Voice sales in the UK amount to around £156k per year (which is tiny), however, they estimate that by 2020, this figure will rise to about £4 billion – that’s billion with a “B.”
I think the reason voice engine optimisation isn’t on most people’s minds yet is down to the fact that the number of commerce purchases made is relatively small and is probably seen as a bit of a gimmick right now.
However, if the stats in the graph below are correct, voice search is far from being a gimmick and many businesses (large or small) need to start paying closer attention to it.
Now, in the grand scheme of things, that’s a relatively small number when compared to the overall retail spend in the UK. However, that’s quite a sizeable change in such a short period of time – enough to get anyone who works in retail’s attention.
When you look at the statistics from emarketer, you can see that the frequency of voice search used daily in the US is pretty significant. In fact, the proportion of 25-49-year-olds is the largest age group which I found interesting.
You can assume that the results for the UK will be fairly similar to the US since we seem to follow the trends in the US pretty closely.
eMarketer also recognised that the bulk of voice search spending in February 2018 was in the entertainment sector on things like music, books and other media.
What is interesting and certainly got my attention was that the second most popular sector for voice purchases was everyday household items like food, tissues, etc. Food is one of the major bulk purchases made by families every week/month.
If people are using voice search to make such important purchases above the likes of pizzas and clothes, it shows that any supermarket not preparing for this (unlike Amazon) is going to be in pretty serious trouble in just a few years time.
Another study by Chatmeter revealed that after someone has conducted a voice search, nearly 90% of those users followed up by asking for driving directions.
This means that at the point someone using a voice assistant means that they have already made their decision to purchase something locally. Now, this is only a guess and I could be wrong, but the actions people appear to take has kind of proven that.
Unfortunately, the Chatmeter study didn’t distinguish whether those voice searches were on smartphones or on smart speakers. Nevertheless, the results are certainly interesting from a marketing perspective.
I would conclude that most brands and businesses need to ensure they are front of mind as early on in the purchasers’ journey as possible – otherwise, it will be too late.
If I’m honest with you, with the sheer amount of data and information the likes of Amazon and Google have at their fingertips, I always study what they do very carefully.
The fact that they have invested a lot of money in these voice communication devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home proves to me there’s a lot of disruption on the horizon and they’re not taking any prisoners.
Unless your business is part of the ecosystem of these two large companies, I fear most businesses will be extinct within a matter of years. That sounds a bit like scaremongering and I sincerely apologise. However, just ask ToysRUs or Debenhams if they knew what the future looked like just 5 years ago?
In this world of disruption, things move at lightning speed. Voice search is one of those innovations that will see a lot of business fall because they failed to prepare.
Car Voice Search
At the moment, the vast majority of voice searches are used for fun and simple queries, but I truly believe that once you see an increase in the number of applications making use of this technology (think: car voice searches), then the number and frequency of these searches will explode!
In fact, I predict there will be just as many voice searches carried out in your car than at home. I say this because most people won’t be able to stop and search for something online via their phone – it will be far easier to use voice search technology in your car and then ask it to help you navigate to your desired location.
Getting ready for the voice search revolution is not going to be easy – it means that the vast majority of businesses need to increase the frequency of the content they produce.
They also need to improve the formatting of that content (using headers, etc.) and make sure they use conversational content marketing (answering topical questions and writing naturally) in order to rank for long-tail keywords.
Unless you have an in-house team of writers who are willing to research, write and publish this type of content on a regular basis, the vast majority of businesses just won’t do this… Our advice (it doesn’t even need to be us) is to hire a professional freelance writer or a content curation company to research and write this content.
It will need to be of the highest quality and target those questions their clients will likely ask when they engage a voice assistant.
This means if you have Google Analytics installed or another 3rd party analytics script on your website, you need to find out what sort of search terms people are using when they navigate to your website.
Depending on your niche, you may even be able to glean some information from Google Trends.
The time to start putting your content plan into action is NOW – if you start preparing for voice searches in 2020, you’ll be too late. Most likely, your competition would have been preparing and producing this type of content many years before that date.
Have you started preparing for voice search yet and what have you done to make sure you are ready?
I’d love to hear your thoughts…