After many clunky attempts to get off the ground, voice user interfaces (UI) are taking off
Finally, after years of trying, voice UI actually works.
Unlike previous incarnations, you’re not left shouting commands multiple times with increasing frustration. The technology’s cheap as well, coming in at less than the price of a meal for two at an average chain restaurant. And it’s also benefiting from the growth of the Internet of Things, enabling you to control everything from your thermostat to your music library with a word.
Suffice to say, voice UI is here to stay. Businesses need to adapt to this new medium of customer engagement. Content marketing is no different.
Increasingly, people will find and engage with content via voice UIs and will expect an experience that takes this into account. And that’s not just for the B2C.
The B2B audience will be (and probably already are) using voice UI in their personal life. It’s only a matter of time before that starts to spill over into the workplace.
So here are three tips for content marketers thinking about how to make the most of the growth in voice UIs.
You’ve got a blog for the radio
One fairly simple step that content marketers should consider is to start re-packaging written content as podcasts. Of course this won’t work for everything, but it is a medium that is uniquely suited to voice UIs. And one that’s on the rise.
In the UK, the number of people who listen to podcasts edged up by another 2% last year. In the US, around 67 million people listen to podcasts every month. This makes it a great opportunity to dip your toe into voice UI-friendly content.
Of course, it goes without saying that simply reading out blogs and articles verbatim is unlikely to be the most engaging approach. So take some extra time during the initial content creation process to identify any pieces that might translate well.
Interviews are an obvious example, though you’ll obviously need to prepare this ahead of time and agree with the interviewee to record them. However, when done right they can provide a great compliment to a written article and could even be further re-purposed again into videos. You can find some handy B2B podcast advice here.
Another great example could be to turn the creative process itself into a podcast. If you’ve got a team of people inputting into a finished article, their discussions and disagreements could make for excellent listening. Sometimes it’s worth pulling back the curtain on what really goes into a piece of content.
You should also look at options to serialise. Anyone that has subscribed to your podcast channel is going to expect regular updates. So, think about how your content can fit into an overarching theme and build your podcast schedule around that.
Talking it out
It’s also going to be essential to think about how people are going to find your content in the first place. We’ve all become used to creating content of all types with Google’s search bar in mind. Keywords are the name of the game and the principle way that content is categorised.
Now we’re seeing a shift towards conversational interfaces, where results are increasingly going to be surfaced on the basis of back-and-forth interactions. Design agency Fjord recommends mapping out desired conversations to help create voice UI services. A similar approach might be applicable for content creators.
As well defining the keywords that should lead people to your content, it’s ever-more important to ask what conversations they might have. Map out what these interactions are and define where your content would slot in to help answer the user’s question.
Not only will this help hone your content for a voice-enabled world, but it will also help you identify opportunities to package it up more effectively. And it might even turn up some new topics entirely.
Applying your content
Apps are the lifeblood of the smartphone, but they’re going to take on a whole new significance with voice UI. Amazon Alexa’s Skills library grew fivefold from November 2016 to September 2017 and Google has recently launched its new ‘Actions’ functionality. Both enable third parties to build apps that integrate with the respective systems and offer tailored services.
Perhaps the most popular examples are the ‘news flashes’ that everyone from Sky to Cancer Research seem to implementing on Alexa. These give the user the latest headlines from the site in question along with a quick snippet from each. Great for the time-pressured.
More complex examples enable users to navigate different content categories and even play games against the system itself.
While developing a new app might not be right for all, it’s certainly the most effective way to take charge of your presence on voice UI. Think of it as building a website for the voice-enabled internet and apply the same principle of mapping your conversations mentioned above.
Whatever you do, ignore voice search at your peril. Research by InFront Webworks suggests that only 38% of marketers and SEO agencies are planning ways to include voice search within their marketing strategy. That seems particularly shortsighted considering that 22% of people who use voice search have made a purchase off the back of it…
So, is it time to go all in on voice UI and start building your whole marketing strategy around it? Definitely not. Voice UI is unlikely to ever fully replace more traditional interfaces. And video didn’t really kill the radio star, so it’s just as unlikely to happen the other way around.
This is simply another channel that you’ll have to consider when creating content marketing strategies in the future. Sorry.