​Where Australian brands are up to in the voice journey

Local brands are lagging behind incorporating voice into their marketing strategies but there are plenty of opportunities to lift engagement and address CX painpoints, say the experts

Getting started

Wood said it’s important for brands to understand they are not going to be letting expectations down if they pick a few things and do them well.

“The most important thing is to be active and testing and working out what are the simple things we can do right now. The voice interaction itself is still at an early stage, the intelligent agents are not yet that smart, but this will follow the law of accelerated returns," he said. "Those agents three years from now are going to be fully capable of understanding what household usage and preferences are, and they will be able to predict those with amazing accuracy.

“So start testing and get skills and get basic CX right... Look at the question you are most asked by consumers: What are people asking about your brand or asking you in the search functionality in your own site? From there, what value can you create with that?

“If you are not doing this, you are missing an opportunity to learn. Making mistakes isn’t going to be a problem, because the category is so new."

As we move forward, Wood cited two exponential shifts. The first is the development of the intelligence of the agent, while the second is the development in the home network.

"Soon genuinely smart, networked home will be in mass adoption, by mid to late 2021, so brands have a couple of years to understand what voice’s role is and who their consumers are," he predicted. “The platforms that will grow up and win the third era of connectivity are the ones with trust and privacy at their core, and that create value for members of a household."   

To get to the next level, voice needs to be seen not as a novelty, but a useful long-term brand building tool, Lewis added.

“Brands really need to consider if a voice app assists the user in a way that a browser or mobile search wouldn’t. It sounds obvious, but  understanding your customers has  to be at the heart of any marketing strategy – and with 32 per cent of Aussies considering buying an in-home voice assistant, voice is going to continue to be a huge part of the consumer path to purchase in the future,” she said.

“Leveraging the connected home experience is also a way for brands to reach consumers through voice, as this often offers consumers a solution to a problem that regular devices may take longer to solve. For example, Whirlpool launched a voice-activated washing machine that offers the consumer convenience by allowing them to use Alexa and Google Assistant to check on the status of their laundry.”

Blackham advocated a test-and-learn approach, as well as self-education.

“Understand what your consumer wants, what works, and what doesn’t work. Brands don’t have to spend a lot to do a proof of concept, which will allow you to see if it’s something that resonates with consumers. Pick a smaller proof of concept idea, develop use cases, build it out, and put it out there,” she recommended.

“Another opportunity that comes with getting in early is you can own the invocation. It doesn’t have to be your brand name, it can be general words. Once you own the invocation name, no one else can own it. It’s like website domain names in the early days, but certainly you can own a territory with voice now. You can be the first in your category.

“Get educated about what it means, because it’s coming whether you want it or not. When voice is ubiquitous and in the microwave and car and fridge, that is not the time to start. By that stage, the chance to make mistakes and learn will be harder.”

Dickson saw a wider missed opportunity around brands not thinking about their audio branding, and lacking audio guidelines about how their brand sounds or communicates with people.

“Some brands are hesitant to get involved because it’s a hard area to unpick. However, audio branding isn’t difficult once you know what best practice is. Around 86 per cent of brands don’t have audio guidelines, which is alarming given how easy and cost-effective it is,” he said.

“So some consideration into an audio brand asset stable would be a first step to get into voice. Figure out what the brand’s tone of voice is, also an mnemonic device which makes it easier to remember is important. There may be a reason to undertake audio branding now because of smart speakers, but there has been a reason to do it for 40-50 years, simply because a fluent audio brand will pull all your other assets together.

“Audio has a unique relationship with the brain, it makes it easier to recall things. If you ask people to draw a logo, it’s unlikely to be accurate, but if you ask them what a big brand slogan is, they’ll be able to recall it from 20 years ago."

Voice is ultimately a medium that will reward exploration and trial, Kidney concluded.

“There is so much to be learnt from launching something and seeing how consumers adopt and use our experience," he said. "As for the future of voice, the future today institute predicts over 50 per cent of all interactions with technology will be engaged with via voice, so I don’t think we can overstate the importance and potential of this technology.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia. 

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