“Ok! Google” or “Alexa!” are not just voice commands. They can also drive your business.
In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Eric Enge and Tristan Smith explain why Voice Apps, like Google Actions or Alexa Skills, can drive your business.
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Eric: Hey, everybody, I’m Eric Enge with Perficient Digital. I’m here today with Tristan Smith. He is one of our key developers of our overall voice app program. I want to start by asking you, Tristan, what is a voice app?
Tristan: To put it simply, a voice app is an app you can interact with using your voice, as the name might imply. That includes Alexa Skills or Actions on Google Assistant, as well as any other integration with, say Siri with a mobile app, or any other thing along those lines. Even more simply put, it’s the chatbot backend that is responded to by voice.
Eric: Interesting. I talk about this sometimes, because people are really interested in chatbots, too. Chatbots use keyboards for input and, in the voice world, it’s just a different input source.
Tristan: Exactly. A lot of times with the backend of the voice app, you’ll have the natural language processing layer, which will be handled either by Google or Amazon automatically, with either Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Amazon Polly. Someone will say something and the syllables will be read back as text for the computer to figure out how to process it afterwards.
Eric: Excellent. How do people use these apps?
Tristan: Generally speaking, most people use the voice apps for informational queries like, “Is there a pizza shop nearby I can go to?” or “Who is the current Queen of England?” You might find information along those lines. People are getting more and more comfortable talking with voice apps in public as well, which can lead to some people being annoyed by it, and other people realizing the future is now.
Eric: Right. One of my fun facts is that, based on a survey we did at Perficient Digital, basically 30% of people feel comfortable using voice apps in a public restroom. I am always wondering what the queries are. I have never explored it in any detail. Let’s talk about another aspect of this. How many different apps are there in the marketplace?
Tristan: Alexa still has the most custom voice apps, with just over 80,000 as of January of this year – 2019, for those of you viewing in the distant future. Google is a lot smaller, but oftentimes, Google’s processing tends to be more robust. They’re closer to 4,200 or so.
Eric: Cool. And how about how many different users of voice apps and what platforms do they tend to be on?
Tristan: The number of monthly users, which is probably a more useful metric than the people who actually own the speakers, is around 45 million people that come back monthly to use voice apps on smart speakers; whereas the majority of the marketplace, nearly twice that at around 90 million people, use smartphones to talk to their voice apps. This is because you always have your smartphone on you and you can have an assistant automatically built-in as in the case of Android, while iOS has Siri. Oftentimes, the custom voice apps come with Google Assistant and Alexa.
Eric: The interesting thing is, I always think of the great American sport as texting while driving. But don’t do that. Please, don’t do that.
Tristan: It’s a dangerous contact sport.
Eric: Yes, it is a dangerous contact sport. But the whole thing with that is, if you could press a button and speak your text, you’re not looking at it.
Tristan: Amazon recently teamed up with Nationwide Insurance to release the Echo Auto, which is a micro version of the Amazon Alexa, that’s designed to be paired with the Bluetooth in your car.
Eric: Very, very cool. Why should a company build a voice app?
Tristan: There are a few reasons. First off, people are innately social. The capacity to interact with a company and their services with a voice space where people might normally interact helps to not only establish a strong brand identity, but also creates a more human component to that brand identity that people can really identify with. There’s also, within that, early access to the voice marketplace. There are now, between Alexa and Google Assistant (and probably overlap as well within those), around 84,000 voice apps out there that are custom. But within that, there aren’t a whole lot of first-party apps for a lot of companies. For example, within both marketplaces, there is only one movie review aggregator site from skill. It’s a third-party app that someone made to just go online, scrape a Rotten Tomatoes web page and get the score back. So that entire industry is not present on voice. The voice marketplace is still in its nascent stages. Within that as well, along with the social component, there’s a really direct line to users. Voice apps, as I’m sure you know, can talk, can be invoked explicitly, which is if you open up your phone and go to the app itself, or implicitly, which is if someone were to ask a question and go directly to the app. This is a big step up for marketers. If you can have people automatically open a phone, their app is there immediately. And you get that with implicit invocation for voice.
Eric: Right. I think in Google, they call it implicit queries, and Alexa calls it implicit invocation. But they both do the same thing. They create an experience, which is a lot like SEO, right? Because it’s organic. You get discovered just because you ask a basic question. The user asks a basic question like, “How do I learn about physics?” If I have the app that provides the answers to that, I might just get served up, even if you don’t know about my app. That’s very cool.
Tristan: The first SERP is the only SERP in this case. Which is the key way of phrasing it, I think.
Eric: Absolutely. Thanks, Tristan, for giving us a little view into the world of voice apps. For all of you out there, keep in mind that if you want to subscribe and get more great content like this, please hit the subscribe button that you see on the screen right now.
Eric Enge leads the Digital Marketing practice for Perficient Digital. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO. Learn More About Eric Enge