Voice-enabled devices such as smart speakers, smartphones and in-car systems are becoming increasingly widespread. In fact, 60 million U.S. adults now own at least one smart speaker, and 77% of owners have interacted with their smart speaker at least once daily in the last year. As such, more companies are exploring how they can use voice tech – like custom branded text-to-speech voice –to engage target audiences. In fact, we’re quickly seeing a trend amongst organizations to adopt a conversational-first strategy, much in the same way that they adopted mobile-first strategies in recent years.
As brands explore how voice can engage audiences at various steps of their buying journey – from delivering personalized product recommendations to confirming payment and providing shipping and delivery updates – it will be increasingly critical that these organizations create differentiated voice experiences to set themselves apart from the competition. As the use of digital voice expands, marketers must consider voice the newest feature in their branding toolkit.
Here’s what organizations should consider when developing a branded voice.
The Benefits of Branded Voice
According to Adobe Analytics, 91% of business decision makers said they are already making significant investments in voice, and 94% said they plan to increase their investments in the next year. With so many organizations buying into voice solution, it is important for brands to find ways to stand out.
Many companies are beginning their voice journeys by leveraging voice assistants built into smart speakers. While this is a simple way to deploy voice into the marketing mix, it’s not necessarily the most effective way to engage audiences, largely due to the uniform sound of the assistant’s voice, which can make it difficult for consumers to distinguish between the brand and the assistant. This reduces brand recognition and – in some cases – profits.
Brands can now create customized, branded voices that allow them to stand out and deliver more memorable consumer experiences.
Consumers trust brands they recognize. By creating emotional connections across the customer journey through voice, brands stay top of mind and build long-lasting relationships with consumers. This is especially critical as the digital voice industry expands and consumers expect to engage with brands across all their devices.
How to Optimize Branded Voice
When developing a custom text-to-speech voice, brands must choose a voice that matches brand personality, as it has an impact on marketing outcomes and is an important aspect of sonic branding strategy.
Just like visual branding collateral, the voice a brand uses needs to be instantly identifiable, engaging, memorable and consistent between devices and platforms.
By using an exclusive branded voice consistently across all consumer touchpoints, companies can humanize their brands. When consumers hear the same voice from the same brand across various touchpoints, they trust the brand more.
To optimize branded voice, companies need to do their research to choose the right voice partner. The best voice partners will use the most effective technology available, guarantee data privacy and have stellar expertise in quality assurance. They should also leverage the latest Deep Neural Network (DNN) technologies to ensure the voice is able to deliver the highest-quality experience. Once a custom voice has been created, brands can focus on meeting consumers where they expect – and want – voices to be.
Where – And How – Customers Want Voice Functionality
While home voice assistants are the most common way consumers interact with digital voice today, many people are already looking for voice-enabled capabilities in the other devices they interact with on a daily basis.
According to Adobe Digital Insights, 29% of consumers want to be able to use voice to interact with their thermostat, 28% with their lighting, 14% with their washer/dryer and 12% with their oven.
But while providing consumers with voice-enabled capabilities where they want it is key, brands must also ensure they are developing a custom text-to-speech voice that connects with consumers in a way that resonates with their personal preferences.
To achieve this, brands must be attuned to their audience’s preferences, as well as their own brand’s persona. This may also result in the development of multiple voices, or multiple iterations of the same voice for different audiences – especially for large, international brands. For some of the world’s largest brands, having a voice for different divisions, products or geographical region may be critical to speak to a broad variety of consumers.
To ensure they are speaking to each of their target audiences, brands should take a close look at each audience’s preferences – do they prefer a female or male voice?
A faster or slower cadence? Should the voice have an accent? – or risk developing a voice that, at best, doesn’t resonate with consumers, and at worst, alienates them.
By understanding where consumers are in their voice journey, brands can adapt to deepen relationships and maintain trust across various touchpoints.
As the world increasingly shifts to rely on digital voice and conversational interfaces, brands that invest in custom, digital text-to-speech voices today will be well positioned to deliver the experiences and build the relationships with customers that will keep them coming back.