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‘Tis the season for voice-assisted shopping: This year, 50% of consumers will use voice search to research products, while 33% say they plan to use it to shop. Voice will power shopping behaviors this season like never before — and not just through smartphones. Devices like Echo, Google Home, Siri, and Cortana are bringing retailers and brands directly into customers’ homes. You could even say they’re a part of the family now.

 

For brands and retailers, this means there’s no better time than now to ensure your voice search strategy is in place before the holiday rush. Follow these steps from our retail experts Christa Matukaitis and Sarah Fuhs to ring in a pitch perfect holiday season:

 

  1. Tune up your approach to search. Shift your focus from keywords to sentences, phrases, and questions that mimic the way shoppers naturally speak. Voice requests are typically 6-10 words long vs 1-3 words for text-based search. Keep in mind that voice search tends to be locally-focused as well. For example, shoppers will ask, “What are store hours for the Godiva store at Rockefeller Center?” but will only type “Godiva store hours” in the search box.  

  2. Be ready to answer questions once they find you. In 2017, one in four shoppers used voice-enabled digital assistants — like Amazon Echo or Google Home — to buy products from an online retailer. Take advantage of this retail trend by thinking about how shoppers would ask questions to a sales associate in-store. This includes the standard who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. Also, be sure to test brand-relevant questions on different voice devices to see both what competitors are doing and where your brand can stand out with a quality response. As with text-based search, you want to mimic natural dialogue and keep your answers simple. Short answers appeal most to today’s on-the-go shoppers.

  3. Keep customer intent and context in mind as you plan and prioritize new content.  Shoppers tend to  ask very specific questions via voice. Oftentimes, this can signal where they are in the purchase funnel. Are they ready to shop in a store? You’ll need to optimize content for “near me” searches by keeping your listings and seasonal store hours on Google and Apple maps updated. Are they looking to shop online or research a product? Be sure to revisit product descriptions to make sure they align to how customers would ask questions about them via voice search. When done well, this can be a game changer for generating rich SEO that puts your brand well ahead of the competition.

 

 

And don’t forget!

Holiday planning will really start to pick up steam in September.  Here are a few more general things you can do to make sure your holiday strategy goes off without a hitch: 

  • Finalize marketing calendars and promotions for shopping season spikes. Forty-one percent of consumers say they will start their holiday shopping as early as October. In 2017, the Columbus Day holiday saw a peak in online traffic.

  • Create “coming soon” and “sneak peek” product and promotional pages on your website to generate excitement while also giving your business a pre-holiday SEO lift.

  • Map out your email strategy. More than half of consumers say they hear too much from brands and retailers. Don’t be one of those. Evaluate email segmentation and frequency to ensure you’re sending the right message, at the right time. And don’t forget to optimize for mobile!

 

What else can you do to achieve a pitch perfect holiday season? Start by visiting the Holiday Insights hub, our go-to resource for everything related to holiday planning. While you’re there, be sure to register for our Holiday Predictions webinar in partnership with Retail Touchpoints and download our comprehensive Holiday Readiness Guide.