EP 43: The Future of Voice Technology in Marketing
Kelly: So welcome to another episode of Thrive. Today, we're talking about the future of voice technology in marketing and I want you to meet someone really special. This is Matthew Gillen, CEO and co-founder of Voxion. And Matt actually happens to be the youngest guest we’ve ever had on the show and I'm not going to reveal his age maybe until later on but I was so impressed and really, really excited to talk about the future of voice technology. So welcome Matt and I'm really, really excited to have you on today.
Matthew: Yes, thank you so much. It was an honor when you invited me. I'm so excited to be here as well.
Kelly: So let's kind of set out or start out by setting the stage. What is voice search? Let's kind of level set first. And then talk about how it's evolved maybe over the last let's say five years.
Matthew: Yes, so voice search, what we consider voice search would be searching for content websites and stuff like that through the internet by using your voice rather than typing. So the way you search for voice is different than the way you would type a question. So that's something to consider when you're searching for voice. The leading ways people search for voice is either on their phone. They press the little microphone on their keyboard when they're in Google or actually interacting with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or even Siri. So those are the main methods of navigating voice search and kind of trying to find content through voice.
Kelly: And so how has that really involved over the last five years because we've all had voice search capabilities on our phone for a while now but I would imagine that the evolution of that has really, really accelerated in the recent history.
Matthew: Yes, definitely. Siri was one of the first kind of voice assistance to come out when Apple acquired them. They integrated in into their iPhone and through that you could do basic. You could call so and so, and look basic stuff up or ask for the weather. It was very limited in its use case. It was an alternative to just opening up an app and kind of navigate like that. So it's a faster way to gather information but since then more voice assistants have come on to the market such as Google Assistant and Siri’s features and capabilities have been constantly evolving. So now instead of just asking for the weather, you can write a message to someone. You can email someone. You can order and eat or you can even order in Uber all through the voice assistant without having to open up an app or type anything. So the way we see voice going is like integrating, we see voice e-commerce going rapidly. So shopping through voice as well as integrating more visual aspects to voice so either be like a carousel of products you might want to purchase, things you can say to the voice assistant to kind of get a more personalize result and that's kind of where we see it going. So voice on mobile growing a bit more as well as the spark speaker in the market such as Amazon Alexa and the Google Home smart speakers. We see that growing rapidly as well.
Kelly: So can you talk about the data that actually gets generated from the usage of these apps and how that might be beneficial to brands from the standpoint of informing a customer experience on the back end and then also improving the customer relationships on the front end?
Matthew: Yeah, great question. When you build an app for voice, the two primary platforms are Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Matthew: Yeah, so when a user interacts with your app, it would be like, “Alexa, order me an Uber.” And then from there, you can say, I need an Uber to the airport. They confirm the cost. You confirm that you want to pay with your regular card and then the Uber set your house basically. So within that conversation, brands can see you the exact dialogue that the user has with their voice app. So word for word, they can see like exactly what they asked for. They can see that, oh, a majority of the people are wanting to go to the airport in this area and kind of stuff like that. So the information we can gather is really deep because we can see exactly how people are talking to your brand and your service.
Kelly: Now you mentioned two platforms, Alexa and Google Home.
Kelly: What about Facebook portal? Is that sort of on the radar as well for the applications that you're talking about?
Matthew: Yes, so Facebook portal is definitely kind of on the platform but that's more built for a text based chatbot than a conversational chatbot so like Amazon Alexa and Google Home maps. So that's the biggest difference between them.
Kelly: Yeah, and so what are some examples of some of the applications specific to each of those platforms and how are they actually developed like give me like the backstory or the background of like how does this all work.
Matthew: Yes, so Amazon Alexa and Google Home, about two years ago, development really started to pick up in that it became a lot more accessible to people. Starting off the only real way to develop was through with SDKs, sitting down in programming and no J. S. And you had to be really technically inclined, know how to program to really build good voice apps and even then development was still costly, it was lengthy and it's just really complex. But over the past 24 months, we've been seeing a rise in no code to low code solution. So flat online platforms that support both Amazon Alexa and Google Home like the Voxion platform that allows anybody to go on and start building for voice without writing a single line of code.
Kelly: Okay. So we'll get into Voxion itself in a second. But I think just to bring this back to real world applications, do you have a couple of like your favorite, what you would consider good voice applications? And then maybe, share one that you feel is not as successful.
Matthew: So like a successful voice application we would consider would be like something similar to the GEICO application. So within the GEICO application, you can enter your information, offer like a quote for auto insurance and then from there it'll provide you with an actual like quote which they can email to you or text you and stuff like that. So within that application, they give good user interface so they're able to deliver information to the user concisely without wasting a lot of time and there's not a lot of confusion within the app. The users once they open the app, they kind of know what they're doing. They know what to ask the app without kind of confusing and checking it up. So I think the GEICO voice app is a good example of a voice app.
Kelly: And does that app also allow some insight like let's say insurance quotes, does it also enable you to quickly like submit a claim and things along those lines or is it just specific to the insurance.
Matthew: For now, it is just specific to insurance because once you start building into claims and stuff, then there's some confidential information or more confidential information which can kind of be risky to have sent through speaker almost I guess. It's still kind of unexplored in that area.
Kelly: Okay. And then, is there an application that you've come across that you just felt like kind of missed the mark a little bit.
Matthew: Yes, so a big thing right now is that almost over half of all the applications on the Alexa store right now have no reviews at all. They’ve almost like never been used. So out of these applications are kind of just thrown together in an hour or even a couple minutes and they don't really perform any good voice user interface practices so I'd say like a lot of like the quo apps almost in a lot of the trivial apps don't really practice good use cases but they are good examples of what you should not do and try to avoid.
Kelly: Alright. So let’s transition a little bit toward Voxion and I definitely want to kind of go into this a little bit. So for agencies that don't have voice developers in house, talk about what some of the options are for these agencies whether they’re brand agencies, they’re PR firms, they’re media, whatever they are. They just don't have the tools and skill set in house and maybe they haven't found a great external resource to be able to bring that to their clients. Share a little bit more about the solution that you've developed with Voxion.
Matthew: Yes, so we saw a need for agencies and brands, that one just start building it for voice but didn't know where to get started or development was a little too complex, too expensive and didn't really want to divert their engineering resources when they build their voice. So if an agency or anybody wants to start building for voice, you do need to know how to program. You need engineering resources to do that and so with our platform it's similar to WordPress in that anybody can kind of get on and just start building, if you're a marketer, a programmer or anybody really. So we're kind of trying to increase the accessibility of building for voice to kind of grow out to anybody who wants to circle with through voice.
Kelly: And is that considered a low code or no code solution?
Matthew: Yes, o we are a no code solution so there's no programming required at all. You just drag and drop certain blocks out and kind of build a conversation within the platform.
Kelly: And what are the, I guess, I get it, the way that I would ask it is, are there any limitations because it sounds like such a modular system, are there limitations to how you can customize it from an aesthetic standpoint and then also from a content or actual application standpoint.
Matthew: Yes, so within the platform, we have the ability to pull your latest tweets, Facebook posts, and API's. So if you have a database of information, we can pull information from there. Some limitations within the actual platform we would see would be integrating kind of paid media and paid content that's kind of hard to build out within the platform itself and even in general kind of integrating that, oh, you need a paid account to access this app from the beginning. So that's one thing that we're working on actively developing around as well.
Kelly: And you have sort of, not to put you on the spot but sort of like at an ETA on when something like that would be rolled out?
Matthew: Within a month or two will have it ready to go.
Kelly: I thought you’re going to say like a year.
Matthew: No, no, no. Our year goal, we would like to begin support for like Apple Siri, and other voice platforms. However those platforms aren’t really open to developers like we would like them to be. So that's kind of like a year goal for us.
Kelly: Okay. All right sounds good. So as we start to wrap up a little bit, what should agency leaders be considering in terms of voice technology as part of a more integrated part of marketing in general? I feel like this is a space that a lot of people have been talking about. I think it was actually one of the first podcast episodes on this show where we went into voice search and then we’ve had other people on talking about prospect intent as it relates to voice search but as people, consumers are using voice search more and more, the brands and the agencies have to cater to their clients and to the end consumer. So what kind of thing should they be considering as agency leaders with regard to voice technology?
Matthew: I think they should be considering where their audience and target audience are going. So three out of four US households will have a smart speaker by 2020 and half of all searches through the internet will actually be done through voice by 2020 as well. So this is where we see a lot of the traffic and the audience going is to voice so we think agencies and brands should start building for voice now and developing strategies around voice as it's going to be the future of where their audience is going to go.
Kelly: And I know you generously put together a landing page for our audience, which was great thank you very kind. So do you want to talk a little bit about that, how the structure of Voxion works and then what the offering is for the one month free trial.
Matthew: Yes, we’re launching a free version of our platform, which allows anybody to come onto our platform, build some voice apps and prototype them but not launch them. So within the platform you can build out a conversation close, how you want the app to interact, how do you want users to interact and then so that's coming out for free. Multiple people can collaborate on the same project and kind of just use it to learn about voice, how to build for voice and explore the platform within our analytics as well. And then once you have an app that you want to publish live or to go live we're offering a one month free trial with that in which the app will actually be live on both Amazon Alexa and Google Home for a month for free.
Kelly: Oh wow. So the free trial is not just accessing, building out what you'd like to build out but it's actually going to be live.
Matthew: Yeah they’ll be hosted.
Matthew: They’ll be hosted and then from there, they can get feedback and kind of see your analytics.
Kelly: That's fantastic. That's great. I love the model. So I will put this in the show notes but that landing page that Matt was talking about is going to be at voxion.us/thrive. And Voxion just by the way if you're listening to this and not watching the show it's voxion.us. So this is such an interesting conversation because I almost feel like we were talking about this stuff maybe about, I don't know seven or eight years ago in a similar path and maybe even longer than that, maybe eight to ten years ago where websites where needing to become mobile. We had this whole need to understand that people were moving off of their desktops or using mobile devices. So all of our websites, all of the things that we were developing typically for desktop how to become responsive. First it was adoptive then it was responsive and we got to this point where we hit the threshold of like more than fifty percent of people using their mobile phones and I feel like this is sort of like the next phase or the next level of where we need to go. So it's a really, it's not futuristic. It's already here. Like you said before, three out of four households are going to have these voice assistance.
Matthew: In a year.
Kelly: Next year. So this is not futuristic. This is here now. I think it's a really, really important conversation because agency owners and agency leaders are constantly looking for what's the next thing, what can I bring to the table to my client, what can I bring to the table just to add more value and I think this is a really, really great solution. So just curious if you have any other thoughts as we’re wrapping up here.
Matthew: No, we definitely see voice becoming the next mobile almost the next coming of web in just in that. It can deliver information and services a lot quicker than a traditional website or app can, because you just have to ask for the service, the question and it just delivered to you instantly essentially. So there's no navigating websites, opening and downloading apps. It is just asking you, receive essentially. So we see moving existing content or even developing new content specific for voice kind of being the next big wave of content development or agency.
Kelly: Yeah, fantastic. This is awesome. I think this will really resonate for sure with the audience. So thank you so much again. I really enjoyed our conversation and I'll post everything in the show notes. Definitely check out voxion.us and thank you again Matt.
Matthew: Of course, thank you so much.