Voice Marketing Business Case: What You Need To Know That Will Make Your Management Agree

Voice Marketing Business CaseAre you waiting to make the Voice Marketing Business Case to your management team?

Did you realize that your organization may already use voice functionality?

Since most businesses use at least one of the following forms of voice marketing:

  • IVR or automated functionality to direct incoming calls.
  • Chatbots including the use of text-to-speech (aka: TTS) or speech-to-text (aka:STT)
  • Voice or audio content including podcasts, videos, and/or voice options such as Alexa Briefings and/or Skills or Google Actions.

Still not convinced?

Over a quarter of consumers used a voice assistant or smart speaker in 2019 according to Voicebot.ai. Going beyond innovators and early adopters to a broader audience, Geoffrey Moore referred to this as “Crossing The Chasm”.

Technology adoption life cycle

Further, the digital divide between digital natives and older segments of the population disappeared during the COVID pandemic in 2020.

Digital inclusion and voice interfaces across age groups

As a proxy for the growth of voice-enabled technology, the sales of intelligent virtual assistants (aka: IVA) are projected to increase to $44,255 million by 2027. This translates to a CAGR of 37.7% from 2020 to 2027. (Source: Validates Reports 2021)

The intelligent virtual assistant market includes smart speakers (like Alexa and Google Assistant), smartphone apps, chatbots and other technologies that feature speech recognition, natural language processing and voice synthesis as the user interface.

So, to remain visible to the maximum potential audience, expand your marketing to include voice-enabled options. Otherwise, you risk not entering the consideration set for voice-first prospects.

To help you, here’s why and how to make the voice marketing business case to your management team.

How To Make the Business Case For Voice Marketing: 3 Reasons Your CFO Will Love

To win over the c-suite: Show how adding voice to your marketing mix can measurably improve results. Otherwise your CFO will think that voice is just nice-to-have and doesn’t increase business value and/or save resources.

As a proxy for the growth of voice-enabled technology, the sales of intelligent virtual assistants (aka: IVA) are projected to increase to $44,255 million by 2027. This translates to a CAGR of 37.7% from 2020 to 2027. (Source: Validates Reports 2021)

US voice assistant users and penetration, 2018-2022

Beyond growing voice assistant ownership and the elimination of the digital divide based on age, voice marketing increases your business value in these 3 ways:

1. Improves and Extends Branding

By extending your branding to include audio or sonic branding, you make your brand heard in places and contexts where it was silent before.

When you add sonic branding to your products, your marketing extends beyond the purchase process to the usable life of your product.


Because, unlike visual labels and logos, the sounds that your products make remind customers of your brand every time they use them. For example, our Dyson vacuum makes a 1950s spaceship sound every time we turn it off.

So, how does audio branding increase the value of your business?
As a long-term marketing strategy audio branding builds customer trust and loyalty. Over time, it adds value to your bottom line as Goodwill on your Balance Sheet.


2. Reaches a Broader Audience

Voice-enabled devices allow users to get content, information and data in eyes-free and hands-free situations, most notably while driving or cooking.

This translates to reaching your audience when consuming audio content is a secondary activity. Also referred to as dual consumption, audio content accompanies monotonous activities like working out. People have done this for years with radios and televisions playing in the background.

What’s the difference?

Your audience chooses the type of device and content format and when & where they want to listen to it.


3. Supports and increases profitable sales

By offering voice and audio content prospects, their purchase influencers and end-users can consume your information using the device, platform, and/or content format of their choice on their timetable regardless of where they’re located.

Also this applies across business categories since people actively seek ways to save time. So listening to a whitepaper or podcast while they’re doing something else enables them to get more done.

To meet buyer needs before and after purchase, add voice to help them to:

  • Find new alternatives including contextually relevant search results delivered through a voice-enabled device or out-of-home audio such as a public kiosk;
  • Research options based on wants and/or needs includes audio content and/or chatbots;
  • Compare different purchase options;
  • Complete sale through the use of an IVR: and/or
  • Support new customer on-boarding and/or provide post-purchase support.

To add a human element, encourage senior executives and/or sales people to create audio content.

The bottomline for adding voice functionality to your marketing mix is:
Your brand and business need to be available when, where and how your prospects seek you!

Further, if you don’t meet the needs of your prospects and customers, your competitors and near substitutes will.

More importantly for your CFO, you can start to test the power of voice marketing for your organization through the use of low cost options.


Voice Marketing Business Case Stakeholders: Who Do You Need To Win Over?

Educate management to get buy-in For Voice Marketing

Because voice marketing requires companies to transform aspects of the business.

Get c-suite buy-in for voice marketing as early in the process as possible since it has broad implications across your business. Click To Tweet


Adding voice to your overall marketing strategy requires:

  • Evaluating customer touchpoints to ensure your business’s response meets their needs in a contextually relevant way across content formats, platforms and devices.
  • Incorporating marketing into every aspect of the customer process. This extends beyond building brand and acquiring qualified leads or prospects.
  • Changing the data architecture of customer information and related content.

Beyond the marketing department, implementing a voice strategy requires services from other departments. In research by Adobe, respondents report:

  • 65% require IT,
  • 23% need operations and services support,
  • 21% involve advertisers,
  • 21% need design and creative services,
  • 15% require accounting and finance,
  • 14% include sales (14%), and
  • 10% involve HR.


What Analysis Do You Need To Make The Voice Marketing Business Case?

To make the voice marketing business case requires assessing your organization and best customers, your competitors, near substitutes and major players, as well as the broader market dynamics.

To understand how your business is positioned to meet the needs of your best customers relative to your competitors and changing market conditions.

Voice Marketing Business Case: Internal Analysis

Start by examining your organization to determine if voice-enabled functionality already exists and where it adds the most value. Look at your use of IVRs, chatbots and/or voice and audio content marketing.

Next, look at how your prospects, customers and others you interact with use voice-enabled devices and what their expectations are. Don’t assume you know what they’re doing! Talk to them.

Activities on Smart Speakers - US owners

Then, determine where within your organization you may run into roadblocks when adding voice to your marketing mix. Assess the potential risk for both customers and your organization from these 3 key factors.

  • Level of employee acceptance and siloed functions. In particular, how open are your existing employees to testing new ways of working?
  • Legacy systems and ability to track marketing results across the organization. Most voice functionality runs on AI and AI requires large amount of your data to model your prospects and customers’ behaviors. This data may be difficult to get out of older systems. Further, you must track results across your organisation through sales and post-sales to continually improve your model.
  • Consumer concerns about voice functionality. They worry about their privacy and the security of their personal and financial information. And, they want their devices to speak to them in their own language—like a member of the family.


Voice Marketing Business Case: Competitive Analysis

How are your competitors, near substitutes (including free options) and major players using or providing voice-enabled functionality?

The key questions to answer:

  • What types of content, information and/or data are these brands and businesses currently delivering? And, how does the information delivered differ by device and user-context?
  • What voice and audio content expectations have these brands and businesses set for your target audience? Have they established content consumption habits with your audience? If so, what does this mean for your ability to break through and increase you market share?
  • Have their audio or voice offerings defined your brand or business position in the marketplace? If so, how can you niche down or pivot to find a competitively defensible approach?

Note whether your competitors have additional advantages, including:

  • First mover advantage. Often the first organization to establish their presence gets additional visibility.
  • Zero position on SERPs. In voice search, only one answer may be returned for a query, often the first answer on a search engine results page (aka: SERPs).
  • Paid marketing promotion. Your competitors can top your hard earned placement by investing in advertising on specific platforms. Bear in mind that Google and Amazon, the major makers of voice-enabled devices, earn the bulk of their revenue from advertising.


Voice Marketing Business Case: Market Conditions

As part of your voice marketing business case analysis, also examine the marketplace to see how broader activity and changes around the globe can change your business environment. In the process, new trends and players may emerge

What is happening in the broader marketplace that will influence your best customers? Think beyond the current environment to predict how the needs of your customers will evolve based on current market dynamics. What are major players like Amazon, Google and Microsoft doing that will change your audience’s expectations?


How Do You Choose Where To Start With Voice Marketing?

When adding voice-enabled functionality to your business you have the 3 Goldilocks set of options.

How To Start Small With Voice Marketing: Use existing resources

Often this doesn’t require senior management approval since you’re testing out voice and/or audio options using existing budget and resources. While your results may be limited, they allow you to make the business case that your audience wants to use voice-enabled devices.

Your options include:

  • Optimize your business listing for local searches, also referred to as “Near Me Searches”.  At a minimum, start with Google My Business to let the World where you are. Check other platforms like Apple Maps, Bing and Yext.
    Voice Search usage
  • Check how your business appears on rating and review sites. Prospects using voice search may check services like Yelp and TripAdvisor to ask what past customers have said.
  • Create voice and/or audio content for distribution as podcasts, Alexa Skills or Google Actions. Also, publish this content on your owned media to increase findability.
  • Add audio options to existing text and/or video content. Audio is just video without the images so people can consume it while their eyes are busy elsewhere. When you add this option to your website or blog, it increases time-on-site.
  • Use Schema.org to ensure that your non-text content is readable and findable. This applies to search engines and people who have their computers read text to them. This is particularly important for visual images.

Actionable Voice Marketing Tip:

  • Add tracking where possible. Since you’ll need to prove that voice helps to achieve your business objectives in measurable terms. For many voice options, this may require sending listeners to a landing page or website with an easy-to-remember code.


How To Go Mid-Size With Voice Marketing

With midsize voice marketing options, you seek to make a moderate investment, often in technology, that will yield either increased sales or reduced costs. This doesn’t mean you should forego the small steps noted above—Do Both!

The challenge:
Unlike small voice-enabled projects, moderate size projects often involve multiple departments.

As a result, this translates to cross-organization work processes and/or outsourced work. Ideally it reduces repetitive work and yields improved profitable sales.

Mid-size voice options include:

  • Use test marketing budget to create voice content or add audio to your branding. For larger CPG businesses, reformatting existing content as a voice offering can be a quick hit. For example, Tide’s Stain Remover.
  • Create audio versions of customer service FAQs and/or on-boarding materials. Spotlight this information on your website, customer correspondence, onboarding communications, and IVR to serve customers faster and reduce inbound calls.
    Results which are FAQ pages
  • Analyze inbound IVR activity. While many firms invest in IVR systems, they often overlook maintaining them. Further, getting stuck in an IVR system creates customer frustration. So look where large numbers of callers drop off to determine if quick fixes can be made.

Where possible, get knowledgeable employees to create audio content.  this is often a salesperson or technical support manager. Where appropriate, add it to customer service and onboarding materials.


How To Go Big With Voice Marketing: Long-term investment

Big voice projects translate to major business investments. By definition, they require lots of analysis and break-even computations. In general, they involve the use and integration of AI technology as well as new processes across your business. As a result, they’re often beyond the scope of the marketing department.

In most of these options, investment is needed for additional training for both employees and customers as well as ongoing upgrades to technology to protect security and privacy. Also, make sure that your plans ensure that your test data includes a diverse sample of your customer base to make sure that it’s inclusive, a failing of many AI test sets.

Lastly include tracking once your voice systems are live to ensure that you haven’t missed a segment that didn’t appear to be significant in your user testing.

In addition to the small and mid-sized voice projects the big voice marketing options include:

  • Add voice-enabled technology on-site such as kiosks or tele-services, most notably medical visits. Post-COVID this has become a more accepted and desired approach.
  • Use of voice prints to identify customers. Currently some financial institutions use them.
  • Purchase company or division to complement voice offering. This provides a quicker way to add voice functionality to your offering.

Actionable Voice Marketing Tip:

  • Do a financial analysis to show that your voice technology will make profitable revenues after the investment is paid back.


How Do You Measure Your Voice Marketing Investment?

Once you’ve done this work, you’re on track to making the voice marketing business case.

Before finalizing your proposal, check that your recommendation(s) serve one of these 3 cases:

  • Biggest total number of users:
  • Most frequent use by a key segment of your audience; and/or
  • Gaps where voice and/or multimodal devices offer the most efficient option for users.

If you haven’t created a set of forecasts to show the initial investment in your voice functionality as well as the on-going costs, then do this now since it’s a must-have.

Also, show the projected revenue streams and/or cost savings over time. Often this type of analysis is called a break-even analysis since it shows the amount of time required to cover the cost of the marketing investment.

Lastly, determine the metrics, often referred to as KPIs, that you’ll use to show the success of your voice marketing investment. It’s important to select these metrics before starting the project to ensure that they’re included in your analytics. In addition, ensure that you have related CTAs, UTMs and landing pages for tracking.


Voice Marketing Business Case Conclusion

By following these steps, you’ll ensure that your voice marketing investment gets approved and provides profitable results.

Often, it’s easier to make the business case for new functionality like voice marketing by starting with a small test project. If it shows results, it helps you prove the power of a larger investment.

Also maintaining competitive parity is another good rationale to build your voice marketing business case.

When adding voice to your business offering, understand that it can have wide implications across your organization since it runs on AI-based systems and often involves multiple departments. Therefore, it helps to get support from these other departments earlier in the process.

With the post-COVID changes across the business landscape, the chances are that your customers and the rest of your audience are already using voice options more in their daily lives than your business realizes. Further adding voice to your marketing is just the initial step towards the Internet of Things (aka: IOT).

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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