Using voice search to sell products? The winner takes it all.

Maurice Calkhoven

Voice search is still relatively unknown in the Netherlands, but in countries where the technology is more developed, surprising results can already be seen. Digital assistants such as Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri are already fully established in the United States, for instance, and these everyday assistants are used to make a large number of purchases every day. How exactly does this work? And how can you respond to this trend?


Voice searches are long tail

When we perform searches on a computer or mobile device, we tend to keep our queries as short as possible. After all, typing out a query takes more time and effort. Voice searches, however, tend to be considerably longer. That means that if you want to respond to your potential visitor’s spoken searches, it may be wise to adapt your digital strategy to the long tail.


Creating brand awareness among visitors

There are even signs that companies who respond well to voice search find it easier to create a bond with their customers. If you emphasize user friendliness and easy access to information, you’ll find that your brand awareness will grow in no time.


Generally speaking, the purchase is the first commercial suggestion

Digitas, part of one of the world’s largest communication consultancy agencies, recently published a report that contained a number of very interesting conclusions. Their results show that 85% of consumers buy the brand product that is suggested to them, rather than the product of the brand they were looking for. More specifically: if someone is interested in buying a Dyson vacuum, it is very likely that the same person ultimately buys a Miele vacuum.


What do these results mean for commercial companies?

They emphasize the monopolistic position of the company that ranks highest in voice searches. The Digitas study has clear implications: claim 85% of all sales by grabbing the no.1 rank. Or settle for the remaining 15%.


Millennials are determined

In addition to the astounding 85% insight, the same study also sought to shed light on behavior among millennials, showing that millennials are more than twice as likely to pick the first product than older generations. Only rarely do they look at other options. This behavior could be explained by millennials’ faith in online reviews and the ‘impartial’ choice made by the search assistant.


Hope for lower-ranking results

When customers have a screen at their disposal at the time of purchase, they will consider other options 78% of the time. So when the search is sent from a mobile phone, you can be sure that most potential customers will scroll down a little. Unfortunately, the study did not look into how often customers still pick a different option and how long they continue searching. It is, however, possible to conclude (quantifiably) that you have been seen.


How can I get to the #1 rank in voice searches?

Unfortunately, it has become extremely difficult for internet marketers to figure out how content will be ranked. Search engines make use of hundreds of factors to determine relevance and the corresponding ranking position. I can already hear you thinking: “so is there nothing I can do?” Tara Kelly, CEO of SPLICE Software, believes that “Voice-first SEO definitely is part of the answer, but content and experiences also have to be designed for voice-first interactions.”


Structured data = voice optimization

In order to respond to this trend, Tara Kelly believes you will have to build your content around structured data. This will make it easier for assistants to collect the most important information, such as name, price and reviews, as quickly as possible. Ideally, you should summarize this information in 2 to 3 sentences, ready to be processed by the assistant.


What does this mean for the Dutch market?

For now, all these results are based on studies in the American market. If we assume that the average Dutch person takes a slightly more critical approach, the results will not be entirely the same. Even if the percentage is lower in the Netherlands, however, it will still be considerably high. Even a 60% bounce of your customer picking your competitor simply because of the assistant’s suggestion is huge.


Conclusion: it’s a matter of all or nothing

In the US, a study mapped the purchasing process of users of virtual assistants. 85% of the time, customers will choose a competing product if the assistant deems it to be more relevant, even if the customer specifically asks for a review or product of a particular brand. This percentage won’t be quite as high in the Netherlands, but there is a lot to be gained from responding to this development! When describing your products or services, focus on using structured data, which will make it easier for search engines to find and interpret your product.