How AI and speech can give your brand a new voice

Voice technology drives greater emotional connection with brands, according to a pioneering study by Mindshare and J Walter Thompson Innovation Group. 

The study also found that consumers want more intimate relationships with their voice assistants, longing for a sci-fi vision of the future where they use voice assistants as “digital butlers”.

Analysis of electrical activity in the brain showed that consumers’ emotional engagement was twice as high when they spoke a brand question rather than typed it. Conversely, listening to responses, instead of reading them on a screen, was much easier.

It all adds up to an opportunity for brands to forge much deeper relationships through voice technology.

However, brands will need to optimise their content and services for voice.  As spoken commands and responses become powerful gatekeepers to the consumer, algorithm optimisation will becomes as powerful as search engines in serving consumer content.

Elizabeth Cherian, J Walter Thompson Innovation Group’s UK Director said: “We are on the cusp of a new era in technology where voice is set to become mainstream. Our research shows that 88% of UK smartphone users have used voice technology or would consider doing so in the future.

“To successfully integrate voice into their offerings, brands need to understand how the technology can simplify everyday tasks by adding value and removing friction from their experience. This is not about tech for tech’s sake. Thoughtful and helpful interactions which genuinely enhance the experience will drive engagement and deeper relationships between consumers and brands.”

The Speak Easy Report identifies four trends that will shape how consumers embrace voice technology.

Trend 1: Voice to encourage more human interaction

The rise of a voice activated world presents brands with new and exciting opportunities to engage with people, whether that be voice activated outdoor sites or even embedded brand content in IoT connected devices.

Brands must ensure their services or content can be accessible through voice in a simple and intuitive manner to encourage consumer engagement away from the screen. Furthermore, brands will need to think of how they can capture the attention of consumers, as they are freed up from their mobile devices, through content accessible in the Internet of Things.

Trend 2: Consumers want to give up control to ‘Digital Butlers’

Voice assistants will start to take on a more prominent role, managing consumers’ lives proactively, making decisions independently, evolving into “digital butlers”.

Brands must ensure they can be discovered by voice assistants, and algorithm optimisation will be key. Much like SEO, it will enable brands to affect the likelihood of the voice assistant recommending their brand. So, understanding the criteria through which assistants will surface recommendations will be vital.

With this, it is likely the power of endorsements will grow and being able to generate content, supported by key experts, media brands or consumer opinion, will be increasingly important.

Trend 3: Intimate relationships with voice assistants

Consumers are looking for a deeper, personal understanding from their voice assistants.

In order to make the most of this opportunity, brands must establish trust. Providers must have a proven track record of successful service before a dependency can grow and a deeper relationship can emerge.

For the first time, voice technology will give brands a literal voice. Brands will need to craft the sound of their own voice to engage with consumers on a deeper, emotional level.

Trend 4: Voice is less mentally draining than touch or typing devices

One of the primary motivations for using voice is efficiency. Voice interactions are less mentally taxing than their touch or typing equivalents.

Author’s Note: some sections of the above blog are based on materials provided by J Walter Thompson.

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