Alexa, What's My Marketing Strategy For Voice?

The architect Louis Sullivan coined the maxim that “form follows function.” In the case of marketing channels, you could reverse that to say function follows form. How you use an axe differs from how you use a shovel because of what the form allows you to do.

Similarly, the best use of a billboard is different from the best use of a banner ad because of what the form allows you to do. In order for brands to find success with voice, they have to consider the strengths and constraints of the form.

It may disappoint some marketers to learn that “receive promotions and special offers” is not a popular use case for people interacting with voice-enabled tech. In fact, according to Nielsen’s “Total Audience Report: Q1 2019,” top responses for how smart speaker owners use their devices include searching for real-time information, getting the latest news, making calls and sending messages.



If you observe how most people interact with voice channels, it’s initiated as a request or command. This form leads away from using voice for marketing-as-promotion and toward marketing-as-a-service. It’s a medium better built for informing, supporting and responding rather than advertising.

With that strategic perspective, brand leaders should look past their advertising teams for inspiration and instead tap into the insights gleaned from service-centric programs like customer service and customer loyalty groups.

Tapping into the service aspects of marketing will suggest the most likely opportunities to shape positive experiences via voice. There’s a lot of information there that can point to effective brand applications for voice. For example: 

  • Does my product/service require set-up?  Can voice instructions walk customers through it? 
  • What are my most frequent complaints/issues?  Can voice provide an easier way to resolve them?
  • How, where and when are people using the product/service?  Does that context suggest ways voice could enhance/extend those use situations?

Once you find where voice can add value, it’s imperative that customers know what’s available to them. Brands can enable access to voice-enabled devices through existing communication methods. Product packaging, owner’s manuals, brand apps, and welcome emails are all channels through which companies can promote that they are “voice-friendly.” If done effectively, it should be apparent to consumers where to go and what to say to take advantage of a brand’s voice features.

The new reality is that brand-driven monologues are quickly being replaced by customer-initiated dialogues. Voice can best drive brand value by expanding ways to serve and enhance the customer experience. Those who try to shoehorn this technology into an existing promotional strategy might find silence on the other end.

2 comments about "Alexa, What's My Marketing Strategy For Voice?".
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  1. PJ Lehrer from NYU, September 9, 2019 at 2:32 p.m.

    Users are already letting "Alexa" decide for them.  Those without a voice strategy will be left behind.

  2. Mike Gunderson from Respond Fast, September 13, 2019 at 10:11 a.m.

    I have to agree, this is why we invented Respond Fast. It allows your prospects to "Respond" to advertising offers using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. It's a brand new technology that easily bolts on to your existing campaigns. We call it a Voice Activated Call-To-Action (VACTA). Visit to learn more.

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