It may seem like very distant imagery, but we can do more than you think with a voice in an email. If you ask Siri or Bixby about your most recently received e-mails, you will get them to read to you aloud. As digital assistants will soon become more and more mainstream, the voice will play an even more important role. For example, in the form of the smart home devices of Google (Google Home) and Amazon (Alexa). Gartner even expects 30% (pdf) of online searches in 2020 to be done via voice.
A search that a consumer gives to a home device is likely to be supplemented in the future: “Hi, I know you are looking for traveling in Thailand. Today you have received an offer from your favorite travel organization”. Even a step further, devices that communicate with each other. Someone who requests a voice app to the most beautiful cities in Australia will receive three suggestions. This question automatically leads to the activation of an e-mail campaign, in which, for example, all beautiful towns in Australia pass.
Another example is the abandoned voice search. Has a consumer voiced the favorite brand of shoes, but did not order anything? Then an e-mail with all the queries in a row can increase the (final) conversion.
Keep the most relevant e-mails at the top of the ‘voice packet.’ The algorithms behind the assistants increasingly understand which emails are relevant to the recipient, and which aren’t. What does this mean for e-mail and the organizations that do e-mail marketing? We as ESP (e-mail service provider) are also developing regarding voice. In this blog post, I am going to give you some concrete tips on how to organize your e-mail as thoroughly as possible.
Tip 1. Make your most important message even sharper
As the end-user, you want to know immediately what the e-mail is going to be about. That is why you have to get the most essential message even sharper. By default, Siri reads the sender, subject line, pre-header and then the first 500 characters from your email. In 98% of the cases, your message will not be understood well, because the first signs in your e-mail do not always include the core of the information. Besides, separate reading of all characters takes a very long time.
Siri first says “view web version” and then reads all the characters from the URL of the web version. Then she reads the following link “unsubscribe newsletter” and then – literally – all the characters from that link. Useless and meaningless, of course, so you immediately shut it down.
Voice responds to the trend of shorter and more powerful emails. Words are now often replaced by appealing visuals, in which usually different messages are used interchangeably, and several specific links are integrated. For example, in a fashion promo newsletter, for direct linking to the women’s or men’s collection or your last viewed search results on the site. For voice, it is vital that you get the core message even shorter and more compelling. You want the voice assistant to tell you about the new collection briefly, but without going into details on all the items.
Tip 2. Invisible voice text block
Earlier, we were working on how can we make emails are as accessible as possible, for example for visually impaired people. We developed an individual and “invisible” voice text block, which is built into the standard template. You can enter a subject line and subheader and up to 500 characters that you want to be said afterward. Many voice challenges have already been solved this way, and you can also personalize the read text a lot better.
Tip 3. What will be the voice of your brand?
Your brand has a tone of voice on paper, and perhaps a physical voice, for example in YouTube videos or radio advertisements. Soundscapes (effects and audio quality) can also make the difference. Apart from the development of voice, it’s time to think about (and experiment) with how we want our brand to sound in voice. Funny or just business? Quiet or very active? Experiment with word choices and silences and see what kind of difference a comma, semicolon, extra space or exclamation mark is making.
Tip 4. Think about your entire ‘voice experience.’
Also, think about the continuation of your read e-mail. Are you going to give your customer a whole voice experience? Now you cannot yet respond to a call-to-action (CTA) by voice. The last thing that Siri asks you is “do you want to answer?” Your answer should of course not go to no-reply, but that is as far as artificial intelligence is able to go, so far.
I also want to add, that you may end up in a ‘Bermudas triangle’ after telling your assistant: “I want more info,” so it is still a lot of manual work for the marketing department. You could also say: “register for this event by responding with ‘yes’ to this e-mail.” This, therefore, results in manual work, because you only receive yes’s instead of entering data in a form. A very convenient feature for the consumer is that Siri sends a cc to your inbox, so you can always read back what you have answered.
In the (hopefully near) future, you can probably also respond to a CTA by voice.
Should companies optimize their entire website for a voice assistant?
Intuitively, many businesses are inclined to start with the website, but perhaps that is the last link in the whole. Nobody is going to have an entire website read, at home or on the go. Email is, in any case, a boulder in activating and connecting channels, and it is logical that this is why an important “voice key” lies with the emails. Go test and experiment before you miss the boat.
Tip 5. Statistics get a whole different meaning
It is all about brand engagement – the interaction with your brand – and therefore, also what you miss if you do not go along with it. It will all be different: in the past, you advertised on one specific channel. Now you advertise mostly based on a profile, independent of the channel where someone is located.
Statistics in email marketing also get a whole new meaning with voice. For example, the opening of emails will be even less related to time. After all, you can listen everywhere. In the car, while you walk to the metro or maybe even on the toilet. The value of an email is, therefore, no longer at the moment that someone receives or opens.
In the end, it is about range: if images are not shown, speech (reading aloud) still works. There are then only no opens measured, certainly no click, let alone conversion. For example, if you want to improve brand awareness, you can measure progress through KPIs such as the share of voice, direct traffic, branded search traffic and so on. Alexa Rank is another good KPI for bench-marking and noticing changes in relation to your competitors.
Final thoughts… Start small!
Once you started small with the email and marketing automation, also start small with the voice in the email. In fact, start now, and ask your email service provider what this can mean for you in this area. Although it seems all still in its infancy, 2020 is coming. Europe is different from the US and, according to some sources, this may lead to a slightly less rapid adoption. However, I certainly go along with the prediction of Gartner: in 2020, 30% of the searches are voice-powered. If you are looking for a voice-guided assistant, then the first step is to read your emails. Convenience serves man. Mobile communication also started in the US, but actually got off the ground in Europe faster than expected.
The arrival of voice forces you to think about your real core message. In most cases, you do not close the communication hole by communicating more often. By doing that in a more targeted and effective way. Use as much as possible of other data sources and play as well as possible on the latent needs of your customer. The developments are fast. Stagnation is, also in the field of voice, decline. Go experiment. From my own experience, I know that you can have a lot of fun with that.