Brief flashes of insight

You may have noticed that, in recent years, people have stopped talking to themselves when they’re alone and started having conversations with their speakers, phones, computers and cars.

Voice-enabled technology has evolved to a level whereby people can access useful content quickly without having to lift a finger.

Between 2017 and 2018 the smart speaker market in the UK doubled in size and current projections estimate that the global market for smart speakers will grow to $2 billion by 2020. Currently, 21.9% of internet users globally say they use a smart speaker at least once a month and, in the US, 52% of households with a smart speaker say they use it daily.

In 2017, Ford and SEAT  starting equipping their vehicles with Alexa capabilities and soon BMW, Mini, Skoda, Toyota/Lexus and Volkswagen will be as well.

Where is this technology going?

“Smart speakers are just the gateway drug,” said Abhishek Suthan, co-founder and CEO of Pulse Labs, who are experts in creating voice user experiences. “Voice is going to permeate across all devices, with screens, without screens, from your microwave to your TV.”

This sentiment was certainly apparent at the CES 2019 in January this year, where innovations including a voice-controlled garden parasol demonstrated the extent to which voice technology technology is rapidly crossing over into every aspect of daily life.

My own daily routine now includes flash briefings from Alexa, which gets me caught up on the latest BBC News headlines, followed by Sky Sports news and now Business to Business Todayfrom Earnest Labs as well.

But what is a ‘flash briefing’?

Flash briefings are an Alexa Skill which Amazon describes on their developers’ blog as being ‘a quick overview of news and other content such as comedy, interviews, and lists’. So it’s a little bit like a very short podcast, which makes it the perfect way for brands to get into the voice technology space as well.

How can brands use it?

The easiest and most sensible way for brands to start using flash briefings is to create and share short, informative clips of information that are relevant to your company, industry and audience.

Topics can cover anything from new offers and product launches to company or industry-wide announcements. The only caveat is that they have to be interesting, because who wants to listen to Malcolm from Finance droning on about the consistency of the Q1 figures?

Amazon’s developer services for Alexa are still relatively new, so there are a few teething problems we’ve encountered and we’ll be writing about those in a future post.

What makes a good briefing?

According to Meryem Tom, General Manager UK of Alexa Skills at Amazon, the best voice applications come “from a position of authority and authenticity” and the Alexa Skills which succeed fulfil the following criteria:

1. They solve a problem

This keeps listeners engaged, and also delights and surprises. CNBC’s skill updates its markets data every 15 minutes.

2. They’re easy to use

A lot of friction will make people leave. The Guardian’s voice skill is intuitive and not over complicated.

3. They’re relevant to the brand

Chompers from OralB uses fun content to teach kids how to brush their teeth – which is exactly what the OralB brand stands for.

4. They encourage repeat use

Flash briefings that are updated with new content daily help to turn it into a regular habit.

5. They provide unique value

The Arsenal FC Alexa skill provides the most current updates from the club, and lets overseas supporters feel like they’re at the match through live commentary.

We like flash briefings so much we’ve created our own.


[Header photo: Andres Urena on Unsplash]

Business to Business Today from Earnest Labs is our way of sharing interesting and innovative things we’ve spotted in and around the world of B2B marketing.

Simply say: “Alexa, enable Business to Business today” to your smart speaker and you’ll start getting our daily updates.

Get in touch if you’d like to hear about how Earnest could help you get the ear of your audience through voice technology.


[Header photo: Andres Urena on Unsplash]