Why CMOs need a clear voice strategy to connect with their customers

Guy Munro

Guy Munro is the head of innovation and technology at Paper + Spark, a collective with deep experience across voice, content marketing, PR, social and digital as well as creative, all led by ex-agency heads. Founded by Zeina Khodr, the Paper + Spark collective was born out of a desire to put people before profits and deliver a truly integrated solution for clients. With a team of 12 consultants and offices in Sydney, Perth, Northern NSW, and Melbourne to follow, the model has been embraced by clients across financial services and pharma. https://paperandspark.com.au/

Now more than ever, voice presents a clear opportunity to add value to an organisation in many ways. Where operational efficiencies are scrutinised, budgets are tighter and discretionary consumer spend at a low, engaging with an audience is difficult.  

Whether you are looking to create a deeper, visceral connection with your customer, or looking for reducing bottom-line costs, a voice strategy should be on every CMO’s roadmap.  

The world of voice is a unique way to engage with an audience. It’s a platform that empowers customers to initiate the conversation themselves. By contrast to other forms of engagement, voice experiences lower the cognitive load on the brain, allowing you to do something relatively complex quickly, or simply making some things easier.  

Voice can be a visceral and very personalised experience, creating deep and meaningful connections for audiences. Where appropriate and contextually relevant, a voice experience can include personalisation that can be adopted to create more meaningful connections, such as PII (personally identifiable information).  

We know voice is booming as a channel. Amazon Alexa came to the US market in 2014 and launched in 2018 in Australia. It has since become a widely adopted voice assistant found in living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms.  

Google has also invested significantly in the conversational space with Google Assistant available on many devices, Google Nest (previously Google Home) and more recently, Contact Center Artificial Intelligence (CCAI) via Google Cloud, all of which are focused on customer centricity.  

Because voice is generally devoid of visual stimulus unless you have a multi-modal device, it can take some work to fully switch gears. As marketers, we’re always looking for views and eyeballs, but voice requires a slightly different way of thinking.  

Making voice work for your brand  

A great way to understand how voice may work for your organisation is to assess the market. Has your competition embraced voice, if so how? More importantly, can you add something unique or better?  

The psychology of audio can play a significant role in creating memory hooks or patterns for audiences. Take the recent ‘Share a Coke with Alexa’ Alexa skill. A subtle nod to the brand mark was created by embedding an audio layer of ice landing in a glass to help form an emotional state.  

Introducing jingles, mnemonics and other audio brand stamps can play an important part in connecting to your audience. Most organisations of magnitude have a visual style guide, the vast majority do not have an audio version, heralding the need for brands to understand what their brand should sound like.  

The conversational flow is critical in creating a graceful, useful experience. Generally speaking, less is more. Verbose dialogue, long-winded introductions and extended copy can detract from the experience and result in low audience engagement. A voice experience must be crafted in a way that delivers utility and forms a sensorial behavioural state at the same time.  

There are a number of critical considerations that also need to be addressed early that will help identify how voice can play a role. Readiness is the primary factor. This comes in a number of forms, from content and its suitability for voice, technology limitations, internal advocacy and identifying the business challenge you’re trying to solve. Does the primary use case map against business challenges and marketing objectives, and genuinely add value? Ultimately, can voice do something better? Not being afraid to start small via a pilot is also key.  

Of course, no single marketing channel is a silver bullet, and voice should almost never be used as a sole marketing strategy. Try to understand the value that voice will bring to your existing strategy, and encourage your team to recognise the benefits.

Tags: voice recognition, voice assistants, voice activated, marketing strategy

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