Ok Google, how can a voice app help my blog?

Marko Arezina
May 1, 2019 · 5 min read
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Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

In today’s noisy world it is harder than ever to build a meaningful relationship with your audience. This is especially true if you are a blog producing content. An equally hard problem is delivering contextually relevant stories. Yet with more brands and publishers competing for your audience’s attention, personalization and relevance is more critical than ever. Meanwhile the sands are shifting in how readers discover and consume your content. Consumers are slowly moving beyond mobile to an interface even more convenient and natural. Smart speakers are becoming more popular than ever, reaching critical mass in 2018. It’s forecasted that by 2020 50% of searches will be voice based searches. That being said it’s fun to hypothesize about the future of content distribution, but more importantly we need to think about how a voice app can help your blog today. So if the Google Assistant was capable of thinking critically, what would happen if you asked, “Hey Google, how can a voice app help my blog”. In short it would say, “In many exciting ways”.

A personal editor for every reader

Take a second to imagine what would happen if you could provide a personal editor for every one of your readers. An editor that can suggest more stories to explore a topic. Or find more relevant stories and explain to the reader why they might be interested. Would your audience retention and traffic skyrocket? Sounds like sci-fi, right? However it turns out you can bring such an experience to life using today’s technology. This post won’t be taking a deep dive into the tech, that’s coming soon. In short, natural language understanding (Dialogflow) and realistic speech synthesis (Wavenet) provided by Google Assistant would allow you to craft a natural conversational experience. A graph database would allow you to store relations between your stories, which would allow your voice app to recommend relevant content.

This voice app could be capable of far more than simply understanding the readers search queries. It could act as a whole new channel for readers to explore your stories. Imagine this:

“Hi there 👋” says the voice assistant.

“Here are some trending headlines, Your Genes and Addiction, FDA gives pass to Allulose, and Do kids need regular Blood Pressure Screenings.”

“I’d like to learn more about FDA giving pass to Allulose” says the user.

The assistant now reads the story to the user. “Would you like to explore some related articles?”

“Ya sure”

“I found another story that focuses on the FDA and Artificial Sweeteners, would you like to learn more about it?”

“Yes”

Once again the assistant reads the story to the user, but now having identified a topic the user is interested in, it asks, “I found some stories I think you’ll find interesting, would you like me to send them to you 📬?”

“Ya”

Now the assistant send an email containing headlines and an explanation for why the reader may be interested in each one. This personal editor would work hard to make sure your audience finds relevant content, and help build a lasting relationship with your readers, in a time where personalization and relevance are vital.

Email personalization

Personalized email newsletters usually mean adding the person’s name in the greeting. This used to be a great way to help your email stand out and increase your open rates … until everyone started doing it. It’s about time we redefined what it means to personalize email newsletters. Now it is possible to include content relevant to the topic the reader was just exploring. And then even explain why the user might be interested in each story! Would that make your open rates soar? It turns out you can weave a personalized email experience right into the voice app for your blog. While someone is using the voice app to explore your stories the assistant tries to learn a bit about which topics they were just interested in. You can use these topics to segment your audience. According to the Data and Marketing Association, marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns. Yet with a voice app you can go as far as explaining in the email how recommended stories are related by a common topic to a story they just found.

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Google Actions can be invoked on Assistant enabled headphones. Photo by Alexander Hess on Unsplash

A Hands-free Experience

With a voice app you can create multimodal experiences for your audience to explore your content by voice or chat, at home or on the go. Given the vast amount of Google Assistant and Alexa integrations, your audience will be able to access your voice app on their phone, speaker, watch, car, and smart toilet! The number of possible channels is growing each day. A multimodal voice app can act as a hands-free way for the for the user to explore your stories on a smart speaker. Or be used as a visual chat interface when used on a device with a screen. What’s great is all of these devices are synced through one account (Google or Amazon). This means the user can continue the conversation where they left off and they do not need to reinstall on a new device.

So if you asked “Ok Google, how can a voice app help my blog?” you might get a response along the lines of, “A voice app can help build relationships with your audience, redefine what email personalization means for you, and create a hands-free way to discover your content”. However this is just the beginning, voice apps and machine learning is getting more powerful day by day. If we can create conversational apps to build relationships with readers given today’s technology, image what the future holds. If you’re not thinking about the future of content distribution you are at risk of slowly losing your audience. The future of interfaces is our natural language, and now it the time to figure out how to connect with your readers wherever they are.

I develop voice apps at Vecgraph.com, which is an agency specializing in creating conversational experiences for media sites.

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