The era of conversational commerce is upon us. Indian consumer behaviour is changing and 60% of phone users in India now use Voice Assistants on their mobile to search for information, look up businesses, and get things done. This is not just a fad but a new way of accomplishing tasks without having to be bound to a screen. Marketers therefore have an exciting new opportunity to reach audiences on this relatively new interface to establish their brand, educate customers about their products and services, and engage with them in a natural, conversational manner in a variety of native Indian languages. If you, too, are interested in leveraging the power of this transformative new technology, read on for five steps you can take to get started on your Voice journey.
Make your website voice search friendlyBy now, businesses are familiar with the benefits of appearing as part of the ‘featured snippet’ on Google search by implementing good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practices. If you manage to climb your way to the top of search engine rankings by offering highly useful, accurate and relevant information that many people benefit from, you get to reinforce your authority as a brand and gain visibility over others. This is not rocket science but just sound SEO principles at work.
Now, by and large, the same rules apply when it comes to voice search and voice SEO. If you want information put out by your brand or business to show up in response to a user asking a query on a voice platform, you can start by including a schema mark-up on your website. All it takes is changing a few lines of code and tweaking the text on your website, and voila you are now ready to serve your customers when they ask a question relevant to your area of expertise or look up your business using a voice command. Once you enable Google to include your business as part of its voice search results you can potentially show up as a top-ranked result and occupy position zero if the quality of information you provide is good. What makes it exciting is that early adopters may well find it easier to get noticed by consumers and build a healthy share of voice in this relatively less-crowded marketplace.
Build your voice application with what you already haveWant to serve your existing customers and expand your user base by being present on Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant? All you need to do to establish your brand on these platforms is build a voice app or experience. On Alexa, this would mean building a Voice ‘Skill’ and on Google Assistant, this would mean creating an ‘Action on Google’. Think of it as creating a voice-enabled app or website. Platform creators have made it incredibly easy for anyone to start this journey and the first step is to build a bot that digitizes information that already exists on your company website or on social media. Port information about your product, brand, highlight current promotional offers and campaigns, answer FAQs and more, so that relevant information about your business is now available to customers, on Alexa and Google Assistant.
Use voice as a tool for discovery within your appsBrands that already have a robust digital & mobile presence can increase user engagement by adding voice as a novel UI (User Interface) to make it easier for customers to discover and explore information on the go. Voice makes in-app search and navigation faster compared to clicking through a website, and reduces the hassle of typing. Voice search is faster, more intuitive and friction-free. What’s more, today, Voice platforms like Google Assistant support many local Indian languages, enabling users to engage in a native tongue without having to use a complex vernacular language keyboard. This feature makes it possible for non-English speakers to benefit because they can now search for products and services and understand product offerings more comfortably. All of these features make a strong case for including voice into your existing app environment, to attract a greater number of users to experience your brand.
Connect digital experiences with App ActionsWhile we have spoken about the long term benefits of creating a standalone Alexa Skill or Action on Google and how simple it can be to get started by digitizing existing business information so it is available on voice, building an App Action is another way of making the lives of your users simpler.
Building App Actions will enable you to meet two crucial goals. First, App Actions makes it possible for users to access and launch specific features within your app using Google Assistant. Second, it can display information from your app directly within the Assistant interface. Let me explain what I mean with a simple example. Let us say you operate a travel booking app, called Flights2Go, creating an App Action that allows users to check the status of their upcoming flight will allow users to just say, “Ok Google, what’s the status for my upcoming flight booked on Flights2Go” without having to open the Flights2Go app. The Google Assistant will be able to automatically extract this information from within the Flights2Go app and provide it to the user within seconds, greatly improving the user experience.
The popular food delivery app, Swiggy has already implemented App Actions, so users can simply check on their order status by querying the Google Assistant, without having to open up the Swiggy App and clicking on the status of their order manually. Try it out the next time you have an order on the way and see what happens!
Deep link Voice Experiences to drive traffic to your Voice AppAs a modern day business, you probably have already invested significant monies, time and resources in order to build your presence on social media. Perhaps you run topical campaigns, share useful content, educate people about how they can benefit from and use your product or services, and launch new initiatives.
You can leverage this existing social media presence to drive visibility for your business, on voice. One way to promote your voice-first offering is to embed deep links on social channels like Instagram, Facebook and on product packaging, so those who click on these links can be taken directly to your brand’s voice experience which resides on Alexa or Google Assistant. This makes it easier for your audience to find your voice presence while browsing on their phones. What’s more, you can also have this deep link appear on packaging in the form of a printed QR Code which can be scanned, or encourage users to invoke your Voice app with a CTA accompanying promotional material. A few years ago, brands would urge customers to visit their website by listing their URL on all communication, and include social media handles. Now, in 2021, it is natural that the same tactics will be employed to direct traffic to your branded voice destination.
While voice technology is what you make of it, these are the five simple but strategic ways in which your brand can leverage the power of this new platform to convert more customers in this fast developing conversational commerce marketplace.
(The writer is CEO of Agrahyah Technologies)(The one-stop destination for MSME, ET RISE provides news, views and analysis around GST, Exports, Funding, Policy and small business management.)
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