Interactive Voice: What’s It Actually Take for Marketing Success?

By Stas Tushinskiy, CEO at Instreamatic

Interactive voice experiences are the next stage for marketing and customer service, enabling brands to cater to individual customers’ needs with unprecedented nuance and at an unprecedented scale. Given this vast potential, brands’ success in offering voice experiences that customers genuinely enjoy, prefer, and derive value from will depend on how well brands can put the medium’s unique strengths front and center. 

The following best practices provide guideposts for brands as they shape their strategies to deliver satisfying experiences and wield voice as a differentiator with transformative impact:

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Provide your customer with clear benefits

The advantages of using voice experiences need to be clear and compelling for customers – and the voice experience itself should be designed as a delivery system for that value. For example, voice interactions save customers time by easily outpacing keyboard-based interfaces, enhancing the convenience of everything from customer service to order management to personalized product recommendations. Voice advertising experiences can similarly save customers money by directly offering coupons and special deals, and can engage and reengage customers with creative that adapts as their individual preferences come into focus. 

Communicate brand value in your unique brand voice

Bland and robotic voice interfaces are a relic of a past era. Brands now have the opportunity to infuse rich personality and achieve voices with an authenticity all their own. For those that do so, the prize is higher engagement and deeper brand loyalty. Today’s voice experience dialogues can go well beyond yes/no interactions to carry out more open and convincing conversations. Voice technology platforms enable interactive voice campaigns that can deliver precise payloads of creative content that is always aligned with particular brand touchpoints and known customer preferences. To realize the medium’s full potential, brands should be sure to build unique brand voices, and empower them with creative and customizations that invoke meaningful customer conversations.

Provide context-aware voice experiences

Customers will hold a higher appreciation for brand experiences that genuinely appreciate their own circumstances. For one example, a customer who is driving will have a different threshold for interaction than someone at home. For another, interactive voice ads for food delivery will do well by paying special attention to the time of day, like concentrating on the hours before mealtimes. The customer’s device is another crucial consideration. Devices without screens will likely need to redirect customers to their phones. Experiences devices with screens should also offer the option to press buttons, to provide a potentially more convenient alternative.

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Keep voice experiences simple and brief

Brand voice experiences should absolutely lean towards shorter durations. As a recent study published in Psychology & Marketing determined, it takes just 10 seconds or less to communicate key brand and product information to customers. Interactive voice audio ads have also proven particularly adept in delivering quick brand experiences that customers can recall in detail later (and even while multitasking, which many will be).

Make sure your audience understands the interface

Given the newness of modern voice interactions and their impressive capabilities, it pays for brands to carefully prompt users that “This is an ad you can speak with.” This prompting has been shown to meaningfully increase engagement, ensuring that customers know how to experience all the voice medium has to offer.

Guarantee customers’ data privacy and make data usage clear

Unfortunately, many of today’s digital ads evoke apprehension among users due to a lack of clarity as to how they function. Retargeting ads reappearing on whatever site a user looks at, for example, can seem quite invasive if the basic mechanisms of ad networks aren’t understood. 

Voice ad experiences are especially suited to offering transparency. Data on customers’ personal preferences is simply collected when the user states a preference aloud. That shared personal data is then used to inform subsequent ads. Brands should plainly state this data sourcing, for example by having the ad say, “You said before that you don’t enjoy coffee. But do you like tea?” The data helps brands to avoid repeating irrelevant ads, while data transparency helps customers to feel more comfortable speaking their minds.

Measure voice experience successes and iterate for improvements

By their nature as fully-measurable and recorded interactions, voice experiences provide exceptionally detailed metrics and clear paths for increasing interaction effectiveness. For instance, voice experience automation applied to customer service can measurably reduce the number of interactions handled by human brand representatives. Product ordering via voice allows a clear measure of whether the convenience results in more sales. Apps adding voice may increase their userbases and user ratings. Tweaks to voice experiences can then be measured to prove out potential improvements.

This practice is especially fruitful with interactive voice advertising, which naturally evokes active participation and engagement from customers and receives clear feedback to inform future offers and creative. For example, a voice ad campaign by the brand Pedigree engaged in conversation with a full 14% of its audience, surpassing traditional audio ad engagement expectations by a magnitude. 

Find your voice to better know, serve, and win over your customers

Interactive voice experiences are just beginning to come into their own. Brands that introduce these voice interactions early – and embrace best practices to make the most of the medium – have a powerful opportunity to stand above the competition by engaging in dialogues and meeting customers’ needs like never before.

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