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Expert Roundup: Voice Experience Tips

Expert Roundup: 10 Tips for Optimizing the Voice Commerce Experience

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The rapid adoption of voice search is setting a new standard for the way consumers engage with brands. Nearly 60% of U.S. consumers have already used voice search, and that number is expected to climb at a staggering rate.

Voice has proven to be the most natural and convenient form of communication, even three times faster than typing. And retailers are beginning to recognize the importance of providing their customers with voice-activated experiences—either by integrating the technology within their apps or website, or by developing their own voice apps, such as an Alexa skill or Google action.

Indeed, the voice interface brings hope of more engaging experiences, quick and convenient commerce, and an even quicker route to checkout. By 2022, it is expected to drive $40 billion in sales—up from a mere $2 billion in 2018.

The trailblazers and early adopters will capture the lion’s share of this revenue. The laggards, on the other hand, will be left to lament their delayed response.

Voice commerce is still in its infancy, but there are baby steps you can take now to ensure you don’t get left behind. We’ve interviewed experts in the field of voice to share tips and best practices for making your products stand out in this new age of voice.

1. Imagine your products as being read, not seen

“Voice-only interfaces allow a very limited number of results. Retailers should be aware of the implications of voice search on their user experience and enhance their websites accordingly. They should use a screen reader to interpret the sound of their pages. Ask yourself, “What product information does the user need to know? What is the tone of voice we want to convey?” Your product descriptions should be short and to the point, being mindful that users will not see or read any of this content. Font sizes and colors do not matter, guide the user with words.”

Adi Mazor Kario, MSc Cognitive Science, Experience Expert Tweet

2. Optimize your pages for questions

“Be sure to consider the types of questions the consumer is answering at each level of the purchasing process, and tailor your pages around that type of question. For example, a search term like, “What are the differences between Pampers and Huggies Diapers?” shows consumers are still evaluating their options, and should lead to a page that talks about why your product is superior to the competition. On the other hand, a consumer that searches, “What is the price of Huggies diapers?” is likely ready to buy, and simply needs information that will help them facilitate their purchase. Understanding where your customer is in the purchasing process will help you target them right where they are.”

Amine Bentahar, Chief Operating and Digital Officer, Advantix Digital Tweet

3. Leverage the power of Natural Language Processing

“Being highly specific in responses is the only way audio as a shopping interface can enter the mainstream. Yet, this cannot be done via keyword-based search or information retrieval, like most companies use today. Natural language understanding is needed, as well as a semantic framework for translating the context of requests in their respective shopping domains.”

Amir Konigsberg, Co-Founder and President, Twiggle Tweet

4. Target more long-tail queries

“Create a well-defined strategy for how you will optimize for voice search. This will include using more conversational tones and targeting long-tail searches, as voice searches tend to be longer than text searches.”

5. Find keyword ideas in your search query data

“People don’t write the way they speak. To optimize for voice shopping, look at your search query data and tag the voice queries to understand how your customers are describing the products they’re asking for in their natural language. Then update your model to return the most precise results.”

Adva Levin, Voice-First Designer Tweet

6. Edit your product descriptions and titles to be more specific

“One of the big challenges with voice search is trying to leverage visibility for products with generic names. Think about a “spinner” used by fishermen to land a catch, rather than a “fidget spinner.” Go more specific with each product title and description.”

Uri Shaked, Google Developer Expert Tweet

7. Develop voice-powered technology that truly understands human language

“If someone asks for the "best rated electric ice crusher," a good response would be exactly that: the best rated ice crusher that is electric. To be able to do that, the request needs to be understood. Specifically, the search system needs to understand that an ice crusher is the product that is being requested. That “electric” is a feature of the ice crusher. By saying “best rated,” the shopper is probably looking for the electric ice crusher with the highest review score from the greatest number of people. To complicate things even more, there may be different types of electric ice crushers. The electric aspect of ice crushers may be different across different electric ice crushers, e.g., some may have greater power than others. Being told that the electric ice crusher you were presented with is in the top 5% percentile in terms of power and top 20 in terms of user rating is very useful. Knowing that it’s $15 more expensive than the average electric ice crusher, is also useful to know. All of this provides highly relevant information in response to a specific request.”

8. Use featured snippets to enhance your product descriptions

“When crafting product descriptions, think about what questions consumers will ask to get to your page and set about answering them through the text on your site. For example, the consumer might ask their digital assistant, “What toothpaste is best at whitening my teeth?” If you want your whitening toothpaste to be found by that search term, be sure that your product details can answer that question so you are ready for that scenario. Use featured snippets to answer these types of specific questions related to your products, and they will be easier to find in voice searches.”

9. Get to the point

“Product information needs to be accurate and reliable. Consumers will not poke around e-commerce websites to find the information they’re looking for—they will make a voice query and receive a verbal response back from their device, and then make their decision based on that one sentence or one paragraph snippet. Brands need to be ready to answer those direct questions in a way that makes consumers want to do business with them.”

10. Build consumer trust as part of your voice search journey

“Almost 85% of voice shoppers trust the recommendations that digital assistants give to them, meaning it’s just as important to win over the device’s algorithm as it is to win over a consumer. This change can be a good thing for retailers that have won trust in their products already, as re-ordering products will be easier than ever. For example, if someone likes your brand of shampoo and has ordered it in the past, they may just have to say, “Alexa, order shampoo.” This way, your customer will buy your product without considering price points or competing products in the market.”

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