7 Marketing Trends in 2017, Part 2: The Screenless Revolution

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Siri. Cortana. Alexa. Google Assistant. Chances are you or someone you know has interacted with at least one of these screenless assistants in the last year. During the 2016 Black Friday sales, the Echo Dot (an Alexa screenless device) was the most popular gadget of the season.


Screenless devices such as smartphone assistants, smart speakers, or any number of Internet of Things intelligent devices, change the way consumers interact with our brands, products, and services. Foremost among the changes is how consumers find information.

What are the implications of the screenless revolution?

The Impact of the Screenless Revolution

The greatest impact on marketers that the screenless revolution brings is in how we search for information. On a device with a screen, when we perform any kind of search, we see many different search results. While the top organic search result is most often clicked, we still see and assess at least the remaining results on the page.

On a screenless device, we parse search results one at a time. We don’t have the ability to listen to all 10 results at once in the same way we can see all 10 search results at once. On some devices, we may not even hear result #2 because either the top result is effective or, we stop our inquiry if it’s clear the device hasn’t understood us.

This change in search means that if you’re not #1 in a voice search result, you’re nothing.

A secondary consequence of the screenless revolution are screenless apps. Amazon calls them skills; Google calls them Actions. Developers are racing to build apps for these devices. Does your product or service lend itself to use through a screenless device? If so, carve out some budget for hiring a developer to build a voice app as soon as possible. As with the smartphone and App Store revolution from the last decade, first mover advantage is significant.

What To Do With This Trend

Consider the average desktop or mobile search query. We type in short phrases that hint at our search intent:

  • “refrigerator reviews”
  • “best public relations agency”
  • “iphone 7 vs google pixel”

We have trained search engines to interpret our intent from such short phrases because we’re lazy typists.

Consider how we interact with screenless devices by contrast:

  • “Hey Siri, when does the sushi shop open?”
  • “OK Google, what’s the fastest land animal?”
  • “Alexa, what’s the weather today in Boston, Massachusetts?”

We are far more verbose in our voice inquires than on a keyboard. Examine your organic search engine optimization strategies. How many pages have you optimized for a short snippet? How many pages have you optimized for a full-fledged spoken-word question?

In your content, consider optimizing for how people type and how people speak. Construct your content with more natural language. Add full sentences and questions to your keyword/keyphrase SEO lists.

Finally, if you have access to developers and a logical fit, build a screenless app before your competitors do.

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