It’s no secret that voice assistants, smart speakers and the associated consumer behaviors are all on the rise. But, just how rapid that rise is may be somewhat shocking. In fact, according to a recent survey of 5,000 U.S. consumers, smart speaker ownership has jumped an astounding 22% in less than one year, with nearly half of consumers owning a smart speaker. Add to that the fact that Microsoft reports that 72% of smartphone owners are using digital assistants (think Siri, Google and Cortana) and you get a picture for just how prevalent voice search is becoming.

Perhaps the real opportunity here is to understand how consumers are using voice search—and ultimately why you should care. Local business marketing tactics have shifted over the years, accommodating new technologies and changing consumer behaviors. While billboards and bus stop benches are still used, businesses have had to adapt, and get the attention of their consumers on a multitude of other platforms—which now includes voice search.

Lest you think that voice assistants and smart speakers are used merely to satisfy the curious user’s appetite for random facts or to check the weather, Microsoft shared some of the top uses of digital assistants—many which are quite relevant to the local business. For instance, asking for directions (65 percent); searching for a business (47%); researching a product or service (44%) and even making a purchase (25%)! The bottom line is this—consider the implications of your business address being incorrect when a customer asks Siri for directions to your location. Or think about how you’d feel if a potential customer asks Alexa to find a plumber nearby, and Alexa responds with your competitor instead of you.

The bottom line is this—while voice assistants may not be real people or real customers their influence in the purchase decision and their impact on the consumer buying journey is very real. Now more than ever—even more than in 2018—it’s imperative that your business is optimized for local voice search. Regardless of how well you show up in Google search results, or how good your website looks, or even how active you are on social media, if you don’t have a plan in place to optimize for voice search, you absolutely will miss out on business. And with voice assistant usage growing at such staggering rates, the longer you wait to optimize for voice, the further behind you’ll fall and the more business you’ll miss out on.

So, what’s a local business to do? Probably the best and most efficient solution would be to find an all-in-one marketing platform that includes optimization for voice assistants such as Alexa. In fact, Vivial’s Marketing Platform does just that. It includes a direct integration with Alexa, ensuring the business information returned by Alexa in a voice search is complete and accurate. In the ever-evolving landscape of consumer voice search, integrations such as this are crucial to your business growth.

Before you write voice search off as something you just don’t have the time to deal with, make sure you learn a bit more about Vivial’s solution and how it can help you be present in every relevant search—including voice searches.

For more about Vivial’s integration with Amazon Alexa, see our recent blog post.