Voice Marketing: The How To Guide You Need To Be Competitive

Voice Marketing: The How To Guide You Need To Be CompetitiveIs voice marketing part of your mix?

Or more to the point:
Does your business answer when a prospect uses Alexa, Google or Siri?

Regardless of how your business views the voice-first landscape:
People expect businesses to be available when, where and how they speak to their device.

They expect a contextually relevant response! 

As a result:
You need a voice marketing strategy reach and respond to people who speak to voice-enabled devices
for information and services to solve their wants and needs related to your business.

As a key element of the Seismic Marketing Shift disrupting the marketing ecosystem, voice-first devices represent another major paradigm shift.

To put voice-first in perspective:
3+ billion smart devices will be shipped in 2023. These devices include smartphones, PC desktops, notebooks, tablets, wearables, smart speakers and personal  audio devices. This represents  a 4 year 6.5% CAGR from 2.4 billion  in 2019. (Canalys)

Voice first device shipments chart

Give your marketing mix a voice to:

  • Add another dimension to your brand and increase recognition,
  • Expand marketing visibility across other platforms and devices, and
  • Reach additional audiences who only use voice or are engaged in hands-free and/or screen-free activities.
Table of Contents
  1. Understand the competitive voice-first landscape
  2. Examine your business’s current use of voice and existing audio content
  3. Know How Your Audience Uses Voice-First Devices
  4. Educate management to get buy-in For Voice Marketing
  5. Expand your brand to include a spoken voice and audio sounds
  6. Optimize Your Marketing And Content For Voice Search
  7. Create Audio Content To Attract Audience
  8. Extend To Voice Commerce
  9. Add Audio Advertising To Your Marketing Mix
  10. Promote Your Voice Marketing With Your Existing Marketing


Voice Marketing: The How To Guide You Need

Use these 10 voice marketing tactics to make sure your business gets heard on voice-first platforms and devices.

At the same time, spotlight your voice and audio functionality across your entire business.


1. Understand the competitive voice-first landscape

Assess how voice has changed the landscape for your business before adding voice and audio to your marketing mix.

Analyze the voice capabilities that direct competitors and larger organizations have added across the entire customer journey. Where possible, test their customer experience. Hint: Using personal email and contact information. 

Test a variety of voice assistants. Alexa (Amazon) and Google. Where appropriate check Siri (Apple), Bixby (Samsung) and Cortana (Microsoft). Examine how these devices respond to your questions including specific keywords and long-tail phrases.

Examine voice-first devices for competitive content offerings and functionality. Document how early adopters and competitors approach voice-first functionality to support their audiences.

But realize:

Content offerings on the current voice-first devices don’t have an equivalent of a URL. As a result, protecting your business’s brand and findability are limited.Click To Tweet


Actionable Voice Marketing Tips:

  • Audit competitors’ websites, blogs, emailings and social media outposts. Determine the presence of audio content. Where it exists, assess their brand voice and functionality. Also check for promotions directing visitors to audio and/or voice offerings elsewhere. Note the of content off-ramps used.
  • List potential audio opportunities for your business based on this  analysis.



2. Examine your business’s current use of voice and existing audio content

Whether you realize it or not, your business already uses voice.

Most often, it consists of IVR and chat bots. Further,  sales and customer service representatives provide realtime human interactions face-to-face or via a phone or other device.

Since these voice-first interactions contribute to your overall customer experience, assess all of your customer touch-points for consistency. 

  • Examine whether representatives convey empathy and trustworthiness. 
  • Determine whether voice processes can be streamlined.
  • Allow prospects and customers to contact your business and to talk to a human.

Also, examine your existing offline audio content. Decide whether to digitize it. Assess podcasts, interviews, ads and/or presentations.

Actionable Voice Marketing Tips:

  • Add contact and voice-first options to owned media and other business outposts such as social media profiles.
  • Capture and catalog audio content going forward. Include conference presentations, training sessions and interviews.
  • Determine events that prompt people to contact your company via voice. 


3. Know how your audience uses voice-first devices

Your audience matters when developing your brand’s audio voice because:
 “When hearing any voice, the listener automatically and unconsciously assigns a personality to it. according to Clifford Nass and Scott Brave.

Because the sound of a voice transmits information about the speaker such as gender and age.

Before defining your brand’s audio voice:
Understand your listener’s expectations for your voice personality.

To this end, interview your audience, prospects and customers to find out about:

  • Language use and speech patterns such as colloquial and slang phrases. 
  • Type of people they like to do business with. Include background, age and training. This input helps you to develop the backstory for your brand’s audio voice.
  • Updated information about their lifestyle. Get insights as to where to integrate new voice opportunities.
  • Ownership and use of voice-first devices.

Also, get input from customer-facing employees about your audience’s use of voice.

Actionable Voice Marketing Tips:

  • Share your findings across your organization. In the process, get validation and buy-in.
  • Update or change your marketing personas based on this research.


4. Educate management to get buy-in for voice marketing

As a relatively new technology, Education is at the core of management and employee buy-in for voice marketing.

Further, voice marketing requires support from across the organization (Adobe Research.)

  • 65% require IT,
  • 23% need operations and services support,
  • 21% need design and creative services,
  • 15% require accounting and finance,
  • 14% include sales (14%), and
  • 10% involve HR.
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 marketing to your business strategy requires that you:

  • Evaluate customer touchpoints to respond in a contextually relevant way across content formats, platforms and devices. 
  • Incorporate voice marketing and spotlight audio support at  every step of the customer process. This extends across the entire customer association.
  • Change the data architecture, information and content related to using audio. 

Further, voice marketing requires working with multiple platforms, technologies and rules. Businesses must develop for multiple voice-enabled technologies

Actionable Voice Marketing Tips:

  • Make the business case for voice marketing
  • Run a small test case to show measurable results.


5. Expand your brand to include a spoken voice and audio sounds

While many brand guidelines include “brand voice”, these directives often refer to the words and language your brand uses. Further, the use of sound to represent your brand is sometimes referred to as “sonic branding”.

In a voice-first world, give your brand an spoken voice and audible sound your audience can and wants to hear. Reassess your brand to determine how it should sound to resonate with your target audience.

Follow these steps to address brand representation in a voice-first world: 

  • Create a personality and background for your brand spokesperson. Think like a screenwriter to define your brand representative. Provide sufficient detail so a voice actor can bring this character alive.
  • Define your brand’s spoken language. Describe the everyday language, slang terms and verbal tics the character uses regularly. These elements should mirror those used by your audience.
  • Determine the useful, usable and repeatable voice tasks.

But, unlike other forms of information, voice often yields one answer delivered by Alexa, Google or Siri.

Actionable Voice Marketing Tips:

  • Create a lookbook to represent your brand persona’s backstory. This helps voice actors better represent your brand.
  • Ensure your brand’s audio remains consistent. Add audio examples to your branding guidelines.


6. Optimize your marketing and content for voice search

Most commonly, voice search consists of asking a voice-enabled device for information. Searchers speak in full sentences and expect short succinct answers to their questions.

Voice search usage

Voice search responses average 29 words and come from a page containing 2,313 words according to Backlinko.Click To Tweet


Further, only the best optimized answer gets returned, often spoken in the device’s voice.

Know what questions your audience asks and provide easy to understand answers (preferably at a 9th grade reading level (Backlinko)) that can be understood without visuals.

The top questions asked in voice searches are about products, places and people. But don’t ignore events, organizations and current news items.

Optimizing for voice search depends on the underlying structure of your content. Use structured data markup (Schema.org.) This helps search engines understand your content and match it to voice queries.

Further, reassess your content and data classification framework to support voice and audio content .While some CMS systems, notably Sitecore, allow you to add audio content and to create the relevant metadata, other systems require you to classify your content differently.

Additionally, take a library approach to your content. This flatter structure increases the likelihood of that your content will appear in search results. Ideally use an FAQ Page for each topic. Since most voice-first commands use full English language questions, place these questions on your hub pages.

Where appropriate, create a multimedia library. This allows allow visitors to consume your content in the format they want.

Actionable Voice Marketing Tips:

  • Claim your local business listings to help “Near Me” searches. At a minimum, complete your “Google My Business” listing.
  • Optimize for long-tail keywords to increase your chance of appearing for voice search.


7. Create audio content to attract audience

In terms of content marketing, examine how professional media entities like NPR, The Economist and CNN use different audio options to remain relevant to their voice-first audience.

Audio content:

  • Reaches non-text reading audiences,
  • Broadens content availability on new voice-first platforms like Alexa, Google, Siri, Contana and/or Bixby as well as Spotify,
  • Lets listeners consume your content on their schedule, and
  • Supplements other tasks with hands-free content.

Start by transforming existing text and/or video content into audio format:

  • Translate text content into audio. For example, Convince & Convert includes an audio form of each blog post.3 Tools From Convince and Convert
  • Strip the images from your video to create audio content. Trust Insights’s Chris Penn does this for his weekly “You Ask, I Answer” video. Further, Chris publishes video, audio and text content at the same time on his blog.Chris Penn - You Ask I Answer

When creating audio content, consider your audience’s context when listening.


  • When does your listener want audio content from you? Timing is everything. Be as specific as possible.
  • What type of information do they want in audio format? Provide help or entertainment based on what they’re doing at that point in time.
  • Where are they listening? Are they at home or work? Location and environment define how people consume your content.

Actionable Voice Marketing Tips:

  • Find quest opportunities to generate content. Extend your reach by tapping into the power of other people’s existing audio audiences.


8. Extend to voice commerce

Although relatively new, voice commerce continues to grow in size.

In 2019, about 31.0 million people shopped via a smart speaker, up 31.8% from 2018 (eMarketer). This is projected to grow to 38.0 million in 2021. 

Smart speaker buyers

To-date, one fifth of voice purchases consist of low-cost, low-risk purchases of electronic media, music and movies. This makes sense since consumers use these products on their voice-enabled devices.

When assessing how to integrate voice commerce more broadly into your omni-channel  shopping, help your audience with buying-related information. This includes browsing, researching and adding items to shopping carts.

To improve your chances of voice marketing success, remove friction for shoppers. Focus on  activities where they already talk to their devices.

For example, allow people to make repetitive orders, create a shopping list, and streamline shipping input. Also, add voice functionality to help customers check on purchase status, return merchandise, and provide customer service.

Activities on Smart Speakers - US owners

Actionable Voice Marketing Tips:

  • Determine where audio and voice can help your customers. For example, at Project Voice, one real estate agent programmed a voice assistant to provide useful buying information during open houses.


9. Add audio advertising to your marketing mix to extend your reach

Audio advertising consists of 2 popular formats:

  1. Stand-alone promotions that stand out from the main audio content.
  2. Host read promotions and sponsorships seamlessly integrated into program content.

With the ever-expanding use of streaming music and podcasts, opportunities for audio advertising continue to grow, especially on platforms like Spotify.

While metrics remain elusive, podcasts allow you to

  • Reach hyper-targeted audiences, 
  • Tap into the power of podcasting influencers, and
  • Take advantage of the podcast’s related media and promotion.

Actionable Voice Marketing Tips:

  • Include a contextually relevant and tailored call-to-action. Keep your CTA short and memorable since your audience may not be able to act when they hear your promotion. Also, create distinct calls-to-action to aid measurability.
  • Exchange promotions on your podcast or blog with another podcast that targets a similar audience. Expand your reach without the need for marketing budget.


10. Promote your voice marketing with your existing marketing

Regardless of the size and quality of your audio content offering, you need to let people know about it, help them to find it, and encourage them to listen to it.

Then use the easiest and cheapest way to build audio content  awareness:
Promote your audio content on your existing owned, social and paid media. 

Even better, in most cases, this promotion has little, if any, incremental cost! 

Actionable Voice Marketing Tips:

  • Raise awareness for audio and voice content on owned and social media. Spotlight key podcasts and other audio content in your newsletters and other communications.
  • Direct readers to audio content on your website and blog. Add an incentive and/or gamification where appropriate.
  • Create an ad-like promotion to make your audio content stand out. Include a call-to-action to let readers know about your talking content and where to find it.


Voice Marketing Conclusion

Voice marketing removes friction between your business and your audience. This makes dealing with your firm easier. In the process you provide a better customer experience.

To transition your marketing to become voice-first:

  • Make your content available across a variety of voice-first platforms and devices.
  • Structure your content and data to meet your audience’s needs based on their context and to support voice search findability.
  • Add voice and audio formats to your organization’s content and communications. (BTW, voice includes IVR and chatbots.)

Don’t miss out on this transformational shift in marketing. Start now and experiment with voice technology and find the opportunities for making your business heard.

If you have a question or would like to share an example, please add it to the comment section below.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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

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Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/ear-mouth-nose-face-head-voices-3971050/ cc zero

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