Every brand needs a voice skill: interview with Voiceflow’s Braden Ream

We talked to Braden Ream from Voiceflow to get the lowdown on what your brand needs to know to get started in voice and why you should do that sooner rather than later.

Smart speakers are the so-called talk of the town since the launch of Google Home and the arrival of Amazon Alexa in Canada. As of 2018, 15% of Canadian homes have a smart speaker and that number is only set to rise in 2019. You may have snagged your own Google Home Mini this week when they launched a partnership with Spotify giving away free speakers to Spotify’s premium subscribers (our office was all over this offer!).

With this growing popularity and all of this buzz around smart speakers comes this question all us marketing and PR types want to know: can my brand leverage voice? In short, the answer is yes. We chatted with Braden Ream, CEO and Co-founder of Voiceflow, to learn more about what you should know before building your brand’s voice skill, how you can track and measure success, and how voice technology can help you brush your teeth better.

Can you give us some background information on Voiceflow, how you got started in the world of voice apps, and how the company has evolved to where it is today?

We started building voice apps after initially building interactive children’s stories on Alexa under the name “Storyflow”. While building Storyflow, we realized just how long it took to build a good voice app, from designing to developing and testing – so we sought out to build a solution for ourselves which ended up becoming Voiceflow.

What are some of the voice apps that you’ve worked on to date for yourself or for customers?

We built Storyflow which was a series of voice acted choose your own adventure stories on Alexa we wrote and mixed ourselves.

When it comes to building a voice app, what are some of the most important things to keep in mind?

Conversational design is everything in the voice space. The best voice app should be spontaneous and conversational rather than feel like a glorified voice menu system.

Amazon Alexa versus Google Assistant – what are the pros and cons of each of the platforms?

Alexa has a larger developer base and established apps ecosystem, but Google Assistant has a better, more “human” voice assistant right now.

Do you have any tips for brands that are looking to integrate voice apps into their overall marketing or PR strategy?

Start early. Voice assistants are search engines and the later your service gets into the voice space, the further ahead your competitors might be in outranking you.

When it comes to metrics, would should brands be measuring and tracking for their voice skills?

Pick an action you want users to achieve within your voice app. Then, measure how many users actually achieve your desired action. Try to increase this ratio by determining where you find drop-off in your voice flow through conversational analytics.

What are the kinds of brands and industries that you think could benefit from a voice skill?

Every brand & industry. Having a voice app is like having a website – without one you’re completely undiscoverable to voice search on Alexa & Google Assistant.

What are some of the most innovative examples of voice apps that you’ve seen to date?

Check out Chompers by Gimlet – it’s a partnership between Crest & Gimlet to help kids get excited about brushing their teeth and it’s genius.

What’s interesting in the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant world right now?

The number of Alexa skills doubled last quarter worldwide alongside the smart speaker adoption rate near quadrupling to hit 42% of all Americans!