Optimizing your content for virtual assistants is more important than ever. It’s estimated that by 2020, almost half of all online searches will be voice-based. By creating your own voice-enabled app, you can harness the power of those searches for your company. This will enable your current and prospective customers to search for what they need easily, particularly when they are on the go.
It’s no secret that consumers favor convenience and immediacy, regardless of the product or service they are searching for. The growing prominence of voice search, which involves simply asking a question of a virtual assistant and getting a visual and/or audible response, is a testament to this fact.
According to Gartner – an industry-leading research and advisory firm – it’s estimated that screen-based searches will make up only 30% of all online searches within the next three years. What’s more, a survey conducted by OC&C Strategy Consultants found that around 13% of all US households own a smart speaker, and that this number is expected to rise to 55% by 2022.
To ride the wave of this burgeoning trend, you’ll want to ensure that your marketing strategy is primed for voice search. One way to do this is to create a dedicated app that incorporates voice search technology. By giving customers the ability to pull out their phone, submit a voice search to your app, and get a response directly linked to your business, you’ll be kicking the user experience up a notch. In turn, that can lead to increased conversion rates, broader market coverage, and a higher degree of client retention.
Providing that you have an adequate budget, it’s smart to approach a reputable app developer to help you with the actual process of creating your app. However, you’ll still need to follow these steps to ensure that your voice-enabled app harmonizes neatly with your digital marketing strategy.
Step 1: Decide on a Focus and Design Structure
The first step towards creating your app should be brainstorming ideas with your IT and digital marketing departments, as well as any other relevant personnel. This process will involve analyzing any apps your main competitors have already developed, and identifying ways you can improve on them. You’ll also want to conduct market research to identify which demographic will be most likely to download and use your app, and in what situations.
For example, let’s say you’re developing an app for your e-commerce business. You’ll need work closely with your IT team to work out how a voice command will bring up a corresponding product page on the user’s device. If you have multiple outlets or branches, you can also brainstorm how a voice command could bring up a map of your business’ locations, ideally those that are nearest to the searcher.
Regardless of your business type, now is also a good time to decide whether you want to develop a native or web app. Native apps are created specifically for one platform, and can be downloaded from somewhere like the Apple App Store or Google Play. On the other hand, web apps are essentially web pages that have the feel and functionality of a native app, but run on a browser. They are also more affordable to develop.
It is possible to roll out a hybrid app that combines the best of both approaches. However, hybrid apps are known to frequently suffer performance issues, and to require frequent debugging. For your first foray into the app business, it’s usually smart to pick one approach or the other.
Step 2: Choose Your App Technology
There are several methods for adding voice search technology to an app. The first involves integrating existing technologies via specific development tools and APIs. Google’s Voice Actions API, for example, offers a straightforward developer’s guide for adding voice mechanisms to all types of mobile apps.
The second method is to build a voice search assistant using an open-source tool. There are several quality solutions to choose from, including Jasper, Melissa, and Wit.ai. We’d recommend Jasper in particular, as it’s flexible, easy to install, and well-documented.
The third option is to develop a voice search assistant for your app completely from scratch. However, unless you have a great deal of human resources and a substantial budget at your disposal, we wouldn’t recommend this approach.
In addition to incorporating voice search capabilities, you’ll also want to arm your app with analytical features that will enable you to measure its effectiveness. An excellent solution for doing this is Swrve, an engagement engine that lets you incorporate conversion analysis features, generate user behaviour metrics, and accurately assess the monetization potential of your app.
Step 3: Optimize Your Voice Search App
In a previous article, we introduced some handy tips for optimizing your website for voice search. These methods can also be applied to your app, ensuring that its content is optimized to correspond with voice searches.
There are some other factors to keep in mind when it comes to app optimization. For instance, you’ll need to ensure that your app responds rapidly to voice search commands. There are a variety of ways you can improve your app’s loading times, including by caching and compressing images, and using a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
If you’re developing a native app, it’s also important to ensure that it is optimized for mobile app stores. This means ensuring that the app icon, description, video advertisement, and screenshots are carefully designed and presented. Naturally, you’ll also want to promote your app on your business website and social media once it’s ready.
Step 4: Conduct Alpha and Beta Testing
Before you roll out your voice-enabled app to consumers, it’s important to conduct thorough testing. Naturally, this process will begin with your developers testing your app for major bugs, critical performance issues, and scalability problems (i.e alpha testing). After this process is completed, beta testing can begin.
Beta testing involves sending the early version of your app to a limited amount of users (typically 100-200 in total) and taking them through how to use its various features. These testers can provide structured feedback about what they liked and disliked, which you can use to improve your app. In general, you should only conclude beta testing when you have received an 80-90% approval rating from your testers.
Of course, you’ll need to continue to gather user feedback long after beta testing, updating your app to iron out bugs and address user concerns. One way to do this is to use Countly, an open-source tool for gathering mobile app analytics. The data you’ll get from this type of tool enables you to track user behaviour, receive alerts when crashes occur, and enhance segmentation.
As we have seen, creating a voice-enabled app means investing significant time and energy into the process. It also requires familiarizing yourself with open-source tools, and carrying out rigorous beta testing. However, if managed properly, the final product could yield major returns for your business.
Do you have any questions about how to develop a voice-enabled app? Let us know in the comments section below!