Voice Search in Digital Marketing

What is voice search?

Voice search is a technology that enables users to search the internet by asking a question on a smartphone, computer or a smart speaker. It is convenient and more intuitive to use voice for searching the internet than typing in your smartphones or computers. A survey by Google predicts that by the year 2020, 50% of all internet searches will happen by voice.

Source: www.99firms.com
Voice search trends

Let’s have a look at some of the recent trends in the internet search realm (Source Think with Google). 

  • Almost 70% of requests to the Google Assistant are expressed in natural language, not the typical keywords people type in a web search.
  • 62% of those who regularly use a voice-activated speaker say they are likely to buy something through their voice-activated speaker in the next month
  • 58% of those who regularly use a voice-activated speaker say they create or manage shopping lists at least once a week.
  • 44% of those who regularly use a voice-activated speaker say they order products they need like groceries, household items, etc., at least once a week.
  • 52% of those who own a voice-activated speaker would like to receive info about deals, sales, and promotions from brands.
  • 48% of those who own a voice-activated speaker would like to receive personalized tips and information from brands to make their lives easier.

It may be seen from above that consumers use voice search in their "natural" language than the usual keywords because it is more convenient and faster. On average, people type at a speed of 40-60 words per minute, Vis-a-Vis voice interactions which are more efficient at 150 words per minute. 

Voice search changing the digital marketing landscape

Given the trends above, brands need to restructure their marketing strategy to keep pace with the transformation brought by voice search. Businesses have to shift focus to mobile-friendly environment, restructure their on-page SEO to suit the long-trail keywords used by customers and have to offer products and services which are locally available. Digital marketing strategy has to be redefined to suit the changes brought by voice search.

Shift from top of the page to SERPs

When a customer asks a voice assistant a question, they will be redirected to the SERPs. A voice assistant, in all likelihood, will read the featured snippet of the search query. Thus, businesses must optimize their content(s) to attain the featured snippet on search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. These are the position zero on search pages produced by search engines. When the content is optimized for #zero, its visibility increases multifold. Some of the ways to optimize content for SERPs are as under:

Structuring content to answer specific questions
Presenting content in FAQs format
Value of high-quality content can never be undermined

Changing search semantics

The first trend outlined in the above section indicates that voice search is done in natural languages and tone is conversational. For example, a user may be typing “restaurant near me” when conducting a text search, he may ask “which are the restaurants near me?” instead when conducting a voice search. Almost always users conduct voice searches in question format. Since voice searches are more conversational in tone, it will attach more importance to the semantics of search queries. This calls for revamping the keyword strategy, changing it to long-tail keywords than usual short-code specific keywords used erstwhile. By optimizing the keyword strategy of content to suit the voice search, brands can be more accessible to customers.

Mobile-friendly environment

As per SimilarWeb, 58% of website visits came from mobile devices and also 42% of the total time spent online comes from the mobile platform. Thus, to keep pace with the trend, brands have to create a mobile-friendly environment. Brands need to optimize their websites and content for mobile. Consumers are more likely to deal with a brand with a mobile-friendly website. Some of the parameters for a mobile-friendly business platform are:

  • Website loading time: As a general rule, a 1-second delay in website loading time may lead to 11% fewer page visits, 16% higher dissatisfied customers and about 7% loss in business conversion. Therefore, the speed at which a website loads in mobile and otherwise also is of paramount importance. Creating AMP pages drastically decreases the loading time.
  • Upgrading UI/UX keeping Mobile-first mindset. 

Larger emphasis on local SEO

Phrases like "Near me", "Near me tonight/today", "now+ near me" have witnessed exponential growth in the past two years. As per Google, there is a 500% growth in “near me” mobile searches that contain a variant of “can I buy” or “to buy” over the last two years. 

Source: www.thinkwithgoogle.com

About 40% of voice searches have local intent, and therefore brands have to optimize their content for "near me" and its variants. Brands must list their website on the local business result page, preferably in SERPs. Some of the way's brands optimize their websites for local intent are as under:
  • Optimized Schema markups
  • Backlinks with geographic anchor text
  • Creating blogs with local links
  • Creating different pages for different locations and optimizing them
With increasing mobile penetration and a larger share of voice search Year-on-Year, digital marketing strategy has to be redefined, restructured and reshaped. The mobile era is a golden opportunity for businesses, where customer’s needs are out there to be captured and served.  

Micro-Moment Marketing

What are Micro-Moments?

All of us have experienced moments when we are in a shop and yet search online, about which product to buy, have sought opinions of other buyers online, haven't we? Google says all of us have! As per a survey conducted by Google:
  • 82% of the online population, which is 4.48 billion in 2019, search online for recommendations while they're standing in a store deciding which product to buy. 10% of those have been found buying a different product than they had planned. 
  • 69% of leisure travelers search for travel ideas during spare moments, like when they're standing in line or waiting for the subway. About 50% of those travelers book their packages through an entirely separate channel.
  • 91% of smartphone users look up information on their smartphones while in the middle of a task.
  • 69%  of online consumers agree that the quality, timing, and relevance of a brand's message influences their perception of their product. 

These are the moments which Google has defined as Micro-Moments of a customer, which has been broadly classified into the following categories:

Micro-Moments Are the intent-driven moments in our lives, when we make decisions and when our preferences are shaped. Usually, Micro-Moments have shorter span, say a couple of minutes, and these are the moments of opportunity for brands. There are roughly 150 such Micro-Moments per day in our lives, and brands are competing for these Micro-moments.

Changing customer purchase behavior

There are 4.39 billion online users in 2019, which is roughly 56% of the global population. More than half the globe is online now, and about 3.2 billion of these users are using smartphones. So, 42.8% of the global population moves with a powerful computer in their hands.

Smartphones have given consumers an immense power to make well-informed choices and have brought a change in their purchasing behavior. Now a customer carries out product research online before purchasing the product. The ROBO (Research Online Buy Offline) research indicates that about 50% of the in-store purchase was preceded by reading an online review. The percentage varies by category, but it is established that almost $5 is spent in-store for every dollar spent online following online research.  

Such a high level of smartphone penetration and uses thereof provides many opportunities for marketers to reach their customers. Now brands can better communicate with their target market, establish brand loyalty, strengthen customer relationships and enhance conversion rates. Micro-Moments understanding is a surefire key to success for brands.

How to harness Micro-Moments?

Digitally empowered customers want instant action and instant gratification based on personal agendas and goals. Purchase decisions are comprised of many Micro-Moments and their decisions at each stage are unscripted and unpredictable than before. Matt Lawson from Google couldn’t have said it better, “In many ways, micro-moments have become the footsteps that lead people to your store or desktop site.” 

Brands have these short windows of Micro-moments to capitalize on. It becomes essential for brands to understand that, in these micro-moments, consumers want what they want, when they want it — and that they will change loyalty towards brands that deliver on those needs. Google survey indicates that 1 in 10 buyers bought a product from a different brand than what they had planned, based on the valuable information offered at the right time. 

To harness the maximum of these Micro-Moments, brands need to:
  • Be there: Anticipate the micro-Moments of the target market and be available with the same information which the user is looking for. Keeping abreast of the latest and most popular searched queries in their target is critical for success.  
  • Be useful: Just being there won't be of much use, remember the user wants instant gratification! Providing the most relevant content and digital experience that the user is looking for is equally important.
  • Be accountable: The archaic marketing strategy of working in silos have to be changed and upgraded to a unified strategy. After a customer's initial query is satisfied, he needs to be assisted further by directing to the requisite platform, says more details about the product and then to the purchase gateway. The entire channel should offer a seamless experience to the customer.

Brands have to make their businesses more accessible to their customers. They need to invest and upgrade their marketing strategy to keep pace with shifting user behavior. For example, the latest shift in online search behavior from text keyword searches to voice search. In 2019, about 31% of smartphone users worldwide use voice search technology, and 50% of mobile searches will likely be made via voice in 2020. Keeping pace with this shift, brands have to optimize their content for voice search software. Conversational phrases for keywords are to be inducted within content and FAQ pages should be created with these long-tail phrases. 

Another technology that helps harness the vast goldmine of Micro-Moments is location-based marketing. Beacon technology enables brands to pinpoint the location of a customer at any given point of time, send them to push notifications with attractive coupons, promotions or other targeted offers.  The use of beacons is further transforming the shift to mobile commerce by providing immediate relevancy and value to customers. For example, a restaurant may send a promotion to a customer near their location, and likely to attract them to the brick-mortar outlet.

Source: www.rioseo.com

Investing in social commerce and chat bots also add value to customers and satiate their instant gratification habits. It helps brands to be there, at the right times and as much as possible. This helps brands to reach out to the consumers on their favorite platforms and being readily available to facilitate their Micro-Moments. Integrating marketing strategy with social media and messaging platforms is an effective way to make business more accessible to consumers. Reaching customers on their preferred platforms makes a business one step closer to closing the sale.