Voice marketing is taking off in the consumer world, but it had B2B applications too. Molly Raycraft examines the brands ahead of the curve incorporating voice tech in their marketing
I’ve not quite established whether voice/audio-based marketing really is the next big thing or a bubble of hype that’s about to burst. Remember 3D cinemas?
What I do know is it’s very much still in its infancy. Consider how much voice tech infrastructure we have. There’s Amazon with Alexa, Google with Google Assistant, and Apple’s HomePod. These are still in the infancy of becoming a norm in our personal lives, so it’ll take time for these to also become a workplace norm, if they ever do.
This lack of voice tech presence in the work place is discouraging marketers and product developers from investing too deeply in voice marketing and technology at this stage. That’s why most B2B offers available in this space have a simple focus – usually personal efficiency. This is still a positive step because it makes these processes more accessible and inclusive.
However, have you seen some of the fun ideas B2C companies have made for Alexas? They offer entertainment as well as added value. An example of this is home insurer Hippo which offers to play conversations loudly from your Alexa while you’re out in order to prevent burglary.
Vistaprint has done something similar with its Alexa skill (see below). Rather than just voice-enabling its service, it’s offering added value in the form of tips for small businesses. Vistaprint is selling to consumers, as well as business which could explain why it’s ahead of the game in B2B, and as its customers are small businesses, many of whom most likely work from home.
Don’t lose faith completely. Amazon is pushing hard to bring Alexa to the workplace, and with Salesforce’s launch of its conversational CRM this year, perhaps it could be the push voice tech needs to cement its place in B2B.
6 great examples of voice-marketing tech in B2B
There are some early examples of how B2B companies are adapting their marketing and products in anticipation of the growth in audio. Here are six companies to take inspiration from.
1. Amazon – Alexa for Business
I’ll admit this one is a little B2C but where would we be without Amazon’s Alexa? Although we more commonly know Alexa for the voice assistance it brings into our homes, Amazon is now positioning Alexa as a tool for efficiency in the office. For those B2B marketers looking to forge a brand presence in voice this is beneficial. Just imagine, an Alexa-operating company asks for the contact details of a B2B copywriting agency, and Alexa pulls your business up, it would make you the go-to choice. However, it all depends on who your clients are, and if they’re using Alexa for Business. It strikes me as something a funky creative agency would have rather than a corporate law firm – but you never know, customer insight may surprise you.
Alexa for Business: Empower Your Organization to Use Alexa
2. Salesforce – Einstein Voice
Salesforce is at the cusp of producing its platform in voice form. Last year the company announced it will launch a conversational CRM, which is due to appear in the last two quarters of this year. Essentially rather than log meetings and notes by typing, sales and marketers will be able to speak them while Einstein transcribes and logs them into Salesforce. The point of this is to improve productivity and the back-end of customer experience. Einstein Voice will be compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant (which could increase interest in these within the workplace further). When the product was announced, Parker Harris, co-founder and CTP at Salesforce, said the move was due to a technological shift toward voice. This is a big move for Salesforce that it’s backed up with research. It looks as though it’s put a lot of time and money behind this, so it’ll be interesting to see how the new feature pans out.
Introducing Einstein Voice
3. Google – Google Duplex
When Google Duplex was unveiled at Google’s 2018 I/O developer conference, people were amazed. It was even covered by main stream news organisations. Duplex essentially allows Google Assistant to phone up businesses and hold full-on conversations to book appointments. I’m not talking about those automated calls that ask if you’ve had a car accident before leaving a long pause and assuming that you have. What’s so shocking about Duplex is that it picks up the nuances of spoken language to the point where it’s next to impossible to tell whether it’s human or robot. This feature of Google Assistant is only currently available in 43 US states, so if you live in Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Texas, or anywhere else in the world, you’ll have to keep waiting.
Google Duplex: A.I. Assistant Calls Local Businesses To Make Appointments
4. SAP – Business By Design
Similar to Salesforce, SAP has voice-enabled its Business By Design solution. This is a feature that is accessible through Alexa skills. Rather than trawling through numbers, you’re able to request specific figures which Alexa will immediately recite to you. The point is, this is meant to save time and create flexibility. Stefanie Hager, head of product at SAP Business By Design, gives a great example in her video as to how voice-enabled SAP software can help marketers and sales to understand and act on their individual clients quickly.
Alexa Meets SAP Business ByDesign
5. Vistaprint – Small business advice
Another brand to embrace Alexa is printing company Vistaprint. It’s B2B customer base largely consists of small businesses and Vistaprint has cleverly catered to that. It’s one of the few brands that hasn’t simply offered an alternative way of using its services (i.e. made them voice-enabled). It’s gone one step further and added an extra service catering to its target audiences’ challenges. By signing up to the Vistaprint skill through Alexa, you will receive marketing tips for small businesses in your daily newsfeed. Simple but innovative.
6. Microsoft – Cortana (for Alexa)
Microsoft first released Cortana five years ago. Most of us know it as a voice assistant/search function for Windows phones and computers – Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri. However, Microsoft has cleverly adapted Cortana to be compatible with Alexa. Why is this such a good idea? Well, not only does it mean you can use Cortana to book your business appointments, check your schedule, and quickly search for information. It also means if you have an Alexa for Business rather than Google Assistant, Cortana is not completely redundant.