There is a new mobile-first mindset for many consumers. Studies have shown us that users turn to their mobile phone, and more importantly, voice search when they are looking for answers to their questions.1Information is now more available than it has ever been. The user can gather their information in minimal time. All a user has to do is hit the Google Now button on Android, or talk to Siri to get their answers. The actual searching time has roughly stayed the same, but voice search has made things easier for users.
In the past weeks, Google has made announcements signaling their move towards mobile. You can see signs of this mobile push as early as the removal of Google’s paid ads on the sidebar. At the same time, they added one more ad to the traditional 3-Pack at the top of the page. Now they are increasing character counts for titles and descriptions. Google released a hefty bit of data at their conference that shines a light on their move towards mobile. Mobile is no longer a secondary option to the desktop. It is a primary for the consumer. With voice searches on mobile increasing, it is imperative to take note.
I think it is safe to say that the OTAs have become a featured distribution channel for many hotels. You may not enjoy the negotiated rates, but you can’t deny the fact that they do drive business for you. How does this play into voice search? Well, one of the many benefits of voice search is that it allows for (forces at times) auto correction. Many OTAs tend to have a generic keyword bidding strategy. In other words, they use a blanket approach when choosing their keywords. They can do this because they have huge budgets. You can’t afford to use a blanket approach. Since voice is coming up, you can count on auto correct to spell words so that you can focus on fewer keywords. Find the optimal CPC to pay for these voice search queries, and you can get in front of the right customers. A smarter strategy is always better than a blanket approach. The generalized strategy worked well when the desktop was the primary search vessel, but it needs to be adopted now that mobile has become the top choice.
If you deal at all with marketing, then you know that personalization is always on our wish lists. What better way to provide a personalized experience than by talking to the guest in the same language that they use when they talk into their phone. Doing a voice search on your phone is a real and personal form of search. If you look in your search terms report in Google Analytics/Search Console and segment by mobile, you can see what people are talking into their phones. It is going to take a little bit of digging into the data, but if you can pick up on the patterns, I’m sure that you will reap the rewards for years to come.
Rise of Personal Assistants/ Digital Assistants:
Amazon, Alexa, and Google now have their variation of a personal assistant. While different, there is one thing that all these personal assistants have in common. The companies that make them all have massive amounts of data on their users. Getting ahead is just a matter of understanding how these companies will tie in a user’s query to its result. If I was in consumer packaged goods, I might focus a little bit more on Amazon Echo since they dominate that arena. Given Google’s recent dive into travel, and their massive warehouse of data, I would try to figure out Google’s offering, first.
Ease of use/Better Artificial Intelligence (AI):
This article might have been completely different if it was written 2-3 years ago when voice recognition was not as good as it is now. I now find it easier to not only speak out individual queries on my phone but also to speak them out on my computer. Think about how often you use your phone to find directions to a restaurant, or reviews about a movie, etc. It is no surprise that one in every five searches made on Android in the U.S. is a search query!2 It’s just become that simple. Understand your guests and AI should come naturally to you.
There are many untapped opportunities out there when it comes to voice search. If you can set up your website to answer the specific questions that your customers are asking, you stand to gain a competitive edge. Try to work in question and answer style questions on your website. This way when a user does a voice search for a hyper-specific query you have a good chance of showing up. If you give them what they are looking for, the hotel has an opportunity to gain a new customer.
There you have it. If you can figure out how to use voice search to your benefit, you can reap the rewards before anyone else. The reasons outlined above are just a few. I was an early adopter of voice search, so I understand it’s value. After reading this article, I’m hoping that you realize it too. Try using voice search, and see if it doesn’t make your life easier.
1. “Time Pressure: Behavioral Science Considerations for Mobile Marketing.” 2016. 3 Jun. 2016 <https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/time-pressure-behavioral-science-considerations-mobile-marketing.html>
2. “The continuing rise of voice search and how you can adapt to it …” 2016. 3 Jun. 2016 <https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/05/31/the-continuing-rise-of-voice-search-and-how-you-can-adapt-to-it/>