Technological advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are driving the rapid rise of voice marketing in retail. This latest trend in marketing and advertising will surely affect brands and their strategy to maintain a competitive advantage.
Voice-Assisted Device Usage Surges in Record Numbers
“Knowledge Navigator,” a voice assistant concept using (AI) and machine learning, was first prototyped by Apple in 1987. It later became what is now known as “Siri,” first as an app in 2010 and then integrated into the iPhone in 2011. Since that time, voice-assisted mobile devices have become commonplace. In fact, researchers predict that the U.S. retail market will see voice-assisted device usage jump from 45 million to 67 million by 2019.
Voice Marketing in Retail is on the Rise
In addition to smartphones and tablets, voice-controlled speakers and home control assistants have begun to pave the way for voice marketing. Using voice commands, users can interact with their smart speakers to search for information on the Internet, access music playlists and control compatible smart home devices (e.g., light switches, thermostat and security cameras). The current AI voices on the market include:
- “Alexa” on Amazon Echo 2014
- “Google Assistant” on Google Home 2016
- “Siri” on Apple HomePod 2018
Tier10’s President and Co-Founder Scott Fletcher said his entire family has benefited from using Alexa in their home. His two children, six and nine years old, often use it while doing their homework. They find it quite useful for accessing information quickly without losing focus on their assignments.
When talking about how his family has begun using Alexa more, he adds: “I think we as consumers need to be trained on all of the different ways that we can use it. It’s going to take time to learn how to talk to the device, how to get things done, how to maximize its potential.” As voice begins to replace touch, it is anticipated that brands will need to reach customers through organic search using paid advertising.
There’s Much to Learn From Early Adopters in Advertising
National Public Radio (NPR) has already launched NPR One, an AI app, and partnered with Amazon. Now 40,000 have given the command, “Alexa, play NPR News Now.”
Fletcher has experienced firsthand the likes of NPR and ESPN in reaching consumers through voice marketing. While he found it to be “cumbersome” and left him feeling as though he were being “force fed” information that he didn’t ask for, he knows that voice marketing is on the rise and that machine learning will perfect its ability to understand what consumers want.
In addition, he noted that many consumers are worried about privacy. Once those battles are won, voice marketing will positively affect brands that jump on the bandwagon.
Ways Voice Marketing Will Affect Brands
As if it weren’t enough for brands to maintain first-page positions on Google search results. Soon, brands will be fighting to win a spot at the top of voice search on Alexa, Siri and Google voice-assisted devices.
The biggest difference is that they will have to vie for a smaller space among the same large volume of competitors. If brands don’t place first or second, they most likely won’t be heard. This could prove quite costly for advertisers. Auto dealer advertisers, in particular, will be able to take advantage of voice marketing to influence consumers who are actively looking for new cars.
Why Voice Marketing Drives Advertising
In spite of cost and competition, brands that jump on the voice marketing bandwagon will realize a number of benefits. Advertisers have the potential to target voice search ads by offering personalized results based on a users’ location or other contexts. It’s easy to see why marketers should prepare to implement voice marketing into their advertising strategy to maintain a competitive advantage. In fact, Fletcher cautions that “it’s probably coming a lot quicker than most marketers are preparing for.”
How Automotive Dealers can Maintain a Competitive Advantage
Currently, Fletcher believes that online videos are the most effective marketing and advertising strategies for dealers. He notes that “we’re a visual society” and 6-second spots on YouTube, for example, provide ways to effectively and efficiently target consumers. Advertisers that use voice marketing will be ahead of the game as the trend moves from video to voice.
In the near future, users of voice-assisted devices will be able to request more information and set up test drives in response to voice marketing automotive ads. According to Fletcher, “I see this clearly coming.”
The AI voices of “Alexa” on Amazon Echo, “Google Assistant” on Google Home and now “Siri” on Apple HomePod have occupied homes since 2014, 2016 and 2018, respectively. NPR has begun offering voice-activated content to consumers. The most logical trend to come is voice marketing for retailers, including automotive dealers. Those who are on its heels and take advantage of AI in voice-assisted technology will surely stay ahead of the game.
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