From 2008 (when Google first added its voice search feature to the Google Mobile App on the iPhone) to 2010, voice search usage remained at a "statistical zero." However, from 2010 to 2016 voice search usage multiplied sevenfold, and now it is forecasted to reach 33.8% market share this year.
What are some current voice search trends you should pay special attention? Here are some significant insights that can be gleaned from recent studies:
Demographics Skew Younger, But There is Growth Potential for All Ages
It's not surprising at all to find that voice search is more popular among younger users. In fact, users aged 18 to 44 collectively make up 56.1% of all voice assistant users in the United States. We expect this proportion to hold steady in the coming years.
However, an increasing number of children and teens under 17 years of age are utilizing voice search assistants, as are adults aged 55 and up. Research suggests that users ages 17 and younger will make up almost 10% of the consumer base by 2021, as will users ages 65 and older within that same time frame.
Smartphones Still Dominate, But Smart Speakers are Catching Up
An estimated 33.8% of the US population will use at least one voice assistant on their smartphone in 2019. This comes as no real shock, since voice assistants are heavily integrated with smartphones.
Interestingly, the adoption of smart speakers has exceeded previous expectations. Revised forecasts predict that an additional 8 million consumers will use smart speakers for information gathering by 2020, for a total of 84.5 million. Of course, there is significant overlap between smartphone and smart speaker usage, which should be taken into account when considering these figures.
Voice Search On the Go vs. At Home
Not surprisingly, US consumers who purchase smart speakers for their home/office are the most frequent users of voice search. Consumers most often place their smart speakers in their living rooms or bedrooms.
However, the majority of Internet users tend to use voice search in "high-mobility settings," such as on their smartphone or in their vehicle.
What Consumers Use Voice Search For
The two most frequent voice search activities conducted on a daily basis are checking weather/news and listening to music, followed closely by conducting an Internet search, sending a text/email, and asking a quick question.
Apart from daily use, one study found that the overall top activity for which consumers use voice search is getting directions. Other top-ranking activities include making a phone call, listening to music, finding a nearby store, and looking up store hours.
Where are Voice Search Trends Heading?
One of the biggest takeaways from recent market research conducted on voice search usage is a strong indication that the average consumer does not feel comfortable enough to make an actual purchase by means of a smart speaker. With regards to purchasing decisions, voice search as it stands is much more geared towards research, shopping, price comparing, and reordering than the act of buying a new product.
However, most experts expect voice search usage to steadily grow across all demographic segments in the next several years. As it does, marketers will have to stay ahead of the curve to successfully capture a larger market share of increasingly sophisticated voice search users. Moreover, expect voice search technology to address the two primary pain points in the voice search user experience as it stands: the ability (or inability) of the search engine to identify user intent, and the level of personalized interaction to the individual.
Marketing Strategies to Implement Now
How can you refine your marketing strategies for voice search optimization right now? There are several approaches you can take, ranging from subtle adjustments to major changes in your marketing template. Here are a few suggestions:
- Identify use cases in which your consumers are most likely to use voice search. For instance, an HVAC company may want to produce a blog that targets consumers asking their voice assistant, “How often should I check my air filter?” Voice technology looks for sharable snippets of content to surface in these results, making blogs a great place to target these searches.
- Generate more "conversational" content for those use cases. Voice search users tend to phrase their questions in a more natural manner when speaking than they would when typing input into a search bar. With that in mind, take your consumers’ frequent asked questions and structure your content to read more like a conversation.
- Utilize a location management tool. Many consumers use voice search for directions, locating stores, and looking up store hours. If a consumer asks a voice assistant where your company is located and if it’s open right now, do you know what answers Siri, Cortana, Google, and Alexa will provide? Using a location management tool can save a lot of headaches by ensuring your business information is accurate everywhere consumers are searching.
- Design different content for different funnel stages. When it comes to voice search user intent, a good rule of thumb to remember is this: "who" and "what" questions indicate that a consumer is in the research stage, whereas "where" questions often imply that he/she has reached the purchasing stage. Design your content accordingly.
- Ensure that your site is mobile-friendly. Since most voice searches occur on mobile devices, it is imperative that your company’s website is appealing to consumers that are using their smartphones or tablets. Ensure that your site loads quickly, content is formatted for quick consumption, and layouts are easy to navigate.
Adopt Voice Search Strategies Early for Major Gains
Early adopters of voice search strategies can ride the wave of opportunity created by voice search trends and technology now. As voice search becomes a greater part of everyday life for consumers, hesitation or disinterest could prove commercially fatal.
If you need assistance in gaining an edge over the competition, we’re here to help. We help our clients to form high-level strategies, implement detailed tactical initiatives, and optimize everything in between.