Boosting Brand Engagement with Voice
Sep 15, 2020
7 MIN READ

Voice-Enabled Mobile Apps Are Boosting Brand Engagement and Convenience

In today’s world, two dynamic forces are coming together to dramatically change how brands will engage with their audiences in the future. For the last decade, brands have been focusing on optimizing websites for mobile to stay relevant and ensure seamless customer experiences. As the trends toward mobile usage continue to skyrocket, enterprising brands have begun developing mobile apps to turn engagement from a multi-step process to a single voice query—further enhancing the user experience and generating greater engagement. 

The voice-first era is gaining momentum and now a voice assistant has evolved from a nice-to-have to an imperative for brands. With 40% of adults using mobile voice search at least once a day and 52% of U.S. smartphone owners accessing voice assistants on their mobile devices, brands hoping to retain customers and increase engagement are increasingly voice-enabling their mobile apps.

40% of adults use mobile voice search at least once a day, and 52% of U.S. smartphone owners access voice assistants on their mobile devices

For those companies already implementing voice-first strategies, the focus has shifted from what the brand wants customers to be able to do on an app to giving consumers the ability to determine their own experiences. Voice AI technologies give customers the power to ask for what they want, how they want it, and to find what they are looking for without sorting through complicated menu options. In the next few years, we’re likely to see a surge in brands making strides toward better customer engagement through conversational interfaces for their mobile apps with independent voice assistants. 

If your brand is already on the road to creating a voice-enabled mobile app, or just getting started, here are 5 ways a voice assistant will help to improve engagement and grow brand loyalty. 

1. Offer hands-free convenience

Voice user interfaces (VUIs) offer one unique and critical benefit for users. Namely, the ability to ask for things while their hands are busy, dirty, or while driving or when the phone is out of reach. Getting a bank balance or ordering more diapers while carrying a child, asking for the next ingredient in a recipe without having to stop the cooking process, and searching for a favorite song without taking a break during a workout are just a few examples of scenarios when a voice user interface makes life a little easier.

According to a recent report by Perficient, 55% of mobile users already ask questions on their smartphones using voice—nearly 40% more frequently than with smart speakers. The interaction is satisfying enough that people are continuing to use voice as a preferred method of interaction, but the experience could be better. According to the research, the top three barriers to user adoption of voice interfaces on mobile devices include:

  • Lack of natural language understanding
  • Inability to handle complex and compound queries
  • Inaccuracy of responses

The surprising thing is that advanced voice technology already exists to help brands overcome these barriers, it just isn’t used in some of the more generic voice assistants resident on mobile phones. Consumer demand and the availability of advanced voice AI has set the stage for a rapid increase in adoption among smartphone users when mobile apps deliver custom, branded voice assistants in their apps.

55% of mobile users already ask questions on their smartphones using voice—nearly 40% more frequently than with smart speakers

Once consumers begin experiencing the possibilities afforded by a highly-intelligent conversational assistant, it’s likely they will cease to accept anything less. Poor quality voice experiences with limited vocabulary and understanding will soon be abandoned for those that deliver better customer experiences—much in the same way that websites with poor mobile accessibility have lost traffic, audiences, and revenue opportunities over the last decade.

2. Make personal connections

When mobile apps first appeared, people needed a certain level of onboarding to learn how to get to their desired menu options, and UX designers had to sacrifice some functionality in order to make the app easier to use. Today, limited functionality on mobile apps is no longer acceptable to most consumers. 

Voice user interfaces have eliminated the need to sacrifice functionality for usability and are offering customers a way to interact naturally with mobile apps—no explanation necessary. Since we already know how to talk, a voice assistant is the most natural evolution for mobile and provides UX designers the freedom to add deeper navigational capabilities and more opportunities for user engagement.

Once consumers experience the possibilities afforded by a highly-intelligent voice assistant, they will cease to accept anything less.

As physical interfaces give way to voice interactions, the uniformity of mobile apps will naturally evolve to offer more spontaneity and free-flowing conversation. Each interaction will be unique and customers will come to regard those interactions as personal—developing brand affinity and making it more difficult to abandon the app.

While a voice assistant will likely not reach the level of “Samantha”—a voice assistant characterized in the movie “Her” that shares a love story with a human—our attachment to voice entities is real. People begin to associate the sound of a voice assistant to a brand and attach a personality to it. Companies that understand the potency of this kind of relationship will capitalize on it to create voice assistants for their apps, and other channels, that reflect the personality of the brand and deliver company values.

Using a voice user interface to create personal connections begins a customer journey that will lead to more time spent solving problems and getting answers on the mobile app, freeing brands to extend their customer service capabilities and increase offerings.

3. Reduce friction

Deciding to implement a voice assistant for your mobile app may involve analyzing the navigational flow and the friction points for users to get a clear picture of how much a voice UI could improve user engagement—and then using that data to get all company stakeholders on board.

Ask yourself these questions and use the answers to inform your next steps toward voice-enabling your mobile app:

  • What’s the current search flow? 
  • Does it involve layers of refinements and filters? 
  • Are these refinements heavily used during the user journey?
  • What are the steps to complete a key action in the app? 
  • Does completing an action require multiple clicks and in-app navigations?

Chances are, the answers to these questions will lead you to the most logical conclusion: Your mobile app requires multiple steps along a rigid, defined, and restrictive menu tree to complete an action, make a request, or get information.

Regardless of how well your UX has been designed, it can only deliver the level of functionality and convenience allowable under the normal constraints of a touch screen. Voice-enabling the app not only increases the convenience, it makes completing the task faster and less frustrating.

Voice search is 3.7 times faster than typing.

According to Bing, voice search is 3.7 times faster than typing, proving that using a voice user interface reduces friction by increasing the speed of information sharing. Correlating responsiveness and time-savings to user engagement and customer satisfaction doesn’t require a cognitive stretch for brands already seeking those metrics from their mobile apps.

4. Offer more choices 

Voice-enabled mobile apps have a distinct advantage over voice assistants in smart speakers. When users ask for information, shop, and search on mobile apps, they have the benefit of getting results visually as well as audibly. The opportunities for multi-modal interactions open up a world where vastly improved user experiences and engagement are possible.

Multi-modal interfaces allow the user to simply ask for what they want and then receive a response that includes a visual representation of the answer and the option to touch or talk through the next level in the menu. For retail brands, and other applications where people prefer to see their menu selections but don’t want to waste time typing and swiping, a voice user interface creates an environment that seamlessly combines sight and sound. The addition of voice opens up the menu choices and speeds up the exchange of information and the screen supplements the interaction with meaningful graphical illustrations of the response.

Displaying results can also help with comprehension and eliminate confusion caused by longer verbal answers. The old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” has been backed by scientific studies in the field of neuroscience which have proven that the larger the amount of data, the more visual imagery aids comprehension. Adding interactivity into the mix significantly increases comprehension and moves information from short-term to long-term memory. Voice-enabled mobile apps deliver on all aspects of comprehension and memory through voice AI, screens, and the interaction of the user with the voice assistant.

The addition of voice opens up the menu choices and speeds up the exchange of information and the screen supplements the interaction with meaningful graphical illustrations of the response.

Helping people feel understood and making them part of your “tribe” are key elements to improving engagement with your brand. Increasingly, people are looking for voice experiences that can adjust to their way of speaking and understand them in their native language. They feel part of something that can respond to them the way they speak naturally, instead of needing to change how they speak to match the needs of others. Implementing a voice assistant that’s multilingual helps brands prove diversity and inclusion of all users and audience members.

Boost engagement with your mobile app by matching your voice assistant’s language capabilities to your potential users by offering interfaces in their native languages. To optimize user engagement, your voice assistant should still respond accurately, even when accented language, or imprecise speech is used. 

5. More responsive than ever before

Adding voice to your mobile apps opens up conversations with users. Let them know you’re listening to their questions and noting their frustrations by continually improving their experiences. Adding a voice interface is never one and done. It’s most effective when brands build on the experience with routine iterations performed at short and regular intervals—once a month or once a quarter, at least.

The more your teams can iterate on the voice experience, the more responsive your brand will appear to its users. Launching a voice-enabled mobile app is a good start, but it’s not the end of the voice-first journey for brands. 

Owning and controlling valuable user data is key to making sure your voice assistant is providing the level of user experience your customers expect. Partnering with an independent voice AI platform allows brands to own the mobile experience and retain complete ownership of customer data, while giving them access to the latest NLU and NLP technologies and more.

The more your teams can iterate on the voice experience, the more responsive your brand will appear to your users.

If you’re looking for more insights into how and why you should voice enable your mobile app, register for our webinar featuring voice AI experts from top brands like Meredith, Pandora, SiriusXM, and BigOven in our upcoming webinar, “How Brands are Voice-Enabling Mobile Apps to Drive Engagement.”

Other blogs in this series include:

How Brands are Reducing Navigational Complexity on Mobile Apps with Voice AI

3 Key Steps for Voice-Enabling Your Mobile App

Why Brands Should Voice-Enable Their Mobile Apps


At SoundHound Inc., we have all the tools and expertise needed to voice-enable your mobile app. Explore Houndify’s independent voice AI platform at Houndify.com and register for a free account. Want to learn more? Talk to us about how we can help you bring your voice strategy to life.

Karen Scates is a storyteller with a passion for helping others through content. Argentine tango, good books and great wine round out Karen’s interests

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