According to WARC (2020) there are 2.5 billion voice assistant-enabled devices in use. How has this search trend changed consumer behaviour?
For the last decade, voice-enabled devices are increasingly becoming far more advanced as tech giants such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and even Facebook soon compete against each other to develop the best AI. These voice search assistants are implemented into most mobile devices allowing for a convenient use amongst consumers. They are even enabled in consumers’ homes which can control almost every aspect of their lives except the cleaning – though you can probably voice search and call someone to help with that! Consumers are increasingly switching to this far more personalised and conversational approach to search. WARC mentions the neuroscientific response to voice search as voice interactions showed consistently lower levels of brain activity than their touch equivalent which outlines another key advantage of its ease of use. But will this search trend stick?
70% of all queries are made with natural language according to Google.
The way we search is continuously changing and brands that are able to invest more in long-tail keywords will rise above those who primarily use the more traditional short-tail keywords for their search campaigns. For example this would be how you would ask someone you know for product recommendations such as “Hey Google. Where is the best bike shop near me?” and then follow-up with more questions about the reviews, products and stock which creates an AI conversation. Bike shops would then invest in long-tail keywords to attract these consumers who search this way.
Google says 62% of those who regularly use a voice enabled speaker say they are likely to buy something through it on a monthly basis.
As mentioned you’re able to return most things with voice search in an interactive and easy way, further increasing the ease of purchase for the consumer which undoubtedly boosts sales. Alexa-enabled devices for example are partnered with Amazon where consumers are regularly recommended Amazon products in their results either visually or audibly. This is a highly valuable partnership as Business Cloud (2020) references that 79% of all product searches begin on Amazon as it dominates the online shopping experience. Consumers are increasingly seeking added convenience to their busy lives and voice search allows for this where they can ask a question and be given a simple, personalised and relevant answer back.
Google claims that 52% of users who regularly use voice-enabled speakers would like to see their assistant return deals, sales and promotions for them.
Another reason for consumers increased use of voice search may also be due to companies so far banning advertisements on their search assistants, allowing for a less forceful experience. However, this may be something to expect in the near future as more consumers adopt the voice search trend. Users in 2019 reported that they have actually noticed Google trialling visual sponsored ads in amongst the longer results on its voice search assistant. The challenge now would be implementing something like this without it being at all intrusive or forced. Would you be comfortable with your voice search device speaking ads back to you?
WARC claims 57% of regular voice search users say that they would feel too embarrassed to use it in public.
There are currently two main struggles of voice search for tech companies. The first struggle is creating a habit where consumers will use AI in public. This may explain the increased use of voice-enabled home devices so people can voice search privately, as I also wouldn’t want everyone on public transport knowing my interests. The second struggle for these tech companies would be establishing an acceptable level of trust with consumers, as they are becoming increasingly vigilant about how their information is kept and shared.
I’m eager to see the increased advancements in voice search further than where it is now. One key takeaway to keep an eye on for brands would be whether sponsored adverts will be shown in a non-intrusive manner on the assistants, or if they will rely on brands adopting further SEO tactics to get ahead of the results. However, there is one thing which is certain and that is voice search is here to stay.