The Future Of Voice Control: Amazon Echo Exceeds 30 Million Devices Installed

The role played by voice-activated smart speakers in the home continues to expand, according to Mary Meeker's 2018 Internet Trends report.

As consumers have grown more comfortable with the voice-first interface, the role played by voice-activated smart speakers in the home continues to expand: In fact, the number of Echo devices installed in the U.S. reportedly grew from 20 million in the third quarter of 2017 to more than 30 million in the fourth quarter, according to Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends report.

And while digital interaction and screen time is at an all-time high in general, Meeker’s marquis report makes on thing clear in the realm of voice: Voice technology is at an inflection point, with speech recognition hitting an estimated 95 percent accuracy. And as this progression has taken place, users have become comfortable with asking voice-activated intelligent assistants to do more than play music or report the weather — voice commerce is on the rise, as an estimated 42 percent of those who own voice devices use them to shop.

Voice Strategy 101

What does this mean for marketers? Well, as new ways to share news, shop, and more emerge through this interface, building a voice strategy today matters.

According to the report, certain brand actions are already on the rise: The development of Alexa skills has skyrocketed. Plus, with the introduction of Blueprints, anyone can create a customized Alexa skill — without needing to know how to code. For example, users can create their own voice apps for bedtime stories for their children, or “teach” Alexa to answer predesigned questions like “What do we love most about mom?” for Mother’s Day. Other “featured” Blueprints include building a game show or making a guide to the neighborhood for welcoming house guests.

How else can marketers embrace the future of voice search and voice control? As Collin Holmes wrote previously for GeoMarketing, “local search [is] increasingly critical as consumers turn to their voice devices, and eventually their connected cars and appliances, to immediately find solutions, offers and services that are convenient and nearby. Brands must curate each of their location’s marketing and business listings accordingly to capitalize on this new channel to engage with customers.”

Having accurate and up to date listings and information across platforms is the first step. Then, marketers must think in question-and-answer format, aiming to markup their site with content that answers the precise questions users may be asking about a brand when they use voice.

“Some of this work is simple — if technical — while other elements are more difficult to move the needle on,” explained Duane Forrester, search marketing expert and VP of industry insights at Yext [Full disclosure: Yext owns GeoMarketing. More details on that relationship here]. “[But] including structured data mark up on your page can help (and is a great starting point for this). That’s a technical item you can directly change.”

Read more about using SEO strategies for voice here.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.