- While more than 50 million U.S. consumers own voice-powered smart speakers that can respond to questions, few businesses provide correct answers to basic searches for information like opening hours, according to a study that location marketing firm Uberall shared with Mobile Marketer. The firm found that just 3.8% of businesses had correct information for voice searches and observed nearly 1 million errors about opening hours across listings — nearly half of locations analyzed in the study.
- Uberall created a "voice search readiness" (VSR) score to help businesses evaluate their presence for verbal queries. The company identified the 37 directories that feed voice search platforms with information and found that Google, Google Maps, Yelp and Bing were the most important services for voice users. Apple Maps has very little effect on optimizing for voice search queries, Uberall found.
- Dental offices had the highest average VSR score at 97%, while consumer protection organizations (0.20%) and congressional representatives (0.24%) had the lowest grades.
The growing popularity of voice-powered virtual assistants is opening up a key marketing channel for businesses of all sizes. Consumers who tell assistants like Amazon Alexa, Apple's Siri or Google Assistant to handle search tasks like "find the best mechanic in my area" will hear results one at a time. That means being listed first for voice users is more important than appearing in traditional search results on a desktop or mobile screen, per Uberall.
However, a sliver of companies are prepared to optimize voice search results in the same way that they do for search engines like Google and Bing, or directories like Yelp.
"Voice search is one of the most hyped, yet perhaps least understood topics confronting businesses today," Norman Rohr, Uberall's SVP of marketing, said in a statement.
In an earlier study, Uberall found that small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are most optimistic about the marketing potential from Amazon Alexa over other virtual assistants. Only one-third (35%) of SMB marketers said they're boosting marketing budgets for voice channels, and another 38% said they don't do any kind of marketing with voice platforms.
The study comes as the number of voice assistants in use is predicted to jump threefold to 8 billion by 2023 from 2.5 billion at the end of 2018, Juniper Research forecasts. Smart TV usage will rise about 121% a year, making the voice-enabled products the fastest-growing source of consumers who use virtual assistants, followed by smart speakers (41% yearly growth) and wearables (up 40%), the study said.