The days of sitting in front of a screen to connect to the internet seem to have long past. The internet is an ever-changing place, and the ways in which we interact with it are in a constant state of evolution. We have never been so connected; as every piece of technology in our lives develops new levels of efficiency through being online.
We do appear to have finally landed in the future. We now have the type of technology that appears to independently interact with us seamlessly across all of our devices and throughout our daily lives.
Chances are you already own an Alexa. But you may not have realized the uses and impact this could have on your SEO business. With so many homes now using Alexa, to not consider the advantages of using Alexa within your search engine optimization is short-sighted.
But aren’t these smart speakers just for playing music?
While it is a neat gimmick; the voice-controlled speaker that plays your favourite tunes without you needing to scroll through tracklists or the helpful assistant that lets you know the weather for the day or if there is any congestion on your drive to work, you can even catch up on your favourite podcast. But there is so much more potential here.
Alexa works using downloaded skills. When you use the voice prompt “Alexa”, it elicits a response from a specific skill based on your command. Why not check out this Alexa skill that gives you up to the minute SEO updates to keep you ahead of the game. If you’re part of a busy SEO agency, chances are you are very adept at multitasking and processing data coming at you from all angles. Get on with the things you need to do and let Alexa bring you up to date.
With so many companies developing skills for Alexa, the creative options for marketing using smart speakers are immense. Your brand might want to interact with customers by providing them with an instant, ongoing information service through simple conversations between customer and device. Transactions are made simple as products can be ordered as easily as they are discussed. There is no need to lose sales to forgetfulness or postponed intentions. Voice search and AI allows you to be in the present with your customers and also understand the types of conversations they might want to have surrounding your products or services. In effect, you have a shop window, the product placement, the sales team, the till system and the after sales team all rolled into one inside a small speaker. The benefits to the consumer are massive; the benefits to those supplying products or servicing are astronomical.
AI? Isn’t that a bit scary?
The more of us that own smart speakers, the more intelligent they will become. This might sound like a gloomy prediction of the future from the Terminator movies, and whilst there is some truth in the idea that artificial intelligence can self perpetuate; there is no danger that machines would ever have the desire to overthrow society. But the fact is, that as more people use voice search, the more adept the algorithms will become, giving them and us the knowledge to be able to serve them best as customers.
Data protection may be a concern here, and there have been stories in the media recently surrounding what these devices can hear, are recording and what data gets stored of ours- a key example would be of a murder which was witnessed by an Amazon Echo. There may be specific guidelines to follow, about the data stored by these devices, but these devices are developed by the public sector whose primary aim is to boost sales. And while some may view this with cynicism; the safety concerns of being ‘spied on’ are unfounded.
So what is the future of this tech?
As companies clamber onto this new technology, there will no doubt be a growth in innovation. Developers need to set themselves apart and will strive to bring about the changes that will really capture the imagination of the consumer. For those working in marketing, this is an opportunity to be at the gold-rush early to ensure that everything hasn’t panned-out for everyone else but you!
As the market often does, there will be natural gravitation towards a small number of leaders in terms of tech. Homes will favour a particular brand and carry the same personal assistant across all devices used by everyone living there. Amazon has already demonstrated a great deal of its potential in providing a seamless link between its content streaming services and its online store, whilst being easily accessible for developers to create and market skills for the devices.
So, what does this mean for my current website?
Obviously, we’re not throwing away our laptops, tablets and smartphones. We are still always going to be accessing the internet the way we have done, but there is a definite need for web developers and content makers to consider how a personal assistant will view their websites. In much the same way as website designers needed to adapt over a decade ago to the upsurge in smartphone and tablet use; making sure content fitted or was visible on a smaller screen. Content is now disseminated as audio. Search terms might differ, so making sure writing reflects this in order to appeal to the search algorithms of the AI.
The upshot of all of this is, if you are not considering the implications of AI, personal assistants and smart speakers within your marketing strategies or in the future of your website, then there is a real danger of being left behind. Sales of such smart speakers have been staggering, with an estimated 2.5 billion in use currently, these numbers are set to rise dramatically, with predictions of 8 billion by 2023. Ambient computing is a leap into the next generation of technology, and it is something that needs to be embraced. Expect one of the buzzwords of the next few years to be ‘voice commerce’.