Giving Your Brand a Voice – Literally


Marketing has come a long way in recent years, from the takeover of social media and the heavy importance on ‘mobile-first’ marketing, to the looming horizon of augmented and virtual reality; you can see it before your eyes. One of the newest forms of marketing making waves, however, can’t be seen – rather, it’s heard.

Voice is the next tool to take the marketing world by storm. Products like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Microsoft Cortana are making their way into homes across the globe – and with 77% of Americans handling smart phones, voice-search and recognition software is with potential customers at all times.

According to an OC&C Strategy Consultants study, the voice-shopping industry is set to jump to $40 billion by 2022, up from just $2 billion this year. So, still skeptical about the marketing power this holds? In this article, we’ll dive into how voice-marketing works and how you can get and stay ahead of your competition.

How it Works

Because of its infancy, voice marketing is mostly uncharted territory; but, as new marketing tools tend to be, it’s much easier than it seems and is constantly being improved. Voice marketing is closely aligned with SEO, and essentially does a keyword search that takes the spoken phrase and searches the web to find suitable results that provide you with information. This information can be in various forms, from broad webpages to specific snippets that contain your exact keyword(s). It’s quick and easy – and making waves for obvious reasons.

Here are some suggestions on how to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to voice marketing.

SEO Optimization

As mentioned before, voice marketing and SEO are closely aligned, so optimizing your SEO to display results for those using voice software is critical. It’s important to remember that people tend to be less formal when they speak, and often speak too much – so long-tail, ambiguous yet direct, keywords are ideal for this form of search. Consider setting up specific pages (like FAQs, which are discussed below) that contain  keywords that are more likely to be spoken than written. In addition, make sure your overall website SEO ranks well, or you simply won’t show up in the crowd, regardless of how helpful your information may be.

Short-form Content

When searching using voice-recognition, the information that your service is trying to provide is the most explanatory and concise information available. Whether you’re asking for directions to a certain location, adding an item to your shopping cart, or looking for a nearby business, keywords are picked from the phrase you spoke, and a search is carried out to give you relevant information. Short-form content, like FAQs, help to streamline that process – and if you happen to become a featured snippet, your information is more readily available and gives you maximum exposure.

Hear Your Audience

What makes voice marketing so competitive is the convenience factor and the fact that people want to and can speak much faster than they can type. So, think like your audience. What do they want when they ask Siri or Alexa a question? The answer to their question in plain form – it’s that simple. You must anticipate your audience’s questions and answer accordingly (this is where the FAQs come into play) or provide them with information, preferably using short-form content mentioned above.

Stay on Good Terms with Providers

As we’ve come to realize over the past few years, a new business leader has emerged and has almost completely overtaken the pack – Amazon. Luckily for us marketers, they happen to own the #1 smart speaker on the market in their Echo products. What’s the moral of this story? Stay on Amazon’s good side. They have what is called Amazon Choice, which is a feature that helps buyers streamline their efforts when looking for items. If you’re listed as “Choice,” your product will be listed as one of the first of many available options. If a company happens to lose their ‘Choice’ status,  they tend to see a 30% decrease in sales – ouch!

Understanding voice-marketing and how to stay ahead of the game is key to your success as a marketer. In the future, we’ll see voice marketing take its place in everyday marketing strategies as more individuals rely on simply asking questions instead of typing them – again, the convenience factor. The innovation simply won’t stop, and the next big thing in marketing has arrived – are you ready for it?

“Siri, call The Shepherd Group.”

Michael Shepherd

Michael serves as Managing Partner of The Shepherd Group, a brand and communications firm with offices in Seattle and Newport Beach. A former journalist, he specializes in building narratives through discovery, design, and development of branded editorial and visual content.