Voice Marketing ABC: How To Achieve Business Success

Voice_Marketing_ABCAre the Voice Marketing ABC part of your business strategy?

Or do you think voice-enabled devices are still a niche market?

Or maybe you believe:
Only the big boys have enough resources to invest in emerging technologies.

Well let’s reassess the voice market!

Because, when technologies and platforms first emerge provides your best shot to stake out your turf and to establish your brand.

Since there’s less competition, you can become a leading player.

As the market matures, more businesses enter and create more competition.

Further, people across age groups and geographies became digitally savvy due to COVID health concerns and quarantines.

From Disruption To Innovation Research by WorldPay FIS completed by 2,000+ US consumers in June 2020 found that:

  • 2 out of 3 respondents aged 18-45 spent more money online and
  • About half of respondents aged 55 and older spent more on online commerce.

In terms of purchasing:

  • 2 in 5 respondents bought more through mobile devices and
  • 1 in 5 respondents bought more through voice assistants.

So your target market and their influencers use the latest technology including voice-enabled devices.

US Consumer Online Shopping Trends

As a point of reference, according to Voicebot’s Bret Kinsella:
55% of US adults have a smart home device or smart speaker.
Smart Home and Smart Speaker Ownership U.S. Adults

And this translates to 128 million US consumers for smart homes (or 38.5% of the US population (eMarketer-July 2020.)
US voice assistant users and penetration, 2018-2022

What does this mean for your marketing?
Expand onto voice-enabled devices by applying the Voice Marketing ABC to your marketing and plans.

What Are the ABCs of Voice Marketing?

The voice marketing ABCs consist of these 3 marketing strategy elements:

  • Audience,
  • Brand, and
  • (Voice Capabilities In) Context


These Voice Marketing ABC are grounded in micro-moments as defined by Google (2015). As a result, your listeners want to:

  • Know,
  • Do,
  • Go,
  • Buy and/or
  • Be entertained.

Voice-enable devices include a variety of options, including:

  • Voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant,
  • Smartphones with voice-recognition functionality,
  • Computers,
  • Tablets,
  • Hearables (which extend beyond headsets,)
  • Car-specific voice functionality which exists without a smartphone,
  • Smart televisions such as Amazon Fire and
  • Other home devices and public kiosks.

Further, about 1 in 3 US adults uses voice assistants or voice interfaces to interact with smart home devices at least monthly. (Voicebot – December 2020) And the level of technology adoption depends on the device owned and used.

Since smartphones remain the most used voice-enabled device, make sure mobile users can find your business and content.

voice device usage against technology adoption curve

To understand how people use voice-enabled devices in their homes, look at the shades, electric kettle and thermostat highlighted in this smart kitchen (via AHS).

home voice-enabled devices in context

People choose voice-enabled devices in these use-cases:

  • Eyes-free: When a user needs or wants information and their attention is focused elsewhere,
  • Hands-free: When a user can hear or view a device but their hands are busy elsewhere, and
  • Multimodal: When a user wants information delivered in a combination of voice and visual modes.

Voice Marketing ABC-3 types of voice-enabled use-cases


Marketing Implications

What does this mean for your marketing? (via Google 2015)

  • 2 out of 3 users look for the most relevant information to a smartphone search regardless of provider.
  • 9 out of 10 smartphone searchers don’t know which brand they want to buy.
  • Over half of smartphone users are more favorable to companies that provide instructional video content. So provide video FAQ Content!


Voice Marketing ABC: Audience

Voice Marketing ABC: Who is Your audience?

When creating voice responses and/or interactions, determine who is speaking.

Buyer relationships for your content, products and/or services include:

  • Prospects who have expressed an interest but haven’t purchased yet,
  • Customers who have made at least one purchase,
  • People who influence the purchase and/or use your offering,
  • People who pay for your offering but don’t use it themselves, and
  • End-users who need or make your offering work.

Also determine why past customers no longer need or want to buy from you. Because they can influence future purchases from your organization.

Further, if they’re family or friends of your prospects and customers, they sway both current and future buying decisions. So your post-sale on-boarding and customer winback strategies matter a LOT.

To satisfy both buyers and end users, your offering must meet Clayton Christenson’s “Jobs To Be Done”. Your content, products, and services must fulfill these 3 needs or they fail to work for your customers:

  • Functional jobs to achieve your audience’s main objective for making the purchase in the first place.
  • Emotional jobs are how your audience wants to feel about themselves and how they’re perceived by others after buying your offering.
  • Consumption jobs. Assess how well a specific solution does the functional job your buyer needs to do.

When a prospect uses a voice-enabled device, she expects it to:

  • Understand her language. This extends beyond the words she uses; it includes specific nuances and words related to your offering and her context.
  • Respond with useful information quickly. Your listener doesn’t care about the complexities associated with delivering a quality voice response regardless of her device and location.

You must deliver the content your audience wants when, where and in the form they prefer.

Actionable Voice Marketing Tips:

To support your voice content and interactions:

  • Expand your marketing personas to create a 360 degree understanding of your customer. Because voice interactions require a more fully developed understanding your prospects across a broad array of attributes. Don’t guess at what your audience wants—Ask them!
  • Develop marketing persona backstories to understand your audience’s motivations and actions. Create a “look book” or board to show the elements of your speaker’s life such as his home. BUT do NOT show a photo of the person. Since, the image will add unstated biases to your marketing persona.


Voice Marketing ABC: Brand

Voice Marketing ABC: Brand

Focus on your brand to create a consistent, trustworthy customer experience (aka:CX). This contributes to your brand equity and increases the value of your business.

Brands are defined as shorthand marketing messages with identifiable representation; they create emotional bonds with and perceived value for customers. They consist of:

  • Tangible components such as identifiable logos, graphics, colors and/or sounds, and
  • Intangible elements related to its specific promise, personality, and/or positioning.

Voice Marketing depends on how you position your brand.

In Obviously Awesome, April Dunford states:

“Positioning is the act of deliberately defining how you are the best at what a defined market cares a lot about.”

Effective positioning consists of 5 factors (Source: April Dunford, Obviously Awesome, page 45):

  • Competitive alternatives. What would customers do if your solution didn’t exist?
  • Unique attributes. What features and capabilities does your offering have that the alternatives lack?
  • Value (including proof). What benefit do these features provide for your customer?
  • Target market characteristics. What are the characteristics of a segment of buyers that caused them to really care a lot about the value you deliver?
  • Market category. What market do you describe your business and offering being part of to help your audience to understand your value?
  • BONUS: Relevant trends. What current trends make your offering more relevant to your customer now?


How Trust Influences Your Brand’s Voice Marketing

BUT your brand faces significant challenges in the current environment.

Because trust is at an all time low. Before you shrug this off, realize that voice success depends on your brand’s ability to deliver trusted content!

Since 2018, there’s been a “Truth Decay” characterized by 4 trends (Source: Rand):

  • Increased disagreement about facts;
  • Blurred distinction between opinion and fact;
  • Increased relative volume of opinion over fact resulting in related influence; and
  • Decreased trust in formerly respected sources of facts.

truth decay as a system

Before creating voice and other forms of content marketing, consider who should deliver this information to your audience.

Because the credibility of the source matters a LOT.

Ideally start with the experts within your organization who understand your customer and what they need to know to use your product, service and/or content once they’ve made their purchase. Company technical experts consistently rank at the top of the list of trusted resources according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer.

spokespeople lose credibility

Actionable Voice Marketing Tips:

  • Determine the character of the person your audience wants and expects from your brand or business. Base it on your marketing persona and its backstory.
  • Wally Brill of Google discusses Voice marketing ABCOnce you understand your customer and what she expects from your voice-enabled device, create your brand’s voice character.Google’s Wally Brill refers to this as “developing a suit of clothes for your voice character.
  • Provide a bio of your brand persona, a short paragraph of monologue, and sample dialogue for the person who represents your brand. Also, Brill recommends starting to create your voice scripts by having the actors and writers walk through what their persona would say based on their backstory and the context of the voice response.
  • Decide whether you’ll have different voice actors and/or writers for the dialogue. BUT, the voice or spoken element of your brand must be consistent across platforms, formats and devices.
  • Determine how you’ll represent your brand’s voice in different languages.
  • Create a voice/audio brand style guide to ensure consistency across content formats, platforms and devices.


Voice Marketing ABC: Context

Voice marketing ABC: Context

Context defines the MOST RELEVANT answer the speaker expects to be delivered most quickly (regardless of which source or brand of the information and/or device provides it.) Beyond the implicit assumption of speed, it can be a unit of data, information, and/or content.

As April Dunford says in Obviously Awesome:

“Context enables people to figure out what’s important.”

Context is what distinguishes voice use from other digital formats, such as text, images and/or video. It’s grounded in micro-moments (Google – 2015)

Further, context takes into account who, what, why, where, when and how. It encompasses the:

  • Speaker who asks for the information,
  • Reason the speaker decided to make the request,
  • Topic of the need, want and/or information the speak seeks,
  • Speaker’s physical location since it implies purchase intent and use-case,
  • Specific time of the request including day and/or daypart, and
  • Device used and the content format of the answer (including audio/voice, image, and/or video).


Actionable Voice Marketing Tip:

Provide content marketing to:

  • Show your audience “How To” use your products and services. Where possible help them with videos.
  • Offer short, relevant bites of content based on user needs.
  • Respond based on user-location. Claim your brand’s Google My Business.


How the ABCs Work Together for Voice Marketing Success

To successfully achieve measurable business success when you add voice to your marketing mix, it must be the “BEST ANSWER” in the sweet spot at the center of your:

  • Audience’s motivations to buy or use,
  • Brand’s offering, including consistency and trustworthiness and
  • Context of voice capabilities and experience.

Otherwise your voice marketing fails to achieve its objectives. Among these options are:

  • Your brand provides non-voice and/or audio content to meet your audience’s needs in that context. If the customer has a multimodal device, this response may still yield measurable marketing benefits.
  • Your brand provides branded voice experience but it’s irrelevant to your audience in that specific context.
  • Your audience chooses a non-branded voice option in that context.

Voice Marketing ABC - How they work together


ABCs of Voice Marketing Conclusion

Due to the accelerated digital acceptance and use across age groups, your target customers regardless of age use more digital devices with expanded functionality including voice to make their lives easier.

To meet these evolving behaviors, you must provide useful and relevant voice content, information and data when, where and how your audience wants to receive it. Because if you don’t, your competitors or close substitutes will.

So, to get measurable results from adding voice capabilities to your marketing mix, take into consideration the Voice Marketing ABC:
  • Audience actions,
  • Branding offering (including content, products and/or services), and
  • Context of your voice capabilities.

BUT, take care to create a voice experience that represents your brand AND appeals to your audience’s expectations and contextual needs.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


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Photo Credits:
Audience:/https://pixabay.com/photos/theater-seating-audience-105573/ cc zero
Brand: https://pixabay.com/photos/theater-seating-audience-105573/ cc zero
Context: https://www.pexels.com/photo/aerial-photography-of-cars-on-the-road-1123972/ cc zero

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