14th March 2019

Voice-activated Assistants: the future of marketing?

Emily Milner

Emily Milner Paid Search Executive

Digital Trends

Reading time 10 mins

It’s now more apparent than ever – customers expect their offers to be tailored to them and believe that companies should be able to anticipate their needs. So, it’s no surprise that personalisation is becoming a top priority for marketers, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the forefront of this movement.

Privacy is a concern
According to Salesforce, customers are now using an average of 10 channels to communicate with companies, making cross-channel marketing increasingly challenging, which is why marketers are turning to technology such as AI to unlock the data needed to personalise their offering at scale. However, as with any major shift in technology, it’s not all plain sailing; AI comes with a level of uncertainty for many people, unsure about exactly how their data is being used.

38% of consumers say they don’t want something ‘listening in’ on them all the time and 28% are concerned about privacy issues regarding their data and security, a report by PWC shows. Yet, this has not deterred voice from making its way into the financial services market, with 38% of marketers in this sector engaging with the technology, despite the doubts many consumers have around dealing with their finances in this way.

Home sweet home
It’s not just data privacy that is concerning to users; physical privacy may also be a factor for consideration. Voice assistants are now accessible almost everywhere, but 74% of consumers are only using their mobile voice assistants at home, as they prefer a certain level of privacy when using it and don’t want to look ‘weird’ talking to their phones in public. Smart phone voice assistants also provide the least satisfaction to consumers when compared to the stand-alone speaker, which further indicates the preference for using this technology within the home.

Knowledge is key
The capabilities of voice assistants are growing, and consumers look to them for helping to speed up their everyday activities, such as conducting an online search, sending messages, checking the news/weather and so on. But it seems that consumers are not yet ready to move onto using voice for its more advanced features, like shopping and controlling their other smart devices.

The main barriers preventing this progression are that a lot of consumers have a limited knowledge of what their voice assistants can actually do for them, and again – trust is an issue, particularly with online transactions.

That’s not to say that this is the way it will always be – if marketers have learnt anything from the digital landscape, it’s that confidence in their future development predictions is crucial. There is no doubt that the popularity of voice technology is going to increase, and although the majority of current purchases made are small, low-risk items – with time, consistency, and an increased awareness among consumers, the use of voice for higher-risk purchases will become the norm.

Overall, 90% of consumers are satisfied with their voice assistants and to incorporate voice into future activities would be a wise move for marketers looking to provide a seamless omni-channel experience, ensuring trust, reliability, and control are at the centre of their strategy.