This is especially the case as mobile technology has developed even further to exploit its voice functionality. In 2016, we saw sophisticated virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa become more deeply integrated into consumer’s daily habits and lifestyles. I predict 2017 will see voice controlled services bringing the spoken word back into the spotlight.
The phone call will finally catch up with other technologies
In 2017, the phone call will finally catch up with other technologies. The vital role of the phone call for sales and marketing in most industries and sectors is self-evident; from restaurant’s bookings, to car dealership’s enquiries and telecom’s call centres. Yet completely counter-intuitively, businesses have typically been far slower in updating their phone practices for the 21st century than they have in online marketing efforts. While the online customer journey is tracked, recorded and refined, many businesses haven’t taken the same data-driven approach with the phone line, leaving a gaping hole in their data. Large web analytics providers, do not offer their customers the same insights for their phones as their online activity.
This year businesses will establish specialised call analytics solutions to allow them to monitor their phone activity with the same granularity of web analytics. There is interesting innovation being done in this space, and an intuitive interface that anyone could use to see who is calling them, when, and why, will undoubtedly be a game changer in the market.
Voice controlled services revitalise the conversation
With the development and popularity of screenless, voice controlled services such as Siri and Alexa, and now Google Home in the works, it’s clear that conversation remains a significant tool. Ultimately, spoken word is the most natural communication method, and no amount of technical innovation is going to change the fact that it is easier to say what you want, than type it. In addition, data across industries overwhelmingly suggests that inbound calls have higher value per sale than most online response mechanisms, showing the value customers place on conversation.
As technological developments in artificial intelligence also gather pace, businesses will begin to develop methods to ensure their speaking and listening tools – be it in marketing or sales – are as capable as possible.
SEO for voice
As voice search services become more common place, search engine optimisation practices must evolve in turn. With people literally asking questions of their search engine, does this mean that the days of true long tail search engine marketing are with us now?
Search engine algorithms are currently designed for search terms which are made up of long form text, and as customer searches become ever more specific through voice application, it will be interesting to see how pay per click practices adapt to meet this new model.
Deeper integration of communication systems
Communication in the workplace has been changed dramatically by the increased sophistication of consumer technology, to the extent that people now want business communications to be an extension of their personal tools and channels. In 2017, we will see closer integration of different systems, both work and personal, to form a holistic approach to office communication and collaboration. The announcement of Slack and Google’s partnership, and Facebook’s Workplace, are early signs of the future to come. Here we see that workers spoke on their platform of choice, and businesses listen.
Close integration of systems is not only good for internal communication and organisation, but also for obtaining insights into which practices are working best. Different data sets from sales and marketing activity such as phone call stats, online analytics and inbound email data, can be integrated to allow businesses to take a smarter, data-driven approach. While each set has its own value, it is when the full customer journey can be drawn from beginning to end that businesses can really start being clever.
As it was in 2016, mobile will remain the priority for marketers in the New Year, having overtaken the desktop as the primary device for many. In 2016, Google lead the way for mobile marketing, creating SEO guidelines tailored to the platform. However, the savvy marketer should be well ahead of Google, as it’s not new information that the majority of people now flock to the mobile as their preferred device for an abundance of online services.
What marketers shouldn’t forget is that screen size is not the only difference between smartphones and desktops. The defining feature of a smartphone is that it is a combination of different features and communication tools. With users able to swiftly move between social media, text, phone calls, messaging apps and more, we’ll see innovative new ways for marketers to track and optimise their user experience.
So, as most people convert back to the spoken word, marketers have adjusted to the trend, but there is still work to be done. As voice control becomes even more prevalent, businesses need to incorporate verbal communication into their strategies in order to stay relevant and truly user friendly.
Ryan Gallagher, Director, CEO and Founder of IOVOX
Image source: Shutterstock/lenetstan