Commerce technology has come a long way raising B2B customer expectations. Buyers have more demands from sellers throughout the sales funnel from simpler ordering processes to more accurate intuitive technology. However there is a game changer that is starting to disrupt the market and it seems that B2B e-commerce is yet to capitalize on it. We’re talking about voice-based technology!
Voice commerce is going to be the next big thing because Amazon Echos and Google Homes have already infiltrated our houses, and right now one in six U.S. consumers owns a voice-controlled device. In India, Amazon enjoys 59% of the voice-enabled device market share whereas Google comes in second at 39%. Voice commerce is expected to generate USD 40 billion in sales across the U.S. and the U.K. within the next four years!
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This growth in voice assisted commerce will have major implications for the B2B space. As the technology becomes more popular, we could be looking at a future where voice assistants could help us order industrial machines or niche products instead of the current weather checks and coffee shop timings search results. If voice assisted tech currently caters to customers only, then why should B2B companies even concern themselves with this novelty? Well for starters, B2B marketers should take note of how this rapidly growing technology will influence their inbound marketing approaches, especially since the rules for voice assist differ slightly from traditional Google searches and, as a result, so should the SEO strategies.
Also if you consider that more than half of all searches are projected to be done via voice search by 2020 and the fact that the voice assist market is slated to be worth about USD 600 million, B2B will eventually need to adopt this technology. Brands will begin to optimize for voice search to get a head start and they will also have to develop new strategies to stay relevant in this emerging market.
Here are some use cases where voice technology can be used in a B2B scenario:
- Reducing friction in the buying process - This is already being done as Amazon’s Alexa is being used to buy paper towels, laundry detergent and dog food. These household items are commonly bought, and Alexa has just made things simpler for consumers to purchase things without having to look at a mobile app or a website.
- Being used for complex purchases - Now if you were ordering 200 laptops for your business with a particular laptop spec in mind, then a simple voice assistant may not be enough. This is where B2B companies can really innovate and improve the B2B purchase process. You could program the voice recognition tech to tabulate a history of purchases made and make those kinds of re-purchases easier to do. Or you could use a CPQ - Configure Price Quote software to improve the purchase workflow.
Buyers managing purchasing for manufacturing facilities, for example, deal with too many complexities to rely on the simplicity of a voice device, which is why these transactions are usually done face to face or over the phone. With a CPQ however, you can make complex orders because CPQ systems centrally organize transaction history, customer history, price books, house product catalogs and more to generate accurate price quotes automatically. CPQ platforms simplify potentially complex buying processes and bring B2B experiences closer to the convenient, streamlined B2C transactions buyers are used to. Most CPQ systems do not support voice technology yet, but the best are already on their way to adopt emerging tech such as voice recognition.
The B2B space is constantly evolving digitally despite the traditionally complex nature of its buying process. Businesses that use CPQ technology to better serve customers are poised to conquer new channels like voice commerce and deliver the best experiences to B2B buyers. With CPQ technology in place, a future where buyers are ordering replacement parts from Alexa comes into focus.
Voice-based technology is here to stay
Voice assist will continue to evolve through breakthroughs in machine learning and improvements to search engine algorithms. Search engines like Google and Bing are the bedrock for these technologies, with Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana all depending on Bing to provide search results, whereas Google Assistant depending on Google’s search engine.
Let us not forget that voice technology can greatly benefit companies that have networks with overseas partners thanks to innovations like language translation or enabling users with disabilities to perform tasks with ease. B2Bs should also consider that the audience segmentation is skewed toward younger audiences. These users will continue to become more dominant in the workforce and shift the way research happens. We’re not saying that voice search will completely replace traditional online search, but it’s quite likely that people will slowly accept voice search in public or social settings as it becomes more mainstream.
How Can Forward-thinking B2Bs Leverage Voice Assist?
If you’re a developer in the voice technology space, there is no doubt you’re looking for ways to address the multi-billion dollar B2B markets. These B2B markets have mostly gone ignore so far, and it’s time for them to start taking action! Let’s take SEO as a strategy for example. While it may have some similarities with text based searches, there are differences to note when determining keywords, title tags and other website technical requirements.
Right now, voice search draws results from featured snippets. If your efforts were focused on including content and keywords that are most likely to be featured in a snippet, you are more likely to get the search results you’re looking for. Snippets are boxes of information that generally show up on the top of search engine results, even above the paid search results.
Another good idea would be to include longer keywords in your SEO campaign as voice commands tend to be more conversational. Technical content with a lot of jargon will typically have a hard time being displayed to users via voice assisted search. Introducing a more natural conversational language into your blogs and websites will make things far easier. In fact, even in our blogs, we try to maintain a certain personality into our content because we believe that conversational content is far easier to understand and relate to, than technical writing.
What can I do to make my website more voice-search friendly?
- Voice searches tend to be in the form of questions. Include FAQs on your website to take advantage of this format.
- Your site will rank in results if they can answer user questions. Quora and commonly asked questions that search engines suggest are a good way to gauge what the public wants to know about a particular topic. Include the questions and answers in your content!
- Improve the mobile-friendliness of your site. Every smartphone being produced today has a voice assist feature, so it is naturally the most used device when it comes to voice assist.
Voice-based technology is at the cusp of becoming something phenomenal in the near future. Only time will tell how this technology will improve marketing and sales. If companies want to stay ahead of the curve, they will need to start adopting this technology and experimenting with it as soon as possible!
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