Alexa, Google, Siri and Bixby. Over the past ten years, you’ve become familiar with these four names. However, they’re not the names of actual people, they’re computer-generated voice assistants. And each one of them has taken the world by storm.
Voice assistants are rapidly changing the way that all of us interact with technology. For the first time in our history, we can now speak with computers and the technology that we create.
What once used to be a world dominated by clicks, taps, touches and swipes is now quickly evolving to a new normal. We can now say, “Alexa, play me songs from the ’90s,” or “Hey Google, send an email to my manager letting him know that I will be 15 minutes late to work this morning.”
Interactions like this are becoming more common between people and their voice assistants. As a result, it is now more critical than ever that businesses ̶ especially small businesses ̶ consider how they can adopt and leverage a new technology like Voice.
Why does Voice matter?
As a marketer, you may be wondering if your organization can leverage this technology to reduce costs and increase revenue. The answer to this question is undoubtedly yes, but it is also important to understand why Voice is changing the way we live.
Consider two concepts that demonstrate why marketers need to consider the impact of voice technology.
First, Voice is the most rapidly adopted piece of technology in human history. In a recent report published by Voicebot.ai, in January 2019, more than 66.4 million U.S. adults had some type of voice-enabled smart speaker. One year later, in January 2020, more than 87.7 million U.S. adults owned a voice-enabled smart speaker or device. This means that the one-year growth between 2019 and 2020 is more than 32%! Between 2018 and 2019, the one-year growth was even higher at 40%.
The numbers do not lie. People are choosing to invest in voice assistant technology. It will only grow from here as more voice assistants and voice-enabled devices begin to flood the U.S. market.
Second, Voice is both a simple and contactless way of interacting with technology. Instead of a user having to unlock a smartphone, navigate to an app, and then figure out how to use the app, Voice allows the same interaction to occur in the simplest and most natural way possible ̶ by speaking.
A task that would take someone minutes to accomplish with a computer or an app can take seconds using a voice assistant. Voice is also contactless and allows for multitasking. A voice assistant can be used while making dinner, doing laundry, driving your car or working out. As a result, Voice gives small businesses the opportunity to help solve their customers’ problems when they need them most.
5 Tips to Help You Get Started
I know, I know, I just unloaded A TON of information on you. Believe me, as a small business owner myself, I 100% get it. At first, it can seem incredibly overwhelming. As is the case with anything, getting started is the hardest part. The good news is that there are five things that you can begin doing TODAY to begin leveraging the power of this incredible technology.
Check out these tips to help you get started using Voice for your organization:
Tip #1 – Become Familiar with the Technology
When it comes to deploying any new technology within your small business, it is critical that you first become familiar with and learn how to use it. When it comes to Voice, learning to use the technology could not be any simpler. Many of today’s current voice assistants reside in low-cost smart speakers like the Amazon Echo or exist on widely available smartphone platforms like Siri in iOS or Google Assistant in Android.
My advice is to invest in a low-cost smart speaker and ask it to do some basic things like play a song, answer a question, add an event to your calendar, and even buy a product or order out from your favorite restaurant(Many large restaurants and retail stores have already deployed an Alexa Skill or Google Action that can be used on either platform).
Tip #2 – Identify Simple Problems
One mistake that most small business owners make (and even many enterprise-level corporations) is choosing to adopt and implement a new technology with no real purpose behind it. With Voice, it is imperative that you identify some simple problems and challenge yourself to think about how Voice can be used to solve that problem either internally or for your customers.
Are you a small business that deals with a lot of inventory and has trouble keeping track of it? Maybe you want to deploy Voice to help you track your SKU numbers and give you real-time information on the quantity you have in-stock of each product.
Are you a small e-commerce business that is looking to sell more products to customers? Maybe you can deploy Voice to accept customers’ orders and make it easier for them to make a purchase.
The opportunities are truly endless, but it all starts with a problem and how Voice can best be used to solve that problem.
Tip #3 –Optimize for Voice Search
For your small business to remain discoverable, it will be crucial to start optimizing your existing web content for voice search. You can add an FAQ page (if you do not already have one), optimize for local search on Google and Bing, and add Schema markup to every corner of your website. Here’s a critical first step: start publishing content that is written for conversation instead of for keyword search.
Tip #4 – Build a Basic Alexa Skill or Google Action
The good news for small business owners is that today it can be relatively easy to design and deploy an Alexa Skill or Google Action for your business. (Think of a “Skill” or “Action” as an app for a voice assistant much like an app for a smartphone.)
Amazon offers a handful of different pre-made templates in their Alexa for Business service. They allow you to create a private Skill within minutes that can be deployed just for your business.
Create a basic question and answer Skill or Action about your business so customers can quickly get on-demand information that is accessible 24/7.
Tip #5 – Ask Your Customers for Feedback
There is absolutely nothing wrong with performing a good old-fashioned survey. As you interact with your customers, mention to them that you are considering deploying Voice. Ask them what problems you can help them solve by offering it. Trust me, you will get a lot of responses. That will allow you to implement the technology correctly and with a purpose.
You may also find that your customers do not see any value in Voice, saving you precious time, money, and resources in the short- and long-term.
The time to deploy Voice in your business is NOW!
Voice assistants are a new and exciting technology that will fundamentally change our interactions with all other technology moving forward. Although Voice may seem a bit out of reach for many small business owners, the truth is that now (especially in the middle of a pandemic) is the best time to begin thinking about it. How can your organization use this technology to meet the needs of your customers?
We now have access to more technology at a relatively low cost than at any other point in human history. When it comes to a technology like Voice, the opportunities can be endless if you allow them to be. All it takes is just a few simple steps to get started.
If you have any questions or would like additional information on how you can get started with Voice for your business, please do not hesitate to reach out!