Welcome to the age of ask

By: Kath Blackham, Managing Director, Deepend

For those of us old enough to remember, the start of search engine marketing, app development and social media wasn’t all fireworks and glitter. It snuck up on most of us marketing professionals and we went from wondering whether it was a thing, to feeling so far behind it was hard to know how we were ever going to catch up.

The digital landscape has been stable since, and we’ve gotten used to these digital norms. Consumers expect to talk to brands on social media, they’re finding answers to queries instantly through Google and parents are keeping kids busy through mobile apps on our marketplaces.

We have teams dedicated to these three disciplines and whole industries have been born.

For those that are wondering what the next big thing is, then wonder no longer. That thing is voice or voice experience (VX) more specifically.

We already have over 500 million devices with voice preloaded including Google assistant, Siri, Alexa and Cortana (Microsofts answer to voice services) and its growing every day.

Amazon, who has 84% market share in the US with their Alexa voice services, will soon be in almost every appliance we own. Take Samsung as an example, who have recently announced that they will have Alexa voice services included in all their products by 2020. That’s just over two years away!

There will be 33 million voice first devices in use globally by the end of this year which is a staggering growth statistic given that Amazon only launched Alexa less than three years ago.

We expect there to be well over 50 million voice first devices within the next five years which would have seemed crazy a few years ago but now seems very conservative.

So what does this all mean for Australian brands?

It means that there is a new channel that will enable an even deeper relationship with users. It means that the concept of ‘human centred design’ is just about to take on a whole new meaning as there is no room for not thinking like a consumer when it comes to voice. It also means that there is a new opportunity to own a space that is new and exciting for consumers and allows brands to build a deeper, more connected and engaged experience with their consumers.

So, I hear you all saying, that is all well and good but, let’s be real here, how could my brand ever translate into a voice environment?

Well there are currently 15,000 skills (Amazon’s version of the app but using voice only) available on Alexa so there are many different examples of how brands are using voice.

They are delivering recipes, ideas and solutions to consumers without the need for them to pick up a device. They are allowing consumers to buy their regular coffee, pizza and grocery order without the need to login. They are allowing consumers to use their brand as a daily utility, which in turn allows the consumer to hear and interact with the brand several times a day.

As marketers, we are constantly searching for opportunities to make our brand front of mind, so imagine if your consumers spoke to your brand every morning and was delivered something useful… we would be lining up for sure.

Voice does that.

“Alexa, ask Coles to add toothpaste to my shopping list”.

“Alexa, ask Melbourne airport parking how long the drive to the airport is today”,

“Alexa, ask broadsheet for restaurant recommendations in Fitzroy”.

You get the picture.

Some tips on how brands can get ready for the voice Tsunami that’s on its way.

If you want to be first in your category then find someone that can help you either build a skill or action (Google’s version of the app but using voice only).

Train your own team or at least get started. It doesn’t have to be complicated to start with. Like apps, skills and actions can be added to and updated over time so you can start with a few use cases and then add to it as voice gathers momentum in Australia.

Otherwise stay tuned as agencies like VERSA continue to educate the market through events and publications.

Its an exciting time and one that doesn’t come around that often so make sure you’re ready.

About VERSA: www.versa.agency

VERSA is Australia’s first enterprise level Voice Experience (VX) agency. Launched in partnership with RAIN – the US lead voice experience agency, and Deepend – Australia’s largest independent digital experience and design agency – VERSA offers a full suite of Voice Experience (VX) services, including Voice Interaction, Strategy, and Design, where voice is a part of the experience rather than the experience. VERSA has the skillset and expertise to enable brands to establish their voice offer now and be ahead of the curve.