Exploring trends and opportunities to optimize content for smart speakers like Amazon Echo’s Alexa and Google Home assistant.
As of January 2017, a reported 7 percent of the U.S. population owned an Alexa or Google Home smart speaker. For those not entirely familiar with the devices, think of the product as a kind of genie in a bottle. Similar in appearance to a cylindrical speaker, the smart device can hear any wish you utter in the open air and, if you ask the right way, grant it (using your credit card—be warned). These devices integrate with home appliances, retail stores, apps and online services. Consumers can listen, ask and order, hands-free.
So how can content marketers use this emerging platform to engage people, and in turn get them to engage with brands? Earlier this year, Edison Research and NPR collaborated to survey 1,600 U.S. consumers about their smart speaker usage and awareness. Half the participants owned a device, with 90 percent listing the ability to listen to music as a core reason for the purchase, and 87 percent saying they wanted to ask questions hands-free.
What can smart speakers do?
Savvy companies are already integrating with the devices to skip the middleman of filling out a form or even clicking a button. Here is a mere snippet of what you can do with a simple directive to your smart speaker:
- Order a Lyft
- Add items to a grocery list and schedule a home delivery
- Turn on Pandora
- Book a trip
- Adjust the thermostat
- Pay a bill
But let’s return to that 87 percent of owners who want to ask questions hands-free. This is where branded content can have a significant impact. If people are asking for information and advice, smart speakers are a new platform for brands and companies to share their expertise and resources.
Smart Speaker opportunities for B2B Brands
Although most smart speaker integrations are focused on reaching consumers, it’s not far-fetched to imagine B2B opportunities will arise, from companies bringing smart speakers into the office to streamline the equipment or supplies ordering process, or even to provide state-of-the-industry stats and resources during meetings.
How to Optimize Content for Smart Speakers
Smart speaker owners are still learning how to use the devices, which means brands and marketers are, too. Here’s what we’re asking as we explore the new landscape of smart speakers.
- Is our audience using the device?
- Do research to determine if the demographic that uses smart speakers aligns with your target audience.
- Research what questions and pain points your audience has and what smart speaker integrations they use most frequently.
- How can we optimize content so that the smart speakers find it?
- There aren’t yet SEO best practices for smart speakers, but a few trends are surfacing. FAQ content, local content and articles optimized for longtail keywords have a better chance of being picked up by the devices, according to research from Forbes and Milestone Internet
- What opportunities exist for audio content?
- With 68 percent of smart speaker users listening to music on the device, it's a good time to look into running ads on Pandora or Spotify.
- Consider whether your company has a thought-leader or unique approach to a topic that could be packaged as a podcast
- One new content form already gaining traction is the "Flash Briefing"—a brief audio segment that rounds up the news of the day or news about a specific topic. Check out AARP’s flash briefing for an example.
Amazon Alexa has also partnered with IFTTT to automatically connect the voice assistant with other devices and phone apps, such as reminders and Gmail. You can tell Alexa to email yourself a to-do list, for example. They can connect to social media apps too. This has big implications for social media content. Smart Speakers offer a pioneer’s field for content marketers. So think about how your brand can use audio to reach your audience. Watch what others are doing, watch what your audience is doing, and start testing ways to add your brand’s voice to the mix.