Top 10 voice marketing mistakes and how to avoid them

Top 10 voice marketing mistakes and how to avoid them 1917 1080 Kane Simms

If you’re considering using voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant for marketing, here’s a few things to watch out for. Here’s the top 10 voice marketing mistakes and how to avoid them.


Taken from Kane’s talk at All About Voice Marketing.

1: Doing it for the wrong reasons

So the first mistake that I’ve noticed companies make when it comes to voice marketing is they do it for the wrong reasons.

They do it simply just to put a stake in the ground and to mark their territory. To put a flag down to say “we’ve done voice; we’ve done something on Alexa, we’ve done something on Google assistant”.

Quite often companies do it because they’ve got a bit of budget, or it might seem to be exciting and sounds pretty cool. Or they get into voice marketing because everyone else is doing it: their competition or they’ve read headlines about it and feel compelled to follow suit..

It’s a little bit like when everyone ran to claim a Facebook page in 2008. You definitely need a conversational AI strategy.

The risk of doing it for the wrong reason is that you miss the opportunity to take voice for what it actually is, which is a potential core part of growing your business.

Voice AI, not just Alexa and Google Assistant, but voice AI in general, could have a transformative impact on organisational transformation initiatives and become a real vital part of your organisation.

If you don’t start from the point of view of doing something that is going to contribute strategically to the aims of the business, and also what’s going to add genuine value to your user, then you’ll get yourself into hot water because it sets the train for a big knock-on effect of heading down the wrong direction.

2: Not allocating enough budget

If you’re running a voice marketing initiative for the sake of it, just to put a stake in the ground, then you’ll find that there isn’t a great deal of budget to do that with.

Large enterprises aside, there’s a general lack of awareness with those that do it for the first time about how much this stuff actually costs.

You’ve got a lot to pay for. You’ve got a whole load of upfront work to be done to figure out what it is that you should be doing in the first place. You’ve got a whole lot of design and prototyping and testing to be done to validate whether your idea is decent. You’ve got lots of building and coding and more testing to be done to figure out whether what you’ve done is actually doing the thing that you wanted it to. And a whole host of other things.

It takes a multidisciplinary team to bring a voice AI project to life, so it’s not quick. It’s not cheap. It’s not easy.

You can’t just wave 3 dollars around and expect something to be done in the next two weeks because it takes a lot longer to do something properly.

It’s going to cost a little bit more than you might think, so budget accordingly.

3: Poor execution

The result of those two things: not starting from a strategic perspective and not starting with the budget that you need to do something properly, you end up with poor execution.

It means that you may start with a use case that doesn’t particularly make sense. Your conversation design is sloppy, and your interface isn’t intuitive. As a result, users can’t get what they need from it and generally have a poor experience.

The main difficulty here is that Amazon and Google use ratings, reviews, and general performance as one of the metrics to understand whether something is worth promoting.

If you don’t execute it well, you’re going to start effecting those algorithms right from the get-go leading bad reviews and users who don’t return.

To set yourself up in the right way, don’t do something for the sake of it. Do something you can be proud of.

4: Not using sound design

Another mistake we often see – brands forgetting to invest in sound design. Bearing in mind that we’re talking about an audio-first medium here: voice is an audio-first medium. It’s linear. It’s audio-in and, most of the time, it’s audio out.

Obviously, we’ve got smart displays and mobile and multimodal interfaces to consider, but for voice only interfaces, it’s an audio medium.

When you don’t invest in sound design, you lose a crucial point of differentiation. For example, if you use the standard Alexa voice (unless you’ve got a use case that warrants piggybacking on Alexa’s persona), you’re just blending in with the crowd. 

I advise that if you’ve got a use case that’s aligned to your business objectives and you’ve got the budget to do something well, invest the extra Dollars or Pounds or Euros into making it sound top-notch because the sound of whatever it is that comes out of that speaker – or that phone or whatever it is that you’ve put it into – is pretty much the only thing that the user is going to experience.

It’s easy to forget about most of the time, but it is one of the most fundamental things that can create what you would call an ‘experience’.

5: Short-term thinking

The other thing is that brands tend to often think short-term. Marketing teams have got budgets that for 12 months. They need to get a spent by the end of the year. You need to do something within that year that’s going to get you an immediate return.

And, often, when you spend that money on advertising or you spend it on Facebook or you spend it on content or whatever, there’s usually a relatively short-term return on that kind of stuff.

But as I mentioned, this isn’t like that. This isn’t like social media. It’s not like building a website.
It takes a hell of a lot of time and effort just to stand something worthy up in the first place, and a hell of a lot more effort to turn it into something that is worthy of long-term success.

So when you think short term, and you try and do something it’s a little bit of a flash in the pan, you’re missing out on a whole load more value that could be found if you treated this more like an ongoing investment.

Try and think about what this thing can do for you in three year’s time, and then start with the first version of that. 

Crawl, walk, run.

6: Doing something that doesn’t scale

Often, people don’t build things that are scalable. And when I say ‘scalable’ here, I don’t mean repurposing into a different use case further down the line. I mean, if you’re going to build something, and you’re going to put something on Google Assistant, you may as well think as a general conversation that you can have anywhere.

When you start to think about it as a conversation, you start to work out design patterns and interaction patterns that you can essentially use in any conversation or channel. Be that through Facebook Messenger, Instagram Messenger, WhatsApp, a chat or voicebot on your website or IVR, or Google Assistant or Alexa.

And so when you do come to actually implement something, do it in a way that doesn’t box you in.

Make sure you do it in a way that will allow you to scale it into other channels in future because you’ll get a hell of a lot more economies of scale from building something from the beginning that you have an eye on being able to put into different channels in future.

7: Not promoting your solution  

The biggest mistake, arguably, is that, because you don’t have any budget at the beginning to dedicate to this thing, you forget about promoting it.

Voice isn’t like the web. It’s not like LinkedIn, where organic reach is absolutely fantastic. It takes a lot of work to acquire users and even more work to keep hold of users, and so you wouldn’t believe how many projects have gone live with something that is worthy of telling people about, but the whole promotional aspect the of it is lost.

It’s ironic because a lot of these efforts are done for marketing purposes yet the actual marketing of the thing is always a second thought.

So don’t forget to plan right from the beginning how you’re going to promote it and how you’re going to get the word out about it.

8: Missing out on the opportunity to learn

Many brands launch a voice experience without understanding what they’re trying to learn from it. 

Think about it this way: you have the opportunity to have a conversation in a context and an environment where you’ve never really been able to have that conversation before, and so what is it that you want to learn from your customers?

If you were sat in front of them, in their front room; if you were sitting in their ear while they’re on the tube or the train, what kind of learnings can you get from that?

What conversations do they actually want to have with you? Where can you provide value? What kind of things do they ask you? What are they actually wanting from you; what are their needs? 

Approaching it from a perspective of ‘what can we learn about our customers and their needs and their behavior’ allows you to not just refine what you create, but feed that back into the company to share future marketing and product initiatives.

Not learning is an opportunity missed. It’s a little bit like Will Smith in Prince of Bel Air who goes to school and has so much fun that he forgets to learn.

So yes, have KPIs that are aligned to your strategic objectives, which have already mentioned, but also think about, if you’re going to go through the pain and effort of putting something out there, then what things do you actually want to learn from it?

9: Lack of maintenance

You wouldn’t believe how many things go live and the live date is treated as the end of the project.

The reality is; when you click that live button, that’s when the real work begins. That’s when you figure out at, scale (hopefully), whether what you’ve done actually makes sense and meets the needs of the customers.

It’s all very well to put in a whole lot of time and effort into the design, but when you get it into the real world is when you really start learn.

Always treat the the Live point as the middle of the project and use the weeks after to refine, enhance and learn how to make the solution as best as it can be.

10: Not moving beyond Alexa

The final thing is that, I know we’re all fans of smart speakers, we’re all fans of these new devices that have basically crafted a whole new industry and whole new device type with the Amazon Echos and smart speakers, and it’s obvious that you might want to try and look at these devices as opportunities for marketing purposes. After all, device adoption is growing, usage is growing and there are opportunities.

But also there is huge value elsewhere in voice technology to promote and to use it for marketing purposes.

Even something like voice-enabling hardware or other software. It was it was found that people will actually consider the voice capability of their new car they intend to buy as a decision making factor in buying that car.If you look at the Mercedes advert that they did last year for Super Bowl, they based the entire advert on the Mercedes assistant. 

And so, yes, by all means invest in Alexa. I think the potential of this platform is huge. Same with Google Assistant, and maybe even arguably more so with Google Assistant. But don’t forget to look a little bit beyond that and look down the horizon and think about other ways that you can deploy voice technology to add value to customers.

And that’s it. That’s a top ten mistakes that I’ve seen in the industry when it comes to marketing and voice experiences and how you might be able to avoid them. Hope it helps.

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