Internet of Things (IoT) has been a buzzword for some time, but with the rise of Amazon Echo and the arrival of Google, Apple and others in the smart home marketplace, perhaps it’s time to start evaluating this hype from a third-party marketing perspective?
With 15 million Echoes already sold, these devices are now mainstream. With this growing market in mind, good marketers are wondering exactly how they can get in on the action. After all, wherever consumers are focusing their attention, marketers (or indeed just smart businesses) should be as well.
What Echo Means for Marketing and Marketers
Firstly, it’s imperative to realize Echo and similar devices supplement as a direct sales devices for their umbrella brand. For example, Echo users will likely double as Amazon consumers. As consumers use the device to monitor wishlists and discover items they are subsequently prompted to purchase items via Amazon.
But what about the rest of us? How do brands take advantage of this new channel? Well, there are two key elements we need to discuss.
An Appeal to Voice Search
The first is simple enough. Smart home devices are a boost for already successful voice search. While those of us over a certain age find talking to machines inherently ridiculous, I am reliably informed that millennials and those younger have no such qualms. Although it might not be immediately obvious, voice search differs in quite significant ways from text search, specifically in the terms which are used.
While consumers approach a text search as a coded way to get information from a screen, they speak to Alexa or Google Assistant like a dear friend. This means that those B2C organizations that have a serious amount invested in SEO (i.e., nearly all of them) need to think clearly about these differences and take account of them. Here are a few examples:
•Focus on actions and natural questions. In a text search we might say “USA v Brazil kick off.” On voice: “When does the USA soccer match kick off?” “When” is the key difference here.
•Think about the long tail. Even more so than in text, voice search is going to be long, rambling and unpredictable. Thinking about very specific keywords may not always be helpful.
•Consider the local factor. In many cases the user wants something now and in their area. They are not necessarily sitting at a computer. Making sure your local presence is reflected online will probably help.
The Second Factor - Apps
Continuing to use Amazon Echo as the example, the device connects via what are called “skills” to third-party services. Examples of third-party services being Spotify or TuneIn Radio, which in all actuality are apps. Thus, the Echo becomes another channel between brand apps and consumers and that channel is ultimately built through the mobile app.
For marketers this means focusing on smart ways to think about ensuring the app, and functionality of the app, is available to Echo users and by extension working with developers to ensure responsiveness to voice controls. That shouldn’t necessarily involve a huge leap, but it does mean considering carefully the quality of user experience provided via the voice interface. Especially in a world where options are endless, it is vital that your “skill” is the one the user turns to — and remains loyal to — over time.
Marketing in an age of constantly evolving technology entails constant self-education on emerging channels. Smart home devices is just one of these channels and similarly requires a fresh perspective on strategy.