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Talk To Me – Marketing For Home Devices

Amazon and Google are pushing us all towards these new home devices that recognise our voices, answer questions and order pizzas - etcetera. But what are the opportunities for marketers? Aviva have already rolled out an Alexa Skill - so what about you?

One of the most popular Christmas presents this year was the “home device”, or the “smart assistant”. Those little Amazon or Google devices that sit in your home and answer questions, turn the lights on, etc.

And while the following video doesn’t seem very cool, as a marketer it’s quite exciting:

So – in short – you can ask Alexa what an annuity is, and it will answer you, so long as you ask Alexa to ask Aviva.

I think that’s pretty good brand marketing. Of course, people would have to ‘activate’ the skill themselves to be able to ask the questions and get a response, but it’s brave of Aviva to invest the time and money in creating Alexa skills, and be the first insurer to get involved.

So it’s not just for music, pizzas and lights…

Think of the transactions we do on a day-to-day basis that shouldn’t really require a device. We’ve switched to using devices because it’s easier than phoning the pizza shop, waiting for the weather forecast or using timers for lights when we go on holiday.

But the device was only ever an intermediate option until voice recognition upped its game. It was better than before, but with voice recognition, you can put the phone away and actually do something instead. Or at least, that’s the hope.

That’s why you can get Alexa skills that tell you what’s in a cocktail, that start your Spotify playlists, or that give you the football scores.

The opportunities for marketers

While I suspect that we’ll all eventually have these devices in the office, for the time being they’re just in the home, so B2C marketers in particular have the field wide open, and there are even opportunities for B2B2C marketers to offer skills that might make a difference to customers and make life a little easier.

Be the resource

If you repair septic tanks (lucky you), then you can bet that at least half of your market barely know what a septic tank is. They’d be baffled by a baffle and confused by a soakaway, so why not take the Aviva route and shift your FAQs onto Alexa?

This seems the most obvious route for many businesses with either a high-value or complex sale – corner the inquisitive market. We did it with Google, after all…

You can, of course, offer how-to information on your own products and services. Those who can’t be bothered to read manuals can simply ask Alexa the question they want to find from the manual. And frankly, that’s all of us.

Sell & Retain

Selling seems obvious. You can order an Uber, buy a pizza, or buy excessively over-priced tickets from StubHub for a band who used to be better in the 90s when tickets were a tenner.

But better than that, if you can convince your customers to activate your skills, then you become the go-to provider of taxi rides, snacks or tickets, or whatever your competition also sell.

In fact, retention could be a huge area for marketers over the coming months and years with Alexa.

Side note: be careful if you have kids, they work these things out quicker than you...

Healthcare

It seems obvious, really, given the amount of progress healthcare start-ups have made, that home devices should offer health information. There’s already KidsMD in the US, which offers information on health-related problems: colds, bruises, etc., as well as medication.

But with the connections available between devices, Alexa could effectively act as a family ‘health hub’. It could book doctor’s appointments, alert healthcare professionals when it recognises an issue, or sync with fitbit and other wearables to answer questions such as “how did I do today?”

Secure Information 

Capital One have an Alexa Skill that helps people check account information and transaction details by using a four-digit pin and voice recognition technology. Seems risky? Potentially…

You can imagine the problems people might encounter, or worry about, but if the security can be tightened and you’re sure nobody’s listening – a quick way of checking your account balance would be better than sitting in front of a laptop with your HSBC keypad.

Alexa, get us off our phones

We’re addicted to our phones – well, some of you are. And it’s not good. If you have 15 minutes, watch this Simon Sinek interview, and you’ll understand why it’s not good.

And maybe Alexa and Google Home can get us off our phones, and reduce the number of transactions that we have to carry out on-screen. Reduce the simple stuff to a voice command, and let it be done.

But more importantly for us, maybe these home devices can help us connect with our customers in more meaningful ways. We’ve always been looking for a way to get the right information to the right person, at the right time.

Well, here it is.

about Gareth Cartman

Gareth has worked in search since the early days of Google. His background is in HR, marketing and technology, and as CLD's Director of Digital Marketing, he helps clients develop content and search strategies that deliver better rankings, traffic and ultimately, more leads.

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