Voice Marketing: The Renaissance of Branding

Speaking is the most natural way to communicate: Smart Speakers from Google and Amazon as well as other voice control systems will therefore experience a boom. Marketers need to prepare and teach their brands to speak. But how does voice marketing work?


When Reto Hofstetter watches TV, he sits on his sofa and starts talking. Sometimes he calls up a program on the TV, sometimes a film on Netflix, Swisscom TV's voice control reacts to his wishes.


A new market flourishes

Hofstetter is Professor of Marketing at the University of Lucerne and also works professionally with the helpful language assistants. They not only save him a few clicks on the remote control, but similar to 37 percent of the Swiss population, they have simplified their lives with voice control on smartphones, computers and speakers. A study on the use of language assistants conducted by the University of Lucerne and the Farner agency, for example, has been carried out. By the end of the year, the number is expected to climb to 62 percent; a new market is flourishing.


Unfortunately, most advertising companies do not yet have a strategy for this. Farner's partner and Head of Digital & Research, Daniel Jorg, worked on the study and speaks of a "paradigm shift". Voice is another user interface and another touchpoint in the customer journey. This is no trifle. Companies must prepare products and content in such a way that they can be used with the voice. This can be achieved, for example, with their own voice application - just as Swisscom TV does when selecting programs.


Talking four times faster than typing

There are many indications that such services will reach the Swiss. On one hand, this shows the great interest of the population. Every month, users search more than 7000 times for services such as Google Home or Siri via Google.ch (see box). Consumers like what saves them time. Language is one of them: People can talk four times as fast as they type. This allows them to interact more directly with the computer or a company than on the screen - completely without using their hands. Whether on the road in the car or at home - there is a great added value, with a variety of usage scenarios.


Boom driver Smart Speaker

The trend towards speech is driven by smart speakers. According to Emarketer, sales of smart speakers in the US is increasing by almost 48 percent annually. In 2020, the speakers will be used by around 77 million Americans. In Switzerland, on the other hand, the official launch of the devices will not take place until this year. Then the breakthrough for voice marketing will also take place in this country. Farner manager Jörg expects this. "Since the smartphone, there has been no other technology that has spread as rapidly as the voice-based Smart Assistants."


Faster purchasing process

Virgin Trains also shows what can be done with it. In order to speed up the purchase of train tickets, the tour operator has created an Alexa Skill in the United Kingdom. Travellers can book their tickets and pay via their Amazon account using voice input in the Smart Speaker. The purchase process is reduced from seven minutes on the screen to two minutes by voice - which, according to the company, has a very positive effect on ticket sales. The simpler, the better. But added value can also be found in the core of a brand: For example, the beauty brand Estée Lauder offers a language service on Google Home for beauty tips. In such abilities - or "skills" - marketers see one of the best opportunities for companies to create added value - and to make themselves audible. For Amazon Alexa there are more than 50,000 Skills; including “Bring”, the purchasing service where users can create shopping lists on their smartphone, tablet and Smartwatch, share them with others and plan their grocery shopping together.


"Bring" was developed by the three Swiss Marco Cerqui, Sandro Strebel and Dominic Mehr, as an app for the iPhone. It works on a similar principle than Alexa. The difference is that it is controlled by the voice instead of keys.


Lack of visibility

A challenge in the development of skills is the lack of visibility. For marketers and developers this requires a rethink. What questions could users ask themselves? And what should the brand answer? Marketers also need to be aware that information on the screen is being received by the user in parallel. At a glance, he or she has grasped everything. The voice, on the other hand, is only audible and is processed step by step. The result: "Voice makes decisions faster and based on less information," says Marketing Professor Hofstetter. This makes voice marketing particularly suitable for products that consumers can buy cheaply or at lower risk. This also includes repeat purchases.


On the way to turning a visually perceptible brand into a talking brand, marketers must also consider how a brand feels as an interlocutor. "Today, brands are strongly defined by the visual," says Jörg. The Farner manager refers to corporate identities and designs. Now the marketing managers have to think about what kind of witty conversation, mischievousness or pungency fits a brand. This is how they develop the right personality in the new Voice-First world.


Strong emotional power

The reward is a completely new closeness to the consumer. Because the voice is the most natural way to communicate, it has a strong emotional power. "Thanks to neuromarketing research, we know that the vast majority of purchasing decision processes are driven by emotions and not by reason," says Jörg. When brands become interlocutors, they have a great opportunity to enter the living room, the car and other everyday moments of the consumer. Jörg: "Brands can interact with consumers not only during their time in front of the screen, but also in between". A permanent touchpoint to the brand is created.


Abbreviated customer trip

The new Touchpoint changes the Customer Journey once again. The customer journey to the conclusion of a purchase, which has only become so complex through the text-based Internet, is thus reduced again. Not only because Voice can be used anywhere and at any time and thus shorten the purchase decision process. "While a user can sometimes have ten different tabs open on the computer, the Voice Assistant only offers one or two options," says Andrea Iltgen, partner at the digital agency Xeit. The choice is smaller, the purchase chance for the suggested product larger. The difficulty now lies elsewhere: the brands must first make it into the shortlist in order to be mentioned by the smart assistant at all. This can be done by the algorithm perceiving a brand as an expert in a certain field - or by building up such good customer loyalty that the user has already ordered the product several times. Iltgen: "Then the product will make it back into the selection due to the data situation".


Renaissance of branding

Iltgen mentions the washing powder brand Tide from the USA as a model example. The brand has established itself as an expert on stains. The leap into voice marketing was therefore easy. If you ask the language assistant for a patch solution, he brings the content of Tide into play. Iltgens Conclusion: "Anyone who has already laid a good foundation in content marketing also benefits from it in voice marketing".


Jörg speaks of a "renaissance of branding". According to the Farner manager, the most sustainable method is to get consumers to look for their own brand rather than a product category. This cannot be achieved through voice marketing alone, but through the interaction of all channels. Another way to place the brand at the forefront of smart speakers is a good SEO strategy. But this is also fed by good content about the brand and the company. To ensure that consumers get the right answers to their questions, Michael Hartwig recommends high-quality and up-to-date information. As Managing Partner of the Digital Knowledge Management Platform Yext, Hartwig helps companies to find their way through the digital search. "The basis of every voice search strategy is therefore the organization and centralization of all public facts about the products, locations and employees. New or updated information must be played out on all platforms at all times.


More transparent customers

Those who succeed in the game of voices also have good chances in the competition among the competitors. Because the interaction with the users reveals further valuable information about what customers think and want.


The unadulterated language of consumers reveals more than the often fragmentary analysis of user behavior on websites and apps as well as defined test arrangements of market research can. Andrea Iltgen, partner at the digital agency Xeit, recommends that the resulting new findings should be incorporated into product development and marketing. "In the purchase decision process, suitable offers can be placed at an early stage to shorten the time to purchase. For example, a restaurant a user is looking for can suggest a reservation right away.


This blog was translated from the following article: https://bit.ly/311cfjE

Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash

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