Voice assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant are becoming increasingly popular and integrated into many aspects of our daily lives. From smart speakers and phones to cars and home appliances, these virtual helpers are able to understand natural language voice commands and complete tasks for us or provide us with useful information. As voice technology continues to advance, it’s important for businesses and organizations to consider how they can utilize it and the role that domain names may play.
The Growth of Voice Assistants
Voice assistants have seen tremendous growth over the past few years. According to an NPR and Edison Research report, nearly half of Americans ages 12 and up (around 120 million people) have access to a smart speaker. Amazon’s Alexa currently dominates the market in the US, available on over 100 million devices. However, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri also have strong footholds.
This growth is driven by the increasing prevalence of smart devices in homes as well as the improved accuracy and capabilities of the underlying artificial intelligence. Consumers are finding voice assistants helpful for playing music, getting news/weather updates, controlling smart home devices and other daily tasks. As natural language processing continues to advance, the assistants are getting better at understanding diverse accents and conversations.
Benefits for Businesses
Voice assistants present a number of potential benefits for businesses and organizations:
- Increased discoverability – Voice assistants enable new discovery mechanisms through voice search and voice apps/actions/skills. This opens up opportunities to connect with consumers in a more conversational and natural way.
- Deeper consumer insights – The data generated from voice interactions can provide valuable insights into consumer behavior and interests. This can inform marketing strategies and product development.
- Greater accessibility – Voice UIs can provide more accessible experiences for those with disabilities. They also enable multi-tasking while interacting.
- New engagement channels – Businesses can build custom voice apps to engage customers in new and innovative ways. Features like notifications, subscriptions and conversational commerce open up new possibilities.
- Enhanced customer service – Intelligent chatbots and voice-enabled customer service can provide consumers with quick and convenient support at scale.
- Streamlined internal processes – Within business settings like warehouses or kitchens, voice direction can improve employee productivity, safety and accuracy.
Relevance of Domain Names
So where exactly do domain names fit in? Domain names remain very relevant in the age of voice assistants for several reasons:
- Invoking voice apps – To launch a custom voice app, users typically need to say a custom invocation name or phrase. This often includes a brand name or domain, like “Alexa, open Domino’s” or “Hey Google, talk to Tide”.
- Discovering brands – Domain names can aid brand discovery and recall. When users search for brands verbally, proper name pronunciation and spelling can be ambiguous. Domain names provide clarity.
- Offline marketing – Domains continue to be critical for offline marketing channels – think TV, print, billboards etc. They enable offline audiences to find brands online.
- SEO value – Domain authority remains an important Google ranking factor. An established domain can lend legitimacy and ranking boosts in SERPs.
- Typing fallback – Even when interacting via voice, some tasks require screens. Domains facilitate the transition from voice to visual interfaces.
Best Practices for Domains
When considering a domain name in the age of voice assistants, keep the following best practices in mind:
- Simplicity – Avoid overlong or complex names with strange spellings. Stick to simple, widely understood English words. This aids pronunciation and memorability.
- Speakability – Opt for names that flow off the tongue and are easy to say naturally. Stay away from tongues twisters. Test names verbally before registering.
- Distinctiveness – While simple names are ideal, avoid generic terms or industry keywords. Brandable, distinctive names are less likely to be confused.
- Memorability – Names that are short, catchy and vivid tend to stick in memory better. Alliteration, rhyming and rhythmic patterns can aid memorability.
- Flexibility – Consider if the name leaves room for brand evolution. Can it grow beyond just the initial offering if needed?
- Domain extension – While .COM is still ideal, alternatives like .AI and .BOT may suit voice brands. But steer clear of obscure new extensions.
- Name in domain – Try to work the brand name or key brand words into the domain. This establishes brand connection and aids search visibility.
Some brands have done an excellent job with their domains and voice assistant presence:
- Domino’s – domino’s.com | “Alexa, open Domino’s” – Simple and speakable name. Easy to remember. Integrated into Alexa and Google Assistant.
- Capital One – capitalone.com | “Alexa, ask Capital One…” – Distinctive name with brand recognition. Wide Alexa skill adoption.
- Headspace – headspace.com | “Alexa, open Headspace” – Speakable name that conveys offering. Popular meditation skill.
- Blinkist – blinkist.com | “Alexa, start Blinkist” – Short, catchy name. Widely used Alexa skill for summarizing books.
- TuneIn – tunein.com | “OK Google, play KNX 1070 on TuneIn” – Easy to say radio/podcast app.
Issues and Challenges
However, brands do still face some challenges in the voice assistant sphere:
- Brand fragmentation – Different invocation names on different platforms can dilute brand consistency. Prefer universal names.
- User acquisition – Getting consumers to actually enable and use skills can be difficult without sufficient promotion.
- Data limitations – Brands have limited demographic data on who is using skills. analytics remain a challenge.
- Discovery issues – Users often don’t know what skills are available. Relying on voice search has limitations.
- Interface constraints – The vocal interface makes certain types of interactions challenging, like conveying visuals or menus.
Despite these challenges, the opportunities for brands to utilize voice assistants are only growing. Here are some trends to watch:
- Search evolutions – Natural language processing is enabling more conversational search, reducing reliance on rigid voice commands.
- International expansion – Voice assistants are gaining traction globally across many languages, opening up new markets.
- Contexts and personalization – Assistants are getting better at understanding contexts and user preferences to personalize interactions.
- Multimodal interfaces – Combining voice with other modalities like visuals and touch will open up new engagement possibilities.
- Interoperability – Platforms are enabling more interaction between different assistants and smart devices.
- New device categories – Voice control is expanding beyond smart speakers into auto, AR, VR, wearables, appliances and more.
Preparing Your Brand
For brands that want to effectively prepare for our voice-driven future, here are a few suggestions:
- Claim your brand names across major voice assistant platforms and build out voice skills/actions.
- Optimize your web properties for speech-friendly experiences. Test them verbally.
- Analyze your key tasks and content – what works via voice UI? What doesn’t?
- Identify ways to integrate voice internally – for customer service or employee workflows.
- Monitor advancements in natural language AI – improved comprehension opens opportunities.
- Consider creative approaches beyond basic Q&A like characters, narratives, or gamification.
- Start measuring voice KPIs – adoption, engagement, queries, conversions etc.
The voice revolution has truly only just begun. While domains remain as relevant as ever, brands must also evolve their strategies. By getting prepared today, companies can ensure their brands thrive in our increasingly voice-enabled future.
In summary, while voice interactions introduce new consumer touchpoints beyond traditional domains, domain names still provide critical functions for brands in the voice era. Simple, speakable and memorable domains can aid discoverability, engagement and seamless connectivity in voice contexts. Companies looking to utilize voice assistants should choose domains strategically, optimize sites for speech interfaces and find creative ways to deliver value through this emerging medium. With proper preparation, brands can position themselves to reap the benefits of voice AI advances in the years ahead.