity for voice. However, take the poll more mainstream and I’d anticipate discovering a hesitancy related to privacy, resistance to change and fear of adopting new technology. Based on what was shared, I inferred that drivers that shift people over to openness to smart home speakers and voice apps include convenience, hands-free, increased pain points with other devices and systems that don’t talk to each other, and seeing how others are successfully using voice to make their lives easier.

The audience shared some great questions and insight then we broke to celebrate National Pierogi Day just a half a block away at the Colonial Warehouse Minneapolis, where we invited Natasha’s Pierogi’s to be stationed. Despite the drizzle, it seems there was an appetite for pierogi as well as ventures into voice.

— What questions do you have? Any takeaways you’d like to share?

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