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3 Ways Siri Is Raising the Stakes for Voice-Based Interactions

February 20, 2012 By Irv Shapiro
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For marketers, Siri—Apple's voice-based digital assistant—is much more than a plaything for gadget geeks. It's a game-changer that will reshape search and transform the way consumers forge digital connections with companies.

Although Siri can perform a range of functions—including text messaging, reminders, calendaring and more—the capability that's getting the most attention is search. Rather than entering search criteria into a text-based box, consumers can now access search through voice-based interactions.

In many ways, Siri represents the opening salvo in the transition to voice-centered search interaction—an acknowledgment of the important role voice communication plays in our everyday lives and now, in the technologies we rely on to make our way in the world.

Will this transition happen overnight? No. But the arrival of Siri on the consumer scene underscores the need for brands and marketers to seriously address the role of voice interactions in search optimization. Brands that ignore the importance of voice interactions in search will do so at their own peril, potentially jeopardizing their ability to connect with large segments of consumers as voice-based technologies evolve.

1. Siri Changes Consumer Search Habits
Siri alters consumer search habits because it transfers search from clicks to conversations. Using Siri technology, consumers have the ability to conduct search through talk and to continue the search conversation through seamless, Siri-driven connections with companies.

For example, users who are in the mood for Chinese food can speak their craving to Siri and be routed (by Siri) to a local Chinese restaurant of their choosing. Once connected, the conversation continues and the user has the option of placing an order, making a reservation, and so forth.

Why are voice-based consumer search habits important? Because, according to AdInsight, 43 percent of all Internet search sales conversions happen by phone. It's a reality that a consumer who is driven to make a purchase—especially those requiring some type of investment—would rather talk to someone than sift through information online.

The impact of changing consumer search habits hasn't gone unnoticed by search engines. In November, Google chairman Eric Schmidt testified before a U.S. Senate antitrust committee that Siri poses a threat to Google's search dominance, reinforcing the reality that consumer search habits are inevitably transitioning to a voice-based search universe.

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