Okay, so this question might be a little too complex for Siri - and OK Google, Alexa, and Cortana - but it’s clear that brands really need to start paying attention to voice.

As Adweek discusses, the voice recognition market will be worth $601m by 2019 and, by 2022, voice commerce is set to be a $40bn industry. 

But the impact of voice is already being felt today. Voice search through the likes of the aforementioned virtual assistants has already become commonplace in our everyday lives. According to Falcon, one in five searches are now done via voice and, as of last year, 41% of adults conducted at least one voice search per day. By 2020, voice searches are expected to account for half of all online queries. 

Why is voice so popular?

Whether it’s on our mobiles or via smart speakers in our homes, voice search and virtual assistants provide us with a quick and convenient way of asking questions, making online purchases, and streaming content. And it is particularly useful when you’ve got your hands full. 

Voice technology has been around since the 1950s but it is getting smarter day by day. Not only can the likes of Alexa and Google Assistant differentiate between voices, but they are getting better at understanding what you’re saying. The Digital Marketing Institute reports that Google increased its word recognition accuracy rate from below 80% to more than 90%. With fewer irritating errors, it provides users with a more valuable experience. 

What does this mean for marketing?

Sure, we’re no Mystic Meg, but all the signs suggest that voice is going to play a big role in marketing. Of course, there may be some naysayers out there who think voice is going to be yet another marketing fad. When Facebook first launched, there were those who didn’t believe it would become the marketing tool it is today… 

Research discussed by Marketing Week found that just over a third (36%) of marketers are aware of changes brought by voice search and a quarter (25%) believe they can incorporate this new avenue into their marketing strategy. However, 29% of them are not actively addressing the changing landscape and boosting the impact of voice search on the industry. 

Voice might be used more in consumer settings at the moment, but forward-thinking B2B companies should start preparing for voice’s impact today. We’ve seen time and time again how consumer behaviours spill over and shape the B2B world, so get ahead of the curve. 

Through voice, buyers seek information on prices of products and services and want to be able to confirm if a business has a particular item in stock, Forbes reports. If you already know what customers want to hear from voice enquiries, you can start to implement voice. But you need to make sure you go about it in the right way.

Watch your tone

The biggest impact voice will have on marketing is in terms of content. Marketers will need to start creating content that can be found by voice searches. This will inevitably lead to more conversational content, as you will need to think about how customers might verbally ask a question, rather than how they would type it. 

When shifting towards “natural questions”, you’ll not only have to think about how enquiries will be asked, but also how they will be answered. Think about how annoying it is when you ask your virtual assistant a question and they end up reading from a webpage that cuts off before you even get to your answer. In order to provide customers with the necessary information, and to stop them switching off and looking elsewhere, you’ll need to keep content short, sweet, and to the point. 

But you’ll need to rank highly on search engines if you want to be the top answer…

Impact on SEO

According to the Digital Marketing Institute, voice search is already driving changes in SEO best practices. Again, this goes back to the notion that people phrase questions differently when posing them vocally rather than via text. 

People are more likely to use the five Ws when verbally asking a question, so these queries are becoming increasingly important in SEO. This means you will need to focus on directly answering any questions potential customers might have. Whereas traditional search results are ranked from 1-10, you want to aim for position 0 when it comes to voice search, as this will mean your answer is the only one they will need.

To optimise your content for SEO, Falcon recommends:

  • Focusing content around a specific question and its answer
  • Making sure your site is mobile-friendly
  • Asking customers to leave a review of your product or service
  • Completing your Google My Business listing with relevant information

Given that nearly 25% of all voice searches are for local information, it is particularly important that you provide local customers with your business details. 

Of course, we don’t yet know how voice marketing could evolve in the future but B2B marketers need to start investing in this emerging area or risk falling behind their competitors. Voice provides customers with an improved customer experience so why wouldn’t marketers want to make use of this incredibly useful tool?