Voice assistants have experienced a real boom in recent years and are being used on more and more devices. Companies such as Amazon, Google or Apple use their voice assistants among others in devices such as televisions, smartphones, or smart speakers and try to establish them permanently in the consumer's homes so that they can perform a variety of tasks for the users.
Most interestingly, the sale of so-called smart speakers has risen sharply worldwide over the past two years. For the first time, these devices guarantee non-visual and therefore purely linguistic communication between the user and the language assistant.
Even if the range of tasks performed by voice assistants is still relatively limited, a steady growth in the development of commands for more and more tasks can be observed. It is therefore predicted that voice assistants will play an increasingly important role in daily routine and make everyday tasks more efficient and pleasant.
Language and the acoustic branding
Prof. Dr. Christopher Zerres, lecturer in marketing at the University of Offenburg with a focus on online marketing and controlling, uses the phases of the buying process in e-commerce to present various options and requirements for voice assistants.
The language and the acoustic branding must meet various requirements for all steps in the purchasing process, he states, namely:
- Ensuring a natural voice
- Predefined command explanations using example sentences for a better overview of the interaction options within a shopping skill
- Answering complex inquiries using meaningful keywording
- A suitable limitation of the information
- Establishing of generally understandable commands
- Avoidance of different approaches through individualized voices, background noise or sound icons per provider or shopping skill
Of great relevance in the pre-purchase phase of the buying process are proactive needs recognition, voice assistant SEO, search engine marketing, paid advertising formats, content marketing, the preparation of offers, marketing measures within a shopping skill and the options for evaluating purchase alternatives and the shopping cart.
Firstly, it is necessary to integrate a function for a successful proactive recognition of needs that allows to automatically execute recurring orders. Secondly, the use of push notifications is recommended that highlight offers that have not been considered by the user but could be helpful in his/her current situation, such as offering an umbrella on a rainy day.
For online retailers, considering voice assistant SEO means bearing in mind the following:
- Including questions from the user
- Including long-tail inquiries with the help of previously defined key sentences
- Providing compact and useful answers, as a formulated sentence or list, depending on the context, and keeping them compatible with Google or Amazon commands.
Furthermore, although paid search results with voice assistants are not yet possible, initial guidelines for successful auditory search engine marketing should be compiled. And to this end, marketers should consider recognizing relevant question and command words and completing them into key statements, besides identifying search intentions of users and putting them together with the appropriate key statements as well as using ad extensions. In addition, the previous control figures must be reinterpreted to better analyze the successes and failures of individual voice search campaigns.
The following table shows the search intentions previously defined by Google that have been adapted with key sentences for voice-based searches in voice commerce:
In addition to working closely with voice assistant SEO, the task in content marketing should primarily consist of creating helpful content in a dialog-oriented manner and then guide users through the interaction and add the experience gained into their own shopping skill environment.
For a user-friendly preparation of your own shopping skill, and related marketing measures, various requirements should be met, such as:
- the reading of product features should be reduced to the bare minimum
- the use of product reviews should support a purchase decision
- a useful product catalog with search and filter functions should be given
- an automatic compilation of the shopping cart through context-dependent, meaningful keywording should be in place
- access to information on the company, terms, and conditions, and data protection be made available and be optimized for audio presentation
- the automatic adaptation of the shopping skill to the spoken language as well as the admission and recognition of different formulations on the rt of the user for requested commands be arranged
- the composition of dialogues between user and provider be supported as well as the user being provided with useful answers and follow-up questions at the right moment of inquiry
In addition, context-appropriate promotions should be suggested to the user during the individual search process. Push notifications with product recommendations based on purchase histories, promotional items, or product availability in turn offer opportunities to get the user back to the skill level. Not to mention that the user should be allowed to use IFTTTs ("If This Then That’s") to automatically create their individual purchase processes within the skill.
In the actual purchase phase, e-payment, e-fulfillment, and e-distribution play a central role. Even if most purchases are currently made directly via Amazon or Google Express, the purchase made possible by Amazon Pay or Google Pay within individual shopping skills should not be neglected. Although users are still skeptical of these two payment providers, they could soon enable sales-promoting measures in their own skills, such as notes on discounts, free shipping, or an easy way to make repeat purchases. As part of e-fulfillment, good return conditions should be offered, especially in auditory sales, due to the limited display of information, to relieve the customer of the fear of product orders. In the context of e-distribution, customers should be able to use the skill to enable package tracking options and the pre-setting of standard shipping options.
The requirements for voice assistant systems in the post-purchase phase relate to support and service offers, evaluation options and operational controlling.
When developing targeted customer support using a voice assistant, you should focus on three steps:
1. It’s best to let the customer choose the service channel between voice assistant and call center in the event of a service request, since users are generally increasingly positive about the services provided by voice assistants.
2. Decide to what extent the own target group is suitable for advice by voice assistants and which topics should be dealt with through them. Emotionally charged topics should currently still be passed on to the call center, whereas routine inquiries can increasingly be shifted to voice assistants.
3. The latter should be prepared in a solution-oriented manner through a broad coverage of content for answering customer inquiries, proactive inquiries, and automatic inclusion of customer data. It is important that if there are problems during the conversation, it must be possible to switch to a real service employee at any time.
By Daniela La Marca