Table of Contents
- Voice AI is creating a dramatic shift in eCommerce
- Mobile shopping enables voice search
- Increased demand for contactless shopping
- Adoption of smart speakers and smart home devices
- Voice-enabled chatbots
- Voice SEO
- Local and hyperlocal voice search
- Voice assistants used as a medium of advertising
- To summarize
Voice search has changed the way we interact with our devices. It has changed how we ask questions and also how we find them.
Voice search, Voice AI, and voice assistants have merged to fundamentally transform the world of digital eCommerce. People no longer need to scroll, compare and visit multiple websites to find something they are looking for. They just need to ask. And they shall receive!
Voice AI has made it uncomplicated to use our devices without even touching them. It’s simple, easy, and convenient for people of all ages. And so, it’s no wonder that voice technology has become so popular today. 71% of consumers prefer voice searches to manually searching the web.
During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, voice search was one of the 15 technology trends that rose to power. A few years later, you see voice commerce has evolved to become the next industry standard for superior user experiences.
This blog features 8 new voice technology trends that emerged as a result of the spike in voice search in 2020.
Voice AI is creating a dramatic shift in eCommerce
Voice AI Technology has enabled businesses to connect with their customers and enhance their shopping experience.
- At present, 42.7% of Americans use voice assistance technology.
- From 2021-2027, the Global Voice Assistance commerce market will grow at a CAGR of 77.7%, reaching USD 1.3 trillion by 2027.
- By 2030, voice assistance commerce will account for about 30% of total eCommerce revenue.
This undoubtedly shows how fast voice technology is penetrating the eCommerce space and transforming consumer behavior and expectations around online shopping.
And with Amazon predicted to capture around 40% of online sales this year, smaller companies are working hard to match the experience they provide by rapidly adopting voice technology.
Getting consumers to adopt new technologies is always a bit of a challenge. But when a sufficient number of people adopt the technology, the adoption becomes absolute. This process has been called “The Hundredth Monkey Effect” in the multidisciplinary social sciences.
Real-time data clearly shows this process taking place.
Voiice assistants are intelligent programs that listen to voice instructions and can operate on any device, such as smartphones, speakers, desktop/laptop computers, tablets, wearables, gaming consoles, TV consoles, virtual reality (VR) headsets, automobiles, and internet of things (IoT) devices.
Global Voice Assistant Application Market to Reach $19.9 Billion by 2027
Voice commerce is a growing market, particularly in the US where 42.7% of the population use a voice assistant such as Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri.
According to UnivDatos Market Insights, the global voice assistance commerce market is
expected to grow by 77.7% between 2021 – 2027to reach $1.3 trillion.
By integrating Voice AI into your eCommerce strategy, you can grow with the times and hold a dominant position in this super competitive market.
Mobile shopping enables voice search
Even though mobile shopping was prevalent earlier, a rapid spike in mobile commerce took place during the COVID-19 pandemic when people didn’t have a choice but to buy everything from groceries to appliances online.
That spike also resulted in people opening themselves up to try out new technologies. One of those emerging technologies was voice commerce.
Mobile commerce is rapidly adopting voice technology because it is so easy to use and has a high degree of personalization. Voice search makes shopping even more convenient since people don’t need to type anymore.
Around half of the world’s web traffic comes from mobile devices.
- In the second quarter of 2022, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 58.99% of global website traffic. — Statista
Currently, most people own smartphones, making shopping on them more convenient. As long as they have voice search and access to the internet access, they can shop from anywhere.
Increased demand for contactless shopping
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people turned to online shopping more than ever before. The perceived safety of voice commerce may have contributed to its success.
With restrictions on movement, store closures, and lockdowns that lasted for months on end, people were forced to adapt and order everything online.
31% of voice users cited sanitation as a benefit of using voice technology. — Adobe Voice Technology Survey
This is because the COVID-19 pandemic made it imperative that safe, sanitary alternatives be available for tasks that require a touch on a daily basis, particularly in public spaces.
According to the Adobe Digital Economy Index: COVID-19 Report 2021,
- COVID-19 gave eCommerce a boost In 2020, online spending reached $813 billion, a 42% increase over 2019.
- eCommerce is expected to reach a trillion-dollar milestone in 2022.
This has ultimately led to people using more voice commands in their shopping behaviors. Because it is so easy to use, we can expect that it will remain a long-term change that was spurred by the pandemic.
There are lots of new capabilities that voice shopping enables that are otherwise not possible.
The fear of catching a virus made people extremely cautious about touching surfaces in public places or even touching items that others had touched, so hands-free shopping became extremely popular.
Since the pandemic forced people to be at home, creating accurate grocery lists became extremely important. With no option of running down to the store to buy something they forgot, voice technology allowed them to add products to their lists as soon as they ran out of them.
All they had to do was say “Alexa, add milk to my shopping list” and it was done.
Typing out reviews is becoming a thing of the past. With voice technology, customers can effortlessly leave feedback or reviews simply by speaking out loud. This enables sellers to collect higher-quality feedback simply by allowing users to voice their opinions.
Technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and voice interaction are transforming the way we shop.
You can also navigate without handheld controls like you can continue giving commands in a VR game even if your hands are busy. You can also execute a lot of functions via speech instead of using bulking AR/VR headsets.
Adoption of smart speakers and smart home devices
The best smart speakers currently in the market include Google HomePod, Google Nest, Apple HomePod, and Amazon Echo.
Smart speakers used to be a fun thing to play with and fire random questions to, but now they can help us order groceries, book flights, and even manage our finances.
Another amazing application of smart assistants is to control smart home devices. Using voice commands on a smart device (such as a smart speaker, smartwatch, smartphone, and so on), you can control lighting, temperature, and even a coffee maker.
Some of the best smart devices that can work on voice commands include
- LG Roboking automatic bagless vacuum: It can clean a dirty part of the floor more rigorously with a simple voice command.
- Samsung Smart TV: It can stream your favorite shows from platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime with simple voice commands.
- Honeywell Wi-Fi smart thermostat with voice control: It can learn your temperature preferences through voice commands.
Voice-enabled chatbots are capable of accepting both oral and written commands and can be programmed to respond through voice, text, or both with pre-recorded responses and text-to-speech technology.
Voice chatbots can be used on multiple devices, including mobile phones, computers, smart speakers, wearable devices, and other Internet of Things devices.
In addition, they can easily be integrated with social media, messaging apps, SMS, emails, and much more for smooth business operations.
Besides being convenient, they’re also very helpful for the elderly, especially for those who have difficulty typing or seeing. Voice assistants and AI chatbots have moved beyond speakers and stationary smart home devices to wristwatches and other wearables too.
“Today’s marketers face an incredible amount of pressure – and lots of competing priorities. Priority one is to solve for mobile, before going on to tackle emerging trends such as voice. The good news is solving the mobile challenge and then voice and local – requires the same best practices – an intense focus on understanding customer intent.”— Kevin Bobowski, SVP of Marketing at SEO and content marketing platform, BrightEdge.
Most companies have adopted voice search today. And those who haven’t already will soon do so. That’s just how the world works. After all, the benefits of voice search are endless. But one important benefit of having a website or app that is optimized for voice search is that Google really loves it.
If your website is optimized for voice search, there are higher chances that your site’s SEO ranking will increase on Google and other search platforms. The reason is, Google likes websites that are fast to load, easy to read, and user friendly too. When I say “easy to read”, that applies not just to humans but to Google bots too.
When you place a voice command, your voice assistant searches for the perfect result for you. And in doing so, they have to look at multiple websites at once. Upon finding the required data, these AI assistants rephrase the text into a conversational format in which you, the customer, get the feeling that you are talking to a friend.
All of this data processing needs to be done in microseconds. And that’s why your website has to be SEO-optimized for voice search too.
Our typed search patterns in Google are quite different from those of our voice search patterns. For example, if you are looking for a place to eat, you might enter the following into Google:
Typed query: “Restaurants near me”
Voice query: “Where are some good restaurants around here?”
Usually, when we search by typing, we use very specific keywords, but if we search by voice, our searches become much more conversational.
This means that your search optimization has to be purely focused on semantics.
5 things you should know about Voice Search Semantics
Spelling corrections or queries
In the event that Google shows you a photograph of whales when you ask to see a picture of Wales, you can specify, “W-A-L-E-S,” and the country’s picture will now appear.
If you ask, “Where is the Colosseum?” and then ask, “Can you show me a picture of it?” and “Who built it?”, Google will interpret what “it” is based on your initial query.
Narrowing the context
When Google cannot provide an immediate answer to a query, you can help it narrow it down by providing context.
If your question is “How high is Rigi?”, voice search won’t be able to answer because it’s an unfamiliar mountain near the Swiss Alps.
In contrast, if you ask, “What are the mountains in Switzerland?” followed by the query “How high is Rigi?”, Google will tell you that it’s 1,798 meters above sea level.
Say you are at the Washington Memorial in Washington, DC, and ask, “How far is the airport from the Memorial?” Google will understand that “the Memorial” is your current location in Washington.
While chatting about a particular restaurant in an app, you can ask Google to “Show me the menu”.
Using context, Google will determine which restaurant’s menu you would like to see and display the menu for that restaurant.
And to help search engines learn to interpret natural phrases, AI comes into play. Here are a few ways to optimize your eCommerce website or mobile app for voice.
A few quick tips to optimize for voice search
According to a SEMrush study, 70% of voice searches return a Rich Answer on Google. To increase your chances of being featured as a Rich Answer, including an FAQs section, and
- Structure your content so it precisely answers the question
- The length of your answers should be between 29 – 41 words
- The question should be in an H2 heading
- Try to answer questions that start with: Why? What? Where? How?
It can also help to have content that explains difficult concepts in a simple, easy to understand and conversational manner.
Local and hyperlocal voice search
People are increasingly using voice search in eCommerce to look up local businesses.
- 76% of smart speaker users perform local voice searches at least weekly.
- 46% of smart speaker users perform voice searches to look for information on local businesses on a daily basis.
- 28% of consumers go on to call the business they voice searched for.
That is a big opportunity. And to capture this opportunity, they must customize their content marketing strategy for customers who live in local markets.
Local and hyperlocal search taps into a very specific, geographically limited market, sometimes only a few blocks or streets, and it’s usually relevant to people conducting ‘near me’ searches.
A hyperlocal search, for example, would be something like “Hardware store near me”.
These types of searches will show up on a mobile device in a list format or even be recited by a voice assistant in the same format. Therefore, the top results will be the businesses that have optimized their websites for these kinds of searches.
The higher the position in the search, the more likely a customer is to choose the business.
If you have clear, accurate data, as well as highly relevant, conversational content that caters to long-tail queries, you can stay in the lead and support every micro-moment of the customer journey by being on top of this search list.
Voice assistants used as a medium of advertising
Voice technology allows your brand to roll out new marketing strategies that are much more engaging than anything your customers have seen in the past.
An Interactive Voice ad is an audio ad that harnesses voice technology to prompt consumers to engage directly with an advertisement, using their own voice. Rather than deliver a static message, advertisers can implement a specific call-to-action within an ad that triggers the desired response from listeners, directly through a smart speaker.— Radio Works, a UK-based radio advertising agency
Consider, for instance, developing a messaging app featuring the voice of a celebrity or influencer. Although this person probably cannot answer your phone lines, you can license their voice and use it in your voice interface.
As a result, voice-powered interactions have a dramatically higher value, since they offer the consumer something they don’t normally expect. This makes the exchange more memorable and leads to greater brand loyalty.
Conversational ads are also becoming a trend in voice commerce that drives maximum conversions. And Pandora used this in an extremely effective way.
Pandora decided to use voice-based ads to target people who weren’t looking at their phone screens but simply listening. They advertised for Doritos, Ashley HomeStores, Unilever, Wendy’s, Turner Broadcasting, Comcast, and Nestlé among many more.
First, listeners are told what the ads are and how they work. Following that, they hear a short, simple message and are asked to answer a question.
For instance, Wendy’s ad asks listeners if they are hungry and if they reply “yes,” it offers a recommendation of what to eat.
Data from Pandora indicates the voice format ads have generally been well received since they were introduced:
- 47% of users said they liked or loved the idea of responding via voice
- 30% of respondents felt neutral about the ads
- 72% of users found the ads engaging
Users can also communicate with the Pandora voice assistant with voice commands like “Hey, Pandora: play some music to start my day.”
Voice can also be used to run limited-time promotions through voice assistants.
Alexa is a great example of Amazon’s efforts in this regard.
Over the holidays, Amazon introduced a limited-time promotion where you could buy their $24.99 Smart Plug for 80% off.
You can only redeem this offer through Alexa.
Google searches for “smart plug” skyrocketed in the weeks after the promotion went live due to the discounts.
But here’s what you really need to understand.
- Amazon Smart Plug works exclusively with Alexa-enabled devices like Echo, Fire TV, Fire tablet, Sonos One, or even just the Alexa app on your phone.
- You’ll need the Alexa app to control your outlet from anywhere.
- With multiple Amazon Smart Plugs, you can control multiple outlets.
This is how giant players like Amazon, Apple, Google, etc have built a complete ecosystem around their own voice assistants to keep existing customers from moving away into the competitor’s ecosystems.
This concept of building a brand ecosystem isn’t new but it’s interesting to see how it applies so well to voice technology. And you can see how every business is vigorously competing to capture the global voice technology market.
Over the past few years, voice technology and voice AI soared to new heights. People want shopping to be fast, easy, and exciting. And voice commerce nails that! A cherry on top is that voice assistants make the shopping experience very personalized and intimate.
But a lot of consumers have privacy concerns with their devices listening to them all day trying to provide more ‘personalized results’. Businesses implementing voice search technology need to use customer data in a secure and transparent way without overstepping personal boundaries. It is always best to create personalized voice commerce experiences that the consumer has actively ‘asked for’.
That said, there’s still a lot of demand for voice technology. As of September 2022, Statista forecasts the global voice recognition market size to grow to 27.16 billion USD by 2026, and estimates a 16.8% CAGR from 2021 to 2026.
Not only is it crucial that your eCommerce website, mobile app, or platform is optimized for voice search, but it is also important to make sure that your underlying tech stack is flexible enough to ‘responsibly adopt’ any new technology trends that would emerge in the future..
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