Around a year ago, voice accounted for just under a quarter of all searches conducted on mobile devices. It was considered to be an emerging trend, closely linked to mobile search and pegged as one to watch. Fast forward 12 months and the landscape has shifted entirely. Today, voice search is a discipline in its own right and in much the same way mobile did before it, is now reshaping consumer behaviour.

Voice assistants

They may once have been a novelty piece of tech, but voice assistants are now one of the hottest gadgets you can have in your home. Sales of voice assistants are booming and devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are being shipped in their millions.

In November, TechCrunch cited a Juniper Research report predicting that smart speakers would be present in over half (55%) of American households by 2022. It calculates that over 70 million homes will have at least one voice assistant, with the actual number of devices closer to 175 million. Similarly, over 5 billion voice assistants will be installed on smartphones within four years.

The speed with which consumers are purchasing voice assistants is also accelerating, suggesting more and more of us are becoming comfortable with the technology and see its usefulness. CIPR figures state that around 18 million smart speakers were sold in Q4 of 2017 alone, with Google Home accounting for 40% of that volume. CIPR suggests that more affordable pricing has paved the way for increased adoption.

Voice assistants and the consumer

Back in 2015, Google announced that it handled more searches from mobile devices than it did from desktops. From there, consumer habits started to change – 69% of smartphone users who travelled for leisure started using their down time to browse for holiday inspiration. 91% started to use their mobile to find information while carrying out a task while 82% began turning to their mobile to find information while physically standing in a store.

The advent of mobile internet access hasn’t yet reached the pinnacle with more conversions still taking place on desktop devices. What it has given us is omnichannel shoppers and a trend of discovery and research from mobile, with the eventual purchase on a more traditional device. This isn’t true for all sectors or ages though – while ABTA figures show the vast majority (85%) of people who book holidays online do so from a PC, this figure is declining as mobile bookings increase; they leaped from 13% in 2016 to 20% in 2017.

The advent of voice search and voice assistant technology is causing similar changes to consumer purchase patterns and behaviours:

  • 62% of those who use a voice activated speaker say they are likely to buy something from it within the next month
  • 58% of regular voice assistant users employ their device to help manage or create a shopping list at least once per week
  • The 2017 Future of Retail Repot calculated that 19% of consumers had made a purchase through a voice assistant within the preceding 12 months
  • Among Millennials, the figure is even higher, with 43% having made a purchase in the last 12 months and 37% saying they always or often shopped online via a voice assistant

One of the unique features powering this change in consumer behaviour is intrinsic to the device itself – Google research says that just over four in ten (41%) of smart speaker users feel like they’re talking to someone they know and over half (53%) say it feels natural to talk to their speaker.

What does this mean for your brand?

As with any major search development, your approach to voice search needs to be dictated by user behaviour. The nature of voice search means that you’ll also need a strategy that is distinct to other SEO approaches – around 70% of voice queries handled by Google use natural language. Compare this with the often truncated search phrases we use when performing a text search and it’s clear that an entirely different model of optimisation and type of content is needed.

Advertising is expected to be one of the biggest drivers of smart speaker revenue – 52% of smart speaker owners said they would like to receive promotional information from brands and Amazon expects this to be a notable revenue stream in coming years.

There are challenges too of course – some users report privacy concerns, other say uncertainty about payments is off putting while other users prefer visuals. As a brand, these new challenges and tests of trust will need to be tackled, in much the say way early web sites were forced to overcome consumer reluctance to give payment information away online.

How Adrac can help

 Adrac has already helped a number of clients prepare their websites for voice search and, our experienced team of marketing professionals is carefully monitoring all voice search advances to help you capitalise on new opportunities and navigate new challenges.

As premier marketing partners, Adrac is often given access to beta features. Voice search marketing is no exception with several very exciting pieces of targeting tech on the horizon that our team is already working with. Want to learn more? Our contractually guaranteed conversions approach is zero risk, contact us now to find out what voice search could do for your business.