Thursday, 06 July 2017 14:34

Are You Gearing Up for Voice Search?

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"Siri, what is the meaning of life?"


"I find it odd that you would ask this of me, an inanimate object."

Siri and I are not getting along right now. I accidentally called her Cortana the other day, and she is obviously still fuming. I asked her for movie times just now, and she told me to go ask Cortana.


Whether her name is Siri, Cortana or Alexa, she and her sisters are going to be in all of our lives more and more often from now on. Say goodbye to the keyboard generation, because typing is a drag and takes way too much time---just ask your kids.


If you spend time with anyone in their twenties, you’ll notice that they prefer voice assistants over keyboards. This is a funny reversal of what happened in the early days of personal computing when the keyboard was part of the problem. Voice control is here to stay and there is no doubt that cell phone and tablet manufacturers are looking for more ways to make voice even more prevalent in every aspect of society.


There are three main points driving voice searches: 1) Voice search is starting to become part of Generation Z’s mobile behavior as they spend more of their day accessing apps and making them a bigger part of their lives. 2) Enhanced voice search apps such as Siri and Cortana are supported by AI technology and new proactive voice concierge services. 3) Consumer demand is growing for wearable devices with voice control as a main feature. With voice search gaining major momentum, companies (including body shops) need to determine ways to optimize voice search and deliver seamless services from a mobile platform in all of their online marketing efforts.


If you're doubting the importance of voice search, check out these stats:


According to GlobalWebIndex, voice search is increasing at the expense of browser-based search. In a recent study commissioned by Google, 55% of users under the age of 18 use voice search apps more than once daily, in comparison to 41% of adults.


This study also revealed that 57% of people 18-25 aren’t worried about protocol when using their smart phones, compared to only 24% of adults polled. As a result, companies will have to respond to how their current and potential customers "voice their search," as the keywords and approach differ from text search in their browsers.


The numbers are compelling, and companies such as Apple and Google are undoubtedly listening. These are numbers compiled by HubSpot, Search Engine Land and Statistica:


* 19% of people use Apple’s Siri AI at least daily.
* 37% use Siri, 23% use Microsoft’s Cortana AI, and 19% use Amazon’s Alexa AI at least monthly.
* 20% of search queries on Google's mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches.
* 60% of smart phone users who use voice search have begun using it within the past year, with 41% of survey respondents having only begun to use voice search in the past six months.
* 43% of mobile voice search users do so because they say it is quicker than going on a website or using an app.
* 21% of mobile voice search users do so because they say they don't like typing on their mobile device.


While many marketing experts are trying to learn on the fly about the ins and outs of voice search, others feel it's much ado about nothing, at least for now. One of these people is Luke Middendorf, owner of the Concord, CA digital marketing firm WSI Connect, who includes body shops as some of his clients.


"To be honest, voice search is actually pretty low on our radar,” Middendorf said. "I'm just not convinced that customers are using it to source local services. I know there are a lot of articles out there that point to unprecedented growth, but I believe that most of those are related to the weather forecasts, driving directions, or branded searches (ordering a pizza from Dominos)."


By continually monitoring consumers' online behavior and tracking their habits on their personal devices, Middendorf is able to find consistencies that will hopefully anticipate the next best thing.


"There is a lot of research that goes into choosing a local service provider, including body shops, contractors, plumbers, etc.," he said. "People like to look at a few different options, which includes the companies' websites and online review profiles. This is difficult to accomplish with voice. The most important things businesses need when it comes to digital marketing are mobile friendly websites (only about 40% of the prospects that we meet with have one) and a strong local SEO strategy (I'd say around 5% of the prospects that we meet with have any kind of strategy). If a business has both of those and still has capacity for more clients, they should look at PPC, email marketing, and social media. Once they successfully implement those they can consider content marketing and marketing automation. At that point we might start looking into voice search."

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