Forget everything you know about digital business promotion and get ready to improve your online presence because digital assistants are undergoing (yet another) revolution. Google has announced that the imaginatively named Google Assistant is going to make searching for local services easier for the consumer, and much more complicated for the businesses themselves.
Of course, you can already ask Google for a list of local plumbers and receive a pretty standard search engine based physical or verbal response. But the new upgrade means that the conversation will go something like this:
“Hey Google, can you find me a local plumber?”
“Of course, what do you want them to do?” asks Google.
“Fix a leaky faucet.”
“The local plumber with the best reviews regarding faucet repair is…”
Google evaluates reviews, search engine rankings, location, delivery speeds and a bunch of other things to put together a list – or even a single business – that can solve the problem quickly and easily. At first glance, this may appear to be a minor change, but when you consider the ramifications for marketing a business, the impact becomes rather profound.
You see, websites are going to need to start “talking” as if having a conversation. This means that standard web copywriters will have to adapt their language to become more conversational, and three-dimensional rather than a list of features and benefits. Because the digital assistants – Alexa, Siri and company, engage with the public via voice, and their responses will be voice-based, priority is likely to be given to businesses with an online presence that won’t make the conversation sound stilted. In other words, businesses will finally have to learn how to speak with their audience, rather than at them.
But what will the future look like as digital assistants become more complex, and further compliment – rather than attempt to replace – existing search options.
For one, we are in the final death throes of keyboards. As conversation becomes the mode of communication, keyboards will become entirely unnecessary. Voice activation and dictation services are already good enough to replace any keyboard and the only gap has been functionality – manipulating the computer in a simple way using something other than the keyboard. With the advent of tablets that have a reasonable amount of memory and docking stations that allow the transference of memory, not to mention Dropbox and Google Drive, physical keyboards are now basically obsolete anyway. Ironically, this means that technology will be one of the reasons that we all talk more than we used to. Many concerns about avoiding engaging with real people will be lost as conversations transfer easily from your digital assistant to a real person, “Hey Siri, call Jenny,” and back again. Shopping lists, personal diaries, preferred suppliers, preferential news outlets, political beliefs and religious affiliations will all be used to consolidate information within a verbal construct. The end result is that we will see and hear information that is relevant to us as individuals, and talking will become the new typing.
Sound exciting? Most of it is already here, spend some more time with your digital assistant.