Voice Search Is Exploding: How This Changes Your Digital, Content And Social Media Marketing Strategies.

Apple’s launch of the iPhone 4s in 2011 introduced the world to Siri. Since then we’ve had Google Voice, Microsoft Cortana, and Amazon Echo Alexis, but now voice search is poised for rapid growth. 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search more than once a day. Click To Tweet ComScore predicts that by 2020, half of all searches will be voice searches. Businesses can benefit from understanding how this shift will disrupt current search (SEO), content marketing and social media marketing strategies.

Voice Search Digital Content Social Media Marketing Strategy Quesenberry

Keyword searching is decreasing so sites optimized to keywords will see a decrease in traffic and engagement. Voice search sifts behavior from typing in key words or phrases to finding something by asking questions. This goes beyond long tail search strategies where marketers have combined multiple search terms to narrow results on smaller niche audiences. Long tail was in response to people using longer search phrases looking for more specific products and services. In voice search people use their voices to ask questions in full sentences.

Consumers are now asking questions of the Internet the way they would a person. With the growth of voice search, which uses natural language, there is increase in questions as part of the search phrasing. In fact, Search Engine Watch reports the use of search queries starting with “who,” “what,” “where” and “how” has increased by 61% year over year. This makes sense because many people now can use their voice and ask their phones.

Marketers must adjust so their content appears as a good answer. How? Think less keyword stuffing and meta tags and more full sentences and conversational copy. Respond to more natural language questions with more natural language answers – the way you would answer someone in person. Voice search results emphasize quality so you should think less like a marketer with heavy sales messages and more like a publisher or journalist – answering the “W” questions is the basis of writing a good news story. Also, all words become important Purna Virji of Moz gives the example that if the search phrase is “What is the cost for gas in my location?”, the words “is,” “the,” “for”, “in” and “my” are filler words. The filler words have nothing to do with a specific product or service, but they increase the words that match a voice query and can improve search placement.

Google Voice search has doubled over the last year. Click To TweetHow can you take advantage of this trend? Follow the four steps below.

  1. Research the most common questions asked by your target audience. Search industry, interest and product forums. Search comments on ratings and industry appropriate review sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor or even Amazon. Search questions and answer sites like Quora and your own Q&A page. Survey front line employees and sales people about most common questions and analyze your own social media accounts for common questions. If you don’t have a Q&A section on your website consider adding one.
  2. Search these common questions using voice search and see how the current answers are written. Use Siri, Google Voice, Cortana, Alexis to see what is currently appearing as the top results. This will help you identify current competition and provide a guideline for how to structure your own answers. Are there answers that are not being given? Concentrate there first, then work your way to trying to overtake competitor’s positions.
  3. Create website and social media content that directly answers those questions in simple clear sentences. Here remember the “who,” “what,” “where” and “how.” Provide clear and direct answers but fill out the information around the direct answers. Once you get the consumer on your site for the direct answer you can expand the topic. Also don’t forget to create content based on variations of the same questions such as how to fix, “how do I fix ____?,” “how do I stop ___?”, or who can fix ____?, “what do I do if ___?” Don’t forget all content that can be searched including blogs and press releases.
  4. Consider local voice search. If you are a business with a physical address you should consider a new element to potential customer questions. Here people may be asking questions based on geo-location such as “where is the nearest BBQ place?,” “where can I get an iPhone charger?”, Who has the closest free wi-fi?” Make sure your business is listed with physical locations in Google+ Local and other geo-location social media sites like Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook. Reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdviser can also impact these search results.

Voice search for product research is increasing. Nearly 50% of people are now using voice search when researching products. If marketers want their products to be found they should start to consider new strategies that emphasize natural language over keywords.

Digital and content marketing benefits to voice search optimization: Optimizing your website, blog and press/media pages with new information in the right structure can help get your content noticed over competitors to drive more traffic from highly qualified leads.

Social media marketing benefits to voice search optimization: Voice search optimized content will draw more engagement because you will be providing answers addressing your target audience’s most common questions. A focus on discovering and answering your target’s questions leads to more valuable and relevant social content that will drive awareness views and shares.

Business benefits to voice search optimization: Adjusting to natural language search helps you think more like a consumer and less like a marketer. This improved understanding of what your customers are currently seeking can lead to new product and service ideas to improve your business offering.

Over time the better you get at answering natural language questions the better your results. Bill Slawski from Go Fish Digital says that sites frequently selected and ranked highly can be deemed more authoritative and thus appear in more top results and drive more traffic.

We are still early in this trend. If you start adjusting strategies now you could benefit from a competitive advantage over your slower competitors. Have you considered how voice search will change your digital strategies?

For more insights into the big picture in social media strategy consider Social Media Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution.

To consider the bigger picture in measurement see Why You Need A Social Media Measurement Plan And How To Create One. To consider the bigger picture in social media marketing Ask These Questions To Ensure You Have The Right Strategy.

Brand Equity: Tangible Assets Are A Small Part Today’s Brand Value

According to Interbrand Corporation’s Best Global Brands Ranking the value of Microsoft brand was $60.8 billion in 2010. How can the Microsoft brand be worth so much?

Lets start by figuring out what that number means. In the past, one of the undervalued assets of companies was their brand, because they are off-balance-sheet items. Haigh & Knowles, (2004) tell us that today, looking at a typical company like Microsoft, net tangible assets make a small percentage of total value. When comparing brand value to percentage of market capitalization we find that, based on the 2005 Interbrand study, Microsoft’s brand value was $59.9 billion compared to a market capitalization of only $13.2 billion.

So why does the Microsoft brand contribute so much to its value? There has been this value shift from tangible to intangible assets. The tangible assets of Microsoft including land, equipment, inventory, networking, only account for roughly 22% of its value. Especially in a software company like Microsoft, its real value comes in its intangible assets such as patents, distribution rights, customer data bases, brands/sub-brands, and the quality of their workforce and management. Intellectual property rights, trademarks, trade names, patents, and designs protect these intangibles and help make a brand a valuable asset.

Brands like Microsoft establish a level of quality and performance in the minds of individuals and businesses. These satisfied buyers choose to buy the product again. The brand loyalty represents predictability and security for demand. It also makes it very difficult for competitors to enter the market. As the old saying goes, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.” All the years of marketing and product experience have helped secure a competitive advantage for Microsoft. That’s why there is such a price premium paid for companies like Microsoft. Imagine trying to build a Microsoft from scratch? Even if you were given the 22% in tangibles of equipment and other assets it would be a difficult task. In creating a new software company from scratch that 78% is a high hill to get over.

A good example of how the power and value of Microsoft’s brand created competitive advantage was back in the late 1990’s. Netscape tried to compete with Microsoft by getting into the Internet browser arena quickly while Microsoft underestimated its popularity and potential.

Discovering it made a mistake as Netscape gained prominence, Microsoft used its brand power to squelch Netscape’s threat to its desktop software dominance by pressuring its distributors (PC manufactures) to restrict the distribution and usage of Netscape’s browser. Today Wal-Mart uses its brand power to negotiate, or as some would say demand, lower prices from its supplier.

Do you think the rise of store brands lowered brand value in package goods?

Are Intellectual Property Rights Wrong?

What if intellectual property rights did not apply to cyberspace? At first this seems like a ridiculous idea. But you must consider that intellectual property is a relatively new notion. As philosopher Sam Vaknin points out  – in the near past, no one considered knowledge or the fruits of creativity as someone’s property. Texts, discoveries, inventions, works of art and music, all belonged to the community and could be copied freely.

Intellectual property is not scarce like physical property such as a car or house or land. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.” If someone copies a book you have written, you still have the original book. If you take a car, the owner no longer has it. Even Ayn Rand said, “intellectual property cannot be consumed.” Should we be protecting all this on the Internet or allow people to use it freely as long as they give credit to the original source?

What’s wrong with intellectual property rights? Corporations use intellectual property rights to secure a monopoly on a specific work. That’s why Microsoft fights copyright piracy all over the world. The problem is the poor cannot afford Microsoft products, but Microsoft is the standard and the poor get pushed out creating a gap between the poor and the rich. This IP monopoly pits the interests of companies and their rich investors in direct conflict with the poor and marginalized.

But it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing prospect. Creative Commons is a nonprofit Internet organization created to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in “the commons” — the body of work that is available to the public for free and legal sharing, use, repurposing, and remixing. Creative Commons was developed to work with existing copywrite law and provide possibilities between full copyright and public domain. “Some rights reserved” copyright allows a free exchange of ideas for the betterment of society while still acknowledging the creator of the works.

With production cost near zero on the Internet, should intellectual property be given up for the good of society? Think about cloud computing such as Google Docs. Google is challenging the old Microsoft way of thinking. Google allows free use of its word processing program in trade for generating traffic and advertising income.

Do intellectual property rights have to be all or nothing?