Voice search has become one of the hottest topics in digital marketing. Savvy brands and marketers alike are beginning to develop an understanding of how it might be relevant for their audience. So, what does this mean for your brand? Here’s everything you need to know about the new way to engage your customers.

VOICE SEARCH IS A GROWING TREND

A growing range of smart devices feature AI digital assistants (Siri, Alexa, etc.)  that allow you to dictate voice commands. Your assistant then responds to the request by pulling information from the internet to turning on music or make a phone call.

VOICE SEARCH BY GENERATION

Millennials make up 43.5% of the total user demographic for voice search, with this percentage expected to grow in the next few years (source: eMarketer). But they’re by no means the only ones. Uptake among older generations has also grown significantly.

Interestingly, age is also a factor in determining how people use voice search. Younger users tend to shop, turn on music or make calls. However, older users see it more as a source of information.

CLOSE TO HOME

In recent years, voice-enabled speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo have become synonymous with voice search. Worldwide, the number of speakers installed in homes is expected to grow from 6 million in 2016 to 59 million in 2020 (source: eMarketer). This in itself will act as a significant driver for voice search.

Whether voice search is used on watches, TVs, cars, smartphones or laptops, users engage with it primarily for simple tasks like playing music or being updated on news. Almost 50% of people now use voice search when researching products (source: Social Media Today), while a quarter of shoppers used voice assistants during the 2017 holiday season (source: CTA). These figures are only going to grow. So now is the time to start looking into how the technology could benefit your company, especially as attempts are underway to monetize the technology.

GOING GLOBAL WITH VOICE SEARCH

China is the world leader in voice search. In 2016, 63% of smartphone owners were reported to use a virtual assistant (source: Kantar WorldPanel). That figure will only keep growing, thanks to the advanced range of voice-enabled speakers on the market.

AI technology is still in its early stages of development, so voice search technology remains language and culture specific. The US and the “big 5” European countries have seen the most development in this area. However, regions like Scandinavia have seen comparably less focus.

Despite this, efforts are underway to plug the linguistic holes. Google Assistant can now understand select Hindi queries, with Russian expected to follow suit. As voice search becomes increasingly accessible, cross-border competition is expected to grow – and with it, global usage. So for future success, you should be thinking now about how to make voice search strategy easily localizable and ready to replicate into other markets.

THE FUTURE OF SEARCH

The explosive growth in voice search should certainly catch your attention. It’s at the cutting edge of AI, technology and interconnectivity. Therefore, capitalizing on it could allow you to position your company as forward thinking.

But there’s more to voice search than just PR spin. The prevalence of voice-enabled speakers – and the opportunities they offer for a truly connected smart home – offer unprecedented access into customers’ homes and ways of thinking. Through voice search data, you’ll be able to target their needs more effectively, whether that’s by becoming an information source or coming up with novel uses for the technology.

Creating a viable voice search strategy will therefore breed success not only among those who adopt it early, but also among the majority who, however begrudgingly, take up the technology in years to come.