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Did You Hear? Your Brand Needs a Voice Strategy

The rapid expansion of voice technology means there are more opportunities for content marketers to reach their target audiences in a meaningful way.

About 60 million (24%) American adults have a smart speaker in their home, according to The Smart Audio Report by NPR and Edison Research.

1 in 4 Americans have a smart speaker at home, according to @NPR and @EdisonResearch via @CMIContent. #research Share on X

Even people without smart speakers use voice technology. Every time they ask Siri on their iPhones or Alexa on their Android devices, that’s voice.

Voice applications broadly fall into these categories – most of which content marketers can create experiences in:

  • Voice search – People ask their voice or search assistant for information just as they would type a search query into Google. These can be accessed on mobile or desktop devices. This is likely the category where content marketers want to focus out of the gate. How can your brand’s content show up in voice search?
  • Voice production – People use voice technology to produce content (e.g., dictation services or features on mobile devices). This is a great way to efficiently create content.
  • Voice integration in existing apps – People using the app can use voice features. A great example is the Google Analytics app. It allows users to vocalize questions about web traffic and it verbally gives the answers.
  • Smart devices designed for voice – These devices allow you to establish routines. Tell them “good morning,” for example, and they start the coffee and tell you what’s on your schedule for the day. This category is probably the least likely to be a top priority initially for content marketers.
Smart devices designed for #voice are the least likely to be a top priority for content marketers, says @Ctrappe via @CMIContent. Share on X

Voice Strategy co-author Scot Westwater told me he thinks the impact of voice will be even bigger than mobile. “It’s not just going to be a device you’ll walk around with,” he said. “It’s going to be the way we interact with these digital devices.”

The impact of #voice will be even bigger than mobile, according to @scotwestwater via @CMIContent. Share on X

All this points to companies needing to consider voice strategies in their content marketing.

How does that look in practice? Yet another channel you need to focus on? Where does it end?

Any use of voice technology must be integrated into your overall content marketing strategy.

“Don’t just think of voice as a novelty, but what are the useful and usable ways to add voice to your brand,” says Voice Strategy co-author Susan Westwater in an episode of my Business Storytelling Podcast.

Make voice more than a single use

Though voice may be one more channel, you don’t have to create voice-specific content. Use the Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE) model.

Here’s an example of how COPE looks with a podcast:

  • Record a podcast episode highlighting your thought leadership in an area. You even could interview guests.
  • Turn that episode into an article, white paper, or other written content.
  • Promote the content through organic social media, email, and paid campaigns to get it in front of your target audience.

But how does that integrate into voice? Apple now indexes audio from podcasts. It’s just a matter of time before results based on the spoken words will show up.

In addition, the trick is to have a memorable name that is easy to say so voice searchers will get to your podcast when they say it.

#Podcasts with memorable, easy-to-say names get found better in #voice search, says @Ctrappe via @CMIContent. #SEO Share on X

For example, if you ask Siri for “Business Storytelling Podcast,” my podcast is not the first and only result. (Remember many voice searches only show or say one result.) You need to say “Christoph Trappe: The Business Storytelling Podcast” for it to be in the top position. That was my mistake when I set it up – long before I thought about voice strategy.

When I was testing this tip for Casey Cheshire’s Hard Corps Marketing Podcast, asking for it by title only worked perfectly. Siri played his podcast when I said the name, which is indeed memorable.

TIP: Make sure your podcast appears on Apple Podcasts so it’s accessible via Siri.

Make sure your #podcast appears on @ApplePodcasts so it’s accessible via #Siri, says @Ctrappe via @CMIContent. #SEO Share on X

On Alexa devices, users can simply add Spotify to their connected apps in the Alexa settings and listen that way. It’s an extra step for the end user, which I expect will get easier over time.

Think voice search when creating content

When it comes to ranking for voice search, it really comes back to basic content marketing strategies:

  • Write.
  • Use the right keyword. Keyword research still matters.
  • Go deep into the topic. Voice results, like all search engine results, make a quick decision on what content is most relevant.
  • Use other SEO best practices.

It’s a battle to be the one and only result given by a voice assistant. But some searches without a definite answer will deliver more than one result. The results also depend on the device. I tested the number of results shown/given using an iPhone and Siri.

Right now, it’s difficult to assess the effect of voice search on your website. Google Analytics and other measurement platforms do not distinguish between referrals from voice search vs. traditional search engine result pages. In addition, not all voice results lead to website traffic because the voice assistant reads the needed answer, such as: “According to the Content Marketing Institute, the definition of content marketing is …”

Some metrics are available when you set up an Alexa skill through the Alexa developer dashboard. You can build a skill in Alexa that will read your blog articles or play your podcasts, for example. For content marketers, the auto push for podcasts is easier, but if you must have metrics, building an Alexa skill has that advantage.

Promote voice-accessible content

It’s a learning curve for consumers to even know or remember that your brand is now on voice devices. If you offer valuable content assets on voice devices, promote them, such as:

  • Tweet “To listen to our podcast on your iPhone, just ask Siri to play <insert name>.”
  • In email signatures, add “Tell Alexa to launch <insert name of skill>.”
  • Include voice-related calls to action in your advertising campaigns.

But is voice technology truly here?

Voice technology has come a long way and has become easier to use.

I remember getting my first Alexa-enabled device for the car a few years ago, and it was super hard to set up and operate. Still today, Facebook Groups are populated by people who talk about their voice assistant problems and others who chime in to share how to solve them.

Evolving voice technology and voice search are promising ways to ramp up your content marketing. It’s hard enough already to get your content in front of the right people. Ranking for SEO can take time. The same should be expected when it comes to voice search.

Get started today. Share content that solves your prospect’s problems and that goes deep enough to have a shot at showing up as the answer when people ask their voice assistant a question.

Dig deeper into voice and content marketing with Christoph Trappe at Content Marketing World this October. Register today. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute