What trends will drive ecommerce in 2019? Part 1: Voice search
Ecommerce brands that want to stay relevant and continue attracting and engaging customers in a competitive marketplace must stay in step with the latest trends online.
In the first of two blogs exploring some of the key trends currently shaping the ecommerce industry, here Language Connect looks at a technology that is becoming more important with each passing year: voice search.
The growth of voice search
The increase in voice search activity in recent years has been largely driven by the rising popularity of voice-activated assistants and devices such as Amazon's Alexa, Google Home and Apple's Siri.
Consumer adoption of these products has accelerated in recent years, with their popularity peaking in 2017, according to research by Zazzle Media.
Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of survey respondents who owned a voice assistant had bought the device in the last two years. Just under four out of five (79 per cent) of all purchases occurred in the fourth quarter of 2017, suggesting that the trend is gathering pace and 2018 could be a particularly strong year for voice assistant sales.
There is certainly an expectation that voice search activity will continue growing in the coming years. Back in 2016, Gartner forecast that, by 2020, 30 per cent of web browsing sessions will be conducted without a screen, with the proliferation of audio-centric technologies giving rise to new platforms based on 'voice-first' interactions.
According to ComScore, half of all internet searches will be done by voice by 2020.
This is clearly a trend ecommerce brands need not only to be aware of, but using to their advantage to ensure they are making the most of new opportunities in this fast-moving industry.
What voice search growth means for SEO
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is of fundamental importance for any brand that wants to be found online, particularly when expanding into a new market or launching a new product.
With voice searches becoming more and more common, businesses need to be prepared for the possibility – or, more to the point, the reality – of this technology having a major impact on SEO.
One of the most important differences between a voice search and a more traditional, written query on a search engine is that the former is likely to be longer, with more complex construction.
Consider the example of a keen runner looking for some new footwear that will endure the wear and tear of long runs. On a desktop computer, this person might simply search for 'best running shoes', but a voice query is more likely to be something like: 'What are the best shoes for running long distances?'
Brands looking to benefit from the growth of voice search must be able to deliver the right content and responses to more complex queries. Individual keywords are likely to lose some of their importance, with longer search terms and more general topics taking precedence over specific words and phrases.
More complex voice searches can help businesses by providing a clearer insight into the searcher's intent, and consequently the point they are at in the buyer's journey.
This offers the potential for valuable, relevant engagement with customers, but only if the business is able to effectively target voice queries and deliver the information the user is seeking.
Another key nuance of voice search is its more conversational nature. Ecommerce brands need to engage with their target audience in a conversational manner, which requires a close understanding of the language being used and the distinctive quirks in how people express themselves in certain locations.
Having the right conversations
Imbuing content with a conversational tone can be highly beneficial for ecommerce brands, not only to attract more traffic from voice searches, but also to lay the foundations for positive customer relationships.
If someone searching for a particular product online feels that a retailer is communicating with them in a human, natural way, they are more likely to have an instantly positive reaction to the brand and to feel relaxed in their shopping experience.
This all comes down to language and how it is used – something that becomes all the more important when a firm is expanding into a foreign market. Unnatural or awkward language will be an instant turn-off for many consumers, so effective translation and localisation are essential to strike a conversational tone.
According to Hussein Ebied, senior director of strategy at digital agency Pacific, understanding of language and conversational communication are two of the most important elements of voice search optimisation.
Ecommerce businesses that are tuned in to these trends and are able to attract customers through effectively tailored content will be the best-placed to benefit from the voice search revolution.
Image: AH86 via iStock