Voice search isn’t the future of local marketing, it’s the present. More than half of teenagers already use voice search every day, and 37% of mobile phone owners say they regularly use voice-controlled personal assistants, relying on services like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, IBM’s Watson, and Microsoft’s Cortana to ask questions, make purchasing decisions, dictate emails, and get driving directions. Now, with holiday sales of Amazon Echo nine times higher this year than last, there’s set to be another influx of consumers looking for new ways to take advantage of voice-controlled technology in their own homes.
For brand marketers, voice-based personal assistants represent a major opportunity in a largely-untapped space. Consumers are forming intimate relationships with these new technologies, providing major brands with the opportunity to interact with and learn about consumers in a way that hasn’t been possible before.
Here are five examples of ways that major brands have already started using voice-controlled systems to better market their products to consumers.
1. Campbell’s: Distributing content to consumers
Campbell’s became a leader in this space when the CPG company created branded “skills” for Amazon’s Echo device in 2015. Campbell’s worked with the digital agency Rain on the project, which allows Echo users to ask for recipes from “Campbell’s Kitchen,” which is the company’s portal for cooking-related content. Users can verbally select a recipe, then listen as Echo’s Alexa assistant parrots the instructions from Campbell’s. The system can also tailor suggestions based on weather, trending flavors, and user profiles. Not only has this project created awareness for Campbell’s Kitchen, helping to solidify it as an trusted resource for recipes, but it also gives Campbell’s a platform to promote products from all of its brands when consumers are adding items to their grocery lists.
2. Domino’s: Giving consumers a new way to place orders
Amazon Echo users who have a craving for pizza can order up a Domino’s delivery without getting up from the couch. Domino’s has been a leader in the mobile ordering space for years, but starting in early 2016, the company began accepting verbal orders through Amazon Echo’s voice-controlled personal assistant. Consumers who’ve already set up user profiles through Domino’s and enabled the Domino’s “skill” through Amazon’s Alexa app can have a pizza delivered by saying “Alexa, open Domino’s and place my Easy Order.” They can also track their order progress with specific voice commands. The voice-controlled solution should lessen the friction for consumers, which would ideally result in a higher number of delivery orders being placed.
3. Johnnie Walker: Educating consumers and promoting new products
The Scotch whisky brand worked with VaynerMedia to create a comprehensive digital initiative this summer, launching on both Facebook Messenger and Amazon Echo. Echo users who tell Alexa to “open Johnnie Walker” can access all kinds of information about whisky, including cocktail recipes and gift suggestions that vary depending on the recipient’s taste and the gift-giver’s budget. Johnnie Walker’s marketing team has said they hope the initiative can make whisky education “fun and more accessible,” but certainly keeping its products top-of-mind for consumers and reducing friction when it comes time to add products to grocery lists and ultimately make alcohol purchases is another benefit to launching on Amazon’s voice-controlled device.
4. Safeco: Locating independent agents nearby
The insurance industry is notoriously complicated, which is why Safeco Insurance sought to differentiate itself as a company that’s easy to work with by introducing a voice-controlled Alexa app called “Insurance Advisor” in 2016. Through the Alexa app, existing Safeco customers can ask questions about specific insurance terms and get advice. Potential customers can also get help locating independent Safeco agents working nearby, depending on the types of policies they’re interested in purchasing. Safeco’s Alexa app is a significant value add, creating another way for customers to get questions answered without picking up a phone or typing insurance questions into Google.
5. GE: Expanding the ways existing products work
GE started allowing Amazon Echo users to control their WiFi-connected appliances with voice commands this year, when the company announced that it would be integrating Amazon Echo’s Alexa assistant into more than 70 models of refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, ranges, washing machines, and dryers. Instead of touching an appliance’s panel or making adjustments on a mobile phone screen, consumers who might be cooking with dirty hands or sitting out of arms reach from their smartphone devices can ask Alexa to set a timer on the oven or turn on the washing machine. As more brands think outside the box and get creative in the ways they utilize voice control technology, the overall usefulness of WiFi-connected products will continue to grow.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.