Trends for Marketers to Prepare for in 2018: #2 Voice Search

As the end of the year draws closer, our experts have been contemplating what could be the “next big thing” in digital marketing in 2018, narrowing down their myriad of thoughts to just one or two top predictions that they believe will shape the coming year.

Whether it’s a relatively new trend, or something that’s been around for a while but is really going to take off in 2018, these trends are from the unique perspective of Mediative’s experts, how they see 2018 unfolding, and what digital marketers should be considering when planning next year’s marketing efforts.

Download the full eBook, with all 10 trends to prepare for here.

Voice Search

Voice search is real, it’s here. In 2016, Google reported voice searches to have made up 20% of search queries in the US(1). In 2018 the influence of voice search on SEO will become increasingly significant. Voice is a natural evolution of search, and layers on top of existing search technology. The technology has existed for over a decade, but only now is robust enough for commercial use.

The voice ecosystem is still in its infancy, but combined with advanced analytics and hardware, it is likely to usher a new era of human interaction and experiences. This will not be a revolution over a day, but one that rolls out over a decade or more. And this revolution will not happen alone – it will come with smart homes, gesture based automation, and new forms of display. Stickiness will depend on the assistants’ ability to extract meaning from queries, engage in meaningful conversation to move the consumer through his intended task, and finally, successfully deliver a service. Voice search is heavily dependent not only on voice recognition, but also on local and structured data for context, and artificial intelligence to extract meaning and mobile indexation to confirm preferred services.

While each player in the digital assistant market evolves its ecosystem to improve third party integrations, service providers such as Starbucks are already experimenting and discovering what this evolution means for their industry. By looking into “skills” and “actions” for each assistant, it is possible to understand the impact for your industry.

Just like evolution of the Internet or mobile solutions, we will look back a decade from now and wonder at how voice impacted our behaviours, attitudes and ultimately, our life.

Tips for Marketers

First and foremost – take voice search seriously!

In a June 2017 survey by BrightEdge(2), 252 Fortune 500 digital marketers were surveyed and while almost one third believed voice search to be the next big trend, two-thirds have no plans to implement voice search into their strategy at this stage. As companies scramble to build for the new experience, voice search not only presents new challenges, but also new opportunities to acquire and interact with customers and turn them into loyal followers. To most digital marketers, voice search is still a black box, but key news highlights can inform us of how the ecosystem is evolving.

Understand what your customers want from voice

One of the biggest challenges in voice search (using a unit such as Amazon’s Echo for example) is that there is usually only ever one answer, one result. If you’re not playing in that space, you’re going to miss out. You need to give people the right answer at the right time – there’s really no second chance. Ask yourself, what does your user need? What are they trying to achieve with what they are asking. What interaction and experience does the user want? Determine how you would guide the user through to the desired outcome. A great place to start is customer service and sales – most successful sales and customer service departments have well-built scripts that cater to user needs as well as handling concerns and objections. Create voice scenarios and use-cases based on internal data, interviews, surveys, and test with real customers.

Ensure discoverability

Conduct keyword analysis for voice terms – terms that are longer in nature and often voiced as questions, and localization terms, for example terms that end in “near me”. Create content for the entire funnel. Optimize for local search by ensuring you have a fully optimized Google My Business profile and that you are actively managing listings, NAP data and reviews.

Ramp up the quality of service delivered

For business with locations, taking insights from reviews and responding by solving known issues might mean the difference between being a preferred choice and just another player in the market.

Download the full eBook, 10 Trends for Marketers to Prepare for in 2018 here.


Nabeel Hussain
Nabeel Hussain believes great products don't just solve a problem, they deliver an experience. The voice search and digital assistant ecosystem are ripe to build new experiences and "wow" moments. He brings this mindset to Mediative, where he works as an Enterprise Search Strategist.