How to Integrate Voice Assistants and Smart Home  Devices with Direct Mail

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With global smart speaker sales expected to top 200 million units by the end of 2023, it’s becoming commonplace to hear Hey, Alexa, or Hey, Google, in homes across the U.S. – and savvy designers and marketers are taking note of this emerging technology and how it can increase customer engagement and interaction in applications like direct mail.   

The convenience smart speakers provide consumers is making it easier and more efficient to multi-task whether at home or in the office. While more traditional approaches to bridging the digital and print space such as quick response (QR) codes require consumers to scan your mailer, voice assistants make taking a desired action a completely hands-free process. This makes recipients more likely to engage with your content and convert on an offer, and the ease of doing so can significantly increase your response rate. 

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at how voice assistant technology works in direct mail, its benefits, and a couple suggestions for how you can integrate voice assistants and smart home devices with your next direct mail campaign. 

How does voice assistant technology in direct mail work?

One of the most important components of any direct mail campaign is a strong, clear, and compelling call to action (CTA), and that principle still applies in integrating voice assistant technology with your mailer — the only difference is the form your CTA takes. 

A voice-activated call to action (VACTA) is basically what it sounds like: a code, keyword, or verbal cue consumers use to engage their smart home device based on the content of your direct mail campaign and/or the desired action you want users to take. Once the smart speaker recognizes the code or keyword, it will then launch a digital destination or experience — website, landing page, video, or even music file — on whatever device the speaker is paired to. 

Some designers or marketers — maybe even you — question whether consumers actually use or find value in voice assistant technology for purposes other than playing a favorite song or setting a timer until the roast is cooked. But a recent survey on how consumers engage with voice assistant technology found some interesting insights, such as: 

  • 76% of smart home speaker users conduct local searches at least once a week

  • 58% of consumers have used voice search to find local business information within the last 12 months

  • 27% visit the website of a local business after conducting a voice search

It’s safe to say today’s consumers are speaking loud and clear about the value they find in voice assistant technology, which means there’s no time like the present for designers and marketers to explore the benefits of VACTA technology in direct mail. 

What are the benefits of voice assistant technology in direct mail?

The benefits of voice assistant technology and smart home speakers in direct mail are numerous, but they all center on one specific theme or value proposition: accelerating the customer journey from print to digital by removing as much friction as possible. 

Whereas digital integrations in print such as shortened, custom URLs or QR codes require a more hands-on interface, VACTAs make it even faster and eliminate barriers for recipients to engage with the print and digital components, which creates a more seamless multi-channel experience.

Additional benefits of voice assistant technology in direct mail include:

  • A better fit with our multi-tasking lifestyle and culture: A recent survey found about 70% of workers multi-task during meetings, which makes VACTAs a good fit for the way people live and work. 

  • Aligning with the evolution of ecommerce: The development and sophistication of voice assistant technology means more consumers are using smart speakers to actually make purchases. For example, a recent study found consumers used smart speakers to complete purchases in a variety of everyday categories, including health and beauty products, electronics, and household items.

  • Real-time reporting and performance data: Because VACTAs accelerate the ability of your direct mail recipients to redeem offers, marketers can access real-time performance data and better coordinate and execute additional communications efforts that build on the mailer — for example, a recipient converting on your VACTA can trigger an follow-up email designed to continue the conversation or position like-minded offers. 

What are some ways to integrate voice assistant technology with direct mail?

By now, hopefully your interest is piqued about the possibility of integrating voice assistant technology with your next direct mail campaign to surprise your recipients and also meet them with a technology they’re likely already using. 

Here are a couple of ways to use a VACTA keyword or offer code that can leverage how consumers are using smart speakers or devices to create a more valuable, dynamic direct mail piece: 

  • Launch a product page or ecommerce site: Depending on your product, service, or sales model, using a code that launches a specific product page where the recipient can complete a purchase either from their connected device or via the smart speaker can significantly accelerate the customer journey and promote repeat purchases in the future.

  • Book a meeting or appointment: Try a VACTA to prompt recipients to book a meeting with your sales team, register for a webinar, or RSVP for an in-person or virtual event. Plus, this makes it easier for the recipient to set reminders on their smart speaker to attend the meeting or event.

  • Complete a survey: Rather than use a QR code to launch a survey to gather data on customer satisfaction or consumer trends, the evolution of voice recognition and natural language processing makes it possible to use a VACTA in your direct mail campaign to launch a survey that users can complete quickly or while multitasking. 

  • Download an app: Making it quick and easy to download an app is important given the average American has 80 apps on their device. A VACTA can streamline the app download process in a way that makes the recipient of your direct mail campaign more likely to put the app on their smartphone because of how little time and effort it takes. 

If the future of direct mail campaigns resides with voice assistant technology, then the time is now to shout loud and proud about the potential of incorporating this technology into your next direct mail campaign. Have you used voice assistants and smart home devices in your direct mailers? Tell us about your project and we may feature it on Dots & Pixels.