Anyone Listening? Voice Search and the Rise of Voice Commerce

Art by Nichole Anderson
“Alexa, how do I make cinnamon rolls?”
“Siri, what’s the traffic like on my way to work this morning?”
“Hey Google, where’s the closest Starbucks?”

We’ve all heard the familiar calls to trigger voice assistance on our mobile devices. And, apparently, most of us use it, too: 65% of 25 to 49 year-olds talk to their voice-enabled devices at least once a day. However, did you know that a lot of these audio interactions are not just requests for directions or a quick trivia answer, but actually making purchases?

Close to half of the 40 million Americans who own voice-enabled technology use their device’s voice search functionality as a tool for consumerism. Some use audio commands to research products (51%) and make direct purchases (22%), while others use the functionality to reorder items (17%). If this all seems a bit farfetched to you, just imagine for a moment how easy it would be to ask Alexa to order you another pair of those Amazon leggings you love. She already has access to your size, address, and credit card preferences through your Prime profile. All you have to do is ask.

OC&C Strategy Consultants report that this kind of voice shopping, or voice commerce, accounts for roughly $2 billion in consumer spending, and they expect that number to grow to an astounding $40 billion by 2022. It’s no secret that over the last decade, e-commerce has seen tremendous growth, while the brick-and-mortar shopping experience has lagged behind. As we move into the 2020s, however, e-commerce’s upwards trajectory may yet be threatened. Voice commerce might just give its digital forefather a run for its money.

The burgeoning trends of voice search and voice commerce are especially relevant to mom-and-pop shops that rely on local communities for their revenue. More than three-fourths of voice search users utilize the functionality to look up information on local businesses at least weekly, with nearly half of those users performing local searches once a day. As BrightLocal notes, consumers are most likely to use local voice searches to look up prices, check out available inventory, and make reservations.  

What does all this mean for marketers? Well, for starters, it means we need to be aware that voice search technology is transforming digital touchpoints into potential audio touchpoints for consumers. The most common action following a voice search is a phone call to the business in question, making a smooth transition from one audio experience to the next critical for conversions. Be sure to keep important logistical information like contact numbers, store hours, product offerings, and Google listings current online to ensure it’s easily found and accessed by search engines. Since phone calls typically generate 10-15 times more revenue than web leads, it’s also in your business’s best interest to optimize your online content for its visual and oral performance (BIA/Kelsey). Voice search keywords often differ from text search keywords, so adhere to SEO best practices on both fronts.

Babcox Media can help you navigate this new audio landscape through our various Research Services, including compiling keywords that’ll help your business rise in voice search rankings.

If this sounds like a marketing strategy you’re ready to explore, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re listening.

Maddy Leddy is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Babcox Media, focusing on direct marketing, content creation, and social media. A Shaker Heights native, she received her B.A. in English from Boston College and her M.A. in English from the University of Oxford.

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