Voice represents the logical next step in the evolution of how we interact with information. It’s more natural than using a touchpad or keyboard, takes less brain power, and creates even more opportunity for tech to move further into the background and reduce our reliance on screens.

This shift to zero interface computing will change the way people do things, the way they think about brands and how they make purchasing decisions – expanding and shrinking marketing touchpoints along the way.

According to eMarketer, 14% of internet users in the UK own a smart speaker and global shipments in 2017 hit 56 million. Our proprietary research has also shown us that smart speakers – despite only being in market for two years – boost unaided recall at a rate that is two times greater than TV.

The effect that this and the growing popularity of Voice has on the marketplace is far-reaching, but how can marketers seamlessly integrate their brand stories and reach people on this new platform at a time where consumer privacy is top of mind and people are increasingly less trusting of online news sources and advertising? Here are a few tips from our recent “Rise of Voice” study, which looks at Voice from the user experience.

Be Authentic, Provide Purpose

Smart speakers are an intimate part of people’s lives. When it comes to brand experiences, they are looking for utility, discovery, entertainment and enjoyment. Don’t just enter the voice space to activate the technology, figure out how your brand can authentically and purposefully help people. Finally, be sure to match your language and tone to what people expect and trust.

Personalize, but Respect Privacy

People expect that voice assistants will anticipate their needs and tailor responses based on preferences, but are reluctant to provide data that would enable that level of personalization. Users are clear: they want an opt-in approach that doesn’t invade their privacy but is highly personalized, anticipating needs and – again – providing utility. Brands who want to be successful must avoid the hard sell and instead focus on establishing trust and inspiring more brand usage occasions.

Put the Fun in Function

The best-loved smart speaker skills are the ones that help make everyday tasks easier. Smart speakers are putting the fun in function by letting you clean dishes to a favorite song or allowing you to voice your grocery shopping list and have Alexa repeat it back. Being able to personalize your daily routine and add levity to mundane tasks increases productivity, efficiency and organization of daily routines.

Smart speakers have also become the go-to medium for the morning timeslot, providing on-demand weather, traffic, news and calendar updates. They allow users to go on auto-pilot while they get ready for the day –a nice benefit for groggy users who are just waking up and in need of coffee to properly function!

Dial Up Humanity

People become disappointed when voice assistants don’t properly anticipate their needs, but users are extremely forgiving – often recasting these disappointments as temporary glitches bound to be fixed with the next tech iterations or that “he/she” will get smarter with time. Where possible, dial up the humanity in voice experiences by investing in cues that support relationship building. Target functionality that is universally praised for its utility as a place to start designing. Don’t mistake forgiveness for device glitches as transferrable to brands.

Hopefully, you’re starting to see a trend here. Despite smart speakers and voice assistants being today’s hottest tech, consumers still require a human touch. Brands who want to get started in voice need to think about how their brand can create connections that are authentic and provide value exchange. How can your brand make life easier for the everyday consumer?


Piece originally featured on LinkedIn #AgencyVoices.

Author: Belinda Rowe, Global Practice Lead, Content, Publicis Media