Voice technology is quickly becoming the status quo for brands looking to reach and better engage consumers. The numbers make that clear: According to a new study by Adobe Analytics, 91% of 401 business decision makers surveyed said they already are making significant investments in voice, and 94% said they plan to increase their investments in the next year. (CMO.com is owned by Adobe.)
“Voice penetration from both the consumer adoption standpoint as well as brand adoption is on a very similar path as mobile was circa 2007, quickly moving into the mainstream,” said Heidi Besik, group product marketing manager at Adobe. “We’re reaching a tipping point as more and more consumers use voice services consistently and brands begin to recognize the opportunity. Those who’ve been early movers into the space have the advantage, but I expect we’ll be seeing more movement and adoption by companies over the next 12 to 18 months.”
Many consumers have already experienced a voice service on a device like a smart speaker. The study shows that 22% of companies have released a voice app, while 44% plan to release one this year. And much like smartphones, voice services won’t live on just one device or operating system. That’s why 88% of companies said they will develop voice apps for different platforms, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri.
The Rise Of Voice Commerce
While voice services can take many forms and serve different needs, the No. 1 priority for voice moving forward is enabling customers to make purchases, according to 45% of survey respondents. This was followed by two other commerce-related tasks: tracking orders (45%) and making repeat purchases, such as refills and order renewals (44%).
Brands are already experimenting. Of those with a voice service in-market, 29% offer the ability to make purchases through voice, and 31% enable refills and renewals, according to survey respondents (59% of whom are in leadership roles and 41% of whom are practitioners, across different functional areas and industries). Separately, 34% enable customers to obtain general information about products/services, 32% provide search functionality, and 28% let users check rewards status.
“Many have doubted the potential of voice-based shopping because they expected it to drive activity in the same way that websites do. A similar misconception happened when mobile shopping began to take off,” Besik said. “Similar to mobile, voice has the ability to support the overall shopping experience. It certainly has the potential to drive new purchases, and brands are focusing on that. But even more important is how services like order tracking, quick refills, and product research can create more loyal shoppers who may close the deal elsewhere.”
Who Is Responsible?
Voice commerce is in large part driven by its ability to lead to conversion and increase revenue, according to 66% of survey respondents. At the same time, 71% said they strongly agree that it can help improve the user experience, increase consumer engagement (65%), and increase customer loyalty (64%).
This potential has created a sense of urgency around voice technologies. However, the top barrier for a company in rolling out a voice app involves buy-in from other areas of the organization. Additionally, different companies have different parts of the organization that spearhead efforts: The IT department tops the list, according to 65% of respondents. Business operations and services followed, at 23%, trailed by advertisers (21%) and design and creative services (21%). Even accounting/finance (15%), sales (14%), and HR (10%) have bubbled up.
Just like with mobile, time is of the essence. “For the companies that have implemented voice services, the vast majority—76%—report that they are finding voice to be a differentiator,” Besik told CMO.com. “This finding validates that companies need to be taking a strategic approach to voice and move quickly because it can help place them ahead of the competition.”
View the full study below, or click here to view it on SlideShare.